Student-Centered Learning

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Student-Centered Learning

There is a significant change in the trends in education, thus affecting the approach to learning. The article, “New Trends in Education,” by Orhan Akinoglu, the guest editor of the international journal of instructions identifies and discusses about the new trends in education, which include; active learning, constructivism, problem-based learning, project-based learning, multiple intelligences, brain-based learning, cooperative learning, distance education, lifelong learning, critical thinking, creative thinking and reflective thinking (Akinoglu i). Technological advancement creates challenges for the development of the appropriate approach to education. Education of the information society is different from the education of the agricultural society and the education of the industrial society. The fundamental problems in the information age include; the development and expansion of knowledge at a rapid rate, and the need for individuals to synthesize new information and use the information to solve arising problems rather than memorizing the information. There is the need, therefore, to develop an approach to education which addresses the needs of the information society.  Considering the main structures of the trends in education, educationists should use more student-centered approaches than teacher-centered approaches.

Background

In the information society, the advancement of education has significantly changed the approach to learning. According to Orhan Akinoglu, in the contemporary world, knowledge develops and expands at a rapid rate and technology centers into daily life with many of its dimensions.  The owner and co-founder of Microsoft, Bill Gates said that the rate at which technology is developing, today’s advanced technology would become obsolete even before a student graduates from college (Quora 3). Bill Gates means that technology is advancing every day and is becoming more sophisticated than ancient times. If students are not careful, they will not benefit from the developments in technology.  Instead of focusing on the memorizing information, the education of information society desires individuals who can recognize the relationships between pieces of information (Akinoglu i). For instance, in project-based learning, the information society desires individuals who can recognize the relationship between variables in research and form a model for forecasting future trends rather than memorizing the methods of research.

The education of information society desires individuals who can analyze and synthesize new information. For instance, companies need to determine the popularity of their products and develop strategies such as targeting the specific areas for advertisement. Such companies, therefore, require individuals who can analyze collected data, synthesize new information and come up with recommendations (Ward 129). The task of analyzing and synthesizing information is possible with the use of technology in education for the information society. Educationists have tried to align education with the current needs of society by developing active learning, problem-based learning, and project-based learning.

Active learning involves an individual’s active engagement in learning. In active learning, a learner takes responsibility for his or her learning. The learner has the opportunity for decision-making and self-regulation (Akinoglu i). Also, the learner uses intellectual skills during learning. The primary goal of active learning is to raise individuals who can think, research, produce, solve problems, think critically, rather than to memorize (Akinoglu i).  Mark Twain, the American author and humor writer said, “I never let my schooling interfere with my education.” Mark Twain’s view on education is consistent with the concept of active learning because he thinks decision-making and self-regulated education is better than memorizing information. 

Problem-based learning asserts that individuals learn effectively by solving problems. Problem-based learning dates back to 1960s when Howard Barrows developed the model and implemented in the field of medicine at the McMaster University, Canada. Problem-based learning has spread into other fields such as science, engineering, and law (ii). Problem-based learning gives learners the experience required for solving problems outside of school. Importantly, problem-based learning helps learners to recognize that failing is part of the journey to success. Individuals, therefore, fail enough times until they get the solution to a problem.

Project-based learning focuses on learning via projects. Project-based learning is attributed to William Heard Kilpatrick in the fall of 1918 when he published an essay, “Project Method.” Kilpatrick was John Dewey’s student and benefitted from Dewey’s emphasis on project-learning. Dewey believed that learning is useful in a natural setting (ii). Learners are required to do projects, in their fields of interest. The supervisor reviews the progress and points out changes needed before the students proceed. The project-based method takes learning to a natural setting, thus eliminating the boredom of a classroom setting.

Alternatives

The alternatives approach to education includes; multiple intelligences, brain-based learning and distance teaching. Multiple intelligences learning advocates that individuals have capacities or intelligences that appear in different forms in different cultures. The multiple intelligences learning dates back to 1983 by Howard Gardner. Gardener proposed multiple intelligences in his book, “Frames of Mind.” (ii). In the book, Gardner asserts that intelligence is a biopsychological potential. Gardner defines intelligence as the ability to shape a product or solve problems. Educationists applied the concept of multiple intelligences since the beginning of the 20th century, which significant success in the fields of Mathematics and Linguistics. The theory of multiple intelligences is substantial in the contemporary world because of ever-developing technology. Today, robots are taking over the tasks previously performed by human beings. For instance, there is a broad application of robots in Healthcare and manufacturing. The development of robots is consistent with the theory of multiple intelligences, which help in developing artificial intelligence. Learners need to get acquainted with artificial intelligence which is rapidly taking over in the information society.

Brain-based learning focuses on the structure, functions, and characteristics of the human brain. The proponents of brain-based learning state that the teacher should recognize and examine the brain before the commencement of the learning process (ii). Educational activities become useful with the knowledge of the structure, functions, and characteristics of the human brain. Brain-based learning approach is consistent with today’s technological advancement. For instance, in the development of robots used in healthcare, the researchers need to understand the functions of the brain. Currently, artificial intelligence researchers face the problem of determining concurrent tasks. For instance, artificial intelligence is yet to address activities such as “eating while watching television.” In such a circumstance, the robot will recognize one activity only.

Distance education refers to virtual learning through the use of the internet. The means of communication such as email, radio, and television facilitate distance education. Importantly, the internet has made significant developments in distance education (iii). In the information age, individuals do not need to sit in classrooms for lessons. Learners are only supposed to have access to the internet and access learning materials or view the instructors’ lectures online. Distance education provides learners with an opportunity to regulate information and develop self-education, which is relevant in the information age.

The reasons for possible alternatives include the shortcomings of active learning, problem-based learning, and project-based learning. Active learning advocates for the active involvement of the learner, thus developing decision-making and self-regulation techniques. However, active learning does not recognize the trends in technology, which can make the learning process futile. Problem-based learning, which focuses on problem-solving, may cause the learner to lose sight of other solutions that may be important in learning. Also, problem-based learning encourages learners to focus on problems in real life rather than solutions. Finally, project-based learning focuses on developing research and critical thinking skills by doing a project paper. However, the rapid advancement of technology can make the project obsolete even before it reaches the completion stage.

Proposed solution.

Educationists should focus on student-centered approach more than teacher-centered approach. The student-centered approach involves identifying the unique skills and capabilities of each student and helping them to find their path. Conversely, the teacher-centered approach involves designing teaching methods that are in line with the needs of students. Education of information society requires a student-centered approach. Teachers should let students approach education with intrinsic motivation. Although teachers are enforcers, they should allow students to develop the skills they are interested in (Poohongthong and Supparerkchaisakul 39). In the words of Mark Twain, schooling should not interfere with the education of students. Individuals who made a mark in the world are those who chose self-education in addition to schooling. For instance, Bill Gates of Microsoft developed his first computer operating system while at Harvard University, Steve Jobs of Apple learned topography from Reeds College and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook developed the first social site while at college. Interestingly, these individuals aligned self-education with schooling. Had they focused entirely on schooling, the world could not have experienced computing and the thrill of socializing on the internet.

I feel inclined towards entrepreneurship. I feel the urge to run a technology business for the provision of the internet. I believe education is essential in achieving my dreams. However, I acknowledge the fact that schooling alone is not enough. There is the need for self-regulation towards my interests and the path I want to follow.  Therefore, to move faster towards my dreams, I need to start early and fail as many times as possible. I will align the knowledge gained in formal education and that of the world of entrepreneurship to achieve my goals. 

Recommendations

The education system should integrate active learning, problem-based learning, cooperative learning, critical thinking, creative thinking, and reflective thinking. These approaches to learning are more student-centered than teacher centered.  The educationists should actively involve learners in the learning process. Additionally, educationists should identify the interests and inclinations of students during the learning process.

Problem-based learning and project-based learning should be aligned with cooperative learning where individuals work as a team. Working as a team on a project helps individuals to develop teamwork skills such as active listening (Eronen and Kärnä 682). Also, learners develop leadership skills, needed for working on projects outside of school.  Additionally, cooperative learning helps students in acquiring social intelligence, which is essential when dealing with different personalities. 

Works Cited

Akinoglu, Orhan, “New Trends in Education.” International Journal of Instruction. Vol.11, No.3 pp.i-iv.

Eronen, Lasse, and Eija Kärnä. “Students Acquiring Expertise through Student-Centered Learning in Mathematics Lessons.” Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, vol. 62, no. 5, Oct. 2018, pp. 682–700.

Poohongthong, Chanadda, and Numchai Supparerkchaisakul. “Designing Learner-Centered Instruction Practices Based on Transformative Learning through Critical Participatory Action Research.” International Journal of Behavioral Science, vol. 12, no. 2, July 2017, pp. 31–49. 

Quora. “What Millennials Can Learn from Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Elon Musk and Richard Branson.” Fortune.Com, Sept. 2015, p. N.PAG.

Ward, Stephanie G. “Integrating Student-Centered Learning in a Compensation Management Course.” Journal of the Academy of Business Education, vol. 16, Spring 2015, pp. 129–143.

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