Learner-Centered Teaching: Strategies & Methods

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  • 0:49 Selecting Units of Study
  • 1:28 Capitalizing on…
  • 2:11 Letting Students Help…
  • 2:45 Keeping Quiet
  • 3:29 The Importance of Flexibility
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

In contemporary educational circles, we hear a lot about learner-centered learning and teaching. This lesson will introduce you to this concept in depth and give you some ideas about strategies and methods that promote learner-centered teaching.

What Is Learner-Centered Teaching?

Donald is frustrated. He has been teaching fourth grade for three years now, and even though he has had some great successes, he somehow feels unsatisfied. Though he has strong relationships with his students, he does not feel that he is doing a good enough job following their interests and meeting their individual needs. This year, Donald is determined to do more learner-centered teaching. Learner-centered teaching is teaching that:

  • Takes students interests into account
  • Follows students' passions and capitalizes on their strengths
  • Helps students form a strong learning community
  • Gets away from the idea of the teacher as the primary expert of the class, and
  • Works toward meeting individual students' needs as they grow.

Selecting Units of Study

Donald realizes that one of the most important aspects of learner-centered teaching has to do with selecting units of study, or concepts or themes that focus his curriculum, that answer to students' interests or passions. Rather than plan the whole year's curriculum in advance, he will spend the first six weeks of school getting to know his students, their interests, and their curiosities. He will do this by watching their free play and project time, talking to them individually and in small groups, and focusing on the themes when they write. Donald will then gather resources in order to develop units of study that center around themes his students find interesting and provocative.

Capitalizing on Students' Strengths

Donald also knows that he must make the most of his students' strengths. This means that students who excel at art can devote time during the school day to making art for their classroom or diagrams that help promote learning in their units of study. Strong readers can become even stronger by mentoring weaker readers in the class or by building the classroom library. Students whose strengths lie in athletics and movement can lead the classes in daily exercises or plan research that teaches about the importance of physical activities. Donald knows that understanding and making the most of students' strengths both gives them a sense of control and helps them have agency and confidence in their own learning.

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