Student-Centered Instruction: Definition, Origin & Benefits

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  • 0:02 Student-Centered Instruction
  • 1:26 Benefits
  • 3:09 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dana Dance-Schissel

Dana teaches social sciences at the college level and English and psychology at the high school level. She has master's degrees in applied, clinical and community psychology.

Student-centered instruction is an effective method for teaching. This lesson explains what student-centered instruction is and details some of its benefits.

Student-Centered Instruction

As a student, let's assume that you have to pick a class to attend. You have two choices and are given a brief preview of each. In one class, students will sit silently in their seats as they listen to an instructor lecture about basic scientific principles. In the second class, students will participate in hands-on experiments regarding basic scientific principles under the supervision of the instructor.

Which class sounds more interesting? If you'd choose the second class, you're interested in student-centered instruction. Student-centered instruction is a teaching style that places the focus of teaching on students rather than on the instructor.

In student-centered instruction, teachers and students serve as partners in the learning process. In other words, students take an active role in their education. This teaching method is also known as learner-centered education and grew out of the humanistic movement in psychology, which focuses on the individual and places the responsibility for meeting needs and achievements on him or her.

To revisit our example classrooms from earlier, the lecture-only classroom represents teacher-centered instruction. This method of instruction places the teacher at the center of learning. Most students find lengthy lectures boring and often report that the information goes in one ear and out the other. On the other hand, students report high levels of learning and motivation with student-centered instruction.


Now that we understand what student-centered instruction is, let's take some time to look at the benefits of using this instructional method in the classroom.

Critical Thinking

Critical thinking is the ability to analyze all facets of an argument or concept. Students who are critical thinkers are able to reach a deeper level of understanding and create new solutions for old problems. Student-centered instruction increases critical thinking in students by granting them the freedom to actively problem solve in the classroom.

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