Learner Centred – A Challenge?

Lectures are much criticised as an effective teaching method, as critics often see lecturing as a one-way method of communication, which does not involve significant participation. However, a paradigm shift is currently occurring at all levels of higher education. Educators are moving from an instructional approach to a learner-centred approach.

“A college’s purpose is not to transfer knowledge but to create environments and experiences that bring students to discover and construct knowledge for themselves, to make students members of communities of learners that make discoveries and solve problems. The college aims, in fact, to create a series of ever more powerful learning environments” (Barr, 1995)

In such a learning paradigm, the objective of the educational institution becomes one of providing environments and experiences that encourage and enable students to explore and learn new concepts, to care out a path to become an expert in a key area. The richness and variety of experiences should enable each student to learn measurably more than prior students.

In his overview on self-regulated learning and achievement, (Zimmerman, 1990) defines self-regulated learners as “metacognitively, motivationally, and behaviourally active participants in their own learning ….. In terms of motivational processes, these learners report high self-efficacy, self-attributions, and intrinsic task interest.” However students have undoubtedly become accustomed to the traditional learning process where one who knows (the lecturer) presents ideas to one who does not (the student). Many of us prospered under this traditional lecture system, where the focus is on coverage of material through teaching by telling. However it may not work for many students, especially presently where students are changing and where education and teaching needs to respond. The move to learner centred approaches has to be welcomed as it engages and interacts with the student more completely, fostering understanding.

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