Reflecting on learner-centred education

The correct answers to the quiz in Activity 2.2, highlight the fact that it is helpful to think of ‘learner-centredness’ as a set of attitudes and values. Here is a set of questions you could use to decide if your teaching is ‘learner-centred’. (These are based on a set of ‘minimum standards’ for LCE suggested by Michele Schweisfurth (2013), p. 146).

  • Are students engaged and motivated to learn?
  • Are classroom relationships based on mutual respect?
  • Does the learning challenge students and build on their existing knowledge?
  • Are students given the chance to talk about their ideas to support their learning?
  • Is the curriculum relevant to learners’ lives? Do the activities promote a range of skills including critical thinking and creativity?
  • Does the assessment test a range of skills and give credit for more than recall of knowledge?

These could apply to teachers working with students, or to teacher educators working with teachers and student teachers. At the heart of LCE is the relationship between the teacher and the learner. You can print out a copy of these criteria [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   if you wish to monitor your own teaching or that of your student teachers.

LCE is often associated with particular classroom approaches. However, this is misleading. Badly organised group work with an inappropriate task, for example, is worse than the alternatives. It won’t lead to learning and is not ‘learner-centred’.

Activity 2.3: Reflecting on learner-centred education

Timing: (Allow approximately 20 minutes)

The quiz in Activity 2.2 highlights some common misconceptions about LCE. What did you learn from the quiz? What surprised you? Make a note of your response in your study notebook.

Next, think about the last teaching session that you had with teachers or student teachers. Use the criteria above to reflect on how you could have made it more learner-centred. Write down three ideas in your study notebook. If possible, discuss your ideas with a colleague.

A UNESCO report for teacher educators, called Ensuring Quality by Attending to Inquiry: Learner-centred Pedagogy in Sub-Saharan Africa, highlights some of the challenges of LCE. The report is available for you to read through if you wish.

The authors make the point that implementing LCE is complex and that local, contextually relevant solutions are required. This means it is important for teachers and teacher educators to work together to understand how to improve their practice.