Learner Centered Teaching
A Presentation for Michigan State University
Developed by Professor Terry Doyle Ferris State University
Learner Centered Teaching
Learner Centered Teaching
Learner Centered Teaching
This can be Learner Centered Teaching
Definition of Learner Centered Teaching
• A Question--Given the context of the learning situation
( # of students, time of day, place, difficulty of material)
will this teaching action optimize my students’ opportunity to learn?
What Does it Mean to Have Learned?
Learning is when Neurons Wire
• Learning is a change in the neuronpatterns of the brain.
Use it or Lose it
• When new material is not practiced the new dendrite tissue is reabsorbed by the brain to conserve resources. (Dr. Janet Zadina)
Teachers’ Definition of Learning?
Learning is the ability to use information after significant periods of disuse and it is the ability to use the information to solve problems that arise in a context different (if only slightly) from the context in which the information was originally taught.
(Robert Bjork, Memories and Metamemories, 1994)
Learning Activates the Reward Pathway
Real life, meaningful, and authentic learning activates the reward pathway in the brain.
(Dr. Janet Zadina, 2010)
Basic Principle of Learner Centered Instruction
It is the one who does the work who does the learning
Question--What do we want our students to learn?
What would make us happy (from all that we taught—the skills, content and behaviors) that our students remembered and could use one year after they finished our class?
Explaining Why Learner Centered Teaching is in our Students’ Best Interest
Students Need to Know WHY We Want them to do the Work
A vital aspect of being a learner centered teacher is to remember teaching is, in most ways, no different than any other human to human interaction–
If I don’t know WHY you want me to work on a project or learn a concept or if I can’t see how taking on a certain task has some benefit to me I am hesitant to do it.
Three Key Rationales for Explaining the Change to LCT
1. The best answer to WHY we have changed to a learner-centered practice is this is where the research has led us.
The Brain and Learning
Natural selection developed a human brain to solve problems of survival in outdoor, unstable environments while in almost constant motion.
( Dr. John Medina, Developmental Molecular Biologist, University of Washington and Author of Brain Rules)
The Brain and Learning
• “If educators had set out to design a learning environment that was in complete opposition to what the human brain is good at they would have designed the schools of yesterday and today.”
(John Medina, Brain Rules, 2008)
Things We Know for sure about the Human Brain
significantly enhances brain function
Exercise and BDNF
(Brain-derived neurotrophic factor )
Exercise produces BDNF
( Miracle Grow for the Brain)
• Improves brain health • Enhances the wiring of neurons • Is a stress inoculator • Makes the brain cells more resilient
The Brain is Social
2. Survival is accomplished by working with other brains.
Groups of brains almost always outperform a single brain.
Multitasking is not Possible
3. The brain can only pay attention to one thing at a time
Repetition (distributed practice) and elaboration are necessary for memory formation and recall
Daniel Schacter, Seven Sins of Memory, 2002
Cramming does not Produce Long Term Memories
Intensive study for a short period of time fails to produce much (if any)long term memories.
Emotion and Memory
Emotional arousal organizes and coordinates brain activity
(Bloom, Beal & Kupfer 2003)
When the amygdala detects emotions, it essentially boosts activity in the areas of the brain that form memories (S.
Hamann & Emony, UN.)
5. The brain works best when multiple senses are involved
Using all Our Senses to Learn
• Those in multisensory environments always do better than those in unisensory environments
• They have more recall with better resolution that lasts longer, evident even 20 years later.
(John Medina, Brain Rules)
Vision Trumps All
• The more visual the input becomes the more likely it is to be recognized and recalled • This is called the Pictorial Superiority Effect
6. Patterns and Learning
The brain is a pattern seeking device that relates whole concepts to one another and looks for similarities, differences, or relationships between them.” (Ratey, 2002, pg.5)
Looking for Patterns
We know humans learn through recognizing patterns - all knowledge is embedded in other knowledge - learners look for meaningful patterns.
(Antonio R. Damasio, M.D. and M.W. Van Allen, Professor and Head of Neurology, University of Iowa)
Three Key Rationales for Explaining the Change to LCT
Readiness for Careers
The rationale for teaching the learning skills, behaviors, attitudes and critical thinking strategies that are now part of learner centered college courses is that our students will need these skills to be successful in their careers.
As students understand this their buy in to LCT will be greater.
Three Key Rationales for Explaining the Change to LCT
Preparation for Life Long Learning(LLL)
One of the significant changes our students need to accept is that college is no longer their terminal educational experience.
Preparation for Life Long Learning(LLL)
• Our responsibility as college educators is to prepare our students to be life long learners. • Many of the LCT actions we take are done to develop LLL skills.
Rationales for Explaining the Change to LCT For Example One of the reasons students are asked to take on more responsibility for their own learning is because they will be responsible for it the rest of their lives.
A undergraduate college education gives
students their learners’
Why do Students Resist LCT?
1.Old habits die hard
Students’ learning expectations are based on strongly formed habits learned through twelve or more years of teachercentered instruction.
High schools remain teacher-centered institutions
• “Despite the efforts of many, the organization and structure of most comprehensive high schools look very similar to those of high schools of generations ago. High schools have stood still amidst a maelstrom of educational and economic change swirling around them.”
(The National Commission on the High School Senior Year, p.20).
Learning is not a top reason students give for attending college
Many first-year college students are sick to death of school by age eighteen and see college as just the last hurdle to be (Leamnson 1999, crossed.
Students don’t like taking learning risks
• “as we grow older we
develop a great tendency to hide from failure.” (Tagg,
2003 p. 54).
LCT doesn’t resemble what students’ think of as school
By age 18, our students have spent 70% of their waking lives in school (Leamnson,
Each school year looks a great deal like the year before.
Students don’t want to give more effort and LCT requires it.
“ in the competition of
the classroom, students prefer to be seen by others as succeeding through ability rather than through effort.” OR If I have to work at it I must not be very smart
K. Patricia Cross in her 2001 talk Motivation Er… will that be on the test?
Students’ mindsets about learning make adapting to LCT more difficult
Thousands of students each semester pay tuition to take courses in subject areas they believe they cannot learn. This strange scenario occurs because of the fixed mindset these students have developed about learning a particular subject.
(Carol Dweck, 2006)
Many students follow the path of least resistance in their learning. Taking the path of least resistance often results in minimalist learning.
Students adhere to the philosophy: “What is the least I have to do to get the grade that I need.”
Becoming a More Learner Centered Teacher
1. LCT Means Sharing Power with Students Having choices in what and how to learn and having some control over the learning process are key elements of LCT.
Having Some Say
Having some say in what happens in the learning process is intricately tied to a willingness to engage in the activity.
(James Zull, Art of Changing the Brain, 2003)
LCT Means Sharing Power with Students
Getting students to accept the responsibilities that comes with choice and control is an authentic expression of how the work place and the home place operate.
Who Makes the Decision?
1. Course Textbook 2. Number of exams 3. When in the course exams will be given 4. Attendance policy 5. Late work policy 6. Late for class policy 7. Course learning outcomes
10. Teaching methods/approaches 11. How groups are formed 12. Topic of writing or research projects 13. Grading scale
14. Discussion guidelines for large or small group discussions
15. Rubrics for evaluation of self or peers’ work 16. If rewriting of papers will be allowed 17. If retesting will be allowed
8. Office hours
9. Due dates for major papers
2. Assessing for Long Term learning
Using the kinds of assessments that drive long term learning is one key to a learner centered process
Our jobs are not to exercise our students’ working memories.
Assessing for Long Term learning
Examples 1. Cumulative Exams 2. Expecting to see the improvements that were indicated on previously assessed work
Assessing for Long Term learning
Examples 3. Rewriting 4. Retesting 5. Practice quizzing 6. Updating of previous ideas/solutions
3. Using Lecture Effectively
Definition of Lecture Talking with students about things they can’t learn on their own.
Flipping the Classroom
1. Create video lectures with slides /other learning tools 2. Students watch the lecture before attending class. 3. Students post questions they have from the lecture.
Flipping the Classroom
4. Class time spent on answering students questions. 5. Class time spent on learning/practicing activities
6. Video lecture become study tool.
4. Office Hours
Setting your office hours at times that are best for your students.
5. Let Students do the Talking
The quickest way to end a classroom discussion is for the teacher to start talking.
Let students develop the guidelines for discussion
• In groups— • What were the worst things you have seen when asked to do large group or small group discussion? • In groups— • What are the best things you have seen work in making large group or small group discussion work effectively?
• What guidelines do we need to prevent the bad things from happening?
• What guidelines can we develop to promote the good things?
6. Make Students Practice
If readings are assigned insist on annotation and a summary.
Students can make 3-5 minute videos teaching the assigned reading to another student.
• Endless practice quizzes • Sample problems on- line
• Virtual study groups
• Regular in class quizzes • Test, test, test, test
7. Classroom Presentations
Before assigning students to do presentations—teach them how to do a professional presentation.
• Have them filmed and submitted online for review before using valuable class time for students presentations. • Give feedback for improvement then decide if class time is warranted .
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