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Is My Teaching Learner-Centered?

For Those Who Teach

Is My Teaching Learner-Centered?

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learner-centered teaching
It’s hard to say—we have no definitive measures of learner-centeredness or even mutually agreed upon definitions. And yet, when we talk about it, there’s an assumption that we all understand the reference. Teaching Professor Blog My friend Linda recently gave me a beautifully illustrated children’s book that contains nothing but questions. It reminded me how good questions, like beams of light, cut through the fog and illuminate what was once obscured. And so, to help us further explore and understand what it means to be learner-centered, I’ve generated a set of questions. For the record, these questions were not empirically developed, and they haven’t been validated in any systematic way. However, they do reflect the characteristics regularly associated with learner-centered teaching.

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It’s hard to say—we have no definitive measures of learner-centeredness or even mutually agreed upon definitions. And yet, when we talk about it, there’s an assumption that we all understand the reference. Teaching Professor Blog My friend Linda recently gave me a beautifully illustrated children’s book that contains nothing but questions. It reminded me how good questions, like beams of light, cut through the fog and illuminate what was once obscured. And so, to help us further explore and understand what it means to be learner-centered, I’ve generated a set of questions. For the record, these questions were not empirically developed, and they haven’t been validated in any systematic way. However, they do reflect the characteristics regularly associated with learner-centered teaching. Questions like these can be useful in helping us to confront how we teach. They produce the most insights when asked sincerely and answered honestly. For most of us, there’s a gap between how we aspire to teach and how we actually teach. Given the less-than-objective view we have of ourselves as teachers, it’s easy to conflate aspirations with actualities. The questions also can be used to prompt discussion between colleagues who wish to help each other explore the extent to which their teaching is learning-focused. They can be used by cross-disciplinary groups whose views, framed by what they teach, show how learner-centeredness looks from different angles. And, they can be used by departments or programs who aspire to be student-centered and need benchmarks to assess their progress. The question set is a work in progress, and I welcome your feedback on how we can make it better. Are we missing important questions? Should some questions be taken off the list? Please share in the comment box. It’s good to remember that the characteristics identified in the questions are part of something larger. They define the concept operationally and with helpful details, but individual characteristics, even a collection of them, still provide an incomplete picture. It’s a bit like dissecting a flower. The parts are all there to examine, but they’re separate, and a flower is best understood and enjoyed in its integrated wholeness. Characteristics of learner-centered teaching Additional articles on this topic: