Supporting students’ deeper learning by suggesting new or additional learning strategies is an important part of helping students through their educational paths. This has nothing to do with “teaching the content” because most strategies are just techniques for understanding, hence being completely independent from subject matter. Long gone are the times when teaching was a simple matter of delivering information! This is why teaching about metacognition is a fundamental skill for anyone who wishes to instruct others.
Please check the Learning Strategies page!
Learner agency is an important concept in current education. This research described the perceptions high school seniors have about their learning experiences. Educational research indicates students’ self-regulation being an important factor in academic success, yet many educational practices still rely on teacher-centered instructional models. I finished my dissertation research about learner agency in 2017. (Doctoral thesis defense PDF presentation)
Students’ Perceptions of Their Learner Agency: A Phenomenographic Inquiry toThe Lived Learning Experiences of High School Seniors
Supporting learner agency could improve the quality of students’ engagement in their learning process, and help students become ready for the requirements of living in 21stCentury. In this phenomenographic inquiry into students’ perceptions of their learner agency nine high school seniors were interviewed about their engagement and learning experiences. The analysis yielded an outcome space of four qualitatively different ways of perceiving learner agency 1. detachment from learning, 2. belonging to the school community, 3. synergy of learning ownership, and 4, unbound ubiquitous learning. The outcome space was organized into a visual conceptualization of the hierarchical relationship between intentionality, agency, and quality of learning. Based on the findings of this research, the recommendations for educational policy and practice include crediting informal learning, embedding choices into learning experiences, and supporting both students’ and teachers’ individual learning process. Read more on Learner Agency page!
Providing learner-centered education means acknowleding the individual differences among learner group and providing instruction that focuses on supporting the learning process. Considering learners as agents of their own lives and learning yields for best research-based approach for supporting motivational and self-regulatory practices for students of all ages.
While it appears that most research is done in K-12 learning environments, it is important to remember that student-centeredness is not a practice belonging solely to formal and formative education, but an educational approach suitable for all education and training.
Defining Learner-Centered teaching and learning
American Psychological Association (APA) defined learner-centered education in 1990 and revised it in 1997. (McCombs work). In 2015 these learner-centered principles were updated to the “Top 20 Principles from Psychology for pre-K to 12 Teaching and Learning”.
These Top 20 principles have been divided into 5 areas of psychological functioning:
- Cognition and learning: How do students think and learn?
- Motivation: What motivates students?
- Social context and emotional dimensions: Why are social context, interpersonal relations and emotional well-being important to student learning?
- Context and learning: How can the classroom best be managed?
- Assessment: How can teachers assess student progress?
I consider the APA to be the highest authority of educational psychology in the U.S. and a positive influence in the education world in general. Education is about looking both into the past and into the future, which is why it also has two opposite purposes: to ensure cultural progression and to prepare students for their unknown future.
Cultural progression is necessary for societies to have members who will know about the past (history) and the traditions (culture), but emphasizing the traditional ways of doing things may cause difficulties for students to learn for the future. Yet, not knowing the history could cause us to repeat the mistakes of the past generations. For anyone engaging in instruction this is just one of the many dichotomies of the teaching-learning situation. Finding balance is important because both past and future are necessary in understanding the process.
Modern educational theory and practice are built on the premise of education being the process for students to “develop their rational faculties so that they become capable of independent judgement”. This requires for students to engage in three-dimensional learning process and grow their skills, knowledge and understanding. The role of instructor is to support this growth.