Sunday, September 13, 2009

Advantages and Disadvantages of Student Centered Learning


Student-centered learning has advantages for both
students and teachers. Students develop learning and other
skills and gain meaningful knowledge that will help thern
throughout life. The relationship between rights and responsibilities
is learned. Students discover that learning is interesting
and fun. Several have written in their course evaluations
that they learned more because they were involved and
liad fun being involved.
Teachers have less traditional work to do. especially
in the upper level classes during the latter portion of the
academic terni. Students are more attentive and willing to
participate in the class. Complaints about irrelevance and
unfairness decrease. Reports and papers generated by students
increase a teacher's collection of useful information.
Teacher evaluations do not decline and usually improve
(Tables 1 and 2) especially in upper level courses and with
some SCL experience on the teacher's part. Teaching is interesting
and fun.

One disadvantage is that there are students who do
not relate well to student-centered learning in spite of a
teacher's best efforts. This is most prevalent at the lower
levels but can occur in upper level classes. Judging from
course evaluations, this is about 15 percent of the lower level
and less than 5 percent of the upper level. However, because
there are many different teaching styles encountered at a
university. these students have the opportunity to learn in
alternate ways in many other classes.
Another disadvantage is that the students have to
work in teams. They complain about being on teams. but
most often the complaints are accompanied by acknowledgments
that they understand that they are preparing for the
'real world'. They appreciate real world experiences even when
they do not like them. Also students find it difficult to work in
teams because they have not been taught team skills. Most
teachers in agriculture and natural resources are not trained
to teach team skills. Fortunately there are many programs,
articles, and books which can help instructors become better
teachers of team skills.