Learner-centered Teaching


In learner-centered teaching, the focus is on the student as learner, on improving student learning and success, rather than on the transmission of information. The articles and websites below first introduce and define learner-centered teaching. The following links present the theory and research that support the learner-centered approach and offer classroom strategies to achieve it. The final two articles approach learner-centered teaching from an institutional perspective, as a paradigm shift throughout the university.


Definition and Principles to Guide Practice

Learner-centered Teaching and Education (A University of Southern California Resource for Faculty).
Scan down to “What is Learner-centered Teaching?” for a definition applicable to higher education. This is a section of a larger document that covers many issues and concerns in adapting to this “paradigm shift in university teaching.”
Teacher-Centered vs. Learner-Centered Paradigms.
Two neat little charts, the first one laying out the attributes of each paradigm, and the second one applying these principles to instruction.
Learner-Centered Psychological Principles (American Psychological Association).
Fourteen principles pertaining to learners and the learning process. Includes cognitive and metacognitive factors, motivational and affective factors, developmental and social factors, and individual differences.

"Navigating the Bumpy Road to Student-Centered Instruction," Richard M. Felder (North Carolina State University) and Rebecca Brent (East Carolina State University).
Discusses the inevitable "bumps" in trying to institute student-centered instruction from both the student and faculty point of view. Provides responses to faculty concerns over this approach to teaching and learning with specific suggestions for overcoming them.

"Review and Summary of Learner-Centered Teaching by Maryellen Weimer," Bill Peirce, Coordinator of Reasoning across the Curriculum.
This site provides a complete summary of Weimer's 2002 publication by Jossey-Bass. Describes her five key changes to practice, principles to guide instructors who wish to move toward learner-centered teaching, challenges, strategies, and assessment issues.

“Five Characteristics of Learner-Centered Teaching,” Maryellen Weimer, Faculty Focus:  Higher Ed Teaching Strategies from Magna Publications, August 8, 2012.
Here is an article by Weimer describing the five characteristics of teaching that she proposes make it learner-centered.


Strategies for Learner-Centered Teaching

Learner-Centered Education & Instruction (University of Southern California, Center for Excellence in Teaching).
Comprehensive lists of resources for learner-centered instruction, including the use of technology, assessment, and institutional approaches. Many items have Internet links.
Learner Centered Teaching: Largest Resource for Learner Centered Teaching on the Web. (Terry Doyle, Ferris State University).
A personal website on which Terry Doyle has gathered a great deal of useful information about learner centered teaching, much of it coming from his own work as a faculty developer.

"The Learner-Centered Syllabus: From Theory to Practice in Allied Health Education," Kimberly S. Peer (Kent State University) and Malissa Martin (College of Mount St. Joseph). (International Journal of Allied Health Sciences and Practice, Vol. 3, No. 2).
Suitable for all disciplines, this article discusses the paradigm shift from teaching to learning and describes the elements of a syllabus that focuses on student learning.


The Paradigm Shift

"From Teaching to Learning: A New Paradigm for Undergraduate Education," Robert B. Barr and John Tagg (Palomar College, San Marcos California). Article reprinted from Change magazine, November/December 1995, pp.13-25. 
This article discusses the paradigm shift now taking hold in higher education from the traditional "Instruction Paradigm" to a "Learning Paradigm." Outlines principles and elements of the Learning Paradigm, its relationship to student outcomes assessment, and its implications for higher education institutions. 

"Learner-Centered Outcomes in Subject-Centered Institutions: Metaphors for Muggle Learning," Leon Fulcher (Zayed University, Abu Dhabi).
Discusses learner-centered teaching from an international perspective, using the Harry Potter literature of J. K. Rowling as metaphors describing the changes needed for learner-centered teaching to occur at the university level.

Back to top