Learner Centered… just for pharmacy students?

> As the researcher notes, the rapid development of technology and drugs within this field makes it essential that students “be motivated to become lifelong learners rather than allowed to learn ‘just what is necessary to pass the test,’ if they are to provide quality care to their future patients.” A similar assessment applies to student learning in almost any field nowadays.

This comes from a blog post detailing some recent research findings that show how learner- or student-centered approaches can foster engaged learning.

While this study was conducted with college students, it also reminds me of the type of learning we’ve experienced in Kindergartens. What makes the classroom student- or learner-centered?

We have to provide an environment or stage for learning to take place – then get out of the way! Think of the rug in Kindergarten – where we might build with blocks for a 15 minutes to create something. Or another center where we might develop our language skills at a computer station.

Learner-centric learning is something I am looking forward to doing this year with a couple of teachers who are going to help us pilot a hybrid classroom with iPads and MacBooks. And central to this will be establishing that stage for learning and getting out of the way… by creating activities, mini-projects, and longer-term projects for students. Each have to give students opportunities to do things like brainstorm, plan, discuss, and maybe even argue a little bit. A learner-centered classroom can work with students learning independently, but the experience often times will be richer when it’s more social and collaborative.

I know this approach isn’t easy for most teachers because it’s not a model we’ve had great success with in our past as learners ourselves. But we can find models in college courses and Kindergarten as models to work from. And the benefit may be more engaged, motivated learning, as a result.