What Is Student-Centered Learning & Why Is It Important?

Teacher-led learning is an excellent way to impart knowledge, but time has taught scholars and learners that maybe it isn’t the best pedagogy for this generation.

Most American students describe high school learning as “boring” or “stressful” due to traditional teacher-guided methods. In a Yale Center poll involving 21,678 high school students, 75% of the respondents had negative feelings towards high school.

Now, to improve the learning experience, educators are letting students have a say in the educational process.

Student-Centered Learning (SCL) seeks to involve students in the curriculum-building process, ensuring that learners will enjoy and benefit from it.

Unlike in the old-school classroom where the teacher dominates, SCL programs involve instructor-student collaboration in every step, from choosing preferred course content to assessment types and methods.

What Is Student-Centered Learning & Why Is It Important?

How is Student-Centered Learning Different?

Student-centered learning can be defined by your learner’s increasing need to have a say on two matters: the content they’d like to learn and how they’d love to learn it. That also means offering a personalized learning experience.

It stands out from traditional tactics like teacher-centered learning because it prioritizes student interests as the guiding force in the educational process.

And while these student-led programs may take different forms, all tend to have some similarities. For instance, they all intend to make learning more meaningful to the students. They also use thorough assessments to measure student performance by involving learners and educators in the exam process. Furthermore, many SCL programs offer more flexibility to study in small groups or learn remotely.

All these happen without sidelining the teacher’s role. In this setting, the educator must be creative and seek to increase learner engagement.

What are the Perks of Student-Centered Learning?

If student-led learning is to impact education positively, it must show some practical results.

This, therefore, raises a critical question; is there proof to back the advantages of a student-led strategy? So far, researchers have conducted several studies on the matter.

The latest is the Nellie Mae Education Foundation & the National Conference of State Legislatures’ April 2020 report on student-centered studies. The poll found that SCL programs indeed show measurable advantages.

A section of the study saw researchers analyze 62 schools that practice student-led training. The institutions using SCL-type programs saw significant improvements in learner grades in math and reading. Still, some schools saw only a slight improvement.

Furthermore, the National Conference of State Legislatures’ report validated most of SCL’s fundamental principles, e.g., learners’ vital role in the educational process.

In the end, students who are familiar with their studying environment and feel in control will likely remain active all through the academic day and gradually get better in class.

Other advantages of learner-centered studies cited in the report include;

Changes Education Material to Fit Learner Interests:

Building a learner-led course tweaks curriculum content to match student needs. This improves the learning experience and encourages learners to attend and participate in lessons.

Allows Learners to Acquire Topic Mastery Before Proceeding to the Next Content:

Learner-led studies slow down the teacher-induced speed in traditional classes enabling students to understand and master at their pace.

Teachers Learners to Devise their Learning Strategies:

This approach triggers student participation, thereby training a learner to create their learning strategies.

Changes Learners from Passive to Active Students:

Motivated learners are willing to dig deeper into whatever interests them. This further triggers creativity, originality, and responsibility throughout the course.

Trains Students to Monitor Personal Progress as They Absorb New Content:

SCL’s structure prompts learners to track individual performance as they continue absorbing new content.

Recognizes Personal Learner Needs:

A student-led approach prioritizes learner needs and recognizes that people take in content at different rates.

Ensures Teacher-Learner Collaboration:

Though traditional methods attempt to increase student-teacher engagement, SCL programs are more effective in this. They position teachers to teach, offer support, encourage, give feedback, respond to questions, and offer suggestions.

Several other studies agree that learner-led strategies boost student performance. One Stanford University study conducted in 2014 investigated four Northern California high schools and found significant performance improvements when they adopted a student-led approach.

 The Takeaway

As the world transitions to a remote learning approach, it’s essential to rely on remedies to improve the education experience, like student-led learning.


Student-centered learning is said to offer multiple benefits. Learn the real pros of SCL programs in the educational process.

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