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The modern education tends to shift from the teacher-centered to the student-centered learning. In actuality, the development of the modern education stimulates educators and students to change their traditional approach to education and to learning. At this point, it is worth mentioning the fact that student-centered approach becomes particularly effective in the contemporary environment because students tend to become more and more autonomous in the course of learning. The latter results from the emerging need for students to learn independently of their teachers and, what is even more important, students need to carry on learning even after the end of their education. At the same time, many specialists (Anyon, 1992) lay emphasis on the fact that contemporary students have different needs and wants compared to students in the past and educators need to use the student-centered approach to organize the learning process effectively. In actuality, educators need to develop their professional skills and abilities and extend their professional knowledge far beyond the mere education and training but they should also extend their professional knowledge, skills and abilities to the field of psychology and culture. In fact, educators should focus on the student-centered learning to reach success in their work with students and, what is more important, in such a way, they prepare students to the life-time learning because students grow more confident in their ability to learn, when educators use the student-centered approach to learning.
The shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning
In actuality, the shift from the teacher-centered learning to the student-centered learning has become obvious. In addition to the above, it seems rather important to understand causes of the shift toward the student-centered learning in order to define clearly the major directions in the development of the student-centered learning. Basically, the teacher-centered learning was grounded on the position of educators as the highest authority. The main function of a teacher was to teach students, to provide them with information, to help them to learn the learning material and to acquire certain set of knowledge along with basic skills and abilities the education aims at.
However, today, such an approach to learning is out-of-date and it does not work effectively anymore. To put it more precisely, the modern technology and science keep progressing at the unparalleled pace. In such a situation, the provision of students with a rigid set of knowledge has little positive effects on the further professional and personal life of students because the rigid set of knowledge becomes out-of-date fast and by the end of the school or college, students need to start learning on and on to keep pace with the rapidly changing technology and science. In such rapidly changing environment, students need to be able to find effective approaches to learning to be able to learn autonomously of educators.
In this respect, it seems to be necessary to emphasize the fact that each student is unique and educators should shift toward the student-centered learning, where educators perform the role of a guide, who helps students to develop basic skills and abilities and to acquire knowledge students need in their regular life as well as in their future professional career. Specialists (Russell, 2002) argue that the student-centered learning maximizes the effectiveness of learning because educators find the individual approach to each student. This means that educators learn the cultural background of students, their psychological peculiarities, individual characteristics, their academic successes and current level of development. In such a way, using the aforementioned information, teachers can apply the student-centered learning to meet needs and wants of each student and to prepare him or her to the effective learning.
Environment beneficial for student-centered learning
The maximization of the effectiveness of learning is one of the major goals of the learning process. At the same time, to reach a considerable success in learning, especially using the student-centered approach to learning, it is necessary to create environment, which is favorable for the implementation of the student-centered learning. In actuality, this means that educators should focus on students needs and wants not only in a short-run perspective but also in a long-run one. Therefore, educators should understand that students will need to keep learning even after the end of a school, college, or University. In such a situation, educators should prepare students to the idea of the lifetime learning.
However, the idea of the lifetime learning implies that students should understand that they will need to learn on their own without the assistance of educators. Consequently, the autonomy of students should become one of the major elements of the student-centered learning. To create such environment, where students feel autonomous, educators can encourage the group work of students, work of students on different projects, encourage their volunteer work, and so on. However, it is worth mentioning that educators should always assist students. They should be guides for their students, who can give a piece of valuable advice, who can show the way students should pass on their own.
In this regard, specialists (Stewart, 2003) argue that the autonomy of students is one of the integral elements of the student-centered learning. Students feel free in the learning process. They can choose the subject to learn, the time to learn, and so on. Educators, in their turn, develop the curriculum, guide and control students. The control is particularly important in the student-centered because students should not feel the pressure from the part of educators. Instead, they should feel the support and trust from the part of educators. At the same time, it is possible to recommend introducing self-control among students. For instance, students can work on certain projects and discuss them in their groups, whereas an educator just performs a role of an authority or expert, who express his or her opinion on the subject, but students define whether their work was successful or not. In such a way, students are engaged in the learning process, they become active participants of the learning process, instead of passive subjects to the learning process as is the case of the teacher-centered learning.
At this point, specialists (Hooks, 1994) lay emphasis on the fact that the studentsâ€™ involvement in the learning process should include the concept of active learning, which means that students participate actively in the learning process and they collaborate with educators instead of perceiving the learning material from educators. The active learning implies that students work on their own education and define their learning. For instance, students can choose subjects to learn. This is the manifestation of the active learning.
In practice, the active learning is often superficial and does not really provide students with freedom to participate in the learning process on the equal ground with educators. In this respect, it is possible to recommend engaging students in the development of the learning plan. For instance, students can have certain preferences and inclinations to issues which do matter for them. Therefore, educators, while working on the curriculum and planning the learning process, should monitor needs and wants of students. For instance, before or at the beginning of the school year, educators can conduct interviews or questionnaires involving students in the elaboration of the plan of learning. For instance, educators can ask students about their preferences and particular interests in their subject, or else they can students about issues they consider to be the most important in their subject, and so on.
The active engagement of students into the learning process stimulates the development of critical thinking students. For instance, when students work in groups or when they discuss the work of each other in the class on projects, they evaluate their own work, they learn how to think critically and analytically. In such a context, students start thinking not as students but rather as educators, not as subjects to the learning process but as active participants of the learning process, who do not just learn and work on assignments but who assess and evaluate critically the work of other students. Obviously, the critical thinking is crucial in this regard and educators can stimulate the development of critical thinking through role plays and creation of situations when students need to evaluate the work of each other.
Thus, taking into consideration everything that was mentioned above, it is suffice to mention that the learning process is complicated and today it shifts toward the student-centered learning. The student-centered learning implies that students become active participants of the learning process instead of mere subjects to the learning process as used to be the case of the teacher-centered approach. The student-centered learning can become successful through the engagement of students in the learning process when they participate in the development of the plan of the learning process, when their interests and needs are taken into consideration by educators in the course of the development of lesson plans and curriculum, when students can evaluate and assess the work of each other and when they can work autonomously, whereas educators perform the role of guides.