Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Teacher-Centered vs. Student-Centered Classroom

This year I would like to continue to support some teachers in moving from a teacher-centered classroom to a more student-centered class.  I feel like this tends to more challenging at the high school level than at the middle school, or elementary level. There is still a lot of lecturing going on in high schools, and it would be great to see more student inquiry.

I came across this Learning Pyramid today that includes average learning retention rates from seven different types of learning. I think that it is a great visual for teachers to keep in mind while creating lesson plans. This chart showed a low 5% learning retention rate from "lecture" alone. The highest learning retention rate was 90% for "teaching others", and the second highest was "practice by doing" at 75%. 

We often use the "learning by doing" technique for learning outside of the classroom. For example, I know that if I want to learn how to make a new recipe, I need to actually make it myself and not simply watch someone else make it, or it will not stay in my long term memory. In addition, when I want to learn how to get to a new location, I have to drive the route on my own, and I will not remember the way if I am just watching from the passenger seat. I think that if we put our students in the driver's seat more often in the classroom it will increase learning retention rates.

I also liked to see that "discussion group" came in as the third best technique with a 50% retention rate. Many students love to work in groups, and to have the opportunity to discuss and share ideas. We need to capitalize on this technique that seems to increase student interest and motivation, and that also increases learning. I think this technique is used more often in some subject areas than others and it would be great to see it used in all courses.

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