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Learner-centred instructional strategy

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jacqueline butler

on 23 September 2016

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Transcript of Learner-centred instructional strategy

Learner-centred instructional strategy
The information presented explores the use of a learner-centred instructional strategy in adult learning environments. Would it be more effective at preparing adult learners for the real world? Learner-centred instruction is the evolution of learning; instructors/facilitators/educators moving to embrace the role of the learner as a shared partner in the development of his or her learning. A paradigm shift from the didactic approach to teaching to a more facilitative interactive approach. What is a learner-centred instructional strategy? What are it's key features and intended learning goals? How can we as facilitators successfully implement this strategy?
“To do a good job, people need to be fully engaged and empowered.”(Bens, 2012). A learner-centred instructional approach recognizes the link between a learner’s development and empowering the learner. In this approach more responsibilities are given to the learners. When learners are empowered, they are motivated to learn, to become actively involved in their learning. A Learner-centred instructional approach recognizes that learners have different learning styles, different learning goals and objectives. It values the learners as partners in their learning and recognizes that learners are motivated to learn when they are accountable for their learning. “People are committed to the ideas and plans that they have helped to create”(Bens, 2012). The facilitator is no longer seen as simply the giver of knowledge but as a facilitator in the development of knowledge.
Ali Shehadeh (2012) concisely outlines the key features of this strategy as:

Learners take part in setting goals and objectives.
There is concern about learners’ needs, goals, likes, dislikes, feelings and values.
There is concern about learners’ prior knowledge.
There is concern about learners’ different learning styles and learning preferences.
Learners are seen as active, rather than passive, participants in the learning/ teaching process.
Learners take much of the responsibility for their own learning.
Learners are actively involved in shaping how they learn; that is, students co-construct knowledge rather than just receive it.
There is ample teacher-student and student student interactions.
There is an abundance of brainstorming activities, pair work and small group work.
The teacher is seen as a facilitator of learning rather than an instructor or lecturer who spoon feeds learners with knowledge.
A learner-centred instructional approach fosters the development of critical analytical skills. It utilizes a constructivist facilitation approach to learning, which encourages participatory learning, in which diverse perspectives shared by peers foster critical reflection and assessment from all learners actively involved in their learning. Research has shown that critical reflection activates prior knowledge and experience to effectively bridge the old knowledge with the development of new knowledge, promoting the integrating of this new knowledge into the real world. Brown-Ferrigno and Muth (2012) cited in their article on Use of Learner-centred Instructional Strategies in Higher Education-Doctoral Student Assessments that "students learn better and faster, retain and use knowledge and skills more ably and transfer both knowledge and skills gained to their work environments." By utilizing various methods a learner-centred instructional approach can help to develop a learners cognitive skills. As cited by Kozlowski et al. (2001) "This active learning approach aims to stimulate and shape a combination of cognitive, motivational, and emotional and emotion self-regulatory processes that characterize how people focus their attention."
Can the learner-centred instructional approach address Bloom’s (1956) cognitive, affective, or psychomotor domains of learning? In effect, address a learner’s intellect, emotions and physical skills? This approach in my view applies to not one but all three learning domains at various levels. One of the key features of the learner-centered approach is the value it places on individual learning needs; the likes, dislikes, values, feelings and learning goals. All of which are actively displayed in the participatory style of learning that the learning-centred approach promotes. For example, the understanding, responding, and manipulation levels of all three learning domains respectfully would accommodate participative learning in which group work, paired work, peer review would achieve the desired learning outcome. Two examples of the learner-centred approach in action in the cognitive domains are in the ELT classrooms Ali Shehadeh (2012) and the doctoral programs for Doctor of Education and Doctor of Philosophy Brown-Ferrigno and Muth (2012).
The aim of the learner-centred instructional strategy is to empower and motivate learners to actively participate in their learning development in order to effectively integrate knowledge and skills into real life situations. David Merrill’s first principles of instruction (2002) underlie the aim of the learner-centred instructional strategy. Merrill’s principles support the fundamental belief that all learners are intrinsically motivated to learn when the learning translates into “real world application.” The learner-centred approach reflects the demonstration principle through the use of peer demonstration, and peer discussions. The use of the activation principle is evident in this approach when learners are asked to share experiences relevant to the content. Strategic knowledge is created when learners are able to bridge existing knowledge with new knowledge acquired. Learners are then able to apply this knowledge to specific real life situations. With this strategic knowledge learners are able to go beyond the class room environment and specific use to adapt this knowledge through integration into their everyday lives (Merrill, 2002). A common theme integral to each of Merrill’s first principles of instruction is, promoting learner engagement. Learner-engagement is integral to the effective application of a learner-centred instructional strategy.
To implement this approach requires an assessment and understanding of the situation of learning, that is, the values and conditions specific to the learning environment, Reigeluth et al. (2009). Values in terms of the learners’ desired learning goals; what are the best methods to use to help learners develop and achieve their desired learning outcomes? Assess the conditions of learning. What is the nature of the content to be facilitated? Know the limitations presented by the delivery method and the time allotted.
Reflect on your pedagogical beliefs and the impact it could have on successfully implementing this approach. Do you believe in student empowerment; the teacher no longer holding the position of power in the classroom? Giving students the power to determine how they develop knowledge and skills? (Bens 2012)
Acknowledge and reflect on the characteristics and traits you have as a facilitator that could hinder a successful implementation. Reflect on your TPI (Pratt 1998)
Identify practices and facilitation tools necessary for successful implementation, such as neutrality, active listening, facilitating the building of norms and rules to be used for group and paired work. Engage in Ice-breaker activities to create a collaborative learning atmosphere.
Utilize activities methods that will result in the learning outcome that aligns with the key features of this strategy and the intended learning goals. Such as, discussions, problem based approach and experiential learning (Reigeluth et al., 2009). “Optimal learning takes place when people are actively engaged in contemplation, reflective practice, and experiential learning” Hallinger and Lu (2013)
Get to know your learners, by having a pre-intro session in which experiences as it relates to the nature of the content is discussed.
Finally ensure that you have an authentic assessment tool in place to assess individual learning outcomes (Reigeluth et al., 2009).

The learners – Their perspective on the learner-centered approach
The learning environment – Is the size of the classroom, delivery method of the learning conducive to the type of learning environment.
The content – Is the learner-centered instructional approach, the right approach to use based on the content. What is the learning domain being addressed?

Froyd and Simpson in an article on Student-Centered Learning - Addressing Faculty Questions about Student-centered Learning captures a few of the constraints in the following questions:

Can I cover the content in my syllabus using student-centered learning approaches?
Can I use student-centered learning approaches when teaching large classes?
Can I move from teacher-centered to student-centered in stages? How?
How do I respond to student resistance when I start using student-centered learning approaches?

Today’s adult learners are tomorrow’s future leaders. Higher education is responsible for developing an educated workforce that meets the demands of an ever-changing economic order Hains and Smith, (2012) as cited by Donahue–Di Conti (2004). A learner-centered instructional strategy builds leaders, enhances communications skills, and promotes collaboration. One of the key characteristics highlighted in numerous researches is the confidence gained by adult learners when they feel empowered.

“Adult learners take charge of their individual and collective learning, become accountable for both, and enhance their ability to transfer learning to practice” (Browne-Ferrigno and Muth, 2012). “There is an urgent need in our society to develop educated workers and citizens who utilize their knowledge to solve real-world problems and to meet the challenges of a new-world economy” James and Smith (as cited by Cantor, 1997; Friedman, 2007; Massimiliano, 2004). It is a strategy that builds strategic critical thinkers who are able to apply knowledge and skills acquired, to not only enrich their lives but to integrate that knowledge into bettering the lives others.

There are many adult disciplines in which this approach is practiced. Its use and effectiveness is evident across the adult learning spectrum; in classrooms, in organizations, across borders and continents. Ali Shehadeh a professor at the United Arab Emirates University describes the effective use of this strategy in English Language Teaching (ELT) classrooms from the perspectives of how each learner receives and comprehends information. "Research has shown that learner-learner and teacher-learner interactions, which are key features of learner-centered instruction, provide second language learners with excellent opportunities for receiving modified, comprehensible input and presents them with unique opportunities towards active deployment of their cognitive resources, making them more actively engaged in the learning process.” (Shehadeh, 2012)

Over the years we have seen a shift in the skill sets required in organization. Many organizations are embarking on new initiatives and new strategic goals that are seeing a demand in adaptive expertise, or competencies that are not only specialized but also flexible enough to be modified to change circumstances (Kozlowski and Bell, 2009). Kozlowski and Bell provides a comprehensive review of the use of a learner-centered approach in developing adaptable skills to meet the changing demands of organizations.

Bens, I. (2012).
Facilitating with ease: Core skills for facilitators, team leaders and members, managers, consultants, and trainers.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Brookfield, S. D., & Preskill, S. (2005)
. Discussion as a way of teaching: Tools and technique for democratic classrooms.
San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Browne-Ferrigno, T., & Muth, R. (2012). Use of Learner-Centered Instructional Strategies in Higher Education: Doctoral Student Assessments.
International Journal For The Scholarship Of Teaching & Learning, 6(2), 1-21.

Hains, B. J., & Smith, B. (2012). Student-Centered Course Design: Empowering Students to Become Self-Directed Learners.
Journal Of Experiential Education, 35(2), 357-374.

Hallinger, P., & Lu, J. (2013). Learner centered higher education in East Asia: assessing the effects on student engagement.
International Journal Of Educational Management, 27(6), 594-612. doi:10.1108/IJEM-06-2012-0072

Kozlowski, S. & Salas, E. (Eds.) (2009).
Learning training and development in organizations.
New York: Taylor and Francis

Reigeluth, C. M., & Carr-Chellman, A. A. (Eds.) (2009).
Instructional designs-theories and models: Building a common knowledge base.
New York: Routledge

Shehadeh, A. (2012). Learner-Centered Instruction in the ELT Classroom: What, Why and How?.
Perspectives (TESOL Arabia), 19(3), 5-12.




Objective of this lesson
To facilitate the development of time management skills for new and existing managers
This training will be delivered in a face-to-face adult learning environment, applying a learner-centred strategy to actively engage the learner in the development of time management skills; utilizing various learning tools, facilitative practices and methods to accomplish the learning objective.
The time frame within which this will be delivered is one day training from 9 am to 5 pm.

Time management is a cognitive skill that is not only applicable to any one specific situation but that can also be adapted and integrated into everyday lives. As a society we are constantly on the go, having to “juggle” many tasks simultaneously while adhering to work and family demands. To prioritize and meet the many demands placed on us, strategic critical skills are needed that can be integrated into our everyday lives. A learner-centred strategy, which focuses on learner engagement, is useful in developing the strategic time management skills necessary to be effective across all aspects of one’s life.

The values and conditions particular to this lesson are conducive to a learner-centered instructional approach. Learning goals; relevant to everyday lives. Learners will be motivated to be actively involved because it relates to real life situation, which is a fundamental component of Merrill’s first principles of instruction. Learners will be actively involved by sharing their experiences utilizing time management or not utilizing time management. Learners will actively engage in discussions, simulations, demonstrations to activate old knowledge and bridge new experiences. A collaborative learning environment will be created to encourage active participation. As the facilitator my role will be to monitor the discussions, and provide feedback through interim assessments on group and peer feedback.



Introduce the lesson and
open with an ice-breaker
learners will be asked to share stories about their experiences applying or not applying time management skills
Ask about ramifications and the impact of not applying the skills
Activation Principle
in action in which learners are asked to activate prior experience to gain a better understanding and use of this skill by bridging the old knowledge with the new.

Learning objective
Gather feedback from each learner on his/her expected learner outcome.
Ask questions to help gage the experience level of the learners in training and to help determine which methods are best suited to engage the learners
Explain to the learner the process that will be used to achieve the learning objective and provide opportunities for the learners to share their thoughts on the learning objectives
Make accommodations to modify lesson plans based on learners feedback

Utilize learning methods that will foster learner engagement and create a collaborative learning environment
Share knowledge on any theory pertinent to this skill and discuss the information,
having learners critically reflect on the information by posing specific questions to the learners.
Facilitator will demonstrate the use of time management skills as well as
Peer demonstration of the effective use of time management skills
Demonstration principle
used to show how to apply time management skills to a number of complex tasks all considered priorities

Engage the learners in Experiential learning methods

in which they will apply the knowledge acquired to simple and complex situations that requires the use of time management skills
Facilitator will provide corrective feedback if necessary or feedback that prompts the learner to reflect on his or her applied use of the skill.
Application principle
as learners are asked to use the new time management skills to apply to a situation.

Summarize the discussion by highlighting the key points and main takeaways. Have the learners share their key takeaways with peers.
Integration principle

as learning is promoted when learners discuss new knowledge with peers at the end of the lesson.
Post -assessment Feedback
from the learners on what they learned.
Was the learning outcome achieved?
Provide intrinsic feedback during the experiential learning on the use of time management techniques
specific open-ended questions will prompt learners to reflect on their choices and determine the correct action without your intervention
Provide corrective feedback if necessary during the active learning process. this type of feedback highlights the consequences of the learners action and how it would differ if other corrective actions were taken.
Coaching can also involve engaging the learner into simple activties and moving to more complex activities that require the use of time management skills
Peer critique is also a useful method to engage learners and integrate knowledge.

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