A Transformation towards Learner-Centered Teaching

I didn’t even know the transformation was happening. And for being a person who prides themself in being in touch with their feelings towards a topic, it snuck up on me like a bear in the night. Without even knowing it, I have become open to, and actually a proponent of/for, learner centered teaching. Let me take you back to a moment in class last week… It was in a course about non-formal learning theory. And we were discussing situated learning. A fellow classmate was arguing that we should not teach students calculus (or any other hard science) using situated learning strategies because only the teacher really knows what they are doing to provide enough guidance and help everyone with their problems. They were arguing for good olde’ stand and deliver lecture as the best format for teaching science.

What’s funny is about a year and I half ago, I can remember making this same argument. It was in a class about rural development. My professor was a really good lecturer (I know, weird right) and I was telling someone how much I enjoyed his lectures. How I thought it was a great way, perhaps even the best way to learn. I still believe I enjoyed his lectures but I can see other, perhaps more successful (i.e. better) alternative teaching techniques.

In any case, in class last week… I found myself being the one who was trying to open up my fellow students eyes about the possibility of situated learning (i.e. using student or learner center strategies) being quite successful to teach calculus. It was an almost surreal moment. I was like, WOW!

Two major ideas standout to me about this case and point. One, today, I am now much more open to learner centered teach strategies. I see them being a great way to not only teach the material, but a great way to create much more engagement and excitement in class. Two, change is a slow process and can happen without you even knowing it. My time here at Virginia Tech to date has largely been an experience of transformation. What  I thought I was interested in has changed. What I want to do has changed. My bookshelf has gotten much broader, richer, and deeper. And my positioning for hopefully a future career in academia feels right. Well, at least for this week…

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