Learner-Centered Pedagogy

Key Idea #4: Promote Learner-centered Pedagogy in the Classroom


Learning-centered pedagogical models encourage students to engage with content, one another, the professor, and, most importantly, the learning process.  In concert with the recent, Spring 2011 IT Task Force Report, we want to encourage ongoing development of pedagogical praxis that encourage reflection, dialogue, and engagement, and require a reliable assessment of content mastery.  Learning-centered pedagogical models – compared with teaching-centered models – empower students to take ownership of their education.  To promote learning-centered pedagogical models, the university must encourage its faculty to continually reimagine and reinvent their educational philosophy and praxis, and the university should support such pedagogical excellence, and create opportunities for its continued development.  The university must also develop additional incentives that elevate the importance of instructional quality in evaluation for promotion and tenure and beyond.

Potential Obstacles:

  • Unfamiliarity with various educational philosophies and its various pedagogical and didactic models
  • Involves more work for both faculty and students
  • Learning-centered pedagogical models demand more resources
  • Already have too few faculty and this requires even more from those we have
  • Classrooms often hamper learning-centered pedagogical models

The ultimate teaching-centered classroom?

Unresolved Issues:

  • Incentives for some faculty to embrace learning-centered pedagogical models
  • Students have to embrace learning-centered pedagogical models and accept that more time is spent learning
  • How do you make certain topics and subjects something that can be “learned” rather than taught?
  • That Virginia Tech values a great teacher on par with a great researcher or successful grant recipient
  • The capacity of CIDER, the Faculty Development Institute, or other entities to adequately support faculty development
  • Clarify students’ roles and responsibilities in the process
  • How to bridge the gap between the academic affairs “side of the house” and the student affairs “side of the house” to successfully integrate academics with co-curricular/community engagement

Strategic Contribution:

If our students come out of the university truly invested in their education, then they will continue this commitment and approach to their whole lives.  The university benefits from an engaged student body that demands the most out of the faculty, staff and other students.  The student’s contribution to knowledge changes the dynamic of the student/faculty relationship to one more of an active partnership rather than passive consuming.  An empowered faculty with a perception of students as involved contributors to the body of knowledge rather than receptors of information will dramatically augment teaching.

Download the current draft of the Tomorrow’s Leaders subcommittee report (PDF).

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