Student-centered learning

Planning, teaching and assessment centers around the needs and abilities of students

What is it?

Student-centered learning moves students from passive receivers of information to active participants in their own discovery process. What students learn, how they learn it and how their learning is assessed are all driven by each individual student’s needs and abilities.

At the system level, this requires implementing curriculum planning practices, pedagogy and assessment methods that support a student-centric approach. In the classroom, teachers craft instruction and apply technology in a way that best serves each student’s learning journey. Technology use is always guided by two primary criteria:

  1. What’s appropriate for the task at hand?
  2. How can activities be designed to develop higher-order thinking skills?

Why is it important?

When students take responsibility for their own learning, they become explorers capable of leveraging their curiosity to solve real-world problems. To that end, the ISTE Standards guide teachers toward designing learning experiences that permit student independence and foster lifelong learning.

Technology allows for an unprecedented level of personalized learning, with valuable opportunities to monitor progress and engagement, follow student thinking, and digitally assess competencies. When schools effectively leverage both technology and pedagogy, both students and teachers become empowered to make decisions about their own learning and teaching.

True student-centered learning requires more than just an increase in technology implementation. It represents a shift in the educational culture toward a system that supports technology for standards-based learning and real-world problem solving. As a system transitions to a student-centered approach, educators can more effectively apply technology to improve learning outcomes and help students develop the skills for college and career readiness.

What does it look like?

Successful student-centered teaching emphasizes both creative and effective use of technology to meet students’ learning goals. Teachers address content standards in ways that not only support the material, but also help students develop the essential digital skills outlined in the ISTE Standards.

When evaluating how student-centered learning is incorporated into a school or district, it is critical to assess the extent to which:

  • Technology-powered pedagogy is applied 
  • Technology is used to increase access and differentiate teaching approaches
  • Teachers know how to differentiate their teaching using technology