Cathy Davidson on designing student-centered learning

I was very glad to read Cathy Davidson’s description of a student-centered approach to course design that itself ends up articulating the core, underlying goal of student-centered learning: Empower every learner to be autonomous, self-directed, and successful.

It’s because of this goal that student-centered learning is often confounded with “active learning”; achieving this goal in a real, transferable way requires active learning.

Coincidentally, the research team I work on has been focusing on this distinctive idea over the past two months as we prepare for InstructureCon 2015 . We’ve scoured the academic literature on “student-centered learning” and its various incarnations, and are coming to a sense of how this important idea is connected with associated theories, applications, and practices. It’s becoming clear that, if we as educators believe in the goals and principles of student-centered learning, we must deliberately provide scaffolding for our students; we can’t assume the mindsets, skills, and habits of self-directedness will emerge ex nilho.