21st-Century Students in 20th Century Classrooms: Promoting Student–Centred Learning in Mismatched Caribbean Classrooms

21st-Century Students in 20th Century Classrooms: Promoting Student–Centred Learning in Mismatched Caribbean Classrooms

Jason Marshall (University of the West Indies – Cave Hill, Barbados), Karen Thomas (St. Vincent and the Grenadines Community College, St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Sandra Robinson (University of the West Indies – Cave Hill, Barbados)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 20
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1689-7.ch010

Abstract

This chapter focuses on the transition from teacher-centred learning to student-centred learning. First, we situate the importance of student-centred learning within the Angloplone Caribbean experience. Second, we outline ways in which on-going professional development centers institutions interested in making the transition to student-centered learning. Third, we describe some techniques that can be used to engender student-centered approaches to teaching and learning. Finally, we conclude by summarizing student-centred pedagogical challenges and implications.
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Introduction

The hesitation evident among some Caribbean educators to incorporate new teaching strategies in an era of many educational innovations has been the centre of discussion among educational stakeholders. Research indicates that while student-centred learning is effective, many educators remain hesitant to fully adopt this approach in their classrooms (Kember, 2009; Umbach & Wawrzynski, 2005; Chung & Chow, 2004). The hesitation that educators encounter stems from uncertainty regarding how to transition from a teacher-centred method of teaching that mainly focuses on the delivery of content, to a student-centred learning environment.

Barr and Tagg (1995) describe Student-Centered Learning (SCL) as a move from an ‘Instruction Paradigm’ to a ‘Learning Paradigm’ in which learning is produced through student discovery and construction of knowledge. In other words, SCL is a transition in the focus of instruction. This pedagogical shift from teacher-centered instruction (TCI) to student-centered learning (SLC) is a necessary pedagogical goal if the aim of instruction and learning is to facilitate independent, critical thinking (Dixon-Krauss, 1996). However, the notion of such a pedagogical shift remains primarily theoretical since often teachers at all levels of education still struggle to relinquish the familiar, teacher-centered, twentieth century approach to instruction. As such, while SCL is considered a best practice in education, educators need more than a mandate in order to effect and sustain SCL as a pedagogical change.

Caribbean governments have made great efforts to reform education in a way that engenders more student-driven approaches to learning, but most Caribbean educators have been slow to incorporate this approach in their instructional design, delivery, and assessments. As such, in many instances, Caribbean learning spaces have remained didactic, content-based, and teacher-centered. In addition, noteworthy concerns of educators throughout the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) include ensuring that curricula expectations are met, maintaining accountability and responsibility and minimizing failure as educators.

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