For many years, applying student-centered instructional approach in technology integration classrooms has been promoted by researchers and educators, saying this approach support students’ higher-level knowledge and skills and helps teachers develop effective instruction in many educational domains (Chen, 2008; Ertmer & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, 2010). Then, which instructional approach is considered as best approach to support best practice in technology integration classrooms? Teacher-centered or student-centered?
The information from the Center for Teaching Excellence tells us that not all learners’ learning styles match student-centered instructional approach and not all subject areas are appropriate to use student-centered approach. I think each instructional approach has its pros and cons and both approaches could be involved in best practices. But like I stated in the first blog entry, I think there’s no one specific technology tool or instructional approach could be applied for best practices in all different kinds of learning content and contexts. So, teacher-centered or student-centered teaching approach for best practices in education? It needs to be decided by teachers based on their learners’ preference, learning content, objectives, and context to keep two approaches be mixed and balanced in lessons to match learners’ needs.
Issue: Do teachers really apply student-centered approach when they say they believe it is a better approach and they have applied it in their classrooms?
This week, I read a blog post from a professor in college, talking about she recognized the advantages of student-centered instruction and she was confident about her implementation of student-centered instructional approach in her classrooms all the time. Surprisingly, she was told by her college who observed in her class that her instruction was totally teacher-centered. After reading this blog post, I also read a paper from a Taiwanese researcher – Why do teachers not practice what they belief regarding technology integration? Suddenly, I then realized perhaps there are not many teachers in practice who design well-structured student-centered curriculum and provide student-centered instruction even though they believe student-centered is a better instructional approach than teacher-centered and they are willing to implement it in classrooms (Chen, 2008). Teachers want to do it, but they do not really make it happen might be because of the limitations in the whole teaching and learning environment, especially in K-12 school settings. Chen (2008) concluded that teachers’ improper or limited knowledge and understanding of best practices with technology integration is one of the factors of inconsistency between teachers’ practice and their beliefs. Noticing this issue emerged, I think it would be interesting to keep investigating whether school teachers have proper understanding of best practices with technology use (what do teacher-centered and student-centered mean?) and how teachers implement what they understand and believe in practice.
Here’s the information about the difference between teacher-centered and student-centered instructional approach:
1. Teacher-Centered, Learner-Centered, or All of the Above
2. University of South Carolina – Center for Teaching Excellence
3. Teacher-centered v.s. Student-centered Paradigms
4. Learner-centered Teaching: Five Key Changed to Practice
5. Which is Best: Teacher-Centered or Student-Centered?
While reading Ertmer’s article, I found researchers associate low-level technology with teacher-centered practice and high level use of technology with student-centered practice (Becker & Riel, 1999, cited in Ertmer, 2005). From my own observation in Taiwanese schools, no matter it is seemed as low or high level of technology use, teachers’ instructional approach would be limited by the current educational environment and policies. For instance, many teachers have been expected by principals and parents to have more teacher-centered classes because they have limited time to teach massive amount of content in order to get good grades in tests and exams under the test-oriented educational system. Even though teachers know student-centered teaching supports students’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, they are not allowed to use student-centered approach because of the time constraint, especially for teachers in higher level grades in K-12 school setting. In this kind of case, is it possible to have a class focused more on teacher-centered but at the same time nurture students’ 21st century knowledge and skills with the help of high-level use of technology?
C.H. Chen, C.H. (2008). Why do teachers not practice what they believe regarding technology integration? The Journal of Educational Research, 102 (1), pp. 65–75
Ertmer, P. A. (2005). Teacher pedagogical beliefs: The final frontier in our quest for technology integration. Educational Technology, Research and Development, 53 (4), 25-39.
Ertmer, P. A., & Ottenbreit-Leftwich, A. T. (2010). Teacher technology change: how knowledge, beliefs, and culture intersect. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 42(3), 255–284.