A learner centered environment focus on the needs of the students and placing importance on the individual progress that the student makes. This type of approach entail the educator’s thorough understanding of the student’s skill level, the extent of knowledge as well as the student’s personal interests (Duckworth 1987). This is especially true nowadays when the achievement gap of minorities is increasing.
In one study, the reading achievement of African Americans and Latinos saw a widened gap during the 1990’s as compared to the 1970’s and 1980’s. Similarly, in the field of Mathematics, the gap between African American students and their White counterparts as well as between Latinos and White students widened during the 20th century as compared to the previous decades (Haycock, Gerald & Huang 2001). In a knowledge-centered environment, the educator plays an important role especially as they set the course of the student’s learning.
The provision of a knowledge-centered environment requires the educator to give attention to the subject areas that need to be taught, the reasons why these are taught so as to facilitate understanding and to show how mastery of the subject or competent skills may be achieved (Donovan, Bransford & Pellegrino, 1999). As students continuously gain new knowledge, it is important for educators to consider the preconceptions of students as these along with the learner’s attitudes have a significant impact towards the learning ability of the student as well as on the establishment of a positive classroom environment (Marzano and Pickering, 1997).
It is therefore important to ensure a balance between the provision of a learner centered and a knowledge centered environment. This may be achieved through the following: 1. Developing the knowledge base of students as this “serves as the foundation of all future learning by guiding organization and representations, by serving as a basis of association with new information, and by coloring and filtering all new experience” (Murphy and Alexander 2002, p. 12).
This can be achieved through working with students in small groups, an increase in the interaction time of the educator with the students, making use of interventions that are instructional in nature and through the involvement of the learner’s families. 2. Increasing the motivation of students which include factors such as “intrinsic motivation, personal goals, attributions for learning, and self-efficacy as well as the motivational characteristics of learning tasks” (Murphy and Alexander 2002, p. 16).
Academic concepts are easily learned and grasped by students if they display a certain interest on the subject area and possess a necessary amount of confidence on their ability to learn. Motivation may be increased through engaging in meaningful dialogue between the student and educator, the provision of adequate room for exploration of concepts and supporting the students to achieve and maintain a good academic performance. 3. Addressing the individual and developmental differences of students as learning advances and goes through common stages of development.
This could be influenced by factors that may be inherent or from environmental sources (Murphy & Alexander, 2002). Emphasis is placed on the provision of a variety of activities and gaining an understanding of the various pedagogies that supports the students’ individual differences such as the student’s learning style and the competencies and abilities of the educators.
Donovan, M. S. , Bransford, J. D. , & Pellegrino, J. W. (1999). How people learn: Bridging research and practice. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. Duckworth, E. (1987). The having of wonderful ideas and other essays on teaching and learning.
New York: Teachers College Press. Haycock, K. , Jerald, C. , & Huang, S. (2001). Closing the Gap: Done in a Decade. Thinking K-16, 5 (2). Retrieved September 8, 2008, from http://www. edtrust. org. Marzano, R. & Pickering (1997). Dimensions of learning teachers manual. Washington, DC: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Murphy, P. K. & Alexander, P. A. (2002). The Learner-Centered Principles: Their Value for Teachers and Teaching. In Hawley, W. D. , & Rollie, D. L. (Eds. ) The Keys to Effective Schools: Educational Reform as Continuous Improvement. Thousand Oaks:Corwin Press.