Learner-centered and self-directed learning

Learner-centered learning means that student is in the center of learning process. Decisions are made by student, so there is freedom of learning but at the same time the responsibility of the progress and participation in lectures is student’s. Teacher’s role is more to be a coach than a lecturer. Learner-centered learning increases student’s motivation, but at the same time is easy to give yourself study free days when your motivation is gone.

Malcolm Shepherd Knowles (1913-1997), an American adult educator is said to be the father of adult education. He created the idea of andragogy, synonymous to adult education. Andragogy comes from Greek and it literally means “leading man” when pedagogy literally means “leading children”. Before his principles and methods, adult learners were mainly taught using the same methods that are used for children.

Key characteristics of adult learning are:
1) being a self-directed human being
2) experiences of earlier learning
3) adults are ready to learn
5) learning orientation is problem centered,instead of subject centered
6) motivation to learn is internal

Self-directed learning can be used for example in interpreter training. There are online speech banks which provide material for using in classroom or in self-directed practices. Self-directed practices are useful also when there is a new app you need to learn to use at work. There is no need to have a training session when everyone can learn by themselves.

The downside of learner-centered and self-directed learning is that lack of self-discipline may slow-up studies. Thought the motivation at the beginning of studies was high it may decrease when student encounters difficulties or adversities. At those points it is crucial that the connection to teacher is available.

References:
eLearning Industry – The Adult Learning Theory – Andragogy – of Malcolm Knowles
European Comission
KyKy – Opiskelijakeskeinen oppimiskulttuuri

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