Student-centered approaches to learning are drawn from the mind/brain sciences, learning theory, and research on youth development, and are essential to students’ full engagement in achieving deeper learning outcomes.
The four principles of student-centered approaches to learning challenge the current schooling and education paradigm:
- Learning is personalized: Together educators, parents, and students customize learning experiences—what they learn, and how, when, and where they learn it—to students' individual developmental needs, skills, and interests. Although where, how, and when they learn might vary according to their needs, students also develop deep connections to each other and their teachers and other adults. Many applications of personalized learning emphasize the use of technology to enable the level of differentiation at scale.
- Learning is competency based: Students move ahead based not on their age or the numbers of hours they log in the classroom but, primarily, based on their ability to demonstrate that they have reached key milestones along the path to mastery of core competencies and bodies of knowledge. Further, each student must be provided with the scaffolding and differentiated support needed to keep progressing at a pace appropriate to reaching college, career, and civic outcomes, even when unequal resources are required to achieve a more equitable result.
- Learning takes place anytime, anywhere: Time is fully utilized to optimize and extend student learning and to allow for educators to engage in reflection and planning. Students have equitable opportunities to learn outside of the typical school day and year in a variety of settings, take advantage of the variety of digital technologies that can enhance learning, and can receive credit for this learning based on their demonstration of skills and knowledge.
- Students exert ownership over their learning: Students understand how to get “smarter” by applying effort strategically to learning tasks in various domains and content areas. They have frequent opportunities to direct and to reflect and improve on their own learning progression toward college and career ready standards through formative assessments that help them understand their own strengths and learning challenges.