Teaching should be student-centred: discuss

A "cultural shift" is needed to embed "student-centred teaching" in universities, a new report claims.

February 16, 2012

The report, commissioned by the Million+ group of post-92 institutions, says more universities should provide a "dynamic, interactive and inspirational" learning experience by shifting "the focus and responsibility from the lecturer to the learner".

"At its simplest, this is about creating activities and giving opportunities for students to discuss, explain and debate during class," says the report, Teaching that Matters.

"At its most complex, it involves them co-designing their learning with lecturers."

The report, which was written by researchers at the University of Wolverhampton's Centre for Developmental and Applied Research in Education, says traditional teaching through tutorials and seminars could give way to more innovative methods of learning.

These could include setting up "real-life projects in which students need to collaborate among themselves and with employers and local communities to develop and apply new ideas to challenging projects".

One example of good practice highlighted was a project run by Leeds Metropolitan University in which students took over and rebranded a failing charity shop to test their retail, marketing and business skills.

Another focused on history students at the University of Derby, who organised, promoted and presented a history conference for the public, which helped to develop public speaking, organisational and leadership skills.

Pam Tatlow, chief executive of Million+, said: "Modern universities are leading the way in making sure that the teaching and learning in our universities is delivering the knowledge, workplace and professional skills increasingly demanded by employers and by students themselves."

Innovative practices in newer universities should be copied by all universities, she added. Launching the report at the University of Greenwich on 10 February, the universities and science minister David Willetts welcomed the emphasis on teaching after the Million+ Research that Matters report last May.

He said it reinforced changes introduced in the government's White Paper, which "put student learning, teaching and the academic experience at the heart of a university's mission".

David Maguire, vice-chancellor of Greenwich, said: "There is a move from teacher-centric to student-centric models, with a focus on learning by reflection, doing and conversation."

jack.grove@tsleducation.com.

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