Acquiring Learner-Centered Teaching Strategies

The examples in this area offer methods for applying the concept of “learner-centered” teaching strategies in our classrooms. Strategies that build upon this understanding of learning are those that provide environments that encourage students to pay attention and actively engage in creating or co-creating their own learning.

According to Terry Doyle in his book “Learner-Centered Teaching” (2011), a “widely accepted definition of learning is that it is a change in neuron-networks of the brain (Goldberg, 2009; Ratey, 2001). For this change to happen, students must be paying attention and actively engaging their brains to process new sensory input.” Cognitive neuroscientist Janet Zadina explains that when students’ brains are engaged in new learning, their brains’ neurons begin to grow new cellular material, but if the new information doesn’t get used or practiced, the brain will reabsorb it. Thus Doyle concludes that “most of the time, our students need to be doing more than just listening to a lecture. Our students need to be doing the work.” (pp.7-8)

Below are some examples:

How do we develop learner-centered courses?

Brain-based research indicates that learning-centered courses share the power with the students, encourage collaborative work among students, and develop the students’ ability to “learn how to learn” (Doyle, 2011). One key element of learner-centered courses is designing projects that call for the teacher to take on the role of facilitator, or coach, as students encounter real-world problems. The following frameworks for course design will hopefully help you develop learner-centered projects and courses:


Doyle, T. (2011). Learner-centered teaching; Putting the research on learning into practice.VA: Stylus.