Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Learner-centred/teacher-centred - evaluating lessons 3

In other posts I've talked about how you could focus your lesson evaluation on learning and teaching or on inclusivity.  Another evaluative angle to take would be to consider the extent to which the lesson was learner- or teacher-centred.  In a learner-centred lesson, pupils will take a more active, participatory role; in a teacher-centred lesson, pupils will be more passive, with the teacher making most or all of the decisions.   Strictly speaking, there's no right or wrong here: a teacher-centred approach suits certain learning contexts, a learner-centred approach suits others.  (However, from other posts, you'll know that I lean towards a learner-centred model.)   Think about it as a continuum:

You could ask yourself  To what extent did the teacher- or learner-centredness of the lesson support the outcomes I was anticipating?  If, for example, you want pupils to generate ideas, you might have planned an active, participatory lesson in which pupils lead dialogue and devise their own key questions - in this context you as the teacher will have planned to take a back seat, perhaps a facilitating role.

It follows that the role of talk and the talker is central to both the teacher- and learner-centred models:

Mercer notes that “the history of educational practice shows that talk amongst students has rarely been incorporated into the process of classroom education… The reasonable explanation for the traditional discouragement of pupil-pupil talk is that…it is disruptive and subversive… So while the experience of everyday life supports the value of collaborative learning, educational practice has implicitly argued against it.” He was writing in 1995 - it would be good to think that we'd moved on.

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