Improvement of the Teaching Style. From Traditional Teacher-Centered to Student-Centered Teaching Style

Academic Paper, 2018

12 Pages, Grade: 1.75


Table of Contents


Traditional Teacher-centered Teaching Style

New Curriculum

Student-centered Teaching Style

Traditional Teacher-Centered Teaching Style compared to Student-Centered Teaching Style




It has been the goal of the Philippine education system to innovate the curriculum into globally competitive structure. Following the implementation of the K to 12 curriculum in 2013, the Department of Education facilitated various of trainings to the teachers. Since the teachers are the most influential factor in curriculum implementation process, the teaching style of the teachers should be updated for better implementation of the program and generate great difference in the learning environment (Alsubaie, 2016).

“To define style, to understand it, to develop it, and to use it effectively entails moving beyond the negative sense in which it is sometimes perceived. Style in teaching as in art, music, athletics, managing people, and other areas of endeavor is not something that is put on for the occasion” (Grasha, 1996). The task of educators is to enhance the capabilities of the students for them to accomplish wholistic growth (Dotong, 2014). The effectiveness of the teacher goes beyond the role of a “sage on the stage” but into “guide side by side” as the effective teacher is more than just a facilitator of learning, teachers also empowers students to learn by themselves. Teaching style is one of the major concerns of the educators, especially with the concern in delivering the intended knowledge to the students.

In this paper, I discussed traditional teaching style or authority style (lecture style), new curriculum and the outcomes-based education, and the student-centered teaching style and comparison between the traditional teaching style and student-centered teaching style. The arguments of this paper focuses on the two questions: what is the best teaching style between the two teaching styles? And is there a universal teaching style?

Traditional Teacher-centered Teaching Style

Traditional teaching was the long-established teaching style in Philippine education system wherein the students are passive in terms of participating in class, due to they only have to seat quietly on their places and listen to the teachers’ didactic method. Teachers transmit knowledge and understanding of ideas and values to the students (Chi-kin et al., 2010), other term is “spoon feeding”. When the classroom is teacher-centered, the classroom becomes orderly and the teacher can control the flow of the class easily. And since the teacher direct the classroom activities, the teacher doesn’t have to worry if the student may miss out important topic. The only active participation that the student may play is through recitation. Aside from this, the students do memorize the lessons and do written assignments at home. Their examination may be in oral recitation, quizzes and major written exam. In here, students only develop “declarative knowledge” where they do only memorize, identify, recite, describe, and classify the knowledge inputted by the teachers (Biggs & Tang, 2007). It is a teacher-centered approach emphasized tasks where the learner’s absorbed knowledge is based mainly on the instructor’s teaching preparation and style. Therefore, students who are not good in memorizing has the highest probability to fail the subject making the students feel intellectually weak and cannot move forward to the next degree.

On the laboratory part, the teachers are instructing all the needed tasks and the students must follow exactly on how the principle must be done. This major role leaves the teachers lack of time to their other interests to pursue developing other opportunities they might explore (Seery, 2010).

A research conducted by Hiebert et al. (2003) showed that teachers teaching mathematics and science major subjects are more into traditional style in almost all of the countries. The groups which has similar pedagogical practice are likely to have similar result (OECD, 2009). Chachia (2010) argued that "acquiring factual body of knowledge and testing it through tests and exams", the possibility of resistance in changing traditional teaching approach is due to the consideration of parents, teachers and even students that grades from the assessment was the vital and concrete evidence of giving response about learning.

New Curriculum

The Department of Education (DepEd) implemented the Philippines new curriculum program which aims for more holistic educational approach for the benefit of the learners. “The K to 12 Program covers Kindergarten and 12 years of basic education (six years of primary education, four years of Junior High School, and two years of Senior High School [SHS]) to provide sufficient time for mastery of concepts and skills, develop lifelong learners, and prepare graduates for tertiary education, middle-level skills development, employment, and entrepreneurship” (DepEd, 2012). Starting kindergarten students will learn the foundation knowledge as preparation to the formal education. They will be taught alphabet, numbers, shapes, colors through interactive approach by the use of songs, dance, and games with their comfort mother tongue. When the students enter the level from grade 1 to 10, they will experience an “enhanced, context-based and spiral progression learning curriculum” covering languages starting from their mother tongue language, Filipino language and English as universal business language, with Mathematics, Science, Aralin Panlipunan, EsP, MAPEH, EPP and TLE. The extended high school level (Grade 11 and 12) two years of specialized upper secondary education where the students still has their core subjects and additional to this is they may choose their main interests based on their target specialization. There were given tracks in to where the students can choose: Academic; Technical-Vocational-Livelihood; and Sports and Arts. The Academic track includes three strands: Business, Accountancy, Management (BAM); Humanities, Education, Social Sciences (HESS); and Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics (STEM). While in college degree, the curriculum still has the core subjects together with the major subjects of their course (DepEd, 2012).

As the Department of Education (DepEd) designed a new curriculum for the students, they also conducted trainings for the teachers by the use of teachers’ professional development program for them to adjust their approach to the new curriculum. Aside from high demand of knowledge they want to implement to the students on the curriculum, forcing the teachers stick to the traditional approach, the main problem is not all teachers were reached by this program, not only by trainings but also some teachers are not flexible to a modernized approach in teaching.

Outcomes-based education is the pick of target of the universities in the Philippines today following the K to 12 curriculum. The implementation of OBE is the main drive of the Commission of Higher Education (CHED) to align the country’s standards with that of foreign universities (Laguador & Dotong, 2014). The outcomes-based education is an approach of education where it is focused to the learning outcomes accordingly to what is the intended outcome of the curriculum (Davis, 2003; Caguitla, et. al., 2013).

Outcomes-based teachers’ role can be an instructor, trainer, facilitator and mentor based on what outcome is targeted. Here, the students do actively participate during the class depending on the teachers given task or activity. There were four principles of OBE suggested by Spady (1996) to wit: first is the clarity of the intended outcomes and motivating students to create learning outcomes on their own. Second is designing down the assessment device which is supposedly parallel to the intended learning outcome. Third is the high expectations of the teachers which possibly lead to high performance, similar to Pygmalion effect or Rosenthal effect phenomenon. Lastly, expanded opportunities to which OBE is anchored on the premise that all learners are teachable, learners may not be the same way of accepting the intended knowledge, thus the teacher must shift his/her method according to the characteristic of the student to achieve the intended outcome.

Additional to the argue of Spady (1994), there are three broad types of OBE: “Traditional OBE which measures the learning outcomes in terms of students’ mastery of the established curriculum. Transitional OBE which measures the learning outcomes of students in terms of generic or higher-order competencies such as critical thinking, problem solving, communication skills and teamwork. Transformational OBE which measures the learning outcomes of students in terms of broad category of disciplinary knowledge and skills (i.e., multi-disciplined), generic competencies, attitudes and values required by the industry or society.” The student’s requirements in learning outcome can be followed by the approach of multiple instructional strategies (Lam, 2009).

The cited outcomes-based practices is from comparative research of OECD (2009), where authors compared the counties of Denmark, Norway, Iceland, Ireland, Hungary, Bulgaria, Italy, Portugal, Belgium, Lithuania, Slovenia, Spain, Estonia, Slovak Republic, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Mexico, Poland, Turkey and the two Asian counties, Korea and Malaysia to identify different practices of teaching according to their structuring practices, student-oriented practices and enhanced activities which are explained by the following paragraphs:

“Structuring practices” were measured with five items, such as “I explicitly state learning goals.” The other items include summary of earlier lessons, homework review, checking the exercise book, and checking student understanding during classroom time by questioning students.”

“Student-oriented practices” were measured with four items, such as “Students work in small groups to come up with a joint solution to a problem or task.” The other items include ability grouping, student self-evaluation and student participation in classroom planning.”

“Enhanced activities” were also measured with four items, such as “Students work on projects that require at least one week to complete.” The other items include making a product, writing an essay, and debating arguments.” (p.97)

Based on the findings, the structuring practices are the most often practiced, enhanced activities are less applied than student-oriented practice for science and math subjects, whereas in the humanities and more practical and creative subjects the enhanced activities are most applied than structuring practice. Also, as part of adaptation to the characteristics of the students, OECD argued that enhanced activities are frequently used if the students are in higher average ability, on minority status it is more on student-based practice. Also, the teachers were more likely to adopt modifying their teaching style according to the class size.

In the outcomes-based program, teachers are expected to anchor their teaching on the cognitive process dimensions or by the revised Bloom’s taxonomy by Manzano (2001) which suggests a knowledge-based (cognitive domain) into six levels of objectives: Remember, Understand, Apply, Analyze, Evaluate and Create. In line with those objectives are the level of questioning for the different degrees of the learner; wherein in remembering, the learner is expected to recognize and recall the relevant knowledge for long term memory; in understanding, the learner is expected to construct meaning from oral, written and graphic messages; in applying, the learner is expected to use the information given to demonstrate, illustrate or interpret the given information; analyzing, the learner is expected to distinguish, criticize, experiment the given objective; evaluating, the learner is expected to create scientific judgment and justification on their decision; and creating wherein the learner is expected to put all the elements altogether to form a functional whole product and formulate the idea. Hence, for introduction courses, the level of questioning is on objective type of question, up to the advanced level which gives them more analyzation approach of questioning.

But there were critiques regarding the revised Bloom’s taxonomy due to the argue that “the idea of levels is problematic when it comes to parsing thinking and ultimately less useful than one might hope” (Ritchhart et al., 2011). As the argue of Blythe et al. (1998) and Keene (2008) cited at Ritchhart et al. (2011) suggests that understanding must be placed as the primary goal of teaching, while the argue of Wiiske (1997) cited in Ritchhart et al. (2011) states that understanding in not a precursor of application, analysis, evaluating and creating but as a result of those stated.

On the other hand, Miller’s pyramid (1990) can also be used as a guide for their teaching style which include the underpinning awareness into the competence by completing the base fact gathering (knows), application (knows how), demonstration of learning (shows how) and practicing the information (does know). The assessment may use the performance assessment key by the use of rubric on which the grading system with students’ performance cab be transparent. The rubric contains the grading point and description per point where the students are graded according to their pre-analytical phase or the base fact gathering and application awareness, analytical phase or the demonstration of learning awareness and post-analytical phase for the practicing the information awareness. In here, the collection of data on student’s ability to construct various specified scientific tasks under test condition can be closely monitored. Additional to this is the portfolio assessment which is the instructor may collect the series of student products and documents within certain period of time.

OBE has standards in competency, monitoring and evaluating the outcomes-based quality (De Guzman, Edaño & Umayan, 2017). The teaching style is to devise teaching and learning activities which requires the student to demonstrate how well they have achieved the instructional learning outcome. Additional statement from De Guzman, Edaño & Umayan (2017), where OBE is a “working-backwards” with students as the center of the instructional and learning setting because it aims for the student’s development and talents, moreover the outcomes-based approach is a quality system for the institutions which ensures that all the programs are well designed, and delivered appropriately as what is in their intended outcomes. On the other hand, the teachers have a vital role for the success.

Student-centered Teaching Style

“Do not then train youths to learning by force and harshness, but direct them to it by what amuses their minds so that you may be better able to discover with accuracy the peculiar bent of the genius of each” by Plato.

The student-centered teaching is also known as “student-centered learning” or “learner-centered teaching, where style of teaching shifts away from the professor as the sole source of knowledge in favor of a collaboration between students and professor. Student-centered teaching is the recommended approach to modern day pedagogy especially in the outcomes-based education where the teachers served as the facilitator of learning activities rather than performing the traditional lecture method (Laguador, 2014). Before the learner enters the class, the student-centered teaching must already started (Nuckles, 2000). "For instructors whose aim is to empower participants with the desire and ability to guide their continued learning beyond the program, instructional mastery and style are intertwined components of the teaching/learning transaction" (Knox, 1986).

Tanner & Allen (2004) argued that there is no singular approach in student-centered learning, hence the teacher must be flexible in addressing the intended knowledge to the students. This leads to the varieties of teaching styles being offered by Grasha (2002) where he describes teaching styles into “dynamic lecturer, charismatic discussion leader, quiet but effective Socratic teacher, or who are known for their effective use of case studies, role plays and simulations, peer assisted instruction, film and video, computers, and many other methods. In such cases, the particular method becomes synonymous with their style as a teacher”, he also stated that upon his observation, the teaching style depends on the number and characteristics of the learner. Additional to his argue Bonwell and Eison (1991) suggested that teaching style must be adjusted according to the amount of risk they involve and how much they facilitate active learning.

Secondary to this is the book of Weimer (2002) regarding learner-centered teaching. She detailed it into changes when teaching learner-centered and implementing the learner-centered approach. She itemized the five key changes to wit: balance of power, function of content, role of the teacher, responsibility for learning and the purpose and processes of evaluation. She argued that the power of control inside the classroom is much better if shared. Still, the teacher will have the important decision but the idea must be shared by both parties. By this, the students learn how to start a plan, discuss, gather data and listen to others to come up with a good decision. Also, the students have better interaction inside the class. The content change in the student-centered must involve establishing a knowledge base and promoting learning. She explained that the teachers must start discovering first her students. The teachers must know how students think about their current conceptions and then formulate instruction which must change those conceptions into better one. As a role of a teacher she said that “If the goal of teaching is to promote learning, then the role the teacher takes to accomplish that goal changes considerably”. She also adopted the idea of Boud (1981) that student-centered education must train the students to be independent and autonomous learners who must be responsible on their own learning. Those practice may be a lifetime educational practice to the students. The responsibility for learning should build student an autonomy and responsibility. She pointed out that letting the student face the consequence of their decision may teach them well and will develop them to be mature and responsible than disciplining the students from their wrong actions. “Learner-centered teaching abandons tacit assumptions about automatic learning”. In here, evaluation is usually used for grades and in student-centered teaching also uses it. Quoting her assumption in evaluation:

…people assume that grades measure learning precisely. However, measuring learning turns out to be a complicated process. Some kinds of learning, like memorization of facts and the rote recall of details, grades can measure well. But higher-order thinking skills, the ones we most want to develop, like the ability to analyze, synthesize, and judge, and even other ways of knowing, are much more difficult to assess.

Traditional Teacher-Centered Teaching Style compared to Student-Centered Teaching Style

In the past few years, the Philippine education teaching style is under the traditional teaching style where the teachers’ concern is to identify what content they should teach and what teaching methods they must use, which is contrary to the modern teaching style (out-comes based style), where the teachers’ concern is on what the students will know and be able to do after teaching the intended learning outcome (Chi-Kin et al., 2010).

The primary role of the teacher in traditional teaching is a dispenser of information of information to orchestrator of learning and helping students turn information into knowledge. While the students are a young person who goes to school, spend specified amount of time in certain courses, receives passing grade then afterwards to be graduated, if not they have to retake the courses and retain in their level not until they passed the subjects.

On the contrary, the student-centered teaching, the teachers are required to be flexible on their teaching style, they must not just deliver information but aims to develop a “culture of inquiry”. They can use variety of applied skills, multiple technologies, new method of analyzing and processing information, where teachers must maintain student interest, motivate and instill curiosity to inspire students to continue to learn outside the formal school day.

On the Teaching with style book of Grasha (2002) based in part on information in Bonwell & Eison (1991), he demonstrated the different active learning and risk associated with teaching method into high active learning-high risk, high active learning-low risk, low active learning-low risk and low active learning-low risk.

“High active learning-high risk: Role playing, Skits that illustrate content points designed by students, Simulation, Presentations by students to the entire class, Free form class session, Partners teach each other, Presentations by students in small groups, Guided imagery exercise, Unstructured small-group discussion, Students interview guest speaker, Students design and run session, Students interview each other on content for an entire class, Case discussion with large group after students prepare case outside of class.

High active learning-low risk: Structured group activity, Pairs of students discuss ideas, Demonstrations, Self-assessment activity, Brainstorming activities, Student debates on issue that are prepared in advance, In-class writing assignments, prepare case outside of class and discuss ideas in class, Lecture with small-group discussion, Structured small group discussion, Students list new ideas they learned in coverage of topic, field trips.

Low active learning-high risk: Invite guest lecturer of unknown quality, have students ask questions at the beginning of class to use to organize a lecture for the session, show a film or video that you have not reviewed.

Low active learning-low risk: Show a film or video for class period, Lecture for the entire class period, use a computer slide show to present a topic, Read Important passages from the text to class, give a lecture to summarize important points covered during the exam” (p.8)

In this information, the two high active learning teaching method is under student-centered teaching style and low active-low risk is under teacher-centered teaching style. While the low active learning-high risk is insignificant where it shows teacher’s lack of preparation.


The traditional teacher-centered approach colonized the Philippine system for a very long time and still being practiced by some of the teachers in today’s system. With the increasing awareness that passive response of the students during teaching sessions becomes one of the reasons why students lose their interest in attending school (Laguador, 2014), little by little, the teaching style is being diverted into the student-centered teaching style due to the implemented new curriculum. Considering the argue of McTighe, Seif, & Wiggins (2004) “Teaching for meaning is more apt to engage the learner and yield more meaningful, lasting learning than traditional fact-based and procedure-based lecture, recitation, or textbook instruction”. Every teacher must be sensitive and precise to the needs of their learners. Teachers are practicing innovation in their teaching style based on their class size, student performance, time and resources.

The teaching style of an effective teacher do not always match the student’s preferred learning style, which is the challenge of 21st century education is to make teaching style more meaningful to the learners (Tanner & Allen, 2004). “There is no single, well-defined best way of teaching” (OECD,2009), hence there’s no best teaching style and universal teaching style, as I agree to the argue of Tanner & Allen (2004) where it’s the instructor’s teaching style provides the access to student’s different learning style, teacher must have a multiple teaching style to reach student’s interest.

An effective science teacher knows how strategized creative design and guide to help the students develop a deep and integrated understanding. Planning and teaching subjects are very complex therefore the teachers must be flexible to reach the students understanding and develop their knowledge into more enthusiastic learning. Since student-centered teaching is not a one-way style to influence student learning, the teacher may come up his/her effective active learning approach and must be open with the clarifying questions from the students. As I agree with statement of Tanner & Allen (2004) “Teacher aspire to have all of their students learn”, where the primary goal of teaching is to prepare students for life in this world. The teachers need to adapt and develop new ways of teaching style because it is very important that the teachers and educators lead the students to become critical thinkers.

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Improvement of the Teaching Style. From Traditional Teacher-Centered to Student-Centered Teaching Style
Philippine Normal University
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improvement, teaching, style, from, traditional, teacher-centered, student-centered
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Snowie Balansag (Author), 2018, Improvement of the Teaching Style. From Traditional Teacher-Centered to Student-Centered Teaching Style, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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