Student-centred learning. How to apply at public health departments/health sciences colleges?

Essay, 2019

7 Pages, Grade: higher education


Table of Contents


Teaching Methods and strategies

Feedback and evaluation

Conflicts Of Interest



In the 1930s, if not earlier, American educators used the terms “teacher-centered” and “student-centered” to describe two approaches to instruction. In the teacher-centered approach, teachers are the primary origin for knowledge. On the other hand, student-centered approach emphasizes on each student's interests and abilities, placing the teacher as a facilitator of learning for individuals, and for the class as a whole. (Pederson & Liu, 2003) Theorists like John Dewey, Jean Piaget and Lev Vygotsky focused on how students learn and informed the move to student-centered learning. Furthermore, Armstrong claimed that traditional education ignores or put down responsibility of learner. (Kraft, 1994)

Student-centred learning put responsibility for learning in the hands of students by relating them with skills and basis on how to learn a specific subject. When students are given the chance to work out their learning, learning becomes a stimulant. Maria Montessori focused on preschool children learn by independent self-directed interaction with previous activities. (Pedersen & Liu, 2003) and there are many studies like her.

But what about university students? I believe that methods and approaches in school sittings should be modified in order to suit university sittings. Also, there should be different methods and approaches according to the specialty. Furthermore, the instructor should keep in mind that there is variety of students’ abilities, so some of them still need help from instructors, specifically low students.

Teaching Methods and strategies

Student-centered learning environments show effectiveness in higher education.

(Wright, 2011) For public health specialty, effective approaches in my opinion could be group discussion at classroom, presentation, peer-to-peer learning, problem-solving, critical thinking and reflective thinking. Also, select a topic out of prepared list will provide an opportunity for the student to choose a preferable topic. Moreover, challenging questions would stimulate students specially those who like challenges, and weekly open-book quiz would encourage students to read the content of the course week by week. The latter strategy would bring big benefits for students, especially at exams of midterm and final.

Benjamin Franklin said “Tell me ... I forget. Teach me... I remember. Involve me … I learn”. (Bean, 2011) Group discussion would give the chance to all students to say their ideas and opinion on a certain subject. It increases student's listening skills and confidence in expressing opinions. (Aamodt, 1983) it could be topic-based or case-based group discussion. However, some people do not prefer group-discussion strategy as it is easy to get cast away; may cause conflict within the class when opposing opinions are given; will be harder for visual learners to understand; and a few students will dominate the discussion. (Bean, 2011)

Regarding oral presentation, according to Girard & Trapp in 2011, the possible benefits include: higher interaction and participation, more interest in learning, new perspectives not covered else ways, boost communication and presentation skills. Presentation generally, helps students to function successfully in the future profession, and preparing them for their possible academic careers. (Živković, 2014).

For Peer-to-peer learning, it means students teaching other students. (Beth and Cutts, 2012) It refers to any instruction makes students interact with one another, and that includes approaches like collaborative and cooperative learning, small group work, and peer education. (Cerbin, 2010). Peer Instruction which developed by Eric Mazur, usually takes place in large lecture classes, in which the instructor poses a thought-stimulating question. Written responses of Students will take a minute; discusses their answers with a classmate partner so as to reach consensus; thereafter the instructor can ask them to find out the preferred responses and subsequently decide whether and how to teach the concept under study. Another type of peer instruction is study Groups which has been criticized that students perform more poorly on memory tasks than if they learn individually. (Cerbin, 2010) Other type is learning cells in which consisted of 2-3 students who mutually ask and answer questions, or assess each other’s written work. (ASHE, 2009) It is an effective strategy because it is a cost-effective method of both training and development. Also, learners share similar experiences and circumstances. (Albright, 2018) Effective peer depends upon many factors, like learning goals, students' skills, facilitation by instructor, etc.

Regarding Critical thinking, it includes a wide range of thinking skills leading toward good outcomes, and reflective thinking takes care of the process of making sense about what has happened. However, reflective thinking is most important in arousing learning during difficult problem-solving situations because it provides students with a chance to step back and think about how they actually solve problems and how a particular set of strategies is appropriated for achieving their goal. Whilst Critical thinking which is directed thinking because it focuses on a desired outcome (Hawaii, 2019)

With respect to open-book quiz strategy, the teacher is viewed as a facilitator who transfers information from the textbook to the minds of students. So, advantages vary according to perspectives of the student and the instructor. For students, there would to be less stress in studying because they don't have to memorize anything, (The Sunday times, 1998) and helps average students to get good scores. Cognitive load theory stated that the single most important thing for teachers to know. Therefore, reducing the level of information would avoids overloading or boring students. (Sweller, 1988) In general, if an examination is to test memorization, then closed book examinations are appropriate, but if the examination is to test skills of problem solving and critical thinking, then open book examinations are appropriate. (Gujral and Gupta, 2017)

However, instructor should keep in mind that more expert learners can study independently, but the vast majority will need careful guidance when encountering new information. (Hendrick, 2017)

Feedback and evaluation

It is important to check understanding of students of common misconceptions before moving to a new chapter. Dylan Wiliam suggests that “hinge-point questions” are of great use, which should take maximum two minutes, and ideally less than one minute, for all students to respond to the questions. (Hendrick, 2017)

In addition, to get sure that the applied method and strategy are useful the instructor should ask students and gets feedback. If the majority reply negatively, then the instructor should think of an alternative method / strategy. On-line evaluation would be a good idea on condition that the whole class participate in order to read all opinions of low, average and high students.

In short, involving students in teaching approaches will make learning experience more interesting, encourage them to participate, support learner independency, increase self-confidence, strengthen social ties between the classmates, stimulates deep thinking, and eventually improve the grades of students. However, effectiveness of student-centered learning depends on appropriate strategies, good instructor and good responses from students too.

Conflicts Of Interest

The author declares no conflict of interest. Financial disclosure: none.


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2. ASHE. (June 2009).Types of peer teaching used in higher education. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report. Volume 17, Issue 4, Pages: 13-32

3. Bean, John C. (2011).Engaging Ideas: The Professor's Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom, 2nd Edition. USA, San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. SBN-13: 978-0470532904. ISBN-10: 0470532904

4. Bill Cabrin. (April 2010). Peer learning: Collaborative peer techniques. Exploring how students learn. Wisconsin: Center for advancing teaching and learning.

5. Carl Hendrick. (Oct 2017). Teachers: your guide to learning strategies that really work. The Guardian. Teacher Network. Retrieved on July 19, 2019. From:

6. Gujral S., Gupta M. (2017).International Journal of Scientific Research and Management (IJSRM). Volume 5, Issue07, Pages 6034-6038. DOI: 10.18535/ijsrm/v5i7.28

7. Reflective Thinking: RT. Retrieved on July 15, 2019. From:

8. Kraft, R. G. (1994). Bike riding and the art of learning. In L. B. Barnes, C. Roland Christensen, & A. J. Hansen (Eds.), Teaching and the case method. Boston: Harvard Business School Press, Pg. 41.

9. Pedersen, S., & Liu, M. (2003). Teachers’ beliefs about issues in the implementation of a student-centered learning environment . Educational Technology Research and Development, 51(2), 57-76.

10. Simon, Beth and Quintin, Cutts (2012). Peer Instruction: A Teaching Method to Foster Deep Understanding, Communications of the ACM, Vol. 55 No. 2, Pages 27-29, DOI: 10.1145/2076450.2076459

11. Sweller, J (June 1988). "Cognitive load during problem solving: Effects on learning". Cognitive Science. 12 (2): 257–285.

12. The Sunday Times (1998) Open mind on open tests. The Sunday Times, 8 March 1998.

13. Wright, Gloria Brown (2011). "Student-Centered Learning in Higher Education". International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education. 23 (3): 93–94. ISSN 1812-9129

14. Živković, Slađana. (August 2014). The importance of oral presentations for university students. Mediterranean Journal of Social Sciences. Vol 5 No 19. DOI:10.5901/mjss.2014.v5n19p468.

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Student-centred learning. How to apply at public health departments/health sciences colleges?
higher education
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student-centred, learning, education, health colleges
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Dr-Eham Al-Ajlouni (Author), 2019, Student-centred learning. How to apply at public health departments/health sciences colleges?, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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