Understanding Outcomes of Student-Centered Learning

February 20, 2018 • Lars Esdal

Last year Education Evolving engaged in a visioning and stakeholder engagement process to describe what we mean when we say “student-centered learning”—a term we use to guide and orient our organization’s program.

This work yielded seven principles of student-centered learning, which we found are present in the learning experiences students have when schools are equitably designed with students’ unique needs, interests, identities, aspirations, and voices at the center.

Building on this work, we’re excited to announce our new research report, Evidence for Student Centered Learning. This report catalogs evidence from a deep dive on academic research and historical context, to substantiate the case for our principles of student-centered learning.

So, what’s next? All of the work we have done to describe student-centered learning has given rise to a new question, which we will spend time looking at in 2018: what learning outcomes and indicators are (or could be) used to measure whether student-centered learning has been successful?

Exploring Outcomes and Indicators that Measure Student-Centered Learning

Our inquiry on this question will involve holding interviews with schools who are practicing student-centered learning; analyzing the results of a school survey we collaborated on last fall with a researcher at the University of Minnesota; and conducting additional academic research.

Some of the questions this work seeks to answer include:

  • What does “readiness” mean for students entering college, careers, and life in the 21st century? In particular what competencies—skills, knowledge, and dispositions—have employers and society identified as important?
  • Do student-centered learning experiences help to produce these competencies, i.e. learning outcomes?
  • How are (or could) these learning outcomes be measured or assessed?
  • Finally, how is (or could) the data from those measures be used to inform and improve learning? And, how might the data be used for accountability purposes?

Watch for EE events and writings that will take on these questions, including a policy paper to be published in late 2018, and a toolkit of possible measures and indicators we’ve found that schools are using.

Inquiry on these questions is of course only a part of our work for 2018. We have numerous other initiatives that we will be working on this year—including exciting legislative priorities that seek to advance several recommendations from our fall 2017 policy paper, a third national teacher-powered conference in Boston, several guest speakers on innovative educational topics, exploring new work on teacher preparation, and much more!

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