Student-centered curriculum: definition, characteristics, merits and demerits of student-centered curriculum?

The student-centered curriculum is only applicable to where the curriculum is designed or developed institute-wise. This type of curriculum cannot be implemented where a central authority designs and develops curricula for all institutes they run and control.

What is a curriculum?

The curriculum is an overall outline for teaching-learning activities and evaluation. According to the Rhode Island Education Department (RIDE), “Curriculum is a standards-based sequence of planned experiences where students practice and achieve proficiency in content and applied learning skills. The curriculum is the central guide for all educators as to what is essential for teaching and learning so that every student has access to rigorous academic experiences.”

The curriculum can be prepared under the highest authority of education of a country or a region of a country by a certain board or committee of education; it can be prepared institute-wise as well.

Types of the basic curriculum

There are three basic types of curriculum design:

  1. Subject-centered curriculum design
  2. Student-centered or learner-centered curriculum design
  3. Problem-centered curriculum design

In this article, only student-centered or student-oriented, or learner-centered curriculum is discussed—

What is student-centered teaching-learning?

The student-centered learning is one of the modern terms in the sector of education; it refers to a wide and very useful variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic-friendly strategies that are intended to address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students and groups of students.

What is a student-oriented or learner-centered curriculum design?

Students are the focal point of a student-centered or learner-centered learner. The student-centered curriculum is called a non-authoritative, participation-focused curriculum model. This type of curriculum design prioritizes students.

A curriculum that is totally non-authoritative, participation-focused, and allows students empowerment in many ways is called a student-centered curriculum.

This learner-centered curriculum is supported by the majority of education experts and educational psychologists. Rousseau first emphasized that education should be based on the child’s interests and they should be given the opportunity to live in a free and democratic society. The learner-centered design prioritizes individual development, and their approach to curriculum organization is based on students’ needs, interests, and goals. John Dewey made an essential contribution in this regard. He put on a lot of kid-friendly activities.

It is important to mention that the student-centered curriculum is only applicable to where the curriculum is designed or developed institute-wise. This type of curriculum cannot be implemented where a central authority designs and develops curricula for all institutes they run and control.

Characteristics of a student-centered curriculum

A student-centered curriculum is obviously student-friendly that has the ability to engage students in their learning activities. An important characteristic of a student-centered curriculum is connecting students’ identities and learning to promote long-term retention of information, lifelong learning, and the development of important skills.

Under the curriculum, the students are able to express their ideas and choose what they really want. The activity-centered curriculum focuses on the needs and interests of the individual student.

The structure of this constructivist curriculum combines subjects into very broad fields of study e.g. combining social studies, geography, language, and arts into one “field” of study, and mathematics, physics, and chemistry into another.

The methods are used to implement a student-centered curriculum ‘question-answer’ and ‘problem-solving’. It is not possible to plan a lesson in detail. Lessons often are unplanned, because the teacher can’t anticipate what student interests will surface or where students’ inquiries will lead the class. It involves more flexibility and freedom for students.

This structure strives to never lose sight of the learner’s overall development, always emphasizing the goal of students achieving “life skills.” This organizational pattern is most common in middle and junior schools and less common in high schools.

The student-centered curriculum is tough to implement for teachers instead of being highly dedicated and skilled.

Merits of student-centered curriculum

Student or learner-centered curriculum design takes each of the individual’s needs, interests, and goals into consideration; each of the students gets highly focused when curriculum designers design a curriculum because it is believed that students are not those types of the population who should adjust to others needs.

The student-oriented or learner-centered curriculum is a curriculum that empowers learners and allows them to shape their education through choices. It connects students’ identities and their learning to promote long-term retention of information, lifelong learning, and the development of important skills.

The student-centered curriculum has different sets of instructional plans that are differentiated to others. The student-oriented curriculum allows students the opportunity to choose the area of learning, assignments, learning experiences, or other activities. It has the ability to motivate students or learners and help them keep engaging in the learning process. In some ways, the evaluation process is also chosen by each of the students on their own choices.

Demerits of student-centered curriculum

Nothing is perfect.  There are some specific demerits, lacks, or drawbacks. One of the major drawbacks to this form of student-centered curriculum design is that it is labor-intensive, and it is more than the others. 

The student-centered curriculum is only suitable for where the curriculum is developed institute-wise. This type of curriculum cannot be implemented where a central authority designs and develops curricula for all institutes they run and control.

Developing differentiated instruction puts pressure on the curriculum designers or developers to create instruction and find materials that are conducive to each of the student’s learning needs.

Student-centered curriculum may be a better idea but if you look at the real scenario you must understand how a teacher has to struggle to cope with it.  The teachers may not have the time or may lack the experience or skills to create such a plan.

Teaching-learning activities are often unplanned under this type of curriculum which is one of the major cons. Although a teacher wants to plan a lesson, he cannot do it in detail or completely. The curriculum does not allow a teacher to make a great lesson plan before conducting teaching-learning activities.

Student-oriented or learner-centered curriculum requires that a teacher should balance students’ needs and interests with required learning outcomes— this is surely not an easy task.

Importance of student-centered curriculum

The most important advantage of a student-centered curriculum is it empowers students. It allows the learners to choose what they need. Students have enough opportunities to identify their own learning needs: to find, choose, and incorporate resources, and to construct their own knowledge based on their needs and interests. This can make students more responsible for their learning as well as their lives.

The student-centered curriculum encourages students to discover and pursue their educational passions and paths, resulting in students acquiring their own structures of knowledge rather than simply being carriers of a standard, identical knowledge base imparted to all students. This form of curriculum motivates students to work with and apply the information they are given, both individually and in groups.

Engaging students in the learning process is the most important issue for school authority, the teaching-learning activities under a student-centered curriculum have the power to engage them.

The structure of a student-centered curriculum lends itself well to activities that require students to engage in investigation and freedom of expression. Open debates, newspaper article writing, field trips, student-chosen projects, presentations, and writing reflections on learning are some of the examples of these activities that might be done under the curriculum.

Students are the focal point of a student-centered or learner-centered learner. | Image: Pixabay.com
Students are the focal point of a student-centered or learner-centered learner. | Image: Pixabay.com

Conclusion

The student-centered curriculum allows and encourages students to discover, and pursue their educational passions and paths, resulting in students acquiring their own knowledge structures rather than simply being carriers of a standard, identical knowledge base imparted to all students. But the implementation of this type of curriculum is not so easy, and impossible in some cases.

Acknowledgment—

studylecturenotes.com

thoughtco.com

meteroeducation.com

ride.ri.gov

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