Which is Best: Teacher-Centered or Student-Centered Education?

When considering their approach to instruction, teachers are always looking for the method that is most beneficial for all of their students. Teachers want their students to enjoy the learning process, and they want the classroom to be orderly and controlled. As a result, the debate of teacher-centered vs. student-centered education has been in the forefront of educators’ minds for many years. Though many people have a specific idea of which type of education is best, there are both advantages and disadvantages to each approach. Below is a description of each approach, along with some pros and cons.

Teacher-centered education

In teacher-centered education, students put all of their focus on the teacher. The teacher talks, while the students exclusively listen. During activities, students work alone, and collaboration is discouraged.

Pros

  • When education is teacher-centered, the classroom remains orderly. Students are quiet, and the teacher retains full control of the classroom and its activities.
  • Because students learn on their own, they learn to be independent and make their own decisions.
  • Because the teacher directs all classroom activities, they don’t have to worry that students will miss an important topic.

Cons

  • When students work alone, they don’t learn to collaborate with other students, and communication skills may suffer.
  • Teacher-centered instruction can get boring for students. Their minds may wander, and they may miss important facts.
  • Teacher-centered instruction doesn’t allow students to express themselves, ask questions and direct their own learning.

Student-centered instruction

When a classroom operates with student-centered instruction, students and instructors share the focus. Instead of listening to the teacher exclusively, students and teachers interact equally. Group work is encouraged, and students learn to collaborate and communicate with one another.

Pros

  • Students learn important communicative and collaborative skills through group work.
  • Students learn to direct their own learning, ask questions and complete tasks independently.
  • Students are more interested in learning activities when they can interact with one another and participate actively.

Cons

  • Because students are talking, classrooms are often busy, noisy and chaotic.
  • Teachers must attempt to manage all students’ activities at once, which can be difficult when students are working on different stages of the same project.
  • Because the teacher doesn’t deliver instruction to all students at once, some students may miss important facts.
  • Some students prefer to work alone, so group work can become problematic.

Making a decision

In recent years, more teachers have moved toward a student-centered approach. However, some students maintain that teacher-centered education is the more effective strategy. In most cases, it is best for teachers to use a combination of approaches to ensure that all student needs are met.

When both approaches are used together, students can enjoy the positives of both types of education. Instead of getting bored with teacher-centered education or losing sight of their goals in a completely student-centered classroom, pupils can benefit from a well-balanced educational atmosphere.

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We are devoted to improving both student and teacher achievement, inside and outside the classroom. Our articles help examine the relationship between what to teach (curriculum) and how to teach (instruction). K-12 teachers will find resources that help foster a deeper learning environment and better student engagement.

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