Tag Archives: Student-Centerd Learning Higher Education Qualitative-Quantitative

Higher Education Students’ Beliefs About Student-Centered Learning: Beyond Educational Bulimia

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Submitted by Tennisha Riley

Article Reference

Lea, S., Stephenson, D., Troy., J. (2003). Higher Education Students’ Beliefs About Student-Centered Learning: Beyond Educational Bulimia. Studies in Higher Education, 28, 321-334.

Article DOI

DOI: 10.1080/03075070309293

Summary of Article

Student-centered learning has taken on many definitions over the years and is synonymous with learner-centered education or flexible learning (Lea, Stephenson & Troy, 2003). The primary objective of the authors was to first define student-centered learning. Secondly, from that definition how do we accurately measure whether a student-centered learning approach is effective in learning outcomes. The authors’ approach: Ask the students!

A mixed methods approach was used to assess student’s perceptions about student-centered learning approaches. The researchers developed 8 focus groups from 48 Psychology students. Some of the focus groups included undergraduates, while others included graduate students. The researchers also made sure to include both traditional students and mature students to account for age differences. When confronted with open-ended questions about student-centered learning, the researchers found that most students were unaware of this approach. However, they were able to develop a framework that fit the actual approach. Students characterized student-centered learning as having the ability to reach a heterogenous student body, instilling responsibility and accountability to the student and also a level of mutual respect between the faculty and the students. The primary concern for students was whether there was dissonance in what they hope for in student-centered learning and what is actually being practiced.


From the definitions, researchers conducted a larger quantitative study to assess agreement of the student-centered framework developed in the focus group. On average, most students agreed with how student-centered learning was defined. However, the researchers also included in their study some cynical definitions (i.e. student-centered learning is just a political slogan that means nothing) about the approach in which 40% agreed upon.

In conclusion, the researchers were able to use student feedback to assess what the true definition of student-centered learning should be. The primary view is that students believed that the student-centered learning approach would be beneficial to them but had some concerns about the true implementation and value to outside experiences.

Discussion Questions

  1. Thinking about some of the characteristics of student-centered approaches to learning. What are you own beliefs and perceptions of this approach as a student? What are some of your beliefs and perceptions as an instructor?
  2. The results of the study indicate that students have concerns about particular approaches to learning and how they may be applicable to the real world. How can instructors create an learning approach that influences learning both inside and outside of the classroom?
  3. Other empirical studies have noted that students do not always learn better through a student-centered approach, but that factors of the relationship between teachers and students is what contributes to the perception of increase learning. Is there a way to use a more balanced approach to teaching and also influence some of the relationship