Submitted by Ashlee Sawyer
Brush, T., Saye, J. (2000). Implementation and evaluation of a student-centered learning unit: A case study. Educational Technology Research and Development, 48(3), 79-100.
Summary of Article
Purpose: The purpose of the study was to evaluate the difficulties experienced by both a teacher and the students throughout the implementation of a technology-enhanced student-centered project.
Method: One southeastern 11th grade US history class was used for the study, with one teacher and 21 students participating. Students were given a historical situation and problem, and were asked to come up with innovative solutions to the problem.
- Students were first divided into information gathering groups and were instructed to research three different strategies used at that time in history (3 days).
- Then, they were arranged into different, decision-making groups. These groups reviewed the research that had been gathered, and were asked to brainstorm alternative methods from those used during that time period and develop a solution to the problem (2 days).
- Finally, students created a presentation that detailed their solution, the potential consequences, and why it was a viable solution (Final day).
Methods of evaluation included: daily classroom observations, student and teacher interviews a week after the project, daily teacher debriefings, and analysis of student products.
- Difficulty dealing with the lack of structure/ guidance
- Difficulty dealing with an overwhelming amount of information
- Lack of metacognitive skills – difficulty managing time efficiently, monitoring their progress, and identifying areas where they needed assistance
- Difficulty understanding the role as facilitator – the teacher started out as more of an observer than a resource; she did not know how much guidance was necessary
- Difficulty managing groups – the teacher had trouble establishing roles and responsibilities
- Difficulty with student accountability and feedback – the teacher struggled with evaluating the groups and getting students to think critically and creatively when coming up with their solutions
- If student-centered teaching is to be implemented, then teachers need supports
- Although the solutions lacked depth, the post-project interviews show that these activities may promote a deeper engagement and enhanced understanding of content
- What should the goals of student-centered learning be?
- How can we increase the quality of student-centered assignments and projects?
- Are there certain courses that would or would not lend themselves well to student-centered approaches? Should there be differences in the way that things are implemented? Should there be differences in the types of projects used?