Tag Archives: teaching methods

Implementation and evaluation of a student-centered learning unit: A case study

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)

Submitted by Ashlee Sawyer

Article Reference

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.

Article DOI

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.

  1. Students were first divided into information gathering groups and were instructed to research three different strategies used at that time in history (3 days).
  2. 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).
  3. 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.



Student issues:

  • 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

Teacher issues:

  • 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

Discussion Questions

  1. What should the goals of student-centered learning be?
  2. How can we increase the quality of student-centered assignments and projects?
  3. 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?