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Assuming the effectiveness of student-centered approach to teaching, this study explores the perceptions of purposefully selected seven students and teachers from a community school in Karachi about this pedagogical approach. Using interviews and observations of classroom practices as methodological tools, we concentrate on finding answers to the questions: How does student-centered approach to teaching used in community schools in Pakistan contribute to achieving quality education? How does this approach affect teaching and learning activities? How does this approach facilitate teachers to overcome the problems of teaching and learning? The findings of this study identify that student-centered approach to teaching encourages students‟ engagement in teaching-learning activities focusing on individual interaction to achieve common objectives. However, inadequate resources, small sized classrooms, and lack of expertise on the part of teachers were the challenges to the teaching learning activities in the community schools. These findings would be valuable to teaching and learning communities and educational policy makers as well. Keywords: Student centered approach, community school, quality education, teaching and learning
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Journal of Education and Research
March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1, pp. 19-33
Student Centered Approach to Teaching: What Does it Mean for the Stakeholders of a
Community School in Karachi, Pakistan?
Sadruddin Bahadur Qutoshia,* and Tikaram Poudelb
a Karakorum International University, Gilgit, Pakistan
b School of Education, Kathmandu University, Lalitpur, Nepal
Assuming the effectiveness of student-centered approach to teaching, this study
explores the perceptions of purposefully selected seven students and teachers from a
community school in Karachi about this pedagogical approach. Using interviews and
observations of classroom practices as methodological tools, we concentrate on
finding answers to the questions: How does student-centered approach to teaching
used in community schools in Pakistan contribute to achieving quality education?
How does this approach affect teaching and learning activities? How does this
approach facilitate teachers to overcome the problems of teaching and learning? The
findings of this study identify that student-centered approach to teaching encourages
students‟ engagement in teaching-learning activities focusing on individual interaction
to achieve common objectives. However, inadequate resources, small sized
classrooms, and lack of expertise on the part of teachers were the challenges to the
teaching learning activities in the community schools. These findings would be
valuable to teaching and learning communities and educational policy makers as well.
Keywords: Student centered approach, community school, quality education,
teaching and learning
This paper evaluates the perceptions and practices of student centered approach to
teaching as a means to providing quality education in the context of the Ismaili Community
Schools in Karachi, Pakistan, by using Weimer (2002) Model of Learner Centered Teaching
as a conceptual framework. Many studies on learner centered teaching show that it is a
process that engages learners and creates an environment of cooperation among peers to
behave in a socially conscious manner to focus on group performance rather than individual
performance (UNICEF, 2000). To achieve this group performance, learners can seek help of
peers in group and teachers on the site for “guidance, wise counsel, critique and
encouragement” (Weimer, 2002, p. 20) and collaboration. Therefore, the role of a learner
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
becomes more responsible to be a partner in learning that is a paradigm shift, which is
missing in teacher centered approach where students remain passive learners (Cheong, 2010;
O‟Neill & McMahon, 2005).
Helping learners during the activities in cooperative and active learning situations (Tsay
& Barady, 2010), teachers use different tools of assessment for learning by providing
constructive feedback to improve learning. That is why, Student Centered Approach to
Teaching (SCAT) is considered to be one of the best ways to achieve the objective of
providing quality education to community children in community school system where
children are mostly socially conscious about the importance of social interactions and team
work in their daily life activities, out of their classroom, in their community life. In this way,
they get constructive feedback to improve their skills of social interactions (McCombs,
1997). However, most of the teachers lag behind in using these strategies to achieve this
objective for many reasons in the context of community schools in Pakistan. Therefore,
teachers mostly prefer „conventional methods‟ to complete their syllabi in the given period of
time and provide just guidelines to the whole class to do things accordingly (Peterson, 2009).
This teacher centered instruction again compels students to go for rote memorization to pass
the high stake testing rather than getting enough chances to work in smaller groups, focusing
on their learning difficulties and discussing with their peers and teachers for their „powerful
learning‟ (Hopkins, 2001; 2007; Kumandas & Kutlo, 2010). In such a critical situation, the
slogan of providing quality education through SCAT remains superficial and thus students
become puppets, not intellectual and socially conscious citizens as depicted in the vision of
Community Schools (CS).
The notion of developing CS was to provide quality education to the children of low
income families at affordable fees within the community structure by mobilizing and utilizing
required resources, increasing community participation, and adding institutional facilitation at
different levels. As the concept of „community schools was to develop, organize and manage
within the community effectively to achieve the objective of providing quality education,
School Managing Committees (SMCs) under the Community Based Education Societies
were formed and registered under the Society‟s Act of Pakistan (Rugh & Bossert, 1998). The
structure of SMCs consists of chairman, member finance, honorary secretary (head-teacher),
and 10 to 12 other members including two to three parent representatives whose children are
studying in these community schools. The key stakeholders of the CS are students, parents,
teachers, SMC members and community at large who altogether are responsible for
improving the teaching learning conditions at schools. The concept of quality education as
defined by the community, linked with Weimer‟ Model as framework of the study, was used
to look into the practices and perceptions of teachers to what extent this concept is reflected
in their practices in the school system.
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
Student Centered Approach to Teaching
Student centered approach to teaching is conceived as an „instructional philosophy‟ and
modern pedagogical approach, which is opposite to teacher centered approach, i.e. the
„conventional teaching methodology‟ in which the teacher remains at the centre of instruction
(Burnard, 1999; O‟Neill & McMahon, 2005) in the teaching learning process. Dewey (1938)
asserts that traditional way of teaching has the limitation to focus on active learning and
explains that "...there is no defect in traditional education greater than its failure to secure the
active co-operation of the pupil in construction of the purposes involved in his studying" (p.
67). However, teaching focused theories like Bloom‟s Taxonomy (1954), experiential
learning of Kolb (1984) based on John Dewey's, Kurt Lewin's and Jean Piaget's concepts of
learning and flexible approach to teaching revealed that student centered approach to teaching
is a paradigm shift from teacher to learner-centered, a deliberative effort to facilitate learner
to achieve learning objectives by creating conducive learning environment using a variety of
activities like activity based teaching with effective interactive relations between learners and
teachers (Gredler, 2009; Johnson & Johnson, 1998). In light of the perceptions of quality
education, it is like „one size does not fit all‟ paradigm because of its transition and dynamic
nature. Its definition changes from person to person, community to community and country
to country from time to time and who defines it under specific circumstances depending upon
the influence of cultural, historical, local, national, international and global perspectives
(Motala, 2000; UNICEF, 2000). However, the concepts of quality education to the
community are: 1) children are given access to modern facilities like computer education
according to their grade level; 2) individual attention is given to overcome learning
difficulties through learner focused teaching; 3) teachers are given opportunities to learn
through training, workshops, seminars, co-teaching with expert teachers to improve teaching
learning practices; 4) providing students with opportunities to participate in local, regional
and national level competitions to show their talents; 5) monitoring and evaluation of every
teaching and learning activity is ensured through internal and external institutional support; 6)
learning achievements are shared with parents, community and supporting institutions to
encourage children to excel in curricular and co-curricular activities; 7) high achievers,
competition winners and runners-up are appreciated in the community programs to boost
their morale; 8) every event or activity is organized around learners' development and is well
justified (Blumberg, n.d.). These perceptions of the school stakeholders are considered as
quality standards.
Theoretical Basis
In the light of Weimer's Model of learner centered teaching, the quality standards in the
community schools system discussed in the above section are evaluated through the
exploration of perceptions, beliefs and practices of the teachers and students. According to
this model, the five key premises are: 1) power shifts from teacher to a more egalitarian
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
classroom from teacher centered to student centered; 2) the use of content is just for
students to think critically; 3) a shift in authoritarian role of teacher to facilitator; 4) return the
responsibility for learning to the students; and 5) utilize assessment measures not just to
assign grades, but to promote learning (Bilimoria & Wheeler, 1995; Weimer, 2002).
The first key component of Weimer‟s Model, a paradigm shift from teacher centered to
student centered, is the main indicator that teachers are using SCAT(O‟Neill & McMahon,
2005). In this approach, the role of teacher remains a helper, facilitator, mentor, „formator‟
(Ang, Gonzalez, liwag, Santos, & Vistro-Yu, 2001) and a guide whereas students‟ role
remains central in the whole process as “active participants in learning and co-constructors of
knowledge” (Meece, 2003, p. 111). This active participation of students creates enjoyment in
their learning through exploration and construction of knowledge where the teacher
encourages, mentors and engages them in critical thinking process to achieve the desired
objectives of learning (Law, 2007). As a result of this relationship, an egalitarian classroom
environment is created in such kind of practices. In this whole process of teaching and
learning, if a child does not come up to the mark or to the set standard “the child is not
dismissed as a failure; rather the teacher considers what can be done to enable this child to
learn" (Law, 2007, p. 226) and this concept is somehow linked to the perceptions of
providing quality education at the community schools. However, Simon (1999) argues that
focusing every individual in such a way is not possible in practice. For example, in a limited
time period if teachers will give more focus on slow learners that may result in ignoring fast
learners. However, it is very difficult to experience such kind of power shift in cases of more
experienced and senior teachers and it is also very difficult to say such practices necessarily
reflect the essence of quality education if individuals are treated in such a way (Ang et al.,
2001). So, it may be quality education for children with learning difficulties but it may only
be the loss of time for others in the same class.
It is widely agreed that teaching is not something depositing into the minds of learners
through teachers‟ control rather it is creating opportunities to individual learners to overcome
learning difficulties by involving in learning situations with mainstream learners where they
can come with their own creativity through exploration and interaction (Freire, 1970; Gredler,
2009). In this connection, SCAT is an interactive way to facilitate learners who have different
ideas and views to share with each other in smaller group settings (Pantiz, 1996) to get
insights of a topic under discussion. However, involving children with empowerment in their
preferred activities can reinforce their participation in all activities because students are not
motivated to learning every time. On the contrary, it is the teacher who creates conducive
learning environment by selecting such preferred learning activities which can reinforce
children to show their interests in the class.
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
In doing so, teachers have to interact friendly focusing on task to facilitate learning with
appreciation for active participation to boost students' interest towards learning; and such
kind of friendly interactive facilitation is considered as a way to provide quality education in
community schools. According to Guthrie (2004), to create interest in learning, teachers use
multiple ways to engage learners through a variety of activities like activity based teaching.
Thus, the concept of SCAT is to focus on activity based teaching with a clear focus on
improving the learning conditions of students who can take responsibility for their learning
by working together in a group (Peklaj, 2006). Creating conditions for students to take part in
activities with self responsibility develops confidence and improves achievement in their life
chances (Piert, 2013). However, there does not exist a clear evidence to support the direct
relationship between activity based teaching and development of self responsibility in
learners. Moreover, SCAT is a paradigm shift in teaching methodologies in order to create a
cooperative and collaborative learning environment in their classroom. One of the aims of
paradigm shift was to minimize negative competition focusing more on getting high grades
rather than on active learning (Johnson & Johnson, 1998; Kumandas & Kutlo, 2010).
Theoretically, the rationale for paradigm shift was to make students realize the value of
success in group work by achieving common objectives rather than being in a race of
competition among their classmates. Contrary to this, the concept of quality education in the
community schools focuses on competitions and race among children to be the first among
others. Therefore, it might be quality education for this school system but not for others.
Moreover, SCAT in light of this model is a cooperative learning environment where teachers
use the content as a source to help learners build on their prior knowledge to connect their
ideas and discuss things in group, providing equal chances to express, apply to their context,
analyze the situation, and create conceptual understanding of a topic under discussion
(Cheong, 2010; Kagan, 1997; Piert, 2013). It helps students to learn by communicating their
understanding, experiences and helping their peers to convince their views where teachers
become co-learners in these interactive discussions with different talents, abilities, and
background of learners to achieve their common objectives on task, rather than being first
among others (Pantiz, 1996). However, it is not so simple for every novice teacher or even
for some experienced teachers who have the fear of loss of power of authority or may not
have the motivation to change their classroom as a platform for socialization for purposeful
All the five key premises of Weimer‟s model in light of quality education as defined by
the community schools can be reflected in the forms of "self regulated learning practices
where students‟ motivation, confidence and interest for learning are all adversely affected
when teacher controls the process through and by which they learn" (Weimer, 2002, p. 23).
In such a situation where the teacher controls the whole process of teaching and learning,
almost all decisions are taken by the teacher for learners. In addition to that, the content
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
focused practice for any justification, i.e. to complete the syllabus, is also another indicator to
teacher centered approach. Whereas in SCAT, a conducive learning climate is created and
students are given multiple opportunities to take most of the decisions related to their learning
and interest. An environment of trust and respect for each other, collegiality and cooperation
for team learning and demonstration of high confidence and freedom for learning with
„autonomy and responsibility‟ is practiced in SCAT classes (Weimer, 2002, p. 102). In such a
situation, students can seek support, guidance and feedback whenever required and the role of
the teacher remains a friendly facilitator, not a decision maker. This key concept of the model
is used to evaluate the student centered approach to teaching through an exploration of
teaching learning practices in the context of this study.
In this empirical research, we are interested in a „holistic in-depth investigation‟ (Zainal,
2007, p. 1) to explore stakeholders‟ views and practices on student-centered approach to
teaching including factors affecting this approach to teaching, challenges and alternative
strategies to cope with these challenges within the context of a community school in Karachi,
As Saunders, Lewis, and Thornhill (2000, p. 92) talk about the importance and use of
appropriate research strategy for data collection and analysis "…what matters is not the label
that is attached to a particular strategy, but whether it is appropriate for your particular
research…" that links with the research questions to explore, we used case study. Case study
research methodology is “an empirical inquiry that investigates a contemporary phenomenon
within its real-life context in which multiple sources of evidence are used” (Yin, 1994, p. 23)
and this characteristic of the case study research enhances data credibility (Patton, 1990; Yin,
2009). In this particular context, among many other strategies, case study is the most
appropriate strategy for an in-depth study of a phenomenon, to make meaning of what people
say and do in a real situation. In order to collect the required and reliable data, we used semi-
structured interviews and classroom observation. Then we went through the process of
triangulation (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994) that provided a reliable basis for data analysis and
We believe that the processes of data collection and analysis need to be carried out at the
same time. According to Yin (2009), "…pattern matching, linking data to propositions,
explanation building, time-series analysis, logic models, and cross-case synthesis" (p. 26) are
five techniques of data analysis depending upon the type of case study. On the other hand,
„categorical aggregation and direct interpretation‟ are classified as types of analysis as per
Stake (1995). However, to reach the interpretation through thematic analysis, the following
three important principles of analysis: “use of all of the relevant evidence; exploration of
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
major rival interpretations; and addressing significant aspects of case study” (Rowley, 2002,
p. 9) were used in a systematic manner.
Moreover, in the context of this study, as the literature review identifies some of the
existing gaps in the practices and barriers to achieve the objectives of SCAT, the primary
focus remained on group interviews of purposefully selected seven students (2 from grade III,
and one each from grade IV-VIII) and seven teachers of the same classes to explore their
perceptions and beliefs about this approach to teaching. To collect the data by using group
interviews through probing technique, we encouraged the participants to provide information
in whatever form they would like to share like facts, opinions, ideas, understanding, attitudes
and intentions regarding SCAT in their classes.
To conduct Semi-structured Interviews (SSI), we developed an interview guideline that
consisted of a list of open ended questions in a sequential order based on our subsidiary
research questions. The purpose of this SSI guideline was to obtain „reliable and comparable
qualitative data‟ within a single phase of interview from the research participants (Bernard,
1988). To ensure that the main points were recorded in a proper way, a note-taker was used
who noted the points shared by the participants during the interviews.
The required data were collected until we reached a saturation point during these
interviews whereas data analysis, as a process of drawing meanings, and making sense of the
meanings from the data was conducted in six different steps. This process of analysis
involved: 1) reading the data for clarifications and corrections; 2) transforming all relevant
data into meaningful discourse; 3) finding key themes that emerged out of the data; 4)
arranging the themes in a proper order; 5) putting data pieces on index cards for sorting out;
and 6) developing a list of final themes based on a processing matrix with reference to the
key themes for every research question.
To obtain the pure meaning of a phenomenon or „to get more accurate picture‟ of a
situation within a „social world‟, we also used classroom observation as another tool since
multiple sources of data collection tools ensure triangulation (Saukko, 2003). The classroom
observation checklist was prepared based on the data collected from the interview with the
students and the teachers in order to check the similarities and differences out of the two sets
of data for the purpose of analysis.
As the specific purpose of this paper was to address the key issues related to SCAT in a
CS system in Karachi, Pakistan, this study was delimited to one school, as a unit of analysis.
Thus, generalizability of findings will not be possible to a wider context. However, the
findings can help schools in the developing world, especially those which have similar
contexts to the community school system in Pakistan, to learn some interesting lessons to
improve SCAT practices.
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
Results and Discussion
The results obtained from the analysis of the data are discussed as perceptions / beliefs of
teachers about SCAT; challenges to use SCAT; alternative strategies to overcome the
challenges; assessment of SCAT; and factors affecting SCAT in the community school
followed by our commentary/conclusion.
Perceptions / Beliefs of Teachers About Student Centered Approach to Teaching
The classroom observations and views of teachers and students revealed that SCAT is an
interactive technique to teaching which focuses on group work, cooperative and collaborative
work, flexible learning, and activity based teaching to achieve learning objectives (Cheong,
2010; Peklaj, 2006). By using these strategies, teachers provide the learners with a variety of
learning opportunities like service based learning, problem based learning and team-based
learning. It was not identified from the data that teachers are using team-based learning and
problem based learning. However, students are exposed to a variety of learning situations
such as smaller group works, cooperating and collaborating with each other inside the
classroom and sometimes outside the classroom in the form of service based learning
(Cheong, 2010). Moreover, "teachers observe learners in the classroom activities to see how
they interact with each other and try to identify the level of their participation and
understanding. They put questions to check their understanding and provide immediate
feedback accordingly" (Interview, October 9, 2012). This is exactly what the concept of
quality education is that community schools define for teaching and learning conditions in
these school systems. However, the changing roles of teacher as supporter, formator,
facilitator, co-learner and observer need to be reflected in terms of the quality of support
provided to individuals that is required during small group discussions (UNICEF, 2000). On
the other hand, it is equally important to see the level of discussions, interactions and equal
participation among the group members and their understanding to ensure individual focused
Some other views identified during the focused group interviews with students included
that “…some teachers are strict and they tell us to finish the work soon. Teachers sometimes
go out of class or sit on a chair. We try to finish work quickly but some colleagues do not
help in group” (Interview, October 9, 2012). Furthermore, students expressed their views
about the teachers who remain on task with students and provide their assistance while
students are doing their group work. “Some teachers come to us and ask like a friend. We
enjoy working together and share ideas with teachers. A teacher in particular sometimes
laughs at the things we do wrong. But still she does not punish… but guides us how to do the
task.” This shows that teacher‟s friendly behavior drives learners to enjoy learning but harsh
behavior, lack of interest to see how children learn, and absence of support to learners on task
are more serious matters for the schools as a system. Such kind of practices, although a few
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
cases, do not support the claims of providing quality education at these institutions rather
hamper the efforts to provide quality education to community children. Identifying the
behavioral issues related to teachers will help the school administration to bring positive
changes in practices in future alongside encouraging teachers to work on problem based
learning and team based learning in their classes.
Challenges to Use Student Centered Approach to Teaching
Views of students, teachers and our observations show that there are numerous challenges
on the way to implementing SCAT in community schools. These are lack of time on tasks, 40
minutes periods for all subjects, smaller rooms with fixed furniture, fully packed classes with
students, less access to computer lab and misuse of classroom resources due to sharing of
school building, less experienced and new teachers, and lack of support from school
administration to take initiatives, etc. In such a complex situation, only a few teachers who
are highly skillful and have expertise can handle SCAT in their classes but majority of
teachers blame poor resources and insufficient support as challenges. This kind of situation
offers teachers a chance and justification to switch to teacher centered teaching mode.
Ultimately, the learners have to suffer badly and cannot get the education that has been
claimed by the school stakeholders in their vision. This finding validates the finding of Lea,
Stephenson, and Troy (2003) and O‟Neill and McMahon, i.e. "many institutions or educators
claim to be putting student-centered learning into practice, but in reality they are not" (2003,
p. 322).
Using interactive, smaller group discussion and „flexible teaching‟ as a teaching strategy
in classes with a huge number of students within a short period of time, both teachers and
students found the learning process very tedious and they did not enjoy teaching and learning
in most of the cases. Teachers expressed their concerns about the shortage of time, space and
other resources. “…we try to use these methods in 40 minutes period with more than 40
students in small sized classes with few teaching aids; that is not fair…sometimes, we just
teach the topics to the whole class and cannot focus on individual learning” (Interview,
October 9, 2012). Time, space and resources are very important factors in SCAT along with
teachers‟ knowledge, skills and expertise and these all factors are interconnected and have a
huge impact on learners (O‟Neill & McMahon, 2005). However, working with such limited
resources is a challenging and exasperating situation rather than enjoying the teaching and
learning. In such a situation, the community quality education standards do not match with
the evidence of actual practices. This huge gap between ground realities and the claims of the
provision of quality education to community school children puts a big question mark to the
policy makers and all stakeholders.
In addition to lack of resources, another problem in community schools was found to be
misuse of the classroom resources (O‟Neill & McMahon, 2005). The sharing of school
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
building with religious education centre, operating in the evening shift, etc. were found to be
the main causes of resource dependency and misuse.
Alternative Strategies to Overcome the Challenges
It was very interesting to know that teachers of the community schools have alternative
solutions to some of the challenges that they face during their teaching and learning practices.
In the context of formal classroom setup, scarcities of time, space and resources remain
redoubtable problems in order to meet the objectives of student centered approach to
teaching. To overcome these problems, teachers design their lessons and incorporate some
activities for outside classroom learning. They guide learners briefly in the class and send
them in groups to complete their tasks and come with their learning outcome in the next class
for presentation. Teachers expressed their views that,
…we use collaborative learning strategies; sometimes, we send them out of class for
activities that take more time… we send learners in groups with a checklist of what to do
and what to achieve. They sometimes come with extra ordinary results that we cannot
expect of them. But their presentations show that they do these things very interestingly.
This is what we can do for our students but it needs more creative planning with a lot of
care. (Interview, October 9, 2012)
It is very exciting to know the creative engagement of learners in out-of-classroom
activities for learning. However, such kinds of efforts need commitment of teachers with
innovative ideas and expertise. Moreover, it is a very much challenging task for less
experienced and novice teachers to plan activities and to engage learners in such a
constructive way. On the other hand, it can be argued that providing group learning
assignments without teachers‟ involvement in terms of support on task and monitoring their
work in groups, the notion of collaborative learning does not guarantee activity based
learning. It is very difficult to identify how many group members actively and collaboratively
work to achieve learning objectives without guidance and monitoring of teachers outside the
classroom (Cooper, Robinson, & McKinney, 1993; Shimazoe & Aldrich, 2010). Moreover, it
needs an evidence based assessment that could provide enough proof of their learning in such
kinds of activities outside their classes. This implies that teachers of the community schools
will have to think about these practices.
Assessment of Student Centered Approach to Teaching
The perspectives of teachers regarding assessment of learning, both for graded and non
graded group activities either inside the classroom or outside the classroom, appeared
encouraging in a way they are aware of the importance of assessment not only for grading
purpose but also for improving learning (Gibbs & Simpson, 2004). Teachers said that "… we
use the assessment for learning… it is just for the purpose of knowing to what extent students
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
have learnt … it is not for grading them for the group task”. However, students‟ views were
found somehow different when they said “…teachers, most of the time, assign graded tasks
and we have to show results at any cost… but they help during activities and ask questions…
we really enjoy giving answers to non-graded activities.” This shows that although teachers
use formative assessment for learning, their focus still remains on assessment for grading
purposes. It is argued that just asking questions and providing assignments for learning do not
necessarily reflect the real essence of assessment for learning. Teachers need to focus on
sharing and communicating the assessment criteria with learners as well as their expectations
about their learning. Moreover, respecting diverse talents and ways of learners during
assessment process enables learners to think in a positive way to improve more. In addition to
providing general feedback on task, latest tools for assessment like Immediate Feedback
Assessment Technique (IFAT) should be used to enable learners to think critically to find
right responses according to the need of the situations.
Factors Affecting Student Centered Approach to Teaching
Findings revealed that there are many factors that affect the whole process of teaching
and learning at the community schools. However, the above mentioned challenges no doubt
badly affect both the teachers and students to foster a socially accommodative learning
environment in construction of experiences. To enable learners to construct new knowledge
through experiences heavily depends upon the knowledge, skills and attitude of teachers
(Dewey, 1938). It was identified that most of the teachers are inducted having no pre-service
training or experience of teaching and thus cannot handle SCAT classrooms. And during
classroom activities, in such a situation, learners most of the time get clear through asking
questions to the teachers about what to do. In such a confusing situation, students become
irritated and working in groups becomes just a loss of time and resources. Students said that
… in the classes of some teachers, we do not enjoy activities…we do not understand exactly
what to do.” Properly planned activities can help students to get engaged in their learning and
can motivate them towards learning. On the other hand, teachers claimed to face some
difficulties in making activities more live and interesting for learners just because of
unavailability of required resources in time. They said that,
…we have lack of teaching learning resources… we have to request the accountant with a
strong justification to get some extra charts, colors, markers, papers, glue, etc. to make
our group learning activities engaging and interactive by providing everything that
students require during their task. Sometimes, we do not get those required materials and
we have to rely on the alternatives that learners do not enjoy. (Interview, 9 October,
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Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
Another hindering factor identified was what teachers called „strict rules of the school
administration‟. They cannot bring changes in the formal structured way to teaching and
learning. They said,
…sometimes we got good ideas to do something new for our learners … coming out of the
routine activities … for example, we want to take our students out of class and just let the
learners observe physically the plants in the community park and find what things are
required for a plant to live and grow healthy, etc…to do this, head-teachers’ support and
permission is very important and without that we cannot take such initiatives. (Interview,
9 October, 2012)
Based on the findings, it is asserted that providing required resources and encouraging
teachers coming with initiatives and hiring teachers with relevant experience and skills can
make the environment more conducive for learning to experience. However, some strict rules
of the school, limited and misuse of resources, and fresh graduates‟ induction policies may
hinder the way to provide opportunities for learning through creativity and innovations.
Discussion and Conclusions
Perceptions of teachers and students and our observations of classroom practices revealed
that SCAT is a challenging job for the teachers but it gives interesting learning experiences
for the students if activities are well planned and executed with great care and skills in a
collaborative manner. However, teachers with commitment, innovations, expertise and
experience can make alternative ways to achieve the learning outcomes effectively through
inside and outside classroom activities if resources and support with appreciation and rewards
from school administration are provided timely. The findings clearly revealed that only a few
teachers are designing outdoor (outside classroom) activities to engage learners in self
directed independent learning. Some of the community school teachers purposefully design
independent learning opportunities for their students to enhance creativity and sense of
responsibility. These unique alternative strategies for independent learning are used to
achieve the objectives of SCAT which they cannot achieve in a formal classroom setting due
to lack of administrative support and scarcity of required resources including shortage of
time. The alternative strategies used by those few teachers within a complex situation due to
multiple challenges seem to be innovative ways to achieve SCAT in the context of
community schools, which is no doubt a contribution to the theory of learner centered
However, in the presence of administrative support, SCAT can be used for creating
learning focused engagements successfully in terms of facilitation to smaller group works
through discussions, sharing, thinking, exploring, analyzing, and interpreting meaning of the
concepts in a cooperative and collaborative environment supported and assessed by a class
Student Centered Approach to Teaching 31
Journal of Education and Research, March 2014, Vol. 4, No. 1
teacher (Cheong, 2010). And provision of such support and facilitation with required
resources can enable even novice teachers to use SCAT in the community schools.
However, it would be more encouraging if teachers go a step forward to create teams
(even one team on a three seater desk due to fixed furniture in class) rather than groups for
„team learning‟ and „problem based learning‟. Moreover, in SCAT, learners enjoy learning,
feel proud of being partners in learning with teachers, participate actively, and take
responsibility for their own learning provided that the required amount of facilities are made
available and a friendly learning environment is created.
At the same time, it is challenging for teachers in the context of community schools
where teachers face not only the fear of loss of power but also scarcity of resources, time and
space to conduct group works, problem based learning activities and to enhance critical
thinking activities in a conducive learning environment in their classes. These kinds of
challenges for teachers in community schools confine them to operate within all the five key
premises of Weimer‟s model of student centered approach to teaching that has been taken to
analyze the claims of community to provide quality education through SCAT.
On the other hand, to overcome some of these challenges, school management needs to
focus on the effective use of available resources, providing required resources, arranging
training and support for new and less experienced teachers, and encouraging innovative ways
to learning through doing. These were found to be some contextual solutions to the existing
problems in the community schools. Based on the findings, it is concluded that student
centered approach to teaching is one of the best ways to enable a learner to become a lifelong
independent learner who can take responsibility for his or her own learning.
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... Pembelajaran berpusat siswa menjadi suatu pekerjaan yang menantang bagi para guru tetapi memberikan pengalaman belajar yang menarik untuk siswa jika kegiatan direncanakan dengan baik dan dilaksanakan dengan sangat hati-hati dan keterampilan dalam acara kolaboratif. Guru dengan komitmen, inovasi, keahlian dan pengalaman dapat membuat alternatif cara untuk mencapai hasil belajar secara efektif melalui kegiatan di dalam dan di luar kelas jika sumber daya dan dukungan sekolah (Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014). Selanjutnya berdasarkan pendekatan filosofis pengajaran dan pendekatan sosio-konstruktivis sebagai pendekatan pembelajaran yang berpusat pada siswa dapat dijelaskan bahwa kelas yang berpusat pada siswa, siswa lebih terlibat dalam proses pembelajaran, dan siswa bekerja secara kolaboratif dan terlibat dalam banyak kegiatan kelompok selama kelas (Singhal, 2017). ...
... Tantangan guru dalam menerapkan pembelajaran berpusat pada siswa antara lain manajemen sekolah perlu fokus pada penggunaan sumber daya yang tersedia secara efektif, menyediakan sumber daya yang dibutuhkan, mengatur pelatihan guru, dan dukungan untuk guru baru yang kurang berpengalaman serta mendorong cara-cara inovatif untuk proses pembelajaran (Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014). Tulisan ini mencoba memberikan bagaimana konsep pelaksanaan pembelajaran berpusat pada siswa yang dapat diterapkan guru dan siswa pada pembelajaran di kelas. ...
... Pada teori belajar Behaviorisme dianggap menjadi pendekatan pembelajaran yang berpusat pada guru sedangkan teori belajar Konstruktivisme dan sosio-konstruktivisme dikatakan menjadi landasan dalam pembelajaran yang berpusat pada siswa (Singhal, 2017). Pembelajaran berpusat pada siswa merupakan salah satu cara terbaik untuk memungkinkan pembelajar atau siswa untuk menjadi seumur hidup menjadi pembelajar mandiri yang dapat bertanggung jawab atas pembelajarannya sendiri (Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014). ...
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Student-centered learning (SCL) is an effort to improve the quality of learning or student learning which before was more directed to memorization, standardization, assessment, and a ranking system and inter-competition in classroom learning. The pedagogy used is through active learning and collaborative learning so that it does not only transfer the teacher's knowledge to students. However, it directly supports students' learning processes to build their knowledge, think critically, improve student performance, develop social skills, increase students' intrinsic motivation, and help friends achieve learning effectiveness. Student-centered learning departs from active learning by students so that students can do lifelong learning. SCL is an effort to improve the quality of education and to learn in schools. SCL is an effort that can be made to develop and train individuals to be more original and improve learning according to students' interests. Student-centered learning shifts to pedagogics being told to become active students finding out on their own. Students must be able to construct dynamic knowledge, starting from the simple to the complex and from concrete to abstract things. The author provides recommendations for student-centered learning, including the following: (1) teachers provide learning opportunities for students to carry up the stairs to a higher understanding based on diverse learning experiences, (2) teachers provide innovative ways to support the learning process students in a student-centered approach, (3) teachers use multimedia to support student learning media following the content of the material to be studied by students, (4) teachers stimulate students to develop student's knowledge, attitudes, and skills, (5) teachers need to consider the background, experience, perceptual framework, learning style and (6) special needs of students is take into account in learning. In the student aspect, several recommendations are made through active learning independently and collaboratively with peers with facilitators the teacher. Students need to be directly involved in the content of the lessons to studying with the teacher, and students carry out lifelong learning. There is not enough knowledge gained from the teacher, teachers, and resources in the classroom, and continue to develop knowledge and skills with various sources.
... I mean buht hi badtameez hai, buht hi gustaakh hai (very rude, very presumptuous)". Recent studies on the student-centered approach also showed that the LA approach was introduced quite recently in Pakistan (Qutoshi and Poudel 2014). Learners and teachers were reportedly unaware of the nature and significance of autonomy in learners due to their previous educational background where they lacked freedom and opportunity. ...
... According to SB, in traditional culture, teachers enjoy a parental and honorable status, which is deemed only in case of their hierarchal position, so if they change the classroom dynamic, they may fear the loss of status as SB stated, "We cannot dare even to give learners autonomy as we fear that the concept of a Teacher will be gone… Mater sb had respect, and they enjoy that tag-that very thing will be gone." Whether it is the fear of losing power (Qutoshi and Poudel 2014) or unwillingness to share authority (as was observed by Nguyen et al. 2014), this attitude impedes the promotion of LA. ...
... This shortage of time in the semester system particularly restricts learner to explore on his/her own as RJ reported, hence, a more directed learning approach was considered appropriate. This finding concurs with similar results of Nguyen (2014) where a researcher found teachers too busy to spend time on class activities and Qutoshi and Poudel (2014) reported that teachers and students found flexible teaching and group discussion hard to manage in short period. ...
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The role of teachers in promoting learner autonomy has been the focus of second language acquisition researchers for more than a decade. This paper aimed at exploring perceived constraints in promoting learner autonomy, from the perspective of teachers. A sample of 16 university lecturers teaching communication skills in four public universities of Punjab was selected through purposive sampling. Following a qualitative approach, data were gathered through semistructured individual interviews which were later transcribed and analyzed thematically. Three major reported categories of constraints that emerged from the data were sociocultural, psychological, and institutional constraints. Sociocultural and psychological constraints were found to overlap and were linked in a complex way, where Pakistani culture was found ingrained in teachers’ and learners’ practices. Findings indicated that perceived barriers must be kept in mind while planning strategies to achieve learner autonomy in the classroom.
... Practically in Iranian culture, learner enquiry is not appreciated at large, thus, turning LA not only in to a foreign concept but also a challenge to instructor's power. He called it a borrowed term taken from foreign education system to a system where teachers feel threatened by learners' questions (Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014;Büyükkantarcıoğlu, 2004;Phuong-Mai, Terlouw, & Pilot, 2006). ...
... Nguyen (2014) defined teachers reluctant to the percentage of power that they like in Asian culture. Qutoshi and Poudel (2014) recognized it as a concern of losing authority. ...
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For more than three decades, learner’s autonomy has been a focus of many studies. Despite, teachers are considered as a potential tool in leading qualification but their role got unequal extent to which is seen lately, especially in extending learner autonomy in language classrooms. The purpose of the current research meant to investigate the attitudes of Iranian EFL teachers about the feasibility and utility of autonomy in learners at M.A. and PhD level and analyses the potential socio-cultural interferences limiting the development of learner’s autonomy. To this aim, the researcher selected 298 EFL teachers who are teaching in Islamic Azad universities of Tehran, Tabriz, Kish, Shiraz, Damavand, Kermanshah, Alborz and data was gathered throughout semi-structured interviews. Data were later interpreted thematically. Running a number of factor analyses, the researchers modeled the participants’ mindsets toward LA, which can be quite significant as it can have some theoretical and pedagogical implications. Teachers asserted that learner autonomy is a novel concept. They believe that culture can be marked as an interference to acquiring learner’s autonomy. Generally, the observed interferences should be eliminated for the flourishing improvement of autonomy in learners.
... He did not observe autonomous learning in Pakistani culture as he reported. Recent studies on student-centred learning also supported that the concept is introduced recently in Pakistan (Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014). Therefore, AP considered its presence only at a theoretical level. ...
... Nguyen (2014) found teachers unwilling to share power that they enjoy in Asian culture. Qutoshi and Poudel (2014) called it a fear of losing authority. ...
... He did not observe autonomous learning in Pakistani culture as he reported. Recent studies on student-centred learning also supported that the concept is introduced recently in Pakistan (Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014). Therefore, AP considered its presence only at a theoretical level. ...
... Nguyen (2014) found teachers unwilling to share power that they enjoy in Asian culture. Qutoshi and Poudel (2014) called it a fear of losing authority. ...
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Learner autonomy has been a focus of research for last more than three decades. Teachers are considered a potential instrument in bringing change but their role, however, received little space which is observed recently, particularly in developing learner autonomy in language classrooms. This paper examines the beliefs of Pakistani English teachers about the feasibility of autonomy in learners at BS level and investigates the potential socio-cultural constraints restricting the development of learner autonomy. A sample of 16 English language teachers was selected from four public universities and data were gathered through semi-structured interviews. Data were later analysed thematically. Pakistani learners and teachers believed that learner autonomy is a new concept. Culture has been found playing amajor role in limiting the role of learner autonomy. The present study indicates that perceived barriers should be removed for successful promotion of autonomy in learners.
... In Pakistan, most of the English learning classes are teacher-oriented rather than student-oriented. A study performed in Karachi's community school (Qutoshi, 2014) shows that a student-centered approach helps to motivate learners to participate in learning activities and interact with each other to achieve common objectives. ...
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The study aims to explore how children's English discourse is different from that of an adult, problems related to the development of English discourse that children and adults face in Pakistan, and how to overcome them. A mixed-method approach is used in the study. The study sample comprised 150 adults and 150 children for the survey, and 25 adults and 25 children for interviews from 5 universities and five schools from Punjab province of Pakistan. The research has identified that children's English discourse is different from that of adults in terms of vocabulary, learning process, practice, and experience. The other significant findings are the problems like lack of grammatical knowledge and confidence, punctuation mistakes and medium switching, and solution to these problems such as providing a proper platform for the development of English discourse, using audiovisual method rather than the grammar-translation method, motivating students into developing proper English discourse, and training teachers. From the findings, it can be suggested that much attention is needed to the development of English discourse from the earliest stage of education, and the government should provide trained and highly qualified teachers.
... One form of learning that can accommodate biology learning optimally is Problem-based Learning (PBL). PBL is included in student-centered oriented learning (Ali, 2019;Karimi, 2011;Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014). PBL also includes cooperative learning which obeys the theory of constructivism (Gewurtz, Coman, Dhillon, Jung, & Solomon, 2016). ...
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Learning resources and learning models are the two main components that determine learning success. Of the many learning models, Problem-based Learning (PBL) is one of the most recommended in biology learning. The purpose of this content analysis was to identify the emergence of PBL syntax in junior high school biology textbooks. The population in this study were all biology textbooks for the VII graders, while the sample was three biology textbooks that are often used by VII graders in Surakarta. As the results, the averages of each PBL step emerged in the textbooks analyzed i.e. problem-oriented activity, organizing to collect data, assisting independent investigations, artifacts presentations, and analyzed/evaluated the process of overcoming the problem were 17%, 47%, 23%, 2%, and 11%, respectively. Thus, it can be concluded that the biology textbooks analyzed have applied PBL learning models, yet the proportion between steps is not balanced.
... One of the teaching and learning strategies that have potency to develop the students' UEC is problembased learning (PBL). PBL includes cooperative learning with a student-centered paradigm (Ali, 2019;Karimi, 2011;Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014) which is based on constructivism theory (Gewurtz, Coman, Dhillon, Jung, & Solomon, 2016). In PBL, students are presented with a learning problem which they need to solve (Servant-Miklos, 2019). ...
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Environmental conservation understanding is one of the crucial factors which determines student attitudes and behavior towards the environment. This study aimed to investigate the effects of problem-based learning and naturalist intelligence on the students' understanding of environmental conservation. This experimental research was conducted at Madrasah Aliyah Negeri (MAN) 1 Praya which employed factorial design. The first factor was the levels of naturalist intelligence (high and low) and the second factor was learning forms (problem-based and expository learning). Two groups were randomly selected from X-MIPA graders of MAN 1 Praya. The data were collected through tests which then were analyzed using ANOVA at 0.05 significance level. The results of the study indicated that problem-based learning affected the students’ understanding of environmental conservation, while naturalist intelligence did not affect it. Furthermore, there were no interaction between these two factors.
... While implementing a centralized curriculum, I began to use a student-centered approach (Ahmed, 2013;Qutoshi & Poudel, 2014) to teaching with collaborative approaches to co-planning, co-teaching and co-assessing learning. Arriving at this stage of learning, the inquiry came up with interesting and encouraging views of students' participation in active learning activities (Dupin-Bryant, 2004;Weimer, 2002). ...
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This paper aims to present my educative-transformational journey as a part of my doctoral research project (Qutoshi, 2016), which started in 2013. In addressing the culturally disempowering nature of teacher education and research practices in the context of Pakistan, I embraced a transformative research paradigm. In so doing, I engaged with making meaning of my lived experiences through imaginative, innovative and creative ways of re/constructions of past and present epiphanies as a student, teacher, vice/principal, teacher/educator, and research supervisor, and envisioned a transformative teacher education and research practice for Pakistan. To this end, I employed unconventional, multiple data referents/tools, multiple logics, and genres so as to generate data sets within autoethnography as a key methodological referent in a multiparadigmatic research design space. Such critical reflection and inward-out observation, to my past and present, enabled me to envision future practices with an inclusive, empowering, and liberating view of teacher education to create a better world. Hopefully, my own living-educational-theory (Whitehead, 1989) with my embodied values of, 'intention, humility for humanity, care of self and others with ecological consciousness, love and peace', will be instrumental in achieving a morphing view of education that makes a difference in the lives of self and others with its ripple impacts.
This study aims at (1) describing the conceptual pedagogical knowledge of the English teachers in public elementary schools in Denpasar municipality on child-centered learning, (2) describing the pedagogical practices of the English teachers in public elementary schools in Denpasar municipality on child-centered learning, and (3) describing the relation of English teachers’ conceptual pedagogical knowledge and pedagogical practices in the context of child-centered learning in public elementary schools in Denpasar municipality. The subjects who are under investigation in the study are three English primary teachers from three public primary schools in Denpasar municipality. The type of this study is embedded mixed method which was adapted from Creswell (2012). The instruments used to collect the data in this study are observation sheet, questionnaire, and interview guide. The result of the questionnaire shows that the Teachers have very strong concept on child-centered learning as the mean score is in the range of 3.3335 ≤ M ≥ 4.0005. This was contradicted with the data obtained from the classroom observation in which implementation of child-centered learning was low implemented. It indicated that there was tendency of inconsistent between teachers' conceptual knowledge and their practices on child-centered learning
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The aim of this study is to determine the 6th-8th grade elementary school students’ opinions regarding the possible risks Secondary School Examination (SSE), which they take in order to continue to the secondary education, might have. 665 students from Ankara and Istanbul participated in the study, and the data was collected using a survey that was developed by the researchers. According to the results of the study, the examination (SEE), which is conducted in order to place the test-takers in the secondary schools, falls short in reflecting the students’ achievement and achievement in real life situations. What is more, the results suggest that the test (SEE) creates negative effects on students such as fear of being unachievementful, test anxiety, and some health problems.
The pedagogical strategy of cooperative learning is an effective way to achieve the goals of feminist teaching. The cooperative-learning approach, including its advantages and risks, is illustrated through an upper-division undergraduate course on gender and family relationships in which student learning teams engaged in a research project. The approach is shown to enhance student understanding and to improve the quality of the classroom experience for both students and the instructor in a way consistent with feminist goals.
For most Americans, access to a quality education has always been perceived as the fundamental link to upward mobility and increased life chances within our society (Ballantine and Hammack in The sociology of education: a systematic analysis. Prentice Hall, Upper Saddle River, 2011; Brown et al. 2010; Holyfield 2002). This perception of the role of education has been particularly salient for African American people. From the beginning of their experiences in America, the African American community creatively established schools for their children (Anderson in The education of Blacks in the South, 1860–1935. The University of North Carolina Press, Chapel Hill, 1988). Even during the enslavement of the majority of African people in this country, they would often risk their lives in the effort to learn to read and write (Douglass and Stepto in Narrative of the life of Frederick Douglass, an American slave. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 2009). Subsequently this rich history, along with the continued presence of inequities and underachievement in the public schools became the undergirding impetus for the development of independent Black schools within the African American communities around the nation beginning in the early 1960’s. Through the years, many of these schools have waged a fervent battle to remain operating. In spite of difficulties with various factors such as, finances, facilities location and maintenance, as well as an unstable teaching force, the leaders who founded these institutions remain committed to the education of African American children. Currently, there is a paucity of research on the founders of these independent Black schools. The purpose of this study was to investigate the educational philosophy and strategies which guided the decision-making process of the founder of an independent Black school.
If education is to be truly student-centred, students should be consulted about the process of learning and teaching. Moreover, within the current higher education climate, it is imperative that institutions move from an 'inside out' approach, where those on the inside 'know' what is best, to an 'outside in' approach where customers' expectations are researched and serviced. The research reported here investigated higher education students' perceptions of and attitudes to student-centred learning. Two studies were conducted, employing the complementary methods of qualitative and quantitative data collection and analysis. The first study involved focus groups while the second involved an Internet questionnaire. Results showed that students generally held very positive views of student-centred learning. However, they were unsure as to whether current resources were adequate to support the effective implementation and maintenance of such an approach. Implications of these findings are discussed with respect to educational research and practice.