Misconceptions and Misapplications of Student-Centered Approaches

Authored by: Sioux McKenna , Lynn Quinn

The Routledge International Handbook of Student-Centered Learning and Teaching in Higher Education

Print publication date:  July  2020
Online publication date:  July  2020

Print ISBN: 9780367200527
eBook ISBN: 9780429259371
Adobe ISBN:


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Many deliberations as to what it means to be student-centered can be found in this volume. This particular chapter cautions about three potential misconceptions in student-centered approaches that will narrow the usefulness of the approach and contribute to pedagogical injustices. Misconceptions occur because pedagogical approaches are introduced into pre-existing cultural contexts. Where the new approach is complementary to the context, it can be implemented as intended, but where the approach contradicts existing processes and understandings, it can result in what Archer calls “correction,” whereby the approach is appropriated or misapplied in ways that allow the dominant structures and cultures to continue undisturbed. The first misconception is that student-centered approaches can be implemented without due consideration of the nature and structure of the target knowledge and its effects on learning. The second misconception is that student-centered learning should home in on individual attributes such as language competence, motivation and learning styles. This misconception leads to the neglect of the ways in which students are social beings, co-constructed by the structures and cultures around them. The third misconception occurs when student-centeredness is taken up in a neoliberal ideology whereby the focus is on the student as a customer who needs to be kept satisfied in a competitive market.

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