Evidence for Student-Centered Learning

For the past 35 years, the prevailing narrative about America’s public education system is that it is “broken.” Reform efforts have failed to find a fix because they fundamentally misunderstand this reality: the system is not broken. It is doing exactly what it was designed to do-educate the masses in a standardized fashion that completely disregards who students are as individuals.

In a new report by Education Evolving, author Krista Kaput makes the case for student-centered learning, a schooling design that shifts the model from adult-centered and standardized to student-centric and individualized. Specifically, the learning is personalized to the students’ interests, learning styles, cultural identities, life experiences, and personal challenges.

Drawing from a wide array of research, Kaput examines the history and current context of student-centered learning, and outlines the following seven principles of student-centered learning with examples of how they look in practice.

Principle #1: Positive Relationships – Students have relationships with adults and peers who care about, believe in, and hold them to high expectations

Principle #2: Whole Child Needs – Students’ biological, physiological, and safety needs are met

Principle #3: Positive Identity – Students are fully embraced for who they are and develop a sense of positive identity and belonging

Principle #4: Student Ownership and Agency – Students have freedom to exercise choice in pursuing interests, with teachers serving as guides and facilitators

Principle #5: Real-World Relevant – Students solve real-world problems and learn skills they will use in their own lives

Principle #6: Competency Progression – Students progress by demonstrating mastery and receive support as needed

Principle #7: Anytime, Anywhere Learning – Students learn in the community, at internships, on weekends, during extracurriculars, etc.

When these principles are realized, Kaput argues that the result is learning that is equitable, relevant, and rigorous.


For the report, see https://www.educationevolving.org/files/Evidence-for-Student-Centered-Learning.pdf