How People Learn: Learner, Knowledge, Assessment, and Community Centered Classroom

The four tenets of learning (learner, knowledge, assessment, and community) are all interrelated in the classroom, working together to form a cohesive, effective learning environment created by the teacher.

Learner: In a learner-centered classroom, the student’s background, beliefs, attitudes, and prior knowledge is the main focus. A teacher must cater to the students’ specific needs and build on them to reach a common learning goal. For example, in a learner-centered classroom, a pre-test with old and new material at the beginning of the year could provide a good starting point for the teacher to see where each student is individually in terms of their prior knowledge and the impending year’s material. From there, the teacher would know which areas the class needs to work on as a whole, as well as individual students’ needs, instead of diving directly into uncharted territory.

Knowledge: A knowledge-centered classroom focuses on the way in which information is being implemented, and the common goal is understanding. An example of this would be for a teacher to present classroom material in a way that is relevant to the students; which, in turn, demands knowledge of the students’ backgrounds and interests (learner-centered). A subject or topic that students once found boring can be completely transformed simply through the way it is presented. Technology can be an easy way to quickly gain the attention of students and thus strike up interest in the material.

Assessment: Assessment can be an intangible or tangible way for teachers to gauge the level of understanding on what has been taught amongst the students. One way to assess a classroom’s understanding is through the use of short-answer questions, which encourage deeper thought and do not rely solely on memorization. Feedback from the teacher, as described in the chapter, is crucial in order for the student to improve upon what they have already done.

Community: A community-centered classroom can be easily implemented through the use of “learning communities” in which students are assigned a specific group to work with throughout the year. Individual work is still assigned, but collaboration is also a large part of the classroom environment. Students learn to work together cohesively in these “learning communities” and come to rely less on the teacher and more on each other to answer difficult questions. Success for the classroom as a whole becomes more valued as competition fades away, giving way to a more welcoming, open class environment where discussion is embraced.

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