Graduation Date

5-2014

Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase Clow, Ph.D. Candidate

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, Ed.D.

Abstract

Student-centered learning has an important place in education because it fosters student engagement and allows the traditional micromanaging teacher to transform into a guide. The current education model emphasizes teacher control and curriculum based on standardized testing, which stunts students’ natural learning processes. This study investigates the positive outcomes of student-centered learning and how these practices can be included in mainstream, elementary classrooms. A review of the literature found that student-driven curriculum uses experiential knowledge and student choice to increase student responsibility and retention, while establishing effective techniques for self-regulation. It also exposes the difficulties in creating a studentcentered environment for contemporary teachers due to the many political, financial and creative factors that affect decisions about classroom organization and lesson planning. This study follows a mixed method design using qualitative and quantitative data. Participants include four, female teachers between the ages 20 to 40 from an elementary setting. In addition, a pilot study was conducted in a mock classroom using selected students to participate and provide feedback about direct-instructional approach versus a student-motivated lesson. Results indicated that students prefer having a choice in the classroom. It was also shown that there are multiple ways to integrate student choice into a mainstream classroom.

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