Graduation Date


Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department or Program


Department or Program Chair

Elizabeth Truesdell PhD

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD

Second Reader

Robin Gayle, PhD, MDIV, MFT


Student-centered-learning is a broad term for an approach to education where students are independent, self-directed learners (Krueger, 2014). This active environment is invigorating, energizing and filled with students deeply engaged in the work at hand. Educators are leaning towards embracing methods that foster independence in their students and in turn, these methods are proving to be effective in cultivating an atmosphere of engagement in all types of learners.

This study assessed implementation of opportunities for self-directed learning, and evaluated student interest and engagement in classroom activities. A review of the literature indicates that adapting this approach can be effective in increasing student interest, motivation and engagement.

Students enrolled in a high school Digital Media Art class were participants in the study. The teacher of record gathered information on student interest as part of a classroom discussion, referred to as digital warm-ups, reflections and surveys, as well as journal notes. Students decided on a skill to master along with a topic, then designed the method in which to master the skill. The students planned the study guides, grading rubrics, assignments, and warm-ups as a group.

Results indicated students were eager and capable to develop as self-directed learners. Recommendations included the importance of preparing classroom materials to be fully accessible to support students in successful implementation of self-direction in the classroom. A prepared and organized educator is essential for this method to be successful.

Keywords: student-centered learning, self-directed learning, inclusive learning model, engagement, motivation, high school, art, digital media, Montessori