Graduation Date


Document Type

Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


Humanities and Cultural Studies

Department or Program Chair

Chase Clow, PhD Candidate

First Reader

Madalienne F. Peters, EdD


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.