Loyola University Chicago

Faculty Center for Ignatian Pedagogy

What is Student-Centered Design?

Student-centered learning positions students at the center of the learning experience. Borne out of constructivist philosophy, one of the central tenets of this approach is that students learn best when they are given multiple opportunities to be actively involved with, or exercise agency during their learning experiences. Student centered learning is a broad approach that includes any instructional strategy or method that allows students to actively engage with their peers, their instructors, and the course materials. Student centered learning includes strategies that include giving students the guidance and the support to make choices about their learning, like selecting activities, course materials, and assignments they perceive as relevant.   

Viewed through a student-centered lens, the role of the instructor is to guide students’ active participation in their learning. Another key role the instructor plays is to identify what it is that students will learn, and then to design and facilitate learning experiences that result in that learning. When it comes to teaching, many instructors think first about course content. They think about what students will read or what lectures they will give. Looking through a student-centered lens that centers what students will learn (not what instructors will teach) can be a shift in thinking. This shift in thinking (from instructor or content centered to student or learning centered is reflected in the current literature about how students learn best.  

The materials in this section prepare instructors to design courses and facilitate learning experiences using a student-centered approach. The articles shared here provide examples of what student-centered learning is, what makes it effective, and how to implement it in your teaching.