About the Project
STUDENTS AT THE CENTER: TEACHING AND LEARNING IN THE ERA OF THE COMMON CORE
Students at the Center synthesizes and adapts for practice current research on key components of student-centered approaches to learning. Our goal is to strengthen the ability of practitioners and policymakers to engage each student in acquiring the skills, knowledge, and expertise needed for success in college and a career. The edited volume of Students at the Center research papers Anytime, Anywhere: Student-Centered Learning for Schools and Teachers (2013) is available from Harvard Education Press.
As the country turns its attention to implementation of the Common Core State Standards, this project is an urgent reminder that higher expectations can only be met with attention to fundamental issues of how students learn, what they need to learn, and how best to teach them. The broad application of student-centered approaches to learning has much in common with other education reform movements including those directed at closing achievement gaps and providing equitable access to a high-quality education, especially for underserved youth; however, critical and distinct elements of student-centered approaches to learning challenge the current schooling and education paradigm.
Despite growing interest in student-centered approaches to learning, educators have few places to which they can turn for a comprehensive accounting of the key components of this emerging field. With funding from the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, Jobs for the Future launched the project by commissioning nine noted research teams to synthesize existing research in order to build the knowledge base for student-centered approaches to learning and make the findings more widely available.
The series of research papers serves as the first phase of this project. The papers explore questions organized around three major areas: research on learning, applications of student-centered approaches, and taking the practices to scale. They span such areas as advancements in the field of mind, brain, and education to the challenges of implementing student-centered approaches across districts. Papers also explore the digital tools now available to customize curriculum and strategies that better engage students of color in mathematics and reading. And they point to the hard road ahead in transforming the teaching profession so student-centered approaches to learning are a core facet of schooling.
Students at the Center continues to help build understanding of and support for these ideas through the edited volume of Students at the Center research papers Anytime, Anywhere: Student-Centered Learning for Schools and Teachers (2013), conferences, social and mainstream media, professional development, and educational associations. The team is also developing - in consultation with educators - a collection of tools and resources to help make the research papers and edited book come alive and be more applicable to those wishing to implement more student-centered approaches in the classroom, school, district, or beyond.
WHAT ARE STUDENT-CENTERED APPROACHES TO LEARNING?
We consider student-centered approaches to be those that engage each student in acquiring the skills, knowledge, and expertise needed for college and career success.
Student-centered learning approaches have much in common with other education reform movements, namely, that all students attain the knowledge and skills necessary to successfully navigate postsecondary education and career readiness in the 21st century, close existing gaps and provide equitable access to achieving a high-quality education, especially for underserved youth, and align with emerging work to establish common core standards.
However, there are critical and distinct elements of student-centered learning approaches that challenge the current schooling and education paradigm. These include:
- Embracing the learner’s experience and learning theory as the starting point of education;
- Harnessing the full range of learning experiences at all times of the day, week, and year;
- Expanding and reshaping the role of the educator; and
- Determining progression based upon mastery.