Being a hands-on learner, I’m always enthused about an assignment that lets me dig into a project and see where it takes me. The idea of tiling the back splash came to me in a heartbeat, but the process of learning about it took quite a bit longer. Thinking about learning this skill was invaluable, as it deepened my awareness beyond the scaffolding steps I’ve contemplated in the last while.
When I think of the elements that make up a great learning experience, I think the way each person learns needs to be respected. Added to this, multiple intelligences must to be honored. That’s no small task to weave into each lesson. However, it is much more easily accomplished through a student-centered learning approach. If I can boil all my inquiry project learning experience down to one central take-away, it is this: There are many ways to learn to tile a back splash. Creating space for the student to decide how they are going to learn to tile the back splash is likely going to create the most rewarding and memorable learning experience.
This realization has cemented my commitment to the student-centered learning approach. My role as instructor needs to focus primarily on being a guide rather than being the giver of all information. I have many student-centered practices and assignments in my courses now. Still, there is lots of room for improvement. In the process of moving my existing material over to an even greater emphasis to student-centered approaches, I need to remember to engage the students as I go. Rather than coming up with case studies on my own, I can ask students to share scenarios that are relevant to them. I can call on students who love the research phase of 4MAT to help me choose the best resources for webquests. I can encourage students to find or even make short videos to explain topics that I have typically covered by lecture. And building on Tim’s idea, I can encourage students to create questions for tests, because being student-centered means remembering that some students prefer tests to projects. I think this is my new inquiry project – engaging students in assisting me to set up a more student-centered learning approach, while we cover the content. It’s going to take lots of work and creativity to make this happen, but I’m up for it, and I can’t wait to see where this project takes us!