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2019 > Letnik 9, št. 4


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Prispevek razpravlja o problemih, ki zavirajo razvoj na študente osredotočenega učenja in poziva študente, naj uporabijo razpoložljive mehanizme, s pomočjo katerih bodo pospešili uvajanje učnih metod, ocenjevanja in organizacijskih elementov, ki jim bodo olajšali študij in ga naredili bolj zanimivega. Na študente osredotočeno učenje zavira prepričanje, da so stare učne metode in ocenjevanje še vedno najboljše, da se določenih splošnih načel ne sme spreminjati, da so študenti s slabimi ocenami leni, da se ne uvaja novih učnih metod, češ da so preveč rizične (npr. učenje na daljavo) itd. Študenti imajo danes vsaj formalno gledano pomembno vlogo pri odločanju na šolah. Seveda jim manjka poznavanje učnih metod, ocenjevanja in organizacijskih vidikov učenja, osredotočenega na študente. Vendar pa imajo možnosti, da preberejo, kaj pomeni na študente osredotočeno učenje in da kot močna, mlada skupnost na šolah predlagajo, da se ga začne uvajati.

Ključne besede: na študente osredotočeno učenje, ovire pri uvajanju, študenti

The paper discusses problems that hinder development of student-centred learning and invites students to use available mechanisms with which they will accelerate introduction of teaching methods, methods of assessment and organizational elements that will facilitate their study and make it more interesting. Student-centred learning is hindered by opinions that old teaching methods and assessment are still the best, that certain general principles should not be changed, that students with poor marks are lazy, that some new teaching methods should not be introduced because they are too risky (e.g. distance studies) etc. Students have nowadays at least formally an important role in decision-making. Of course they lack knowledge about teaching methods, assessment and organisational aspects of student-centred education. However, students have the possibility to read about the meaning of the student-centred learning and that they – as a young strong part of an educational institution - demand that student-centred learning should be introduced.

Key words: student-centred learning, obstacles that hinder its development, students’ voice

1. Introduction

It is hard to claim that students of the secondary and tertiary level know what student-centred activities are. Some might be aware that student-centred learning means using active teaching methods, group work, flexibility in the choice of modules, qualitative feedback, respect for students, that students are treated as adults and given greater responsibility, that there is an empowering process, motivating and constructive feedback, a better timetable, more personal motivation, less anxiety before examinations, more guidance from lecturers, that lecturers are not so unapproachable and that inclusivity in the largest meaning is ensured, both for physically and cognitively disabled as well as including a full range of human diversity with respect to ability, language, culture, gender, age and of other forms of human differences (Marinko, I. et al., 2016). Students are mostly not aware that it is their right to expect different opportunities to learn, frequent changes of the teaching methods, that they have the right to ask for and receive help if they have troubles, that schools should consider their background, that teachers should discuss with students which study activities lead to good results, that examination questions should refer to real situation and not lead to categorizing students with regard to their marks.

In Slovenia there are not many tertiary institutions that use the student-centred approach. One of the investigations shows that there is only one student-centred tertiary institution that has student-centred approach in its strategy and practices it (RS Svet Republike Slovenije za visoko šolstvo, 2019). So it is necessary to ask about the main obstacles that prevent schools from introduction of student-centred learning that is supposed to be one of the aspects of their quality. And it is also necessary to tell students to fight for their rights of acquiring the benefits of the student-centred learning.

2. Obstacles in the process of practising student-centred learning

Introduction of the student-centred approach is often stopped by different obstacles and/or principles that were some decades ago supposed to be basis of education but should now be changed. There are many such blockades and they refer to teaching methods, assessment and organisational arrangements.

Teaching methods, methods of assessment and organisational arrangements that have been in use for a long time are still appreciated by many people and they do not try to find new ones. In other words, tradition is supposed to be good and changes are not. E.g. lectures have been considered as the most eminent part of university education and in many universities they still are. Even the official syllabus scheme used by the majority of Slovenian and foreign universities still contains the information about the number of lectures, seminars and seminary work. Teachers could easily change lectures in workshops, discussions, introduce films, videos etc. and thus revive studies. Assessment is still performed mainly as written and oral exams and many people are convinced that teachers should in front of all take care that students do not copy from each other. Assessment could be much more relaxed and more interesting if students generated their own assessment questions, if they could choose among several questions, or if exams were performed in the way of a relaxed discussion (e.g. foreign languages). There are also many organisational arrangements that have been in use for a long time and people think that they should not change. E.g. all students must sit for exams and work individually although we know that team work gives better results; all students must show the same level of knowledge although it is clear that they have different abilities.

Teachers, school management and parents are often convinced that schools should be based on certain principles that cannot be changed. Many would object the idea that assessment would take place as a discussion in nature. Many people still think that only teachers who are strict and utterly inflexible, of whom students are afraid, are good teachers. Many people are convinced that complete silence in the classroom and discipline means good teaching. Does it indeed?

There are so many stereotypes in education. One of the oldest but still frequently heard is about influence of different sciences on development of thinking. Many people still claim that mathematics, technological sciences, physics develop logical thinking while social sciences do not. Can somebody list ten serious research works which show that this is true?

In schools there are many students who have problems with learning and do not achieve good results. Their teachers, parents and schoolmates often say that such students are lazy. I have had hundreds of students but could hardly say that some of them failed because they were lazy! It sooner or later came out that students suffered from an illness, that somebody convinced them that they were not capable to learn e.g. foreign languages or that they simply did not have basic conditions to study in peace for at least an hour per day.

Some school employees do not want to start with methods of teaching or assessment that might be criticised as risky. Typical for Slovenia are prejudices about distance study. If you just mention it, some teachers they would start to argue that distance studies enable copying and cheating and that other people sit for exams instead of those who should. Nobody asks himself if this is possible. One of the most known distance study universities in the world is the Open University. They give study materials to students about three months (or even more) before they are asked to send their exams. Students have to read a lot of articles, they have to thoroughly study materials and to write an essay or answer some questions in which they have to prove that they are well acquainted with the theory and that they have their own critical opinions. Such studying requires a lot of time and efforts. Who would be prepared to study instead of these students for three or more months? How would they pay them? Students who would hire somebody else to study and sit for their exams should be very rich to first pay their own tuition fee (which is much higher than Slovenian) and then the person who studied the materials and sat for exam instead of them. Which students have so much money? That's of course just one aspect of distance studies – there are many other arrangements that show if a student really performed his job or not.

People expect that student-centred learning would be introduced quickly and easily. However, there is no chance that a school would say: »Next year we are going to start with the student-centred approach«. It takes years, especially if a school is large and has many teachers and students. It is first necessary that management decides about the student-centred approach, that it convinces teachers about the benefits of this pedagogical approach, that it is accepted as the school strategy, that teachers get some education about student-centred learning and that they slowly begin to introduce the new methods.

The most important people for introduction of the student-centred learning are school managers. If management is too hierarchical and not democratic, it is impossible to introduce student-centred learning.

On the other side, student-centred learning does not require a lot of money. It requires changing the way of thinking, changing organizational values, abilities to motivate the employees for changes.

It would be possible to list further obstacles that hinder development of the student-centred learning. However, already the above mentioned examples enable the conclusion that the main barriers are tradition, habits, and thinking that only strict education from the previous centuries was worth something.

3 Students' voice is important

Students are a strong, large group of people who can start requiring student-centred learning. Perhaps their number at the beginning might be small but it can grow to several thousands. Students are those who can require introduction of the student-centred approach in strategy and practice of their school. They should first get acquainted with what student-centred learning is and how it can make studying easier and more interesting. Barraket (2005) suggests that a re-orientation of the curriculum to student-centred learning can have a positive effect on student performance. Choi and Ma (2014) describe a case of the personalised vocabulary learning in Hong Kong. A number of studies (Hockings, 2009) have shown that student-centred learning encourages deep learning and academic engagement.

Students should assess if their universities use this approach, which features of the student-centred learning are practiced and which are missed: if schools provide different opportunities for students to learn, often change teaching methods, help students who have troubles, consider their background, if teachers discuss with students which study activities lead to good results, if examination questions refer to real situation and do not lead to categorizing students with regard to their marks, if their educational systems address the needs of the contemporary students, facilitate the study process and prepare students for social life.

Who should start the movement for student-centred learning? The most suitable students’ body at the university are students' councils/representatives of students who have the right to vote in the Senate. Their reward will not be material but they will greatly contribute to a better life of students, to their improved knowledge and to a better organizational climate in schools.

So we invite all students, teachers, parents and everybody else who have problems with learning to read and speak about it, either by social media, on conferences, on radio, TV etc. They can send articles to be published in our newspaper (and in other magazines). Even just describing their good or poor experiences of learning will help to introduce something new.

IBS has published a large research on student centred learning, a textbook with examples of student-centred learning and a number of articles Our up-to-now work mainly tried to empower teachers to introduce new methods of teaching, assessment and on managers to include student-centred approach also in school organisation. However, we would like to hear also students’ voice. They know good and poor practices of learning, they can produce new ideas, they can suggest teachers and managers that they start working on the new pedagogical approach. The most important in this process is management so there should be dialogues especially among students and managers. Students and teachers frequently participate in student exchanges so they can observe good foreign practices and bring them into Slovenian practice. They can think about what would help them to learn more easily, more quickly and make suggestions. Students should be encouraged to think about their needs, and have the courage to speak about them!

4 Conclusions

Introduction of the student-centred learning is a big and important task and it requires huge changes. Student-centred learning has been known for decades but there are still no standards for it. It is necessary to change organizational culture in schools, to start with a different kind of communication, to accept new principles of behaviour. Besides school managements and teachers, students are one of the most important participants who can influence its restoration.


Barraket, J. (2005) Teaching Research Method Using a Student-Centred Approach? Critical Reflections on Practice, Journal of University Teaching & Learning Practice, vol. 2 (2). Available at:  [Accessed 26 November 2014].

Choi, M.L., Ma, Q. (2014) Realising personalised vocabulary learning in the Hong Kong context via a personalised curriculum featuring ‘student-selected vocabulary, Language and Education, vol. 29 (1), pp. 62-78.

Hockings, C. (2009) Reaching the students that studentcentred learning cannot reach. British Educational Research Journal, vol. 35 (1) pp. 83–98.

RS Svet Republike Slovenije za visoko šolstvo (2019) Zapisnik; Poročilo o analizi odgovorov vprašalnika: Bolonjski proces po letu 2020 – ambicioznejši  evropski visokošolski prostor, Ljubljana  2. 2020) [Accessed 10 February 2019].

Marinko, I., Marinko, J., Baužienė, Z., Kairienė, V., Knyviene, I., Perkumienė, D., Gołębiowski, A., Krawczak, M., Maj, G. P., Marcinkiewicz-Marszałek, K., Daniels, N., Hughes, J., Rees, A. (2016) Empowering teachers for a student-centred approach, Ljubljana. [Accessed 10 February 2019].

100 ways to improve teaching (2016), Ljubljana, [Accessed 10 February 2019].