LEARNER CENTERED TEACHING:THE WAY FORWARD
Published on October 20th, 2011 in GHL News Releases
Educators have been challenged to embrace a more learner-centered approach in order to boost academic excellence at all levels in the education system.
The challenge was made by Dr. Maryellen Weimer, Professor Emerita of the Pennsylvania State University, as she delivered the University of the West Indies/Guardian Life Premium Open Lecture at the Mona Visitors’ Lodge and Conference Centre on the UWI Mona Campus on Wednesday night (October 13). The lecture was held under the theme ‘Developing Critical thinkers for Today’s Global Society: Contributions from Learner Centered Teaching’. Dr. Weimer, an educator of Penn State University has distinguished herself as a Professor of Teaching and Learning. For the last 13 years she has been lecturing in communication and other disciplines to business students.
She used the 2011 lecture to urge educators to employ strategies to get students more involved in the process of learning. “Students need to be the focal point and this can be done by empowering students with more control over the learning material, and facilitating class discussions and group studies where the students are in charge and peer to peer learning is achieved”, said Dr. Weimer.
Dr. Weimer further noted that too often educators make the final decisions about what students learn, and the pace and style of that learning process. She has recommended shifting the focus of the learning outcome into the hands of the students as learner-centered teaching will stimulate critical thinking among them. She said this approach is effective across all disciplines and will help to improve the decision-making process and standards of excellence in a globally-competitive society.
In the meantime, Vice President of Employee Benefit at Guardian Life Limited Carol Hibbert, highlighted that the insurance firm is committed to projects that benefit, uplift and will help make Jamaica’s vision 2030 a reality, particularly in the areas of learning, youth, sports and environment.
“We at Guardian Life are certain that with the continuation of creative collaborative ventures, our region will succeed in attaining the first world ambitions that we have, for consistent excellence in every sphere of achievement”, noted Mrs. Hibbert
Principal of the UWI Mona Campus, Professor Gordon Shirley welcomed the partnership with Guardian Life to stage the biennial lectures. He also praised the work of the University’s Instructional Development Unit (IDU), noting that it had positively impacted the delivery of the wide range of programmes offered at the tertiary institution.
In his remarks on behalf of the UWI Vice Chancellor, Professor Alvin Wint, Pro Vice Chancellor, Office of the Board for Undergraduates Studies stated that while the institution has made important advances, it would be placing even greater focus on learner-centered teaching in the coming years.
“For the upcoming strategic planning period, the focus will be on ensuring greater alignment between UWI’s goals in emphasizing student-centered learning and the Institution’s reward and incentive system to ensure that student-centered learning becomes the ethos that pervades the entire institution” added Professor Wint.
The Premium Open Lecture alternates yearly with a Premium Teaching Award aimed at enhancing the teaching process at the University while recognizing the outstanding accomplishments of the academic staff.
Guardian Life is a member of the Trinidad and Tobago-based Guardian Holdings Group and continues to live up to its mantra, ‘Looking After Life’ by contributing to the education and health sectors of Jamaica through grants, scholarships and the recent renovation of the Intensive Care Units at the University Hospital of the West Indies.