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The educational environment undergoes changes. The students drive the change. How? They do not want boring classes anymore. They want to get knowledge in a way that meets their needs. Here comes the student-centered approach at hand.

What is a student-centered approach?

A student-centered way puts students at the core of the learning process. They influence their academic path. The student decides about two major areas:

  • What material to learn?
  • And how to learn it?

The teacher guides the process, but the students decide what to do, when to complete it, and how to get motivated.

A successful student-centered approach has some distinct features:

Empowering students

Students take an active role in their education. They are involved in decision-making, their needs, preferences, and abilities are at the forefront. Students have a major impact on their learning path. To empower students, universities offer:

  • Academic advising
  • Wide range of courses
  • Individual learning paths
  • Extracurricular activities
  • Diverse resources and support.

Results show that students who received more support from their institutions were generally happier, with 74% of those who had a great experience feeling they received adequate support, compared with only 18% of those who had a poor experience.

Source: Connected Student Report, Third Edition, Salesforce

Personalized learning

Teachers are solely facilitators because students are the main part of the process. However, they actively participate in guiding the learning possibilities. This helps develop critical thinking, problem-solving skills, and self-motivation. Personalized learning is characterized through:

  • Learning at own speed
  • Adjusted instructions
  • Learning networks
  • Adoptive software.

With continually advancing technology and innovation, much of what students learn as part of a practical education may rapidly become outdated. But the demand for skilled and experienced employees has never been higher. (…) The higher education business model of the future must balance a general education with more specific job preparation and skills.

Source: Connected Student Report, Third Edition, Salesforce

Supportive environment

The whole academic environment encourages students to become independent, lifelong learners. It’s the best way to keep up with the times in a constantly evolving world. The efficient ways to implement a supportive environment are:

  • Creating community
  • Supporting mental health and wellness
  • Implementing a culture of involvement and diversity
  • Providing career support
  • Ensuring accessibility.

Students want more career connections from their university: 40% of students say they need their universities to offer job-specific workshops in order to build their career. They also wanted stronger links with the corporate world.

Source: Connected Student Report, Third Edition, Salesforce

These three pillars—empowerment, personalization, and a supportive environment—constitute the foundation of a successful student-centered approach, equipping students with the skills, knowledge, and mindset necessary for their academic and professional journey.

Benefits of student centered approach

Learning with a focus on students has many benefits that make the entire school experience better. This new approach is highly recommended for universities. Why? Because the benefits are clear for the students, university, and stakeholders. Below you will find a list of them.

Improved student engagement

When students have control over their education and can choose what they want to learn about, they become more motivated and take an active part in their learning. This more active participation makes learning more interesting and enjoyable.

Higher retention rates

When students are involved in their learning, they are more likely to retain and use the knowledge they learn. Student-centered approaches help students connect with the material and remember it long-term. This helps students retain the material better.

Increased student satisfaction

Giving students the power to determine their own learning paths builds a sense of ownership and fulfillment. When students feel respected, they are happier with their university experience, which leads to higher levels of student satisfaction.

Encouragement of collaboration and teamwork

This team-based learning environment enhances students’ interpersonal abilities and resembles real-life work environments, preparing them for future careers that require teamwork.

Facilitation of learning and community

When students are involved in their learning, they become more connected to their peers, faculty, and the institution itself. This sense of belonging and community further motivates students to achieve academic excellence.

Support for student success

With personalized guidance and tailored learning experiences, students are better equipped to overcome academic challenges, which leads to improved performance.

Preparation for the workforce

Student-centered learning helps students learn skills like critical thinking, problem-solving, and good communication, all of which are important in the workplace. Students who finish programs that focus on them as students are usually better prepared for the job they want.

Improved attitudes towards learning

When students have the freedom to explore their interests and passions, they often develop a love of learning that lasts a lifetime.

Service and project-based learning

Service and project-based learning can increase engagement by connecting classroom learning to real-world applications. This approach helps students see how their studies are useful.

Teaching self-regulation

Student-centered approaches teach students how to learn for themselves, which encourages independence and responsibility. These abilities help students do better at university and prepare them for learning on their own in the future.

A student-centered approach revolutionizes education by enhancing student engagement, retention, satisfaction, collaboration, and preparation for the workforce. It fosters a positive learning attitude, real-world application of knowledge, and the development of essential life skills, ultimately equipping students for success in both their academic pursuits and future careers.

From lecture halls to student-centered learning

Now students have a place to go to see these opportunities and submit applications to participate. We saw a pretty sharp increase in engagement once we started focusing on experience—CMO, public research university.

Source: Forrester Report: The Total Economic Impact Of Salesforce Education Cloud, October 2020

Students become active co-creators of their educational experience. The role of universities has evolved. There is a transformative shift from the traditional lecture-based model to a dynamic, learner-centric paradigm.  And this is not just an option for universities. It is a necessity for keeping high retention rates and improving student success.

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