Student-Centered Instruction

4. Student-Centered Instruction

"In our multicultural society, culturally responsive teaching reflects democracy at its highest level. [It] means doing whatever it takes to ensure that every child is achieving and ever moving toward realizing her or his potential."

--Joyce Taylor-Gibson (*)


Student-centered instruction differs from the traditional teacher-centered instruction. Learning is cooperative, collaborative, and community-oriented. Students are encouraged to direct their own learning and to work with other students on research projects and assignments that are both culturally and socially relevant to them. Students become self-confident, self-directed, and proactive.


Learning is a socially mediated process (Goldstein, 1999; Vygotsky, 1978). Children develop cognitively by interacting with both adults and more knowledgeable peers. These interactions allow students to hypothesize, experiment with new ideas, and receive feedback (Darling-Hammond, 1997).


  1. Promote student engagement
    • Have students generate lists of topics they wish to study and/or research
    • Allow students to select their own reading material
  2. Share responsibility of instruction
  3. Create inquiry based/discovery oriented curriculum
    • Create classroom projects that involve the community
  4. Encourage a community of learners


Brisk, M. E., & Harrington, M. M. (2000). Literacy and bilingualism: A handbook for all teachers. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Daniels, H. (2002). Literature circles: Voice and choice in book clubs and reading groups. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Darling-Hammond, L. (1997). The right to learn: A blueprint for creating schools that work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Goldstein, L. (1999). The relational zone: The role of caring relationships in the co-construction of mind. American Educational Research Journal, 36(3), 647-673.

Padron, Y. N., Waxman, H. C., and Rivera, H. H. (2002). Educating Hispanic students: Effective instructional practices (Practitioner Brief #5).

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological processes (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, Eds. and Trans.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University.