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Student-centered, technology--rich learning environments (SCenTRLE): operationalizing constructivist approaches to teaching and learning.

This article presents a model for designing student-centered, technology-rich learning environments (SCenTRLE). The model helps educators operationalize constructivist and student-centered approaches to teaching and learning by delimiting eight instructional events for facilitating knowledge construction and the development of life-long learners. The article describes theoretical and conceptual foundations for the model, details the model and discusses enduring issues, including the use of technology, student attitudes, levels of implementation, holistic versus analytic performance assessment, and the application of constructivist principles within the context of traditional instructional systems design (ISD) models.


Student-centered approaches to teaching and learning stress the importance of students' past experiences, exploring individual needs and interests, promoting active participation, stimulating higher-order thinking, and encouraging life-long learning (e.g., Bonk & Cunningham, 1998; APA, 1993; CTGV, 1992; Holmes Group; 1990; Brown, Collins, & Duguid, 1989). Similarly, constructivists advocate the development of environments that embed learning in authentic contexts, present learners with multiple perspectives, encourage self awareness and responsibility for learning and use modern technologies to facilitate telecommunications and the social construction of knowledge (Wilson, 1996; Duffy, Lowyck, & Jonassen, 1993; Cunningham, Duffy, & Knuth, 1993; Knuth & Cunningham, 1993). Many accede with such pedagogical methods. The challenge lies in operationalizing studentcentered, constructivist instructional strategies with a class of 30 plus students in an educational system that is more inclined to resist rather than e mbrace change.

The lack of time, training, and incentives, coupled with large class sizes and incongruence with teacher beliefs, student expectations, and administrative directives appear to be some of the more pervasive reasons why classroom instruction remains predominately teacher-directed. For educators with little time, scant resources and limited exposure to student-centered methods, heuristics may not be sufficient for re-engineering their classrooms.

Table 1 compares a set of heuristic design principles and an algorithm for designing and sequencing key instructional events. Heuristics define basic principles or guidelines for solving problems (in this case, designing student-centered learning environments). Algorithms delineate a sequence of instructional events (or a step-by-step process) for facilitating learning. For instance, educators attempting to create a constructivist learning environment as posited by Honebein's (1996) must determine when instruction is to provide experiences, present multiple perspectives, embed learning within authentic context, and so forth. In contrast, educators applying Gagne's (1977, 1974) nine events of instruction must still operationalize each event, but the basic sequencing is already defined. Heuristics leave considerable room for interpretation, promoting creativity, and the development of alternative environments but they still require educators to formulate an instructional strategy for addressing each principle.

A number of algorithms have been posited for applying behaviorist and cognitive information processing theories of learning (Hirumi, 2002), but there is a dearth of algorithms for creating student-centered and constructivist learning environments. The major of published guidelines for creating student-centered, constructivist learning environments are heuristic in nature. Algorithms are now needed to help educators apply constructivist design principles and to generate, text, and refine strategies that will help transform traditional, teacher-directed methods into more student-centered approaches to teaching and learning.

This article presents a model for creating student-centered, technology-rich learning environments (SCenTRLE). It is designed to enhance student learning and performance by helping educators operationalize constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. Based on constructivist learning theories and key principles associated with student-centered learning, problem-based learning, and performance assessments, the model presents eight instructional events for facilitating knowledge construction and the development of metacognitive skills associated with life-long learning. The article is divided into three parts. First, the theoretical and conceptual foundations for the model are discussed. Second, the model is postulated, along with examples illustrating its application. Finally, key issues are examined, including field-test data associated with the use of technology, student attitudes, levels of implementation, holistic versus analytic performance assessment, and the application of constructivist principle s within the context of traditional instructional systems design (ISD) models.


A number of factors influenced the development of the SCenTRLE model. Based, in part, on a framework for examining learning environments posited by Land and Hannifin (1996), the following describes four SCenTRLE foundations.

Societal Foundation

We now live in an information-based, technology-driven society. Conservative estimates indicate that the amount of information available to humankind is doubling every five to seven years. Technology also continues to advance at an accelerating rate. Futurists suggested that 80% of the technologies that will be in use in the beginning of 2000 AD had yet to be invented prior to that year. For educators, the rapid accumulation of, and changes in, information and technology present a number of significant challenges. For example, so much information is being produced that it is nearly impossible to cover the facts, concepts, rules, and procedures, not to mention the varied perspectives associated with a particular discipline within the context of a course or program of study. Furthermore, with the increasing complexity and rate of change, self-directed learning and problem-solving become vital, along with interpersonal and team skills. It is evident that new ways of teaching and learning must be devised if our c hildren are to be prepared for the 21st century. Reading, writing, arithmetic, and discipline specific knowledge are still essential, but no longer sufficient (Hirumi, 1995). Educators must also develop students' ability to access and apply information, as well as their ability to become independent, self-regulated, life-long learners. The societal foundation of SCenTRLE suggests instruction should: (a) enhance learner's ability to search for, access, retrieve, interpret, synthesize, organize, transfer, and communicate information; and (b) promote the development of metacognitive strategies and self-regulatory skills associated with life-long learning.

Psychological Foundation

Psychological foundations reflect views about how individuals acquire, organize, and deploy skills and knowledge (Land & Hannifin, 1996). Constructivist theories of human learning provide the psychological foundation for the SCenTRLE model. Since space limitations prevent an extensive discussion of constructivism, in addition to those cited in the following paragraphs, interested readers are referred to the works of von Glasersfeld (1981, 1989), Jonassen (1991, 1994), Duffy, Lowyck, and Jonassen (1993), Marra and Jonassen (1993), Lebow (1993), and Rorty (1991) among others. In brief, there is no single constructivist theory. Constructivist approaches to teaching and learning is grounded in several research traditions (Perkins, 1991; Paris & Byrnes, 1989).

The roots of constructivism may be traced back to a little known Latin treatise, De antiquissima Italorum sapientia, written in 1710 by Giambattista Vico (as cited in von Glasersfeld, 1991). Vico suggested that knowledge is knowing what parts something is made of, as well as knowing how they are related. "Objective, ontological reality, therefore, may be known to God, who constructed it, but not to a human being who has access only to subjective experience" (von Glasersfeld, 1991, p. 31).

A second, related path to constructivism comes from Gestalt theories of perception (Kohler, 1925) that focus on the ideas of closure, organization, and continuity (Bower & Hilgard, 1981). Like Vico, Gestalt psychologists suggested that people do not interpret pieces of information separately and that cognition imposes organization on the world.

Theories of intellectual development provide a third research tradition contributing to the notion of cognitive construction (Piaget, 1952, 1969, 1971; Baldwin, 1902, 1906-1911; Bruner, 1974). Developmentalists believe that learning results from adaptations to the environment that is characterized by increasingly sophisticated methods of representing and organizing information. Developmental scientists also forward the notion that children progress through different levels or stages that allow children to construct novel representations and rules (Carey, 1985; Case, 1985; Sternberg, 1984; Keil, 1984; Siegler, 1985).

A fourth line of research depicts learning as a socially mediated experience where individuals construct knowledge based on interactions with their social and cultural environment. Like Piaget and Bruner, Vygotsky (1962, 1978) believed that the formation of intellect could be understood by studying the developmental process. However, like Bruner, Vygotsky believed that intellectual development could only be fully understood within the socio-cultural context in which the development was occurring.

Developmental and social views of constructivism now prevail. It is important to note that the two perspectives are not mutually exclusive; distinctions are more of a matter of emphasis than beliefs. Whereas developmental constructivists tend to concentrate on individuals and their interactions with the environment, social constructivists focus on groups and their sociocultural contexts. Tables 2 lists cognitive constructivist and social constructivist teaching principles and practices (Bonk & Cunningham, 1998) that portray the psychological foundations for SCenTRLE.

No discussion of psychological principles is complete, however, without examining their epistemological assumptions.

Epistemological Foundations

Over the past century, social psychologists have taken a number of alternative approaches to explain how the mind acquires knowledge. One extreme is characterized by an objectivist epistemology that suggests that reality is external to individuals and is based on natural laws, physical properties, and their relationships. Objectivists believe that the mind processes symbols and mirrors reality, and that thought is governed by, and reflects external reality. Objectivists believe that meaning is external to and independent of the understanding of individuals.

The polar opposite of objectivism is interpretivism. Interpretists believe that knowledge is constructed. The mind interprets sensory data and organizes it through active and dynamic processes according to innate perceptual categories such as numerosity and animacy (Keil, 1982; Herrnstein & Boring, 1968; Bower & Hilgard, 1981). Furthermore, interpretists emphasize concepts, such as perceptual relations (Gibson, 1966) and the structure of language (Chomsky, 1965) that are imposed upon the world by individuals. Interpretists believe that reality is internal to the organism and that meaning is dependent on individual understanding.

An alternative to objectivism and interpretivism is pragmatism (Driscoll, 1994). Similar to interpretists, pragmatists believe that reality is "constructed" and that meaning is negotiated within a social context. However, pragmatists believe that an individual's reality is mediated by their prior knowledge structures and their interactions with the environment. They believe that the mind builds symbols and interprets nature, and that thought is governed by an individual's perception that reflects their internal reality. Pragmatists believe that meaning is constructed by individuals based on their interpretation and understanding of reality. The SCenTRLE model falls in the pragmatist camp.

One of the basic assumptions of ScenTRLE is the existence of an external reality that cannot be delineated directly through experience. Rather individuals construct knowledge by manipulating information and by interacting with others. The belief that knowledge is constructed within a social context is the epistemological foundation for the SCenTRLE model.

Pedagogical Foundation

Pedagogical foundations emphasize how information is conveyed to learners and focus on the activities, methods, and structures of the environment that are designed to facilitate learning (Land & Hannifin, 1996). Principles associated with student-centered learning (Bonk & Cunningham, 1998; APA, 1993; CTGV, 1992; Holmes Group; 1990), problem-based learning (Barrows, 1985, 1992) and performance assessments (Heywood, 1989; Loacker, 1991; Loacker, Cromwell, & O'Brien, 1986; Loacker & Mentkowski, 1993; Mentkowski & Loacker, 1985) form the pedagogical foundations for the SCenTRLE model.

Figure 1 illustrates both teacher-centered and student-centered models of instruction. Under the traditional teacher-centered approach, teachers serve as the center for epistemological authority, directing the learning process and controlling students' access to information. This model evolved to increase the number of students receiving instruction from an instructor; a necessity during the agricultural and industrial eras. Under this paradigm, students are treated as "empty vessels" and learning is viewed as an additive process with new information simply being added on top of existing knowledge. Instruction is geared to the "average" students and everyone is forced to progress at the same pace. Parents and community members may contribute to student learning, but rarely in any systematic fashion.

Research, however, indicates that students are not empty vessels. They come to class with their own perceptual frameworks (Erickson, 1984) and learn in different ways (Kolb, 1984). Learning is no longer viewed as a passive process where static bodies of facts and formulas are passed along to the uninitiated. Rather, learning is an active, dynamic process in which connections are constantly changing and the structure is continually reformatted (Cross, 1991). In short, students construct their own meaning by talking, listening, writing, reading, and reflecting on content, ideas, issues and concerns, (Meyers & Jones, 1993). In student-centered environments, learners are given direct access to the knowledge-base and work individually and in small groups to solve authentic problems. In such environments, parents and community members also have direct access to teachers and the knowledge-base, playing an integral role in schooling process. Key principles associated with teacher-centered and student-centered approac hes to teaching and learning are compared in Table 3.

Problem-based learning (PBL), as a model for instruction, has been adopted by schools of medicine (Barrows, 1985, 1986, 1992), business (Stinson & Milter, 1996), education (Bridges & Hallinger, 1992; Duffy, 1994), architecture, law, engineering, and social work (Boud & Feletti, 1991), and in high schools (Barrows & Myers, 1993). Although the model has been adapted to meet the needs of each situation, there are a number of basic concepts that are common to most approaches that are applied in SCenTRLE. In particular, students are first presented with an authentic problem and are asked to assess the current knowledge of the problem, define learning requirements, and develop an action plan based on their analysis of the problem. Students then engage in self-directed learning, gathering information from all available resources (e.g., library, on-line databases, consultants). After self-directed learning, students meet again to discuss what they have learned and to re-examine the problem. They repeat this cycle, re vising their objectives, synthesizing facts, identifying further learning requirements and reformulating plans until they feel that they have solved the problem. Students then present their solutions and go through a series of self- and peer-evaluations to assess their skills relative to self-directed learning, problem-solving, and group work.

Concepts associated with performance assessment represent the final SCenTRLE pedagogical foundation. Performance assessments differ from conventional paper and pencil tests in two key respects. First, unlike conventional measures that tend to evaluate students' possession of knowledge, performance assessments judge students' ability to apply knowledge. Second, performance assessments are used as an integral part of learning (Heywood, 1989; Loacker, 1991; Loacker, Cromwell, & O'Brien, 1986; Loacker & Mentkowski, 1993; Mentkowski & Loacker, 1985). Rather than sorting students, such assessments tell students and their instructors how well they are developing their skills and knowledge and what they need to do to develop them further. This provides students with profiles of their emerging skills to help them become increasingly independent learners. The development and implementation of performance assessments are key components of SCenTRLE.

The attributes delineated in Table 3, as well as many of the aforementioned foundations provide useful heuristics for creating student-centered learning environments. However, for educators with limited resources, who have been indoctrinated with decades of teacher-centered methods, a set of principles may not be sufficient for reinventing their classroom. The second part of this article presents a readily applicable, eight-event model for operationalizing constructivist approaches to teaching and learning.


SCenTRLE represents an instructional strategy for operationalizing constructivist approaches to teaching and learning. It consists of eight basic events for facilitating knowledge construction and the development of life-long learners that may be applied across disciplines. One context is described to illustrate the application of the model.


The SCenTRLE model is now being applied in multiple contexts ranging from elementary schools to institutes of higher education (Hirumi, 1996a; 1996b). For this article, the focus is placed on one specific application--in an introductory, undergraduate course on the educational applications of computer technology.

Traditionally, introductory computer courses have been taught using teacher-centered approaches to training and instruction. Under this approach, the instructor acts as the center of epistemological authority, defining learning goals and objectives, organizing and presenting content information, and setting performance standards for students. Although students do get a chance to develop and practice some basic computer skills, classes are often taught in lock-step fashion, moving from one technology to the next, emphasizing the use of different software applications. Though these methods have proven useful, at least in relation to short-term use of technology, they often fail to develop educators' ability to become independent computer users or their ability to create innovative solutions to real-world problems.

Teacher-centered instruction often fails to address individual learner needs. Students typically enter introductory computer classes with greatly varying skills and interests. When presented with group-paced instruction, learners with relatively advanced computer skills often get bored, work ahead, and become frustrated with the lack of materials, while learners with little prior experience fall behind because they lack the basic skills necessary to keep up with the instructor. Research also suggests that elementary and secondary teachers, school administrators, and counselors may need different skill sets, as well as exposure to different software applications and real world examples (Hirumi & Grau, 1996). Furthermore, traditional technology related coursework fails to model student-centered approaches to training and instruction, further perpetuating teacher-directed practices. Figure 2 depicts eight events designed to address many of the shortfalls associated with

During the initial field-test, the model was applied in one section of a 15 week, three- credit hour undergraduate course that consisted of 9 male and 21 female students ranging from 22 to 35 years of age. Data were gathered from voluntary small group interviews held after the eighth and last week of class. The instructor also kept a journal of weekly activities, observations and comments heard before, during, and after class.

Data collected during the first day of class indicated that seven students were novice computer users (little to no prior experience), 17 were apprentice computer users (e.g., having taken a computer course and used one to three applications on a limited basis), and the remaining six were more proficient computer users (used several applications on a consistent basis). Twenty-five students were undergraduate preservice teacher education majors with 19 seeking elementary and middle school certification and six pursing high school teacher certification. Others included three students majoring in educational leadership and two majoring in school counseling. All were either juniors or seniors in undergraduate school.

Event 1--Set Learning Challenge

The first event in the SCenTRLE model is to set the learning challenge for the course. The challenge may take the form of an instructional goal (Gagne, Briggs, & Wager, 1988), goal statement (Mager, 1997) or learning outcome (Spady, 1994). The challenge should situate learning within an authentic context, describe what the students should be able to do as a result of learning, and state why it is important for students to address the challenge:

In many cases, it is the instructor's responsibility is to delimit the learning domain. Obtaining a degree or successful course completion often certifies that students have acquired a specific set of skills and knowledge. By setting the challenge, educators can help ensure that students acquire appropriate skills and knowledge, while allowing them to take different paths toward achieving the goal based on their prior knowledge, interests, and experience.

For the introductory computer course, the challenge set during the first day of class was: enhance student learning and your own personal productivity through the application of computer technology. During the planning, delivery, and analysis of instruction, effective computer using educators select, apply, integrate, and evaluate the appropriate instructional and information technologies to promote student learning and higher-order thinking. As a result, learners are able to use a variety of technologies to explore ideas, pose questions, gather and disseminate information, and support one another in learning. Educators actively seek information on the application of emerging technologies from varied sources (e.g., journals, online databases, colleagues) to improve student learning. Educators also use technology to stimulate their own professional growth, facilitate communications, and enhance overall productivity.

Event 2--Negotiate Learning Goals and Objectives

The purpose of Event 2 is to develop students' ability to assess their own learning requirements by helping them set individual learning goals and objectives for the course. The primary question addressed during this event is, "What do you have to know and be able to do to meet the challenge for the course?" To answer this question, students work with the instructor through a negotiation process that includes (a) a class discussion, (b) student assessments, (c) preliminary definition of goals and objectives, (d) feedback from the instructor, (e) revision if necessary, and (f) continuous monitoring and revisions throughout the semester.

After setting the learning challenge, a discussion is held about learning goals and requirements on the first day. The instructor facilitates the discussion by helping students see that to address the challenge, educators must be able to:

* perform basic operations, such as starting and shutting down a computer, using a mouse, formatting disks, copying and saving files, navigating the desktop, and trouble shooting basic problems;

* address current trends and issues related to the application of computer technology within educator's chosen discipline;

* use various computer applications to enhance personal productivity such as (a) productivity tools, (b) telecommunication tools, (c) learning tools, (d) management and support tools, (e) authoring tools, (f) programming tools, and (g) collaborative tools;

* apply strategies for integrating the use of various applications with instruction, administration and/or counseling to enhance students' performance;

* self-direct your own learning by identifying goals and objectives, selecting and applying appropriate learning strategies, identifying appropriate resources, defining performance criteria, assessing learning, and revising goals, strategies and criteria as necessary;

* search for, access, organize and interpret information gained from various resources (e.g., books, journals, online databases, experts); and

* effectively communicate the results of your learning through a combination of text, audio, video and graphics.

After the class discussion, students are asked to assess their own entry level skills and knowledge using a Course Assessment Rubric. Table 4 represents one of five standards contained in the Course Assessment Rubric, with others including: (a) the use of productivity tools (i.e., word processors, databases, spreadsheets, graphics); (b) the use of telecommunication tools (e.g., e-mail, listservs, WWW), (c) the use of multimedia and educational software; and (d) addressing technology related trends and issues. With the rubric, students determine what they know and what they don't know about the educational applications of computer technology. They determine if they consider themselves to be novice, apprentice, proficient, or distinguished computer users relative to each of the five course standards. At this point, students are also informed of the minimum requirements for the class (i.e., to earn a "C," students must at least demonstrate skills commensurate with an apprentice computer user).

All students, however, are not limited to the apprentice level. To achieve an "A" or a "B," students must demonstrate that they have increased their computer skills and knowledge. For example, students entering with apprentice computer skills are encouraged to work towards becoming proficient computer users. Students use the self-assessment to determine what they already know and to identify what type of computer using educator they want to be (i.e., novice, apprentice, proficient, or distinguished) at the end of the course. The selected performance level becomes their individual learning goals. Students further define individual learning objectives by stating specific skills and knowledge necessary to achieve their goals. Students typically complete this task as their first homework assignment, e-mailing their target learning goals and objectives to the instructor for review and approval.

It is important to note that student goals and objectives may change over time. As students learn more about the capabilities of computer technology, they may choose to pursue different goals and objectives than those set at the beginning of the course. To modify individual goals and objectives during the course, students must document the changes and communicate them to the instructor to confirm their appropriateness.

The instructor is responsible for providing feedback on the goals and objectives selected by each student. In this manner, the instructor can ensure the appropriateness of the goals and objectives relative to course and program requirements, as well as make sure that each student has set challenging, yet realistic expectations. At this point, some may ask, "that's sounds like a lot of work, how will I find the time and energy to address all of that e-mail?" This is a good example of how the role of the instructor in a student-centered environment changes from that of a "teacher" to a facilitator. The instructor actually spends similar amounts of time and energy during the course of the semester, but rather than spending time to prepare and present lectures, the instructor use the time to guide the learning process.

Initially, students with little prior knowledge of the learning domain may have difficulties determining their own learning requirements. To help learners define their own goals and objectives, the instructor may recommend or require relevant readings. In this particular case, students are assigned, A Review of Computer-Related State Standards, Textbooks, and Journal Articles: Implications for Pre-service Teacher Education and Professional Development (Hirumi & Grau, 1996), after the initial class discussion before they identify their preliminary goals and objectives. Other classes may also use an inventory of potential competencies, such as the course assessment rubric generated for this course. Examples and templates (learning scaffolds) are also used to help students identify appropriate learning objectives at the beginning of the semester.

Event 3--Negotiate Learning Strategy

The focus of Event 3 is to develop students' learning strategies. The key question to answer here is, "How will you achieve each of your learning goals and objectives?" In class, students work with the instructor through a similar negotiation process used to identify learning goals (i.e., class discussion, preliminary list, instructor feedback, revision, documentation, and ongoing monitoring and refinement).

During the second class session, students and the instructor discuss various methods for acquiring computer related skills and knowledge. To summarize, class members work together to identify relevant learning strategies such as:

* going to the library to locate books, professional journals, government publications, magazines and newspapers, using the ERIC, PsychLit, and Dissertation Abstracts databases on CD ROM, and the VTLS catalog system;

* going to bookstores or looking through catalogs to find relevant books and user manuals;

* using various search engines, or surfing the Internet to find relevant World Wide Web sites available through Netscape and/or other useful resources (e.g., AskERIC, ERIC);

* searching for, accessing and participating in relevant newsgroups and listservs;

* practicing on the computer;

* creating semantic maps to help organize and determine the relationship between learned concepts;

* identifying relevant professional organizations and going to local, state, and/or national conferences, reading conference proceedings, and/or reading journal and newsletters published by the organization;

* talking to, or otherwise corresponding with fellow students, software and hardware vendors, practicing educators, and other recognized experts;

* reading the articles, textbook and user manuals assigned for class and/or made available through the Instructional Technology Center or the Open Lab at the University of Houston-Clear Lake; and

* interacting with self-instructional text or WWW sites provided for class.

For homework, students are asked to list what they think are the best strategies for achieving their own learning objectives. They e-mail their list to the instructor who again provides feedback as needed. Over the course of the semester, students begin to realize that particular strategies are more effective and efficient to achieve certain types of objectives than other strategies. For example, some may prefer interacting with a computer tutorial, while others may find that a textbook, such as MS Office for Dummies is more effective for learning basic technology skills. Whatever the case, students begin developing an important skill associated with independent learners; that is, being able to discern the most useful strategies and resources for achieving particular classes of goals and objectives. Similar to Event 2, students are reminded that their learning strategies may change over time as they begin to construct skills and knowledge.

Event 4--Construct Knowledge

Event 4 has students working individually and in groups to construct their skills and knowledge. After working with students to determine what and how they are to learn, students apply their selected strategies and learn! In actuality, students are learning important problem-solving skills throughout the entire process. During Event 4, students concentrate on constructing subject-matter specific skills and knowledge. Students spend considerable time conducting research, working on computers, and discussing topics with one another. They actively partake in knowledge acquisition, critical evaluation and knowledge validation that are essential for the development of higher-order thinking skills. The instructor monitors group and individual progress, answering questions, and facilitating learning when necessary.

Event 5--Negotiate Performance Criteria

The purpose of Event 5 is to help learners define performance criteria for their selected goals and objectives. This event occurs after students are given time (e.g., two to four weeks) to gain some experience with, and construct some knowledge of, the target learning domain. The first key question to be answered during this event is, "How will you demonstrate that you have achieved your learning goals and objectives?" Students again follow a similar negotiation process as depicted in Events 2 and 3. During the class discussion, students and the instructor identify different methods, or work samples that may be used to demonstrate achievement of specified learning goals and objectives. For example, a student may demonstrate performance by creating work samples such as, but not limited to:

* Written reports

* Computer generated documents

* Lesson plans

* Exams of students' knowledge

* Rough drafts

* Notes

* Revisions

* Descriptions

* Projects

* Peer reviews

* Self-evaluations

* Anecdotal records

* Reflective journal/writing

* Audiotapes/Videotapes

* Artwork

* Diagrams/Graphics/Charts

* Student handouts

* Homework assignments

* Student work samples

* Self-evaluations

* Supervisor evaluations

* Student evaluations

* Peer evaluations

* Professional training

* Conferences/Workshops

* Reflections on teaching

* Instructional materials

* Graphic presentations

For Event 5, students are asked to answer a second question, "For each work sample, what are the characteristics of excellent, satisfactory, and unsatisfactory performance?" It is believed that one of the key differences between an expert and a novice is that an expert can look at his or her own work and judge its quality. Unfortunately, educators often do not develop this skill in students. Performance criteria are often not made explicit and students are left wondering what the instructor wants. Event 5 not only helps learners define their performance requirements for class, it also helps them develop their own ability to self-assess their own work, a key characteristic of self-directed, life-long learners.

At first, students may have some difficulty developing assessment rubrics for their work samples. For this course, examples are provided to facilitate the process (Table 5). Students e-mail their answers to the two questions posed during this event to the instructor who then provides appropriate feedback. Students revise their work if necessary and document their results. The results are then used for self-assessments, peer assessments, and expert assessments.

Event 6--Conduct Self, Peer and Expert Assessments

For Event 6, students are required to assess each of their work samples, as well as ask at least one other adult (e.g., classmate, colleague) to assess their work using the performance criteria and assessment rubrics generated during Event 5. Materials may also be turned into the instructor or other experienced computer using educators for expert assessments.

Students conduct the assessments to evaluate progress toward their objectives and to help produce quality products. Although this is the first time students are asked to formally "assess" something, it is important to note that students should always be encouraged to reflect on their activities throughout the entire learning process and to adjust their goals, strategies, and performance criteria accordingly. Students demonstrate completion of Event 6 by submitting documents that illustrate that they, as well as one other person, have compared the work samples to defined performance criteria. The key is for students to also obtain corrective feedback for improving their work samples.

Event 7--Monitor Performance and Provide Feedback

A SCenTRLE component of the model is that it is iterative. Up to this point, the eight events appear to be fairly linear. Event 7, however, occurs throughout the entire learning process. The instructor monitors students' work, examining documents, replying to e-mail, walking around the classroom, and continuously asking how students are doing and providing feedback as necessary. This is one of the most important events to ensure that students are managing their time effectively and are on track to meet their goals and objectives. It is recommended that instructors carry a class roster as they monitor students' performance and check off names each time they interact with someone to ensure that everyone is being monitored.

Students also provide feedback to each other. Informally, this occurs throughout the semester as students work individually and in groups to develop their skills and knowledge. Formally, they are to assess at least two or three pieces of work from classmates throughout the semester, and provide feedback based on their assessments. Students use the feedback to revise their goals, objectives, strategies, performance criteria, and work samples.

Event 8--Communicate Results

Finally, students are expected to formally communicate the results of their learning. During the entire process students are communicating the results of their efforts in an informal manner and discussing what they have learned with other students as well as with the instructor. The informal communications are used for self, peer, and expert assessments to generate feedback. During this event, however, communications are formal and are used for both summative and formative evaluation purposes and to reach closure on a particular topic and/or unit of instruction. To formally communicate their results, students prepare, present, and submit a portfolio.

Student portfolios consist of three items; (a) assessment rubrics, (b) work samples, and (c) a narrative description. The assessment rubrics include the Course Assessment Rubric (Table 6) and the rubrics generated by students for each of their work samples. Students produce and select work samples that best illustrate achievement of their goals and objectives. The narratives describe what they (the students) did to learn (e.g., identify goals and objectives, apply and revise learning strategies) and how the work samples demonstrate that they have learned. Students must also reflect on their learning, documenting trials and tribulations and formulating personal opinions about their experience (e.g., what was most and least useful and why? what more do they want and need to learn?). The narrative may be written in journal fashion, describing day-to-day thoughts and activities, or may be written more as summary statements, discussing a week or more of work.

At the end of the course, students present their portfolios, showing others what they have done and discussing what they learned. Portfolio presentations may or may not be graded based on the goals and objectives for the course. The instructor then grades each portfolio based either on the amount of growth exhibited during the semester (e.g., novice to apprentice computer using educator), or on mastery (e.g., proficient computer using educator). For this course, if students decide to be graded on growth, they may receive up to 20 points for each complete level they advance for each of the five course standards. If students choose to be evaluated for mastery, they receive a "C" for obtaining an apprentice level, a "B" for proficient and an "A" for distinguished performance. The decision on whether to be graded on growth or mastery is left to individual students.


A number of challenges remain in the implementation of the SCenTRLE model. This section discusses five SCenTRLE issues, including: (a) the use of technology, (b) student attitudes, (c) levels of application, (d) holistic versus analytic portfolio assessment, and (e) the application of the eight events within the context of traditional systematic design models. Field-test data, including observations and anecdotal reports from small group interviews are presented within the context of each issue.

Use of Computer Technology

As the name implies, one of the SCenTRLE issues is the use of technology. Taylor's (1980) three classes of educational computer use provide a framework for organizing this discussion.

Computer as a tutor. When a computer is used as a tutor, it provides instruction, content information and/or remediation for learning. For the undergraduate introductory class on the educational applications of computer technology, students most frequently used Microsoft's online tutorials to learn how to use the word processor, database management, spreadsheet, and graphic presentation applications included in Microsoft Office[TM] Other tutorials used by students included, but were not limited to online tutorials available for Netscape[TM] related search engines, and basic HTML programming.

Computer as a tutee. When a computer is the tutee, it is the object of instruction. For this class, the computer is the tutee when students learn about basic operations, the use and integration of productivity tools (e.g., word processor, database, spreadsheet, graphics), the use and integration of telecommunications (e.g., e-mail, listservs, IRC., WWW), the development of multimedia, the use of educational software, and trends and issues related to the educational applications of computer technology (e.g., copyright, one computer classroom).

Computer as a tool. When a computer is used as a tool, it helps users perform a task. In this course, students use the computer as a tool to conduct research (e.g., using web browsers, search engines and online databases, such as ERIC, to search for, access, and retrieve information), to facilitate communications among students and the instructor (e.g., using e-mail to facilitate negotiations and a listserv to advance class discussions), and to produce student portfolios (e.g., using a word processor, database management, spreadsheet and graphics to produce work samples, and PowerPoint[TM] and Hyperstudio[TM] to prepare and present portfolios).

The SCenTRLE philosophy behind the use of technology is that educators should integrate technology in their curriculum as professionals use technology within their disciplines. Over the past two decades, educators have applied different computer related curricula. In the beginning, students were taught how to program and learned concepts such as data input, looping, and logical operations (programming curriculum). Then, in the computer literacy curriculum, students learned such things as computer vocabulary, computer ethics, how a computer works, and the advantages/disadvantages of computers, along with an introduction to computer programming. The computer as a tool curriculum ensued where students learned to use various applications such as word processing, database management, spreadsheets, and graphics, followed by what has been labeled as the problem-solving computer curriculum (Norton, 1993).

The curriculum posited here is termed the authentic computer curriculum. Educators applying an "authentic" curriculum should study, integrate and model the use of technology as professionals apply technology within their chosen disciplines. For instance, in a biology course, rather than teaching students biology facts and figures, educators are now trying to teach students how to be a biologist, asking students to addresses biological problems rather than presenting them with biological topics. To extend the analogy, biology teachers should research how biologists typically use computer technology, and integrate and model the use of technology accordingly.

For the sample course, educators apply and model the use of technology as proficient and expert computer using educators apply technology. In other words, to conduct research, keep abreast of current trends and issues, develop educational materials, facilitate communications, manage resources, and to facilitate student learning and performance.

E-mail deserves further attention due to its substantial reliance in facilitating student-centered learning. E-mail is the primary vehicle used to negotiate learning goals and objectives, learning strategies and performance criteria. After general class discussions about each of these events, students utilize e-mail to negotiate individualized goals and objectives, strategies and criteria with the instructor. Initially, educators may think this unmanageable with classes of over 30 students. However, two factors help alleviate this concern. First, the change in emphasis from "teaching" to "facilitating" reduces the amount of time educators spend of preparing lessons. Instead of generating lecture notes, overheads, handouts and lesson plans, the instructor may spend the same time answering e-mail. In addition, field-test data suggest that learners' messages fall into several categories. For example, students' initial goals and objectives generally fell into three basic groups (Table 6).

In general, novices had difficulty articulating their learning requirements and were encouraged to start by identifying relatively simple and concrete objectives. Learners with some prior computer experience (apprentice) wanted to learn how to use familiar hardware and software and had to be challenged to address new topics. Relatively advanced computer users were more apt to target topics that were considered new to them, but needed some assistance in refining their objectives. Due to their similar nature, the instructor could use the same basic feedback to respond to each category of responses. Although some customization was necessary, the instructor did not have to generate totally unique responses to each student comment, thereby, curtailing the amount of time that was necessary to address e-mail.

Student Attitudes

Student attitudes toward self-directed learning may present educators with one of the greatest challenges, particularly during initial efforts to restructure their class. Several strategies were implemented during initial field-testing to help alleviate students' anxiety toward, and establish the relevance of, student-centered learning. First, the importance of metacognitive skills, particularly in light of accelerating rates of change, was stressed during SCenTRLE Events 1, 2, 3 and 5. Second, it was noted during these events that student-centered learning freed the instructor from group-paced instruction, allowing him/her to provide increased individualized attention. Third, students were encouraged to turn in work samples as soon as possible so that they could receive feedback and revise their work prior to submitting their portfolio. Finally, a detailed description of the SCenTRLE model and portfolio requirements were included in the course syllabus that students were asked to review after the first day o f class. These strategies, however, proved insufficient for allying students' fears and discontent, particularly at the time of initial implementation.

During the first month, a significant number of students felt that it is the instructor's job to define learning objectives, gather, organize and present content information, and to prescribe performance requirements. Remarks, such as "isn't this what the teacher is supposed to do?" "I wish you would just tell me what to do?" and "I don't see why we have to do all of this extra work?" were recorded during initial field-testing. Two students dropped the class after the second week, noting that the instructional method was neither what they expected nor desired. Such statements present somber testimonies for an educational system that appears to make students more reliant upon a teacher to tell them what to do, than foster a healthy desire to direct their own learning.

The voluntary small group interview held at mid-term revealed that the lack of exposure to student-centered methods, coupled with computer anxiety felt by novice and intermediate computer users were the primary reasons for the negative attitudes experienced during the initial weeks of class. Two of the seven who participated in the interview were relatively advanced computer users. Both liked the SCenTRLE method and were appreciative of the opportunity to define and pursue their own learning objectives. The remaining participants, who were either novice or intermediate computer users, felt that if they were either more experienced computer users or more experienced with the SCenTRLE model, they would not have had as many difficulties during the first several weeks of class. The fact that many were anxious about using computers to begin with, and were then confronted with a "new" instructional strategy appeared to cause the initial dissatisfaction with the model.

After the seventh week, the majority of students no longer expressed discontent with the course. It appeared that after experiencing some success with computers and with the SCenTRLE model, students, in general, felt more confident in their ability to meet course requirements and were satisfied that the amount of time and effort put into coursework was worthwhile. Students participating in the mid-term interview suggested that submitting a portfolio item and receiving feedback on its appropriateness was the single most important factor in helping improve student attitudes toward class.

Twelve of the 15 students, who participated in the second voluntary small group interview, thought that the SCenTRLE model was an effective method for addressing individual needs and interests, and for providing undergraduate introductory computer instruction. Ten indicated that they would be interested in taking more classes that applied the SCenTRLE model and 12 believed that SCenTRLE could be applied successfully across disciplines. Two students did not feel that SCenTRLE was appropriate for this, or any other class, noting that some students need and want direct instruction and should be presented with explicit performance criteria, rather than having to generate and negotiate their own.

Three anecdotal reports obtained during the second group interview further illustrate students' attitudes, particularly in relation to the development of metacognitive skills and life-long learners. Student 1, who started class as a novice computer user said:

I was really confused in the beginning. I found it really difficult to define my own learning objectives, learning strategies and performance criteria. I know it's important to become an independent, life-long learner, and I can see how these activities might help me in the future, but I think I would have learned more if someone gave me more [direct] instruction.

At first, I wasn't sure if I would like this class. Not receiving grades [on assignments] during the semester made me really uneasy. However, after awhile, I found that I could really learn a lot on my own and the instructor was always there if I couldn't figure out something. I really feel a lot more confident using computers now and feel that I can now continue to learn about them without taking a class. I am really glad I decided to stay in class and I think I'm going to try to set up class like this when I start teaching.

Student 2, who was an apprentice computer user commented:

Student 3, who began as a relatively proficient computer user noted that:

[this] class allowed me to learn different programs and explore topics that I don't think I would have been able to in a typical college class. So many of the other students were novice computer users, if I had to do what they did, I would have been totally bored! I wish more of my classes used this [SCenTRLE] format. Maybe then, I wouldn't feel like I'm wasting my money.

Interview participants suggested that sample portfolio items and examples of students' input for Events 2, 3, and 4 would have enhanced their performance and ameliorated students' attitudes. They also recommended that additional efforts be made earlier in the semester to provide students with concrete feedback on their performance (e.g., a score on an assignment). They felt that the instructor's comments made during Events 2, 3 and 4 were useful, but insufficient for them to assess their progress relative to course expectations.

Level of Application

During initial field-testing, the eight events of student-centered learning were applied at the course level; that is, students went through each of the eight events once during the 15 week semester. However, two comments from students made during both small group interviews suggest that it may be more effective to apply the eight events at a unit level, particularly in situations when the majority of students have either little prior content knowledge and/or experience with self-directed learning.

First, the interviews revealed that the detailed course syllabus increased, rather than decreased students' anxiety. Apparently, the 36-page syllabus provided during the first day of class contained too much information. Even though students were given a week to read the syllabus and over an hour of the second class period was spent reviewing the syllabus and answering questions, students felt overwhelmed with the number of "new" concept that were presented relative to the use of technology and the implementation of the SCenTRLE model. It was recommended that the syllabus, as well as the course, be divided and presented in smaller chunks.

Second, although feedback was given throughout the semester on the appropriateness of individual objectives, learning strategies, and performance criteria, as well as the quality of work samples, the majority of students wanted finite scores on which to base their progress. They recommended that the course be broken down into three-five units and that grades be assigned at the end of each unit so that students could better determine their performance relative to individual and course standards.

Holistic versus Analytic Portfolio Assessment and Students' Performance

When grades are required, educators must decide whether to base achievement scores on either a holistic or analytic assessment of student portfolios. Holistic or global analysis provides a single score based on an overall impression of students' work samples. Analytic or point scoring provides separate scores based on different dimensions or components of students' work. For the field test, grades were based on a holistic analysis of students' portfolios. Students' work samples were compared to the Course Assessment Rubric to determine if they achieved apprentice, proficient or distinguished levels of performance along five standards. Since all 28 students completing the course decided to base their grades on growth, their performance level at the end of the course, as demonstrated by their portfolios, was compared to their entry level skills and knowledge, as measured by students' self-assessment, to determine their final grade (see "Event 8" for further details on how final grades were determined).

Based on students' portfolios, it appears that the SCenTRLE model was, in general, an effective method for developing students' computer skills. Table 8 depicts the amount of growth exhibited by class members. In short, 12 out of 28 students completing the course received an "A" (43%), advancing one full level along all five course standards. Thirteen students received a "B" (47%), advancing one level in three or four standards and demonstrating some progress in the other one or two. Two students obtained a "C" (7%), exhibiting some progress in three areas, and one student received an "F" (3%), demonstrating little to no progress in any of the course standards (Table 7).

All 15 students, who participated in the second small group interview, indicated that they felt that the use of the holistic assessment method to determine their grades was fair and equitable, especially considering that they were given the opportunity to submit and revise their work samples throughout the semester. However, a majority of those interviewed said that they would have preferred more concrete feedback on their progress during the course of the semester. Although they received comments from peers and the instructor on the quality of their work samples, they wanted a specific grade or score on which to base their progress. This suggests that some students may prefer an analytic, rather than holistic approach to portfolio assessments. Additional research is needed to determine the advantages and disadvantages of holistic and analytic portfolio assessment methods.

Integration with Systematic Design Models

Some argue that traditional instructional design models (e.g., Dick & Carey, 1996) are grounded in behaviorist theories that do not account for the dynamic nature of human learning (Half, 1988), and thus, are unsuitable for facilitating student-centered learning. It is argued here that methods posited by Dick and Carey, as well as others should, in fact, be used to systematically design student-centered learning environments. The key is redefining the purpose of various steps posited by each model.

For example, in the Dick and Carey (D&C) model (Dick, Carey & Carey, 2001), educators and instructional designers are directed to conduct learner, task, content, subject-matter, and context analysis to define and prescribe learning objectives. In the SCenTRLE model, educators and instructional designers are urged to conduct analyses, not to prescribe objectives, but to identify objectives to be used later by the instructor as a foundation for negotiating learning goals and objectives (SCenTRLE Event 2). Similarly, the D&C model directs designers to develop and prescribe instructional strategies for facilitating learner achievement of defined objectives. For SCenTRLE, educators and instructional designers identify strategies, but again, not to prescribe, but rather to identify them for later use by the instructor as a foundation for negotiation (SCenTRLE Event 3). The D&C model also presents steps for establishing and prescribing performance criteria. SCenTRLE also recommends that educators and instructional d esigners use similar techniques to define performance criteria that are to be used as a basis for negotiation, rather than prescription.

In essence, the D & C model is applied twice during the development and implementation of SCenTRLE. Initially, educators or instructional designers apply systematic design models to identify relevant learning goals, objectives, instructional strategies, and assessment criteria and to guide later negotiation with students. Then, students apply similar processes, not to design instruction, but rather to define their own learning goals and objectives, strategies, and performance criteria. The literature and research on "students as designers" (Erickson, 1997; Wilhelm, 1995) and micro-teaching strategies (Jerich, 1989; Hatfield, 1989) support such an approach, which is believed to be SCenTRLE to the development of life-long learners.


SCenTRLE was first developed to address the range of entry-level skills and knowledge confronted in an introductory undergraduate course on the educational applications of computer technology. It was also designed to facilitate knowledge construction and the development of metacognitive skills associated with life-long learning. In short, SCenTRLE provides educators with a concrete model for operationalizing constructivist approaches to teaching and learning, and for creating student-centered learning environments that may be applied across disciplines.

Field-test data indicates that the model was effective in helping the majority of students learn how to use and integrate computer technology and to become independent computer using educators. Twelve out of the 28 students who completed the course prepared portfolios that demonstrated significant growth along five dimensions of computer use in education, and 13 students exhibited significant growth in three or four dimensions and some progress in the other standards. However, it appears that the SCenTRLE model, as operationalized for the field test, may be more appropriate for students with some prior knowledge related to the content matter. Two students, exhibited only "average" or "C" performance, one performed unsatisfactorily, and two students dropped the class after the second week. All of these students had either little to no prior experience with computer technology. One solution would be to administer some type of pre-test and to direct novice computer users into a different course that uses more di rect forms of instruction. However, it is believed that with some modifications, the SCenTRLE model may be effective for facilitating learning between novice, as well as more proficient learners.

Planned revisions, based on recommendations derived from the field-test, include: (a) dividing the class into four units and having students go through the eight-events during each unit; (b) reducing the size of the course syllabus by presenting students with unit specific information at the onset of each unit; (c) developing and implementing additional learning scaffolds, such as partially completed templates for identifying learning goals and objectives, learning strategies and performance criteria, particularly for the first unit of instruction; (d) providing examples of student portfolios and work samples, along with graded feedback; (e) providing some optional direct instruction for novice computer users for a least the first two units covered in class.

Evidently, students have little experience taking responsibility for their own learning. Educators attempting to create SCenTRLE must develop strategies for addressing students' attitudes toward self-directed learning. Significant effort must be made, particularly during the first several weeks of class to address students' concerns and alleviate students' fears. A number of strategies were implemented during the initial field-test (see "Student Attitudes"). However, students' comments indicated that gaining experience with the model, along with submitting work samples and receiving feedback were the most significant factors for increasing students' confidence and improving their attitudes toward class.

Along with the issues mentioned earlier in the article, a number of additional questions remain unanswered, such as:

1. Should time be taken to address learning strategies in further detail? During the field-test, the negotiation of learning strategies was limited to a discussion and identification of learning resources (e.g., places or materials students can use to facilitate learning). Should additional time be taken to discuss and possibly identify and address different learning styles (McCarthy, 1987)? This would obviously reduce the amount of time that is spent on developing content related skills and knowledge, but the increased time spent on developing self-directed learning skills may be worth it.

2. Under what conditions is the application of the SCenTRLE model appropriate? Field-test data suggests that the SCenTRLE model may not be effective for students with little prior knowledge of the subject matter and limited experience with student-directed learning environments. Learning a topic that students' may already be anxious about (e.g., computer technology), coupled with what is perceived by some as a totally new instructional method may cause too much cognitive dissonance and result in feelings of helplessness and lack of control.

In addition, in cases where students may already have well-developed metacognitive strategies and/or when time and the acquisition of verbal information or a relatively straight-forward procedure are of utmost importance, SCenTRLE may not be as appropriate as more direct forms of instruction. In contrast, when dealing with complex problems where there may be multiple methods for deriving alternative "correct" solutions, SCenTRLE may optimize student learning and performance. Determining when student-centered and other instructional strategies are most appropriate is an area that definitely deserves further research.

3. What is optimal growth? Should optimal, as well as other levels of growth be established on an individual basis? Or, can levels of growth be pre-established by instructional designers and instructors for different groups of learners? In the SCenTRLE model, the instructor defined four levels of performance along five course standards with related proficiencies based on experience and input from colleagues. Students were then evaluated on individual growth along the five standards. Several students indicated that they felt that the final portfolio evaluations were fair and equitable. However, it is believed that additional efforts must be made to establish the reliability and validity of standards and assessment rubrics for this, as well as for other courses implementing the SCenTRLE model.

4. How do we ensure equitable access to learning resources? An increasing number of educators are putting learning resources and course related materials online. This gives students with access from home a significant advantage over those that must travel to school or some place else in their community to gain access. Is this fair or another example of technology increasing the gap between the haves and have-nots? What can be done to ensure equitable access and to integrate technology in a way that facilitates learning among most, if not all individuals? Yes, telecommunications and the Internet is providing access to educational opportunities for many non-traditional students, but it is believed that the question of equity must soon be addressed in a serious, proactive manner or the Internet will do more to increase, rather than reduce the division between the economically advantaged and disadvantaged.

It is appears that traditional, teacher-centered modes of instruction are inadequate for meeting the needs of an information-based, technology-driven society. New methods and models of instruction are necessary if students are to be prepared for the 21st century. SCenTRLE represents one model for operationalizing constructivist approaches to teaching and leaming that may be applied across disciplines. It is recognized that data on the effectiveness and the generalizability of the model are still limited and that the field-test results were neither comprehensive, nor conclusive. They were reported to give readers a better picture of the model in action, rather than to present formal evaluation data. Initial testing with undergraduate and graduate students in an introductory computer class, as well as in other learning environments are promising (Hirumi, 1 996a; 1996b). Educators, attempting to restructure their classes and create student-centered environments, whether they use the SCenTRLE model or not, are en couraged to persist. Significant change takes time and the first several attempts may even result in lower student achievement scores and negative student ratings. However, instead of thinking of, "what will happen to me if I do try to change?" consider "what will happen to our children if we do not change?"
Table 1

A Comparison of a Heuristic and an Algorithm for Designing Instruction

Design Heuristic Design Algorithm

Honebein's (1996) Gagne's (1974, 1977)
Constructivist Learning Nine Events of
Environments Instruction

1. Provide experience with 1. Gain attention
 Knowledge construction process 2. Inform learners of objective(s)
2. Present multiple perspectives 3. Stimulate recall of prior
3. Embed learning in authentic 4. Present stimulus materials
 context 5. Provide learning guidance
4. Encourage ownership and voice in 6. Elicit performance
 learning process 7. Provide feedback about
5. Embed learning in social performance
 experience 8. Assess performance
6. Encourage use of multiple modes 9. Enhance retention and transfer
 of representation
7. Encourage reflection and self-
 awareness of knowledge
 construction process.

Table 2

Cognitive (Developmental) and Social Constructivist Principles and
Practices as Posited by Bonk & Cunningham (1998)

Cognitive Constructivist Social Constructivist

Mind: The mind is in the head; Mind: The mind is located in the
hence,the learning focus social interaction setting and
in on active cognitive emerges from acculturation into
reorganization. an established community of

Raw Materials: Use raw of primary Authentic Problems: Learning
data sources, manipulatives, and environments should reflect
interactive materials. real-world complexities. Allow
 students to explore specializations
 and solve real-world problems as
 they develop clearer interests and
 deeper knowledge and skills.

Student Autonomy: Ask students for Team Choice and Common Interest:
personal theories and Build not just on individual
understandings before any student prior knowledge, but on
instruction. Allow student thinking common interests and experiences.
to drive lessons and alter Make group learning activities
instruction based on responses. relevant, meaningful, and both
Place thinking and learning process and product oriented. Give
responsibility in students' hands students and student teams choice
to foster ownership. in learning activities. Foster
 student and group autonomy,
 initiative, leadership, and active

Meaningfulness and Personal Social Dialogue and Elaboration:
Motivation: Make learning a Use activities with multiple
personally relevant and solutions, novelty, uncertainty,
meaningful endeavor. Relate and personal interest to promote
learning to practical ideas and student-student and student-teacher
personal experiences. Adapt dialogue, idea sharing and
content based on student response articulation of views. Seek student
to capitalize on personal interests elaboration on and justification of
and motivation. their responses with discussion,
 interactive questioning, and group

Conceptual Organization/Cognitive Group Processing and Reflection:
Framing: Organize information Encourage team as well as
around concepts, problems, individual reflection and group
questions, themes, and processing on experiences.
interrelationships, while framing
activities using thinking-related
terminology (e.g., classify,
summarize, predict).

Prior Knowledge and Misconceptions: Teacher Explanations, Support, and
Adapt the cognitive demands of Demonstrations: Demonstrate
instructional tasks to students' problems steps and provide hints,
cognitive schemes, while building prompts, and cues for successful
on prior knowledge. problem completion.
Design lessons to Provide explanations, elaborations,
address students' previous and clarifications where
misconceptions, for instance, by requested.
posing contradictions to original
hypotheses and then inviting

Questioning: Promote student Multiple Viewpoints: Foster
inquiry and conjecture with explanations, examples, and
open-ended questions. Also, multiple ways of understanding
encourage student question- a problem or difficult material.
asking behavior and peer Build in a broad community of
questioning. audiences beyond the instructor.

Individual Exploration and Collaboration and Negotiation:
Generating Connections: Provide Foster student collaboration and
time for the selection of negotiation of meaning, consensus
instructional materials and the building, joint proposals,
discovery of information, ideas, prosocial behaviors, conflict
and relationships. Also, includes resolution, and general social
encouraging students to generate interaction.
knowledge connections, metaphors,
personal insights, and build their
own learning products.

Self-Regulated Learning: Foster Learning Communities: Create a
opportunity for reflection on classroom ethos or atmosphere
skills used to manage and control wherein there is joint
one's learning. Help students responsibility for learning,
understand and become self-aware students are experts and have
of all aspects of one's learning, learning ownership, meaning is
from planning to learning negotiated, and participation
performance evaluation. Given the structures are understood and
focus on individual mental ritualized. Technology and other
activity, the importance of resource explorations might be
cooperative this community of used to facilitate idea generation
peers. Interdisciplinary learning and knowledge building within
or peer interaction is in the problem-based learning and thematic
modeling of and support for new nstruction in incorpoated wherever
individual metacognitive skill. possible.

Assessment: Focus of assessment is Assessment: Focus of assessment is
on individual cognitive development on team as well as individual
within predefined stages. use of participation in socially organized
authentic portfolio and practices and interactions.
performance-based measures with Educational standards are socially
higher order thinking skill negotiated. Embed assessment in
evaluation criteria or scoring authentic, real-world tasks and
rubrics. problems with challenges and
 options, Focus on collaboration,
 group processing, teamwork, and
 sharing of findings. Assessment is
 continual, less, formal,
 subjective, collaborative, and

Table 3

A Comparison of Instructional Variables Associated with Student-Centered
and Teacher-Centered Approaches to Teaching and Learning

Instructional Instructional Approach
Variables Teacher Centered

Learning Outcomes * Discipline-specific verbal
 * Lower order thinking skills
 (e.g., recall, identify, define).
 * Memorization of abstract and
 isolated facts, figures, and

Goals and Objectives * Teacher prescribes learning goals
 and objectives based on prior
 experiences, past practices, and
 state and/or locally mandated

Instructional Strategy * Instructional strategy prescribed
 by teacher;
 * Group-paced, designed for
 "average" student
 * Information organized and
 presented primarily by teacher
 (e.g., lectures) with some
 supplemental reading assignments

Assessment * Assessments used to sort
 * Paper and pencil exams used to
 assess students acquisition of
 * Teacher sets performance criteria
 for students
 * Students left to find out what
 the teacher wants

Teachers' Role * Teacher organizes and presents
 information to group of students
 * Teachers acts as gatekeeper of
 knowledge, controlling students
 access to information
 * Teacher directs learning

Students' Role * Students expect teachers to
 teach them what's required to
 pass the test
 * Passive recipients of
 * Reconstructs knowledge
 and information

Environment * Students sit in rows,
 information presented through
 lectures, books and films,

Instructional Instructional Approach
Variables Student Centered

Learning Outcomes * Interdisciplinary information and
 * Higher order thinking skills
 (e.g., problem solving)
 * Information processing skills
 (access, organize, interpret,
 communicate information)

Goals and Objectives * Students work with teachers to
 select learning goals and
 objectives based on authentic
 problems and students' prior
 knowledge, interests and

Instructional Strategy * Teacher works with students
 to determine learning strategy
 * Self-paced, designed to meet
 needs of individual student
 * Student given direct access to
 multiple sources of information
 (e.g., books, online databases,
 community members)

Assessment * Assessment integral part of
 * Performance based, used to assess
 students ability to apply
 * Students work with teachers to
 define performance criteria
 * Student develop self-assessment
 and peer assessment skills

Teachers' Role * Teacher provide multiple means
 for accessing information
 * Teacher acts as facilitator,
 helps students access and process
 * Teacher facilitates learning

Students' Role * Students take responsibility
 for learning
 * Active knowledge seekers
 * Constructs knowledge and

Environment * Students work at
 stations, with access to
 electronic resources.

Table 4

Sample Self-Assessment Rubric for Computer Integration

Novice Apprentice

* Little to no awareness of * Describes some ideas for
strategies for integrating the use integrating computer
of computer technology with applications.

* Requires significant help to * Identifies and describes
construct a basic lesson plan that some conceptual basis for
integrates the use of computer integrating computer
technology. technology.
 * Requires some help to
 construct a basic lesson plan
 that integrates the use of a
 few applications.

Novice Proficient

* Little to no awareness of * Describes multiple
strategies for integrating the use strategies for integrating
of computer technology with several computer applications
instruction. with instruction

* Requires significant help to * Discusses in detail the
construct a basic lesson plan that conceptual basis for
integrates the use of computer integrating technology.
 * Describes multiple
 strategies for integrating
 technology within various
 room and equipment
 * Constructs instructional
 units, with lesson plans,
 teacher and student materials,
 that integrate the use of a
 combination of computer

Novice Distinguished

* Little to no awareness of * Critically analyzes and
strategies for integrating the use discusses numerous strategies
of computer technology with for integrating a number of
instruction. different applications with
* Requires significant help to * Analyzes and evaluates
construct a basic lesson plan that theoretical and conceptual
integrates the use of computer basis for integrating computer
technology. technology.
 * Analyzes and evaluates
 multiple strategies for
 integrating technology within
 various room and equipment
 * Designs learning
 environments that integrate
 the use of a combination of

Table 5

Sample Assessment Rubric for Oral Presentations

Distinguished * Information is complete and
 accurate. Clear evidence of
 * Presenters speak in a clear voice
 and show a flair for communicating
 with the audience.
 * Rates of speech are appropriate.
 * Speakers make eye contact with
 everyone and has no nervous habits,
 is appropriately dressed, and has
 excellent posture.
 * Presentation involves audience,
 allowing time for audience to think
 and respond.
 * Presentation is well organized
 with a beginning, middle, and end.
 There is a strong organizing theme,
 with clear main ideas and
 * Visual aids are well done and are
 used to make presentation more
 interesting and meaningful.
 * Handout(s) attractive, well
 organized, and includes relevant
 * Appropriate length.

Proficient * Presenters speak in a clear voice
 and show a flair for communicating
 with the audience.
 * Rates of speech are appropriate.
 * Speakers make eye contact with
 most participants, has no nervous
 habits and good posture.
 * Presentation involves audience in
 meaningful ways.
 * Presentation has clear beginning,
 middle, and end.
 * There is an organizing theme,
 with main ideas and transitions.
 * Information is accurate. Clear
 evidence of research.
 * Visual aids are well done and are
 used to make presentation more
 interesting and meaningful.
 * Handout(s) attractive, well
 organized and includes relevant
 * Appropriate length.

Novice * Presenters are difficult to hear.
 The rates of speaking are too fast
 or too slow.
 * The speakers do not show much
 interest and/or euthusiasm in the
 topic. May sound like the speakers
 are reading the presentation.
 * Eye contact is made with only
 some of the audience.
 * The speakers may have nervous
 habits that distract form
 presentation. The speakers are not
 * Speakers do not involve audience.
 * Presentation shows little
 organization, unclear purpose,
 unclear relationship, and/or
 transition between presenters,
 rambles, or may seem like a list of
 facts. Lacks conclusion.
 * Details and examples are lacking
 or not well chosen for the topic or
 audience. Lacks evidence of
 * Very little use and/or poor use
 of visuals with no handouts.

Table 6

Sample E-Mail Messages for Negotiating Learning Goals and Objectives


Initial "I've never touched a computer
Student before. I'd just like to be able to
Message turn one on and use it without
 breaking it. My school just got
 ClarisWorks and I am supposed to
 learn how to use some type of grade
 book program. However, I only have
 one computer in my classroom. I
 took the self-assessment
 questionnaire and found that I
 basically don't know anything. I'm
 not sure where to start."

Instructor's In response, I encouraged the
Response student to:
 * start with small goals, and
 expand later
 * begin with basic operations
 * learn how to use fundamental
 functions and features of
 * examine capabilities of one-
 computer classroom
 * explore some telecommunication
 technologies and learn how to
 search for and access information
 through the Internet


Initial "I took na introductory course my
Student freshmen year but didn't learn
Message much. I've got a computer and
 modern at home and word process
 a lot but that's about it. I'd
 like to learn how to:
 * use my modern
 * create graphics
 * use PowerPoint to make
 * locate software for my
 elementary students."

Instructor's In response, I encouraged the
Response student to examine:
 * how telecommunications may be
 used to enhance student learning
 and personal productivity in
 greater detail
 * programs such as Kidspix &
 Hyperstudio that elementary
 students can use to create
 graphics and presentations
 * the educational applications of
 dbases and spreadsheets


Initial "I used a computer quite often in
Student my previous job. I can word process
Message as well as create dbases and
 spreadsheets. I also subscribe to
 America On-Line. However, I don't
 know much about education.
 Basically, I want to learn how to
 use different applications such as
 Microsoft Office, Multimedia, and
 the Internet to enhance student

Instructor's In response, I encouraged the
Response student to:
 * take advantage of prior
 * analyze theoretical foundations
 for applying computer technology
 * use self-assessment questionnaire
 to define more specific goals
 (particularly multimedia and
 * learn alternative strategies for
 integrating different applications
 with instruction
 * explore capabilities of one-
 computer classroom

Table 7

Summary of Students' Performance as Measured by Students' Portfolios

Final Number of Entry Skills & Final Demonstrated
Grade Students Knowledge Performance

A 2 Novice Apprentice
 6 Apprentice Proficient
 4 Proficient Distinguished

B 3 Novice Apprentice/Novice
 8 Apprentice Proficient/Apprentice
 2 Proficient Distinguished/Proficient

C 2 Apprentice Apprentice/Proficient

F 1 Apprentice Apprentice


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Author:Hirumi, Atsusi
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Date:Dec 22, 2002
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