In the Classroom

6 Simple Examples of Student-Centered Learning Excitement

For some teachers, it is difficult to wrap your head around how to teach differently. Many of us were taught in the same way that we were taught to teach. When hearing about a concept like learner-centered education, it is hard to understand exactly how that works. I am constantly asked for tangible examples of student-centered learning so teachers can have a better understanding of exactly what they should be trying to do in the classroom.

Student-centered learning has been said to be beneficial overall,  especially for those that may be more shy or introverted. The benefits for men, in particular, have also been shown to be higher with student-centered learning, according to this research.  

This style of teaching is also very beneficial in light of the current education system we have in place. With No Child Left Behind and other initiatives, it seems that teachers are being held accountable for their students’ success more than ever before.  The main goal is to ensure that students have a basic understanding of the curriculum in place, and this teaching style helps facilitate that. This list of examples of student-centered learning is not all-encompassing but is a good start.

When students are able to participate in a variety of ways, they learn better because their minds aren’t focused on one topic at a time.  It is also said that if teachers make the classroom less of a lecture hall and more of a discussion area, then it creates an environment where learning can easily flow from student to student.  When students are given the opportunity to present out what they have learned, it makes them more engaged and invested in their learning. It also helps students recall information better because of this active participation. 

To put it in perspective, here are some examples of student-centered learning to get your wheels turning.

Presentation of Knowledge

In a traditional classroom, students are traditionally presented with facts or examples and are supposed to learn.

In a traditional classroom, students are traditionally presented with facts or examples and are supposed to learn. With student-centered learning, the knowledge is not always given to the students first. Instead, they are challenged with a question related to what they have been taught before and then forced to come up with their own examples. The examples may be ones that the teacher has never thought of before or ones that are not related to the originals. It really depends on the style of student-centered learning being used.

Presentations are great examples of student-centered learning because they make students become active in their learning process. They are less passive since the examples come from fellow students and they must think about what will work for them as opposed to being given that information by a teacher.

A great way to learn is to constantly be challenged with new information. By being presented with content that is not directly given to them, students can become more knowledgeable of what they have been learning about since they get the chance to come up with it on their own. This will help students remember the content better in the future and make them more knowledgeable about whatever subject they are learning.

Examples of Student-Centered Learning

Class Discussion

In a traditional classroom, students are often given opportunities for discussion in class when teachers feel comfortable doing so. In most cases, the teacher will lead the class discussion. In a student-centered learning classroom, however, students are challenged to come up with examples of their own without any prompts from the teacher. This often leads to even better interactions as the students often think of things that you never would have, further enhancing the lesson.

While the teacher is still very present in moderating the conversation and keeping the conversation on topic and “on the rails”, he or she does not have to be the center of attention during class discussion. This leaves room for students to voice their opinions and get out of their comfort zones and contribute more as well, a benefit that is often overlooked when discussing the benefits of student-centered learning in the classroom.

One of the perfect examples of student-centered learning, coming up with questions on your own can also occur outside of the classroom. This process is known as self-directed learning and can be applied to an online student’s experience just as much as a traditional one.

Independent Research/Study

In many traditional classrooms, there is lots of independent research for students to do and they often need guidance on where to look. With student-centered learning, students are challenged with questions or examples that they should find examples for on their own. This allows the student to decide what sites and examples to look at in order to find the information that will help them develop their knowledge.

This does not take the teacher out of the equation but rather invigorates them as not only do they see their students getting excited about the content, but it helps them as professionals to reset a bit and see the information from different angles (while still helping their students fill in the gaps of missing knowledge).

Instruction can become very centered on individual needs and interests which makes learning exciting for students. With a focus on mastery and competency, this technique allows teachers to really see who in the classroom is interested in what they are learning as well as allowing the teacher to guide them through areas that need more attention. As a leading contender on the examples of student-centered learning, this technique attempts to get students to think critically and learn about subject matters on their own through asking questions that require deeper thinking (which is more difficult than simply memorizing facts, thus teaching them multiple long-term life skills).

Independent study perfectly illustrates student-centered learning. This is where an inquiry-based project or the concept of “Genius Hourr” comes into play. The student chooses what examples and information they want to study on their own. Depending on the time you have, this could be purely interest-based or could tie directly into your curriculum. As the teacher, you decide what this looks like. When it comes to examples of student-centered learning, this is key.

Project-based Learning

Project-based learning is very similar to student-centered learning because it involves letting the students figure out what examples to find themselves, but it also involves them creating something that demonstrates a concept. In some cases, a project-based learning class may even involve examples from outside of the classroom. For example, students might be tasked with finding real-world examples of how to solve a math equation using an algorithm.

The main goal for a student who is working on a project-based learning class is to help them learn how to solve problems differently than they did in the past. Therefore, it is important for teachers to create examples that are different from those found in textbooks or other sources. It will challenge students by requiring them to think about things from a different point of view.

Active learning is a style of teaching where students are involved in solving the problem they’re working on. They have to figure out the solution for themselves and actively test it until it works. This is possible in all subject areas and again, teaches the student larger scale life-skills that will help them long-term.

Group Collaboration

Traditional classrooms tend to focus on the individual rather than the group. It is not that students cannot collaborate, but they are never encouraged to do so unless the teacher has planned a collaborative activity. With student-centered learning, however, students may be encouraged to come up with ideas as a group and then present them. They are responsible for coming up with examples on their own, but they work together to find ones that will help the rest of the class learn more.

Another one of the great examples of student-centered learning, group collaboration is when students work together to further their own interests. If a student is interested in, say, art history or films, then they can form groups with similar likes and learn about what interests them more from other students who share the same interest. The benefit of this not only comes from the fact that it gives individuals more options to pursue things they are interested in but also that these groups can help each other out.

The best part of this as one of the examples of student-centered learning is it leaves the classroom open for different types of activities. Students are free to come up with tasks that keep them engaged, and those who have established a group already know what their goals are. In addition, the student-centered approach ensures that every question, answer, and response is applicable to this group or class as it can be.

Student-created Examples of Student-Centered Learning

Student-centered learning is all about getting the students to take more of an active role in their education. Because of this, you may allow them to create examples for themselves that will help support your content material.

You can also allow students to create examples that you will use at certain points in time during the lesson.

These are easy for students to work on and are usually more interesting than copying a large example from the board or handouts, making this one of the perfect examples of student-centered learning.

Students must be allowed to pick a topic they want to work with, after asking any questions needed to make sure it is something they can handle and can explain thoroughly. Creative expression is about getting the students’ artistic skills out on paper so they don’t get lost in just the academic side of things, which is also an important skill to tap into with examples of student-centered learning like this.

Students can work in teams if you want them to do so; just make sure that they are still working together to find the solution, not making a competition out of it. You can have students create examples for homework and give extra credit or partial points towards their overall grade if the example is used later on in class.


– Examples can be created as a class, individually, or in groups.  The important thing is to allow students to take an active role in their learning.

– You might want to have certain times where you will call on students for examples they have made on the spot. This could be done with worksheets that are completed as a class activity or allowed during an independent study period for students to work on examples they have created and want to present.

– Students can create examples that you will assign and use later in the lesson or even on another day.  Examples could include presenting a formula, explaining a concept using math vocabulary, creating charts based on their own findings, etc.  This is a great way to utilize the time and effort that students put into their examples.

– Remember to allow for creative expression with this idea.  Your student will be more excited about learning if they have an art background (or even no artistic background at all) and get the chance to share something from their heart.  You can also incorporate this idea into a project or assignment where students have to do research and present it in whatever way they choose to be creative.

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After moving from a teacher-dominated classroom to a truly student-centered one, Jenn found herself helping colleagues who wanted to follow her lead.  In 2018 she decided to expand outside of her school walls and help those out there who were also trying to figure out this fantastic method of instruction to ignite intrinsic motivation in their students.  Read more about her journey with Student-Centered World at

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