A Word to the Teacher
Strategies for Creating Learner-Centered Instruction
Classroom design and arrangement can directly facilitate or interfere with the
learning climate in the classroom. Good spatial definition can help students feel
secure by specifying for them where the structured learning areas begin and
end. The spatial definition can define circulation patterns in the room during lab
investigations, which also can define appropriate interaction patterns and help to
guide students’ work and behaviors. The way the stations are designed can ease the
transition from one instructional activity to another.
Stations can be arranged visually to focus students’ attention by—
Using labels and signs to designate areas
Using colors to attract visual attention and define spaces
Taping lines on the floor or wall to define different work areas
Moving furniture to define spatial boundaries
Displaying group work, like a poster, to designate that group’s space
Stations set up in the classroom should be arranged so that students have easy
access to each other, to the teacher, and to the materials they need for the specific
learning assignment (Johnson, Johnson, & Holubec, 1994).
Cooperative Learning
Cooperative learning involves students working together to find success by
accomplishing shared goals and involves students separated into small groups.
The small groups work to increase each student’s learning as well as the group’s
learning. Cooperation among students supports retention, motivation, task focus,
achievement, and higher level thinking and reasoning. Working together, students
develop a group relationship that is personal, social, and academic. Group work
strengthens social competencies, supports student self-esteem, and enhances an
individual’s ability to cope with stress and adversity (Johnson et al., 1994).
Traditional cooperative learning in the science classroom involves students working
together to achieve a common success. The group shares a common purpose that
motivates each member beyond individual interests. Group members hold one
another accountable for the quality of work accomplished. Group members promote
each other’s success by helping, explaining, and sharing. Group members are
required to develop social skills to work effectively as a team. Groups can analyze
how eff
ectively goals are accomplished and can often summon the necessary
motivation to increase the quality of learning. Ultimately, grouping encourages
students to perform at a higher academic level than they probably w
ould have if they
were to work alone.
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