Learner-Centred Practice

What is Learner-Centred Practice?

Learner-centred teaching engages students in the hard, messy work of learning. It is teaching that motivates and empowers students by giving them some control over learning processes. Learner-centred teaching encourages students to reflect on what they are learning and how they are learning it.

Five Characteristics of Learner-Centred Teaching

  • Engage students in learning.
  • Teach students how to learn.
  • Encourage student reflection.
  • Motivate students by sharing power.
  • Encourage collaboration.

Learner-centred approach:

Group Learning

What type of learning is group learning?

  • Collaborative learning is the educational approach of using groups to enhance learning by working together.
  • Collaborative activities are any activities where learners work co-operatively in pairs or groups. e.g. Pair or group discussions to solve problems, complete tasks, or learn new concepts.

Why use collaborative learning?

Learning Collaboratively will help students to work and collaborate together to learn and grow from each other. Collaborative learning has been shown to not only develop higher-level thinking skills in students but boost their confidence and self-esteem as well.

Research shows that educational experiences that are active, social, contextual, engaging, and student-owned lead to deeper learning.

The benefits of collaborative learning include:

  • Development of higher-level thinking, oral communication, self-management, and leadership skills. Promotion of student-faculty interaction.
  • Increase in student retention, self-esteem, and responsibility.
  • Exposure to and an increase in understanding of diverse perspectives.
  • Preparation for real-life social and employment situations.


  • Foster collaboration with group projects.
  • Think of yourself as a coach on the sideline of a sports game.
  • Let learners develop content.
  • Stage presentations.
  • Hold a competition.
  • Hold a debate.
  • Gamify learning.
  • Pose a problem.
  • Do role-play.
What is Active Learning?

Active learning is a teaching approach that involves students in the learning process through activities and interactions rather than passively receiving information from a teacher. It might help to think of it as the application of learner-centred teaching since it moves away from content-focused or lecture-based teaching. It is an approach that has many benefits, mainly. It promotes student engagement and increases motivation, and it can help students develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills.

Active learning approaches are designed to be more interactive and engaging for students and to encourage them to take an active role in their own learning. Conventional teaching approaches are more passive and often involve students simply receiving information from a teacher or instructor. This typically involves a teacher lecturing or presenting information to students, who are expected to listen and take notes. Sometimes called the “instructor-based” or “content-based” approach may also involve reading assignments and tests, and quizzes to assess student learning. There are many ways to implement active learning in the classroom, including:

  1. In-class group work: Students work in small groups to discuss, brainstorm, and solve problems related to the material being studied. This is different from group projects that are submitted for grades.
  2. Problem-based learning: Students work in groups to solve real-world problems or case studies related to the material being studied.
  3. Role-playing: Students take on different roles and engage in simulated scenarios or discussions related to the material in the lesson.
  4. Inquiry-based learning: Students pose questions and engage in activities to find answers and learn more about a particular topic.
  5. Simulation: Students use technology or hands-on activities to simulate real-world scenarios or processes related to the material being studied.

With the help of these exercises, students can assess their comprehension of current information, practise a skill, or identify knowledge gaps before providing an explanation. It is important to keep in mind that the lecture format does not have to be abandoned in order to use active learning techniques. Using small active learning techniques can improve any lecture. This can be done through careful lesson planning. 

Active Learning Resources 
In addition to workshops on how to implement active learning offered by the Teaching and Learning Exchange, there are many resources available for exploring this popular topic.

  • Queen’s University has developed this excellent resource that describes active learning activities in their small and large group contexts.  

Other resources and discussions include: