Increasingly, educators are looking towards more student-centered methods for instruction. Student-centered learning is an educational approach that focuses on the needs of the students and sees the instructor’s role as more of a facilitator or collaborator in the learning process. The roots of this approach to teaching stretch back to the early 20th century with early developmental and educational psychologists including John Dewey (1938), Jean Piaget (1964) and Lev Vygotsky (1962), who saw learning as an active and interactive process that includes the individual but also extends beyond to rely on others.
Today, this approach to education is demonstrated through a number of methods including problem-based learning (Dewey, 1897), inquiry based learning (Herron, 1971), experiential learning (Kolb, 1984) and collaborative learning (Dillenbourg, 1999). While there may be some resistance in higher education to incorporate collaborative learning, there has been a general increase towards incorporating aspects of collaborative learning into at least once per semester (Fink, 2004). In many grade school classrooms and curriculums, science in particular (Flick and Lederman, 2006), there has been a move toward a “learning by inquiry” ideal where they emphasize the scientific method and student centered questioning of the life around them (or whatever topic the standard is covering). It’s possible that as students are indoctrinated in inquiry based projects that make up a large portion of their grade school education, it may encourage higher education to take this style of learning into consideration.