learner-centered teaching in american studies

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  • 8/13/2019 Learner-Centered Teaching in American Studies


    Svetlana Shamanaeva

    Assistant Professor

    American Studies Department, AUCA

    Spring 2013

    Learner-Centered Teaching in American Studies

    he student told the least, learns the most,! claimed the distinguished 20 thcentur"

    American mathematician and a universit" professor, #o$ert %ee &oore' (e meant that

    traditional lecturing is not the $est )a" of teaching, and other teaching methods and approaches

    are much more productive' *ne of such approaches, rather popular currentl", is learner+centered

    teaching' here are other terms to name the same thing student+centered teaching, active

    learning, and interactive learning' -esides having different names, the idea has different

    interpretations' &ortimer .' Adler understands active learning as a process of discover" in

    )hich the student is the main agent, not the teacher! /uoted in -on)ell 114, 35' 6or Dr'

    Charles C' -on)ell active learning involves4 students in doing things and thin7ing a$out the

    things the" are doing! /25' -ut )hat are those activities, )hich students are e8pected to do in

    their learning process Chic7ering and 9amson e8plain that students must tal7 a$out )hat the"

    are learning, )rite a$out it, relate it to past e8periences, appl" it to ever"da" life! /1:;, 35' Dr'

    -on)ell also includes developing learner

  • 8/13/2019 Learner-Centered Teaching in American Studies


    completel" change into a facilitator of the learning process )hich should $e mostl" done through

    students< o)n discover" /2002, 13+15' he second area discusses the function of the content'

    he focus of teaching shifts from inventing e8ercises and assignments ensuring content

    coverage! to those providing s7ills development' As )e see, the course content is forced out to

    the $ac7 front /10+125' he ne8t original idea of >eimer is a$out sharing decision+ma7ing po)er

    )ith learners' Since the" and their needs are the center of education, learners should participate

    in determining the course content, designing course activities and tas7s, )or7ing out course

    policies, and even evaluating their o)n )or7 /:+105' he idea sounds too radical, $ut actuall" it

    is not so a)ful if it is implemented graduall" and )isel"' he fourth change in the educational

    process concerns evaluation purpose and process' Students should $e trained to evaluate

    o$?ectivel" their o)n )or7 and progress' >eimer suggests providing more practice in self+ and

    peer+evaluation /1B+1;5' And her final innovation is $ringing up self+sustaina$le, independent,

    and responsi$le learners' @t is not as eas" as it can seem' *n the one hand, responsi$ilit" doesn

  • 8/13/2019 Learner-Centered Teaching in American Studies


    communicating their thoughts orall" and in )riting, and development of their responsi$ilit"'

    Faturall", it resulted in over)helming m"self and m" students' @t )as ta8ing for me, $ecause the

    ne) approach reuires not ?ust 7no)ledge a$out the methodolog", $ut mostl" m" o)n teaching

    s7ills' And m" s7ills of creating interactive assignments and activities $ased on inuir", choosing

    authentic and recent material instead of rel"ing on the course reader, and efficient evaluation of

    the numerous su$mitted assignments )ere ver" lo)' his made preparation of each class an

    e8hausting process' he other suffering side )as the students' @n addition to usual reading of $ig

    chun7s of material, the" had to fulfill a )ide range of tas7s for this course' 6or e8ample, after

    reading a chapter, the" )ere to create e8am uestions a$out it' he" )ere offered to )rite one or

    t)o essa"s on an" of the provided topics, to do up to four peer revie)s of their classmatesriting s7ills! is too general' >hich )ritings7ills e8actl" summariing, forming a strong thesis statement, incorporating uotes into "our argument,

    organiing a paragraph around one single idea, telling the difference $et)een introduction and conclusion

    /)hich info to include in the intro and )hich in the conclusion5, finding "our o)n position among all

    those scholars, etc' @f there are too man", prioritie them' >hich 2+3 s7ills "ou )ould li7e to focus on in

    this class >h" have "ou chosen them >hat did "ou do $efore to improve these s7ills (o) successful

    )ere those strategies >hich assignments in this class )ill help "ou to develop these s7ills (o) can @ as

    a teacher help "ou to improve in chosen areas

    Intr" 3

    >rite a$out "our class participation in universit" courses' >hat role should student participation pla" in

    the college classroom (o) much do "ou participate >hat do "ou usuall" do in class @s that as much

    as "ouhat can $e the preliminar" thesis statement around )hich "ou )ill organie "our research (o)

    can @ or "our classmates help "ou )ith "our presentation at this stage

    Intr" B

    >e donRt have much discussion a$out the material "ou are reading' (o) much have "ou got so far Are

    there an" particular topics )e have covered, )hich "ou are totall" confused a$out and need to clarif" -especific so that @ can help "ou'

    Intr" ;

    Do some research /not ver" e8tensive5 and sa" )hat "ouRve learned a$out the US health care s"stem' (o)

    does it )or7 >hat are advantages and disadvantages of it >h" is so )idel" discussed in ever" election

    during the last 20 "ears And @ )ant "ou to share this information )ith the )hole class, thus, cop" "our

    response to the 6orum 1 /on health care5' @f "ou find some interesting advertising a$out it, share the lin7s

    )ith us'

    Intr" :

    Do some research /not ver" e8tensive5 and sa" )hat "ouRve learned a$out election campaigns of (illar"

    Clinton' >hat positions did she campaign for (o) much mone" did she spend >here did it mostl"


  • 8/13/2019 Learner-Centered Teaching in American Studies


    come from >hat issues did she focus on during her campaigns @f "ou find some interesting advertising

    a$out her, share the lin7s' Jou can also share this info )ith the )hole class through 6orum 2 on (illar"



    After )atching the film (ic)o$" &ichael &oore, ans)er the follo)ing uestions

    1' >hat are the pro$lems the US has )ith health care s"stem2' >hat in the film struc7 "ou the most

    3' >here does all the mone" spent on health care $" the US government and citiens go

    ' >h" cannot the US solve these pro$lems for such a long time

    Intr" 10 /10 points5

    >atch the 1st and 2nd 2012 presidential de$ates and discuss in detail the strateg" used $" each candidate

    in the de$ate' >hat the" focused on ans)ering a uestion Did the" ?ust descri$e the situation, offer a

    solution in general terms or provided a more or less detailed plan for future improvements, or criticied

    the opponent (o) did the" do it (o) did the" control the conversation (o) did the" tr" to improve

    their o)n image and damage the image of the opponent >ho of the candidates loo7ed $etter and )h"

    Intr" 11 /10 points5

    >atch the 200: presidential de$ate $et)een the ma?or part" candidates and $et)een the minor part"

    candidates' (o) are these de$ates different from each other >ere their rules different (o) and )h"

    >hat )ere the candidates tal7ing a$out Did the minor part" candidates loo7 $etter than ma?or part"


    Intr" 12

    >e have covered t)o thirds of the course so far' Jou should calculate "our grades "ourself' >here are

    "ou right no) >ill "ou $e a$le to get the grade "ou planned @f not, )h" did it happen >hat "ou cando to improve "our grade $efore the course is over

    Jou still have a chance to ma7e short $onus presentations /even )ithout Po)erPoint5 a$out some details

    ?ust mentioned in the te8t to improve "our participation grade'

    Intr" 13 /10 points5

    >atch the film*r. (mith #oes to Washington, and get as much as "ou can from this film a$out the rules

    and procedures of Senate )or7' he $etter and more detailed anal"sis "ou ma7e, the $etter "our grade

    )ill $e /ma"$e even more than 10 points5'

    Intr" 1

    Anal"e the presidential de$ates )e had in class' >ho )as the most persuasive >h" >hat )ere the

    mista7es of each candidate (o) much the candidatesR programs and performance influenced "our final

    choice >ould "ou choose the same candidate /Democrat, #epu$lican, independent5 if "ou hadnRt seen

    this de$ate >h" "es *r )h" no

    Intr" 1

    >atch -egai"mRs presentation a$out Ann #ichards again and ans)er the follo)ing uestions' he

    purpose of the presentation )as to sho) ho) governors, as part of the e8ecutive $ranch, deal )ith

    political parties' And donRt forget that the class is American Political Parties'

    1' >hich information from -egai"mRs presentation "ou )ould 7eep

    2' >hat should $e eliminated3' >hat 7ind of information should $e added

    ' Do "ou have an" uestions a$out her, )hich "ou )ould li7e to have ans)ered


  • 8/13/2019 Learner-Centered Teaching in American Studies


    @f "ou )ish, "ou ma" redo her presentation and upload it to the e+course' Since there )ill $e no oral

    presentation of it, put "our actual speech into the notes area' he grade /ma8imum 0 points5 )ill $e

    added to "our total score'

    Intr" 1B /10 points5

    #eflect on "our learning in this course' Ivaluate

    15 improvement of "our s7ills /reading, )riting, research, anal"sis, preparing presentations, oralperformance, evaluating other