Student-centered learning is viewed as a progressive approach to teaching. The focus in student-centered learning is to make students more aware of the material they are learning and why it is important. Teachers want to make students more active in the classroom, by encouraging them to interact with one another. The teacher measures achievement based on individual student performance, instead of comparing each person to their peers. Teachers practicing student-centered learning techniques encourage students to create their own learning goals. Instead of writing objectives on the syllabus that states the material that will be covered during the course, these teachers write objectives displaying the knowledge the student will gain after completing the course. Teachers encourage students to learn through activities such as classroom debates, discussions, peer mentoring, field trips, creating individual portfolios and participating in both self and peer reviews. By incorporating these activities into the lesson, teachers want students to learn skills that can be transferred to other activities in their students’ lives.
Teacher-centered learning is the traditional approach used by educators in the classroom. This method of teaching is very regimented. Teachers choose the course material based on the curriculum they are required to cover by the end of the semester. Student success is based upon a measure of individual performance in comparison to the work of the rest of the class. Emphasis is placed on the instructor in a teacher-centered classroom. The lecture follows a strict format where the teacher talks and the students listen to what she has to say. The classroom is very quiet, as students work on assignments individually, instead of with their peers. Classroom objectives are measured upon the amount of material covered, not necessarily the level of learning achieved by each student. Students are all given the same learning goals, which are based on the information covered in class.