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 Table of Contents  
MEDICAL EDUCATION
Year : 2014  |  Volume : 2  |  Issue : 1  |  Page : 74-79

Perceptions of faculty about student-centered curriculum


1 Department of Physiology, Government Medical College, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India
2 Department of Forensic Medicine, Government Medical College, Bhavnagar, Gujarat, India

Date of Web Publication4-Jun-2014

Correspondence Address:
Chinmay Shah
Associate Professor, Department of Physiology, Government Medical College, Bhavnagar, Gujarat
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/2321-4848.133832

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  Abstract 

Background: The term student-centered learning (SCL) is widely used in the teaching and learning literature. Student-centered learning, if implemented properly, offers benefits to all, including the institution, students and staff involved, higher education staff unions, students' unions, and society as a whole. Materials and Methods: Present cross-sectional study was done to find out faculty attitudes and practice towards student-centeredness of curriculum in their own settings. Results: that learning environment (66.18%) is student-centered in most of the institute, followed by teaching and learning methods (57.65%), and the least student-centeredness was observed in learning outcome component (23.53%). All other components i.e. professional academic development (48.53%), student assessment methods (47.06%), mobility, recognition and prior learning (46.08%), social dimensions (44.12%), quality assurance (39.22%), consultation with students (28.43%) were student-centered in less than 50% institutions, indirectly suggesting practice of teacher centered curriculum. Conclusion: It has become clear from the study that, overall, there is practice of teacher centered curriculum. Particularly students need to be consulted in process of curriculum and in preparing learning outcome. Students should be part of quality assurance process.

Keywords: Curriculum, faculty, student


How to cite this article:
Shah C, Parmar D, Mehta H. Perceptions of faculty about student-centered curriculum. Arch Med Health Sci 2014;2:74-9

How to cite this URL:
Shah C, Parmar D, Mehta H. Perceptions of faculty about student-centered curriculum. Arch Med Health Sci [serial online] 2014 [cited 2019 Dec 13];2:74-9. Available from: http://www.amhsjournal.org/text.asp?2014/2/1/74/133832


  Introduction Top


What is a curriculum? Sometimes, this is confused with syllabus, a list of things the learner is expected to learn. The curriculum has been defined as: Everything that happens in relation to the educational program. [1]

Both as teachers planning courses or educational opportunities for others, and as learners thinking about our own personal and professional development, we are asking, what and how we want to learn. [2]

So, how do we determine what is to be learned? The learners' involvement in the process is vital. It is most effective if you can involve teachers, learners, and program planners together and gather data for planning from a variety of sources. Remember that 'perceived needs' and 'true needs' may be different.

Student-centered learning was credited to Hayward as early as 1905 and to Dewey's work in 1956. [3] Carl Rogers was then associated with expanding this approach into a theory of education in the 1980s, [4] and this learning approach has also been associated with the work of Piaget (developmental learning) and Malcolm Knowles [5] (self-directed learning). It can be summarized as follow: [5]

  • The reliance on active rather than passive learning;
  • An emphasis on deep learning and understanding;
  • Increased responsibility and accountability on the part of the student;
  • An increased sense of autonomy in the learner;
  • An interdependence between teacher and learner;
  • Mutual respect within the learner-teacher relationship; and
  • A reflexive approach to the teaching and learning process on the part of both the teacher and the learner.


The term student-centered learning (SCL) is widely used in the teaching and learning literature.

Many terms have been linked with student-centered learning, such as flexible learning, [6] experiential learning, [5] self-directed learning, and, therefore, the slightly overused term 'student-centered learning' can mean different things to different people. It can also be described as the shift in power from the expert teacher to the student learner, driven by a need for a change in the traditional environment where, in this 'so-called educational atmosphere, students become passive, apathetic, and bored.'

Learning is often presented in this dualism of either student-centered learning or teacher-centered learning. In the reality of practice, the situation is less black and white. In relation to curriculum design, student-centeredness includes the idea that students have choice in what to study, how to study. However, to what extent can this be carried out in the structures of today's Universities?

Student-centered learning, if implemented properly, offers benefits to all, including the institution, students and staff involved, higher education staff unions, students' unions, and society as a whole.

Faculty members often have many questions about student-centered learning approaches and implications for how they might teach. In examining how we might look at this in practice, it is worth thinking how far up the continuum we are able to move within the contextual barriers in our teaching situation. Keeping this in mind, we have studied faculty perception about present practice of student-centered curriculum in various institutes of India.


  Materials and Methods Top


Present cross-sectional study was undertaken after taking permission from head of the institute. Pre-designed, structured, validated questionnaire adopted from Student-Centered Learning-Toolkit for students, staff, and higher education institutions [7] was made online using google.doc for obtaining faculty perception about student-centeredness of curriculum in their own settings. Questionnaire (40 Questions) included different aspects of curriculum i.e. consultation with Students, Learning Outcomes, Quality Assurance, Mobility, Recognition and Prior Learning, The Social Dimension, Teaching and Learning Methods, Student Assessment Methods, Learning Environment, and Professional Academic Development. It was mailed to the faculty of different medical colleges. Identity of faculty was kept confidential to get correct response. Data was collected using google.doc spread sheet and analyzed using Microsoft excel sheet.


  Result Top


Questionnaire was sent to approx. 60 faculties, out of which we got response from only 17 faculties from different parts of India. Demographic characteristic of study group is shown in [Table 1].
Table 1: Demographic characteristic of study group (N = 17)


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Response of faculties regarding different 9 component of curriculum is summarized in [Table 2] and detail response is described in [Table 3].
Table 2: Summary of faculty response


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Table 3: Faculty response in detail


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  Discussion Top


Present study was conducted to know the faculty perception about student-centeredness of their existing curriculum. Responses to questionnaire were collected using google.doc. The study group was diverse as participants were from four different states of India, government as well as private medical college and were from all three settings i.e. pre-clinical, para-clinical, and clinical; sample also represented rural and urban college, and positions of participants were ranging from Assistant Professor to Professor [Table 1].

Curriculum has many aspects; we have tried to know faculty responses in each aspect. Result shows [Table 2] that learning environment (66.18%) is student-centered in most of the institute, followed by teaching and learning methods (57.65%), and the least student-centeredness was observed in learning outcome component (23.53%). All other components i.e. professional academic development (48.53%), student assessment methods (47.06%), mobility, recognition and prior learning (46.08%), social dimensions (44.12%), quality assurance (39.22%), consultation with students (28.43%) were student-centered in less than 50% institutions, indirectly suggesting practice of teacher-centered curriculum.

Consultation of student for curriculum was present only in 28.43%, which suggests that students, an important stakeholder, are totally neglected in process of curriculum development. No institute consults students in learning outcome component, while, on other hand, we are talking of preparing i-doc, outcome-based doctors.

If we analyze individual question of the survey instrument, following are the major instances where student-centeredness is in practice:

  1. Extra-curricular activities of students accepted and recognized as an essential part of the learning experience.
  2. Students have access to appropriate research and study facilities both on and off campus.
  3. Information technology used within the learning process.


While following are most neglected aspect:

  1. Students are not consulted on the teaching and evaluation methods used.
  2. Students are not involved in periodic program quality reviews.
  3. Students are not consulted on curriculum content.


What is solution? Change process would need to be initiated in order to move a higher education institution towards practicing student-centered curriculum. We have to follow all six steps of policy cycle to take steps towards this solution.

The policy cycle [8] [Figure 1]:
Figure 1: Policy Cycle

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  1. Analysis of problem: It seems that we are able to focus only the first step of the cycle i.e. we are able to pinpoint areas, which need concern and need improvement to make student-centered culture, environment.
  2. Identify role of different actors: All stakeholder have their own role in solving problems i.e. student, student unions, teachers, administrator, government, patients etc. Out of all, teachers play major role in curricular change.


Instructors should -

  • Involve students, where possible, in decision-making processes about course content, pace, assessment criteria, and daily agendas.
  • At all levels and with all class sizes, teach using a variety of instructional strategies, including active learning strategies.
  • Make students aware of specific learning objectives at the lesson level and the course level and align teaching and assessment practices with those objectives.
  • Engage students in a variety of activities, including group work and experiential, service and project-based learning.
  • Constantly reflect on and evaluate the process and outcomes of their teaching practices.
  • Within the classroom, practical implementation of a student-centered approach can include a number of components. The following are a few examples of this: [8]
  • Problem-based learning;
  • Group project work;
  • Student-centered active learning;
  • Resource-based learning;
  • Use of the case method;
  • Role plays;
  • Classroom workshops;
  • Group presentations;
  • Use of a web-conferencing environment, particularly in distance education;
  • Use of learning logs for students to record their educational experience.
  • Following are roles to be followed by professor who wishes to explore a transformation from teacher-centered to student-centered education.
  • Model Thinking and Processing Skill;
  • Know the Actual and the Desired Cognitive Levels of Activities and of Students;
  • Develop Questions that Facilitate Student Exploration and Growth;
  • Provide Group Learning Settings;
  • Use Analogies and Metaphors.
  • Identify drivers for change: There are many drivers for change; we have to identify it, try to implement it in our settings; it can be in the form of personal incentives, educational incentives, scholarship incentives, economic incentives. Further, it depends on benefit of changing, feasibility to do something different, clarity of vision on what to do as well as on dissatisfaction with status quo.
  • Identify strategies to overcome barriers to change.

    Barriers to change are usually multifactorial, and it may be one of administrative hurdles: Other priorities for higher education, lack of financial support, too centralized (or decentralized) decision-making, misunderstanding of the concept, negative attitudes towards the concept, a different understanding of the vision for the future.

    A Force Field Analysis can be a useful tool at this stage. This is a discussion tool with an aim of identifying different actors, listing all the different people and organizations that may have an influence, and mapping their connections and levels of influences over the situation.
  • Implement the change.

    Based on analysis of stage 3 and 4, we should go for curriculum reform and implement it using proper agent of change.
  • Evaluate the impact of the change.


An integrated model of planning and evaluation is the so-called Plan-Do-Check-Act model or simply the PDCA model. This is an important step to know success of curriculum reform made, and it will also guide future curriculum planner to look at history of curriculum reform and do it in future.

In present study, we have completed only first step of the cycle, and we need to go further in each step. It can be done by sensitizing all teachers regarding each step of policy cycle, and for that, first of all, teachers need to aware of the process. So, we will now do this by providing resource material and different case study online to all subject and will try to overcome the barriers for implementation of student-centered curriculum.

Once student-centered curriculum is implemented, it is very important to maintain it. Building on the experience of Moust et al.[9] and of Kember, [10] who examined the implementation of SCL across an entire university, suggest some measures by which institutions can maintain it as follow:

  • Address teachers' concerns in implementing educational innovation
  • Stimulating good practice in teaching activities
  • Building learning communities
  • Informing students more about the ideas underlying student-centered curriculum
  • Helping students more extensively to become self-directed learners
  • Offering students more variety in educational formats within the context of an environment
  • Developing computer-supported environments
  • Adopting new forms of assessment
  • Adopting and improving processes of program quality review


It is important that we should use above proposed ideas according to our context for a sustained change in curriculum reform.


  Conclusion Top


This survey has been undertaken to find out faculty attitudes and practice towards student-centeredness of curriculum in their own settings. Student-centeredness is a paradigm of thinking about education and learning. Learning should become active, mobilizing thoughts and discussions between different learners. Results of present study are suggestive of practice of teacher-centered curriculum.

For practicing student-centered curriculum, students need to be consulted in process of curriculum and preparing learning outcome. Students should be part of quality assurance process. Student-centered curriculum can be practiced if institute follows recommendations given below:

  1. Defining student-centered curriculum: There should be explicit definition and criteria to designate curriculum as student-centered as some promote a consumerist notion of student-centeredness, in which a student is empowered to demand 'value for money.' Instead, other concept is being radically different, with a notion of a student as an active, critical, and integral part of curriculum process.
  2. Resourcing student-centered learning: Institute must start to take their responsibility in a materialistic way, by giving the right resources to hire enough staff, creating favorable working conditions and adequate support mechanisms for students.
  3. Give students a stronger voice: Student must have their say in all academic issues; institute has to develop mechanism by which students can give their voice without the fear of its effect in assessment.
  4. Faculty development: Faculty should be encouraged to attend seminar, conferences, workshops, which will help them to learn how student-centered curriculum can be practiced.


Lastly, as Dr. James Evans concluded in a speech to the American Educational Research Association, and I quote, "We know how to produce astronauts. Let's see if we can produce 'astronauts.' [11]"


  Acknowledgement Top


We are very much thankful to Dr. Ara Takian for valuable suggestions and input during the project. We are also thankful to our Dean Dr. B. D. Parmar for his support and encouragement for the project.

 
  References Top

1.Glenn JM. Course materials. Centre for Medical Education, University of Dundee, 1995.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
2.Prideaux D. Curriculum design. In: ABC of learning and teaching in medicine. BMJ 2003;326:268-70.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
3.O'Sullivan M. The reconceptualisation of learner-centred approaches: A Nambian case study. Int J Educ Dev. (2004): 24(6), 585-602.  Back to cited text no. 3
    
4.Burnard P. Carl Rogers and postmodernism: Challenged in nursing and health sciences. Nurs Health Sci 1999;1:241-7.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
5.Lea SJ, Stephenson D, Troy J. Higher Education Students' Attitudes to Student Centred Learning: Beyond 'educational bulimia'. Stud High Educ 2003;28:321-34.  Back to cited text no. 5
    
6.Taylor PG. Changing Expectations: Preparing students for Flexible Learning. Int J Acad Dev 2000;5:107-15.  Back to cited text no. 6
    
7.Student-Centred Learning-Toolkit for students, staff and higher education institutions, Brussels, October, LASERLINE, Berlin, 2010. p. 18.  Back to cited text no. 7
    
8.Student-Centred Learning-Toolkit for students, staff and higher education institutions, Brussels, October, LASERLINE , Berlin, 2010. p. 30.  Back to cited text no. 8
    
9.Moust JH, Van Berkel HJ, Schmidt HG. Signs of Erosion: Reflections on three decades of problem-based learning at Maastricht University. High Educ 2005;50:665-83.  Back to cited text no. 9
    
10.Kekem Berer D. Promoting Student-Centred Forms of Learning across an Entire University. High Educ 2008;58:1-13.  Back to cited text no. 10
    
11.The student-centered curriculum: A concept in curriculum innovation, Bruce W. Tuckman; SCOPE Center Rutgers University, SCOPE Program 0E8-0334Incidental Report #2, March, 1969.  Back to cited text no. 11
    


    Figures

  [Figure 1]
 
 
    Tables

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3]



 

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Introduction
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