When excellent math teachers use a “student-centered” approach, students are more engaged and do better on problem-solving tests, concludes a new AIR study.
“A traditional teacher might simply explain, for example, how to graph a line, step-by-step, using y-intercept and slope . . . .and give students a tool box of procedures to tackle any problem,” writes Jill Barshay on the Hechinger Report.
“A student-centered teacher might turn the classroom floor into a giant graph-paper grid and ask the students to become data points and walk to where they should be plotted.”
Researchers found 22 highly regarded high school math teachers in New York and New England. Half were traditional teachers and half used many student-centered approaches. “The more a teacher used student-centered approaches, the more his or her students learned, and the better they did on an exam of complex problem-solving that resembles the PISA international test for 15-year-olds,” reports Barshay.
However, student-centered teaching may not work well for all teachers or all students, said AIR researcher Kirk Walters.
“Student-centered approaches may hold promise,” he said. However, the study looked at excellent teachers with largely middle-class, high-performing students.
I’d guess that effective student-centered teaching requires more teaching skill.