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  1. Teaching in Labs
  2.  » Student-centered Learning

Student-centred learning

The main purpose of labs is for students to have hands-on experience. This enables their understanding of the more abstract elements of what they have been taught.

Lab teachers help to promote increased self-reliance so students can make appropriate decisions and manage the transitions that form part of every student’s intellectual development.

Rather than telling students what to do, enabling helps them to learn and develop through self-discovery and self-direction.

Facilitate this by, for example, making eye contact in a supportive and respectful way, demonstrating by posture and facial expression that a student has your full attention, and avoiding or minimising distractions.

You can also:

Use effective listening behaviours such as student-centred questions, checking for understanding.

Provide problem-solving structures – get students to see a problem from the outside by identifying what the problem really is – get them generating solutions and choosing suitable ones to try out.

Offer an analysis of options – help students to recognise that there is more than one path ahead and that a careful check on the thoughts and feelings involved in taking each option may reap rewards.

Use discreet self-disclosure – tell a student something about yourself that helps the student see you as a partner in the human predicament. Give verbal and non-verbal indications that you want to understand and that you empathise with the student’s feelings.

Diverse needs

Lab Teachers have to accommodate disparate levels of subject knowledge and lab experience within any one class of students. This is time-consuming – developing a strategy which works for you is crucial.

What we don’t like

Senior teaching staff add:

A guide on the side
Ian Brailsford (Lecturer, Academic Practice)

Dividing time equally
Chris Smaill (Senior Tutor, Engineering)

Good questioning techniques are essential to student-centred learning. See the page on “Listening & Communicating” for more detail.