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Students at the Center of Their Own Learning


     Checklist of Observable Behaviors

1. The nature of the learning process: This process is active, volitional, and internally mediated. It is a process of discovering and constructing meaning from information and experience filtered through the learners’ unique perceptions, thoughts, and feelings (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).

___ Active involvement

___ Direct experience

___ Mastery learning

___ Learning environments

___ Learning styles

___ Learning strategies

___ Learning centers  

2. Goals of the learning process: “The learner seeks to create meaningful, coherent representations of knowledge regardless of the quantity and quality of data available” (McCombs & Whisler, 1997, p. 5).

___ Making meaning

___ Understanding

___ Learning and improving

___ Clear, specific, reasonable, moderately
       challenging learning tasks  

3. The construction of knowledge: This learning principle reflects “concerns with how individuals build up certain elements of their cognitive or emotional apparatus” (Phillips, 1997, p. 8).

___ Interpretation

___ Presearch

___ Search

___ Evaluation

___ Patterns and connections  

4. Higher order thinking: This means to find patterns by comparing, contrasting, classifying, and generalizing information. The goal is to form conclusions based on evidence (Eggen, 1996).

___ Empowerment

___ Power sharing

___ Decision making

___ Critical thinking

___ Thinking together  

5. Motivational influences on learning: These reflect the "importance of learner beliefs, values, interests, goals, expectations for success, and emotional states of mind in producing either positive or negative motivations to learn (McCombs & Whisler, 1997, p. 75).

___ Confidence

___ Emotions

___ Efficacy

___ Self-esteem

___ Positive expectations

___ Rewarding  

6. Intrinsic motivation to learn: This is “the natural tendency to seek out and conquer challenges as we pursue personal interests and exercise capabilities” (Deci & Ryan, as cited in Woolfolk, 2001, p. 368).


___ Intense involvement

___ Enjoyment of learning

___ Enjoyable settings  

7. Characteristics of motivation-enhancing learning tasks:  These include curiosity, creativity, and higher order thinking, which are stimulated by relevant, authentic learning tasks of optimal difficulty and novelty for each student (Schurr, 1994, p. 64).

___ Tasks that activate students’ curiosity

___ Strategies and activities that develop and
       challenge students’ creativity

8. Developmental constraints and opportunities: Individuals progress through stages of physical, intellectual, emotional, and social development that are a function of unique genetic and environmental factors (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).

___ Physical development

___ Intellectual development

___ Emotional development

___ Social development

___ Students’ characteristics  

9. Social and cultural diversity: Learning is facilitated by social interactions and communication with others in flexible, diverse (in age, culture, family background, etc.), and adaptive instructional settings (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).

___ Civil involvement with others

___ Communication

___ Tolerance

___ Group work  

10. Social acceptance, self-esteem, and learning: Learning and self-esteem are heightened when individuals are in respectful and caring relationships with others who see their potential, genuinely appreciate their unique talents, and accept them as individuals (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).

___ Interactive instruction

___ Cooperative learning

___ Interpersonal intelligence    

11. Individual differences in learning: Students have different capabilities and preferences for learning modes and strategies (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).

___ Their immediate environment

___ Their own emotionality

___ Their sociological preferences

___ Their physiological characteristics

___ Their processing inclination

___ Verbal/linguistic intelligence

___ Logical/mathematical intelligence

___ Visual/spatial intelligence

___ Bodily/kinesthetic intelligence

___ Musical/rhythmic intelligence

___ Interpersonal intelligence

___ Intrapersonal intelligence

___ Naturalistic intelligence  

12. Cognitive filters: These consist of personal beliefs, thoughts, and understandings that result from prior learning and interpretations and become the individual's basis for constructing reality and interpreting life experiences (McCombs & Whisler, 1997).

___ Personal beliefs

___ Thoughts

___ Understandings  

13. Student-centered teaching: “A student-centered curriculum teaches each learner to select and sequence his own activities and materials (individualization), arranges for students to center on and teach each other (interaction); and interweaves all symbolized and symbolizing subjects so that the student can effectively synthesize knowledge structures in his own mind (integration)” ( Moffett & Wagner, 1992, p. 24).

___ In-depth content knowledge

___ Classroom management

___ Pedagogy


           Eggen, P. D., &  Donald,  P.  (1996).  Strategies for teachers: Teaching content and thinking skills.  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

           McCombs, B. L., & Whisler, J. S.  (1997).  The learner-centered classroom and school. San Francisco: Jossey- Bass.

           Moffett, J.,  &  Wagner, B. J.  (1992).  Student-centered language arts, K-12.  Portsmouth, NH: Boynton/Cook Publishers Heinemann.  

           National Center for Research on Teacher Learning.  (1999).  Learner-centered classrooms, problem based learning and the construction of understanding and meaning [On-line].  Available: 

           Phillips,  D.  (1997).  How, why, what, when, and where: Perspectives on constructivism and education.  Issues in Education: Contributions from Educational Psychology, 3, 151-194.

           Schurr, S.L. (1994) Dynamite in the classroom: A how-to handbook for teachers. Columbus, OH: NMSA.

           Woolfolk,  A.  (2001).   Educational psychology (8th ed.).  Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.
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