About this paper

Appears in:
Pages: 4219-4224
Publication year: 2009
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095

Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain


R. Cullen1, M. Harris2

1Ferris State university (UNITED STATES)
2Kettering university (UNITED STATES)
Since  Barr and Tagg introduced the concept of the instructional versus the learner-centered paradigms in 1995, institutions of higher education across the U.S and abroad have adopted the concept in one form or another in an attempt to create learning environments that respond both to the changing profile of our students and recent research on learning with the ultimate goal of improving student success. Many institutions have made incremental progress in moving away from an instructional model  that views learning as a passive, receptive act on the part of the student, a model that preferences competition to cooperation, individual achievement over collaboration, divisiveness and control over individual differences and choice. We talk about developing learner-centeredness at our institutions characterized by a new focus on active learning, collaboration, and engagement.  The focus, however, has been almost exclusively on what the faculty need to achieve.  Little has been said in regard to  the role that academic leaders need to play to foster a true, comprehensive, systemic shift in paradigms.
We have developed a mechanism for assessing the degree of learner-centeredness in a unit/department using course syllabi and an assessment matrix that we developed for this purpose.
Right now, if asked about the state of learner-centeredness in a department or unit, we can usually point to individual faculty members who are making significant changes in teaching practices and experimenting with innovative strategies. We may also be able to point to new technology or new policies that show progress toward making the shift but we rarely have data that clearly delineates department/unit-wide the areas of success or areas of need when it comes to the distinctive features of learner-centered pedagogy.
Our proposed session, “Assessing Course Syllabi to Foster Learner-Centeredness” features an assessment practice we  have developed that can be used to provide a clear indication of  the degree to which we have achieved our goal of learner-centeredness within a department or unit. Subsequently that information can be used to focus professional development efforts in order to foster needed change.  The assessment practice is very simple and requires no additional work in terms of data collection. The assessment is based upon an analysis of course syllabi using a matrix that we have designed to identify major features of the learner-centered approach, namely community, shared power, and assessment/evaluation.
The results of the assessment provide clear and measurable data regarding specific features of learner-centered practice that can be used to guide professional development. Repeating the assessment over time can provide insight to the progress being made in the unit.
author = {Cullen, R. and Harris, M.},
series = {2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation},
booktitle = {ICERI2009 Proceedings},
isbn = {978-84-613-2953-3},
issn = {2340-1095},
publisher = {IATED},
location = {Madrid, Spain},
month = {16-18 November, 2009},
year = {2009},
pages = {4219-4224}}
AU - R. Cullen AU - M. Harris
SN - 978-84-613-2953-3/2340-1095
PY - 2009
Y1 - 16-18 November, 2009
CI - Madrid, Spain
JO - 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
JA - ICERI2009 Proceedings
SP - 4219
EP - 4224
ER -
R. Cullen, M. Harris (2009) ASSESSING COURSE SYLLABI TO FOSTER LEARNER-CENTEREDNESS, ICERI2009 Proceedings, pp. 4219-4224.