P6 – Shift from teacher-centered to student-centered learning. Bottom-up and top-down changes in an institution.

Room C – wednesday 09:00-10:00

Lucas M. Jeno

Department of Biology, University of Bergen

Ph. D. researcher at bioCEED – Centre if Excellence in Biology Education, at the University of Bergen. Masters degree in Pedagogy from the University of Bergen.


Shifting from teacher-centered to learner-centered education requires change at both the person and institutional-level. Fostering excellence in education requires both a structures organization at the highest level within the institution, and a volitional change in teacher culture, in order to promote higher academic performance and reduce dropout.


The purpose of the current presentation is to highlight the importance of shifting higher educations pedagogical focus from teacher-centered education to learnercentered education. Higher education tends to have a teacher-centered perspective on education in which students are passive, as opposed to active, recipients. bioCEED – Centre of Excellence in Biology Education represents a learner-centered perspective to pedagogics, with a reciprocal relationship between; content
knowledge->practical skills->societal relevance.

The current research is based on a national-survey (forthcoming) administered to biology students at Universities and Colleges across Norway. We investigate students ́ perception of the lecturers’ motivational support, their motivation (or lack thereof), self-efficacy, school satisfaction, school grades, and dropout intentions. In order to fully understand students ́ intentions to dropout and academic performance, it ́s important investigate an integrative model based on student learning and learning climate. Previous research suggests such hypothesized relations between the abovementioned variables (Jeno & Diseth, 2014).

Research derived from Self-Determination Theory (Deci & Ryan, 1985) suggests that students flourish under conditions when the lecturers give them choice, base the lectures around their interest, and try to understand their internal frame of references. According to SDT, when educators and schools satisfy students’ psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, students are more intrinsically motivated and autonomously motivated, as opposed to extrinsically and controlled motivated. Intrinsic and autonomous motivation is associated with beneficial outcomes such as less dropout, higher performance, greater psychological well-being, and conceptual understanding. This may be fostered by teachers and institutions provision of social support. Hence, higher education should reflect these aspects. By educating all the aspects of the students, we at bioCEED provide students with 20 % less of large-group lectures, more student active learning, and more internship in the public and private sector.

Institutional changes must however consider all aspects of the students learning climate. According to the abovementioned reciprocal relation, we not only surveyed students, but also lecturers, the administration, and workplaces. In order to revolutionize education, we need to include all aspects of education and include them in the decision making process. Furthermore, research suggests that lecturers social support is important for organizational change in teacher culture (Deci, 2009). Hence, a bottom-up approach focuses on creating room for lecturers to contribute for student learning. bioCEED host teacher-retreat every semester for lecturers to discuss learning, teaching, and curricula. A top-down approach, on the other hand, requires a structured organization in which a theoretical foundation lay as a basis for the pedagogical work. Accordingly, a framework within SDT and active learning is emphasized. Such bottom-up and top-down processes are highly important for educational reform in order to increase academic performance and decrease dropout. Results from the national survey are discussed and the work of bioCEED presented. Lastly, future directions suggested.


Deci, E. L. (2009). Large-scale school reform as viewed from the self-determination theory perpective. Theory and Research in Education, 7(2), 244-253. doi:10.1177/1477878509104329

Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Intrinsic Motivation and Self-Determination in Human Behavior. New York: Plenum Press.

Jeno, L. M., & Diseth, Å. (2014). A self-determination theory perspective on autonomy support, autonomous self-regulation, and perceived school performance. Reflecting Education, 9(1), 1-20.

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