european students’ union

Student-centred learning

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Overall, the situation with the implementation of SCL seems to match the progress of the majority of Bologna process goals. This progress is happening, but it is extremely slow, uneven across EHEA and the issue of misimplementation presents a significant danger. This is especially worrisome since SCL cannot be advanced in separation from other Bologna tools which exhibit the same deficiencies. Learning outcomes methodology is an example of a shift towards the learner’s competences as the basis of constructing the learning process. This shift, which has often been taken for granted, is in reality far from being the standard and therefore needs to be further developed and implemented more consistently. Indeed, the unevenness of implementation of SCL is problematic to such a degree that it makes questionable whether EHEA level policies even influence national levels to any significant extent.

When it comes to the ideal of students as creators of their own learning process, this is another ideal that is unfortunately still far from fulfilled. Firstly, students are still to a large extent excluded from deciding about the course content, learning and teaching methods, and assessment methods. What makes the situation even more paradoxical is that students are more represented at higher organisational levels (institutional, national) than at the level at which they can decide about these elements of the learning process. Secondly, recognition of informal and non-formal learning, which, if taken as complementary factors to formal education, could result in a much higher flexibilization and individualisation of the learning process, is still far from being a reality for all students in Europe.

Finally, the role of student-centred learning as an element of quality of higher education needs to be further developed and explicated. As a relatively recent addition to the ESGs, it seems SCL still hasn’t achieved full recognition and equal importance. Despite the fact that the ESGs adopt a more narrow definition of SCL than the one ESU is advocating, there is still a high chance that this problem is due to difficulties with operationalizing the concept and then applying it during quality assessment, which, of course, tends to focus on more easily verifiable factors. One important challenge for the near future will be finding ways in which student-centred learning can be reliably operationalised and made more easily measurable or at least verifiable without losing sensitivity for institutional contexts and diversity of students.

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