In a student-centred learning approach, students are active participants, placed at the core of the learning process. This model replaces the teacher-centred transmission model (teacher as ‘expert’) where there were few opportunities for active student engagement (RMIT Learning and Teaching 2018).

It’s about student learning

The emphasis in a student-centred approach is less on the educator and more on the student. Instead, the educator ‘acts in the role of facilitator, encouraging learners to be self-motivated and independent’ (Bailey & Colley 2015, p.155).

According to Kaput (2018) there are concerns in the American public education system over student inequity, lack of student engagement and the readiness of graduates for the workforce (p. 5). Similar concerns have been expressed about Australian education (Burke 2015; Kahuv& Nelson 2017).

The solution proposed by Kaput (2018) is to take a more student-centred approach in education which encourages students to be more active in their learning. Kaput has identified seven principles of student-centred learning: positive relationships; whole student needs; positive identity; student ownership & agency; real-world relevant; competency progression; anytime, anywhere (see Figure 1).


Figure 1

It is worth noting that many of the principles align with RMIT’s 2020 strategic plan ‘Ready for life and work’, particularly Direction 1: Life-changing experiences. Direction 1 lists goals and priorities such as ‘graduating ready for life and work’ and ‘learning through work and enterprise’ that correlate with the student-centred learning principles ‘real-world relevant’ and ‘anywhere, anytime’. Also, the 2020 priority ‘valuing and growing our diversity’ links with the principles ‘positive identity’ and ‘positive relationships’.

The benefits of adopting a student-centred approach not only supports RMIT’s strategic plan to 2020 but, more significantly, is implemented at a course level i.e. at the frontline of education. This means that educators can view student-centred learning as a mode of delivery that lifts engagement and is ultimately more rewarding for students as well as themselves.


Bailey G & Colley H 2015, ‘Learner-centred assessment policies in further education: putting teachers’ time under pressure’, Journal of Vocational Education & Training, vol. 67, no. 2, pp. 153-168

Burke L 2015, ‘Generation unprepared: The school and university leavers with no skills to work at all’,, 14 July, viewed 28 March 2018,  

Kahu ER & Nelson K 2017, ‘Student engagement in the educational interface: understanding the mechanisms of student success’, Higher Education Research & Development, vol.37, no. 1, pp. 58-71

Kaput K 2018, Evidence for student-centered learning, Education Evolving, viewed 27 March 2018,