University faculty?s perceptions and practices of student centered learning in Qatar: Alignment or gap?
Purpose: Although student-centered learning (SCL) has been encouraged for decades in higher education, to what level instructors are practicing SCL strategies remains in question. The purpose of this paper is to investigate a university faculty?s understanding and perceptions of SCL, along with current instructional practices in Qatar. Design/methodology/approach: A mixed-method research design was employed including quantitative data from a survey of faculty reporting their current instructional practices and qualitative data on how these instructors define SCL and perceive their current practices via interviews with 12 instructors. Participants of the study are mainly from science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field. Findings: Study results show that these instructors have rather inclusive definitions of SCL, which range from lectures to student interactions via problem-based teamwork. However, a gap between the instructors? perceptions and their actual practices was identified. Although student activities are generally perceived as effective teaching strategies, the interactions observed were mainly in the form of student?content or student-teacher, while student?student interactions were limited. Prevailing assessment methods are summative, while formative assessment is rarely practiced. Faculty attributed this lack of alignment between how SCL could and should be practiced and the reality to external factors, including students? lack of maturity and motivation due to the Middle Eastern culture, and institutional constraints such as class time and size. Research limitations/implications: The study is limited in a few ways. First regarding methodological justification the data methods chosen in this study were mainly focused on the faculty?s self-reporting. Second the limited number of participants restricts this study?s generalizability because the survey was administered in a volunteer-based manner and the limited number of interview participants makes it difficult to establish clear patterns. Third, researching faculty members raises concerns in the given context wherein extensive faculty assessments are regularly conducted. Practical implications: A list of recommendations is provided here as inspiration for institutional support and faculty development activities. First, faculty need deep understanding of SCL through experiences as learners so that they can become true believers and implementers. Second, autonomy is needed for faculty to adopt appropriate assessment methods that are aligned with their pedagogical objectives and delivery methods. Input on how faculty can adapt instructional innovation to tailor it to the local context is very important for its long-term effectiveness (Hora and Ferrare, 2014). Third, an inclusive approach to faculty evaluation by encouraging faculty from STEM backgrounds to be engaged in research on their instructional practice will not only sustain the practice of innovative pedagogy but will also enrich the research profiles of STEM faculty and their institutes. Social implications: The faculty?s understanding and perceptions of implementing student-centered approaches were closely linked to their prior experiences ? experiencing SCL as a learner may better shape the understanding and guide the practice of SCL as an instructor. Originality/value: SCL is not a new topic; however, the reality of its practice is constrained to certain social and cultural contexts. This study contributes with original and valuable insights into the gap between ideology and reality in implementation of SCL in a Middle Eastern context.
- Educational Sciences [44 items ]