Learning-Centered Programs Planned Throughout October


Learning-Centered Programs Planned Throughout October
Dr. John Moore speaks during “Student Success in a Learning-Centered University” symposium at the Bronco Student Center.

October is going to be a unique month. For the first time, the entire campus community will be focused on what it means to be a more learning-centered university.  

Throughout the month there will be numerous workshops designed for Cal Poly Pomona's students, faculty and staff on how each individual can directly contribute to student success and institutional excellence through assessment and continuous improvement.

“We want to focus the entire campus on becoming more learning-centered and engage all members of the campus community simultaneously,” said biology Professor Gil Brum, who leads the university's Learning-Centered Task Force.

A symposium titled “Student Success in a Learning-Centered University,” on Sept. 18 launched this campus-wide campaign to focus efforts on learning.

“We are doing some really great things. I could just go on and on,” Provost Tomas Morales said at the symposium. “We just need to redouble our efforts.”

The movement to become more learning-centered is not limited to classroom dynamics. Staff and administrators are also being encouraged to adopt this approach to their own work.

Karen Brzoska, of I&IT Learning, who is a member of the university's Learning-Centered Task Force, said exploring the concept of being learning-centered has required her to step outside of her own comfort zone to establish learning outcomes for herself and I&IT Learning programs.

“It's a conceptual shift,” she said during the symposium. “We've had to come see ourselves as learners.”

John Tagg, educator and author of “The Learning Paradigm College,” gave the keynote address at the symposium.

“Frankly a lot of students forget what they learned in six months,” Tagg said, adding that professors need to adapt their instruction so students gain a deep, intrinsic understanding of their subjects.

Professors must provide feedback, so the students gain a clear understanding of what and how they could improve. There also needs to be assessment of students' progress and assessments of professors to ensure they are effective teachers, he said.

So, what is a learning-centered university? According to the task force a learning-centered university:

1. Establishes measurable outcomes for learning, as well as for all university services, programs and activities

2. Uses assessment feedback to modify activities for continuous improvement;

3. Engages the entire campus community by intentionally creating opportunities for collaboration among members of the university community

4. Measures its success by how well students, staff and faculty meet objectives and outcomes

5. In the classroom

   a. Focuses on what is learned, not what is taught.  (Differentiates learning from teaching;

   b. Incorporates Learn-by-doing activities so students have opportunities to apply what they learn and learn what they applying field experiences, community service, lab settings, and other hands-on experiments such as studios, performances, and investigative inquiries

   c. Encourages students to take charge of their learning

6. Takes account of who its students, staff and faculty are as people, and the pressures that they are facing

7. Allocates its budget and builds/maintains its facilities to support a learning environment  

8. Recognizes and rewards activities that advance these principles.

To learn more about the month-long focus and the history of the university's learning-centered movement visit: http://www.cpp.edu/~learningcentered.