Learner-Centered Teaching in Economics: An Action Research Study.

Open Access
Author:
Ongeri, Joseph Dennis
Graduate Program:
Adult Education
Degree:
Doctor of Education
Document Type:
Dissertation
Date of Defense:
February 20, 2009
Committee Members:
  • Edward W Taylor, Dissertation Advisor
  • Edward W Taylor, Committee Chair
  • Patricia Angelica Cranton, Committee Member
  • Lewis A Boahene, Committee Member
  • Nihal Bayraktar, Committee Member
Keywords:
  • Learner-Centered Teaching in Economics
  • An Action Research.
Abstract:
The quest to reform America’s education system has been at the forefront of educators’, policymakers’ and researchers’ efforts since 1983s Nation at Risk. Both educators and researchers have realized that educational practices need to be completely transformed and that a research-based framework should guide their reform efforts. One area where educational practices need to be completely transformed is in the teaching of economics. In recent years, the quality of economics instruction has received consistently poor reviews by undergraduate students across the United States. In response to these concerns, researchers have been studying ways of improving economics instruction. One suggested approach is the use of learner-centered teaching principles. This is based on evidence that suggests that motivation, learning, and achievement are highly enhanced where learner-centered principles and practices are in place. The purpose of this study was to explore the use of learner-centered teaching (LCT) in the teaching of an introductory economics class. The theoretical framework of the study was based upon social constructivist theory and was informed by both progressive and humanistic teaching philosophies. The study utilized a self-study, action research approach to inquiry. Through the use of pre-/post tests, journaling, observations, and interviews, the study revealed that learning is enhanced when learner-centered principles are in place. The study found that in order for LCT to be successfully implemented, the teacher needs to be both mentally and physically prepared for the numerous challenges posed by the new pedagogic paradigm. The study also found that if a teacher is able to clearly articulate the manner in which LCT is to be implemented, then the guardians of the institutional structures i.e. administrators, will likely support their efforts. The study further revealed that students, who initially resist the implementation of LCT, do so out of the perceived fear that LCT will lead to more work as well as deny them a source of authoritative academic guidance. The study showed that if a teacher is able to build a nurturing and caring classroom environment, students would reciprocate by working hard and taking responsibility for their learning. However, the study also found that a single semester’s application of learner-centered teaching principles would not change long established teaching practices. Persistence and repeated implementation of LCT over a number of semesters is the only way to sufficiently affect institutionalized educational instruction.