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Student-Centred Learning (Spain)

With the Bologna Process, many concepts have been created and developed. One of them is the student centred learning (SCL). “Student-Centred Learning represents both a mind-set and a culture within a given higher education institution and is a learning approach which is broadly related to, and supported by, constructivist theories of learning. It is characterised by innovative methods of teaching which aim to promote learning in communication with teachers and other learners and which take students seriously as active participants in their own learning, fostering transferable skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking and reflective thinking” ESU Student-Centred Learning—Toolkit for students, staff and higher education institutions. Brussels, October 2010.

Due to ta fact that the term is new and changes in time, governments and higher education institutions (HEI)have not been able to understand what SCL is about and implement it correctly, so, it is all up to the knowledge and understanding of the academic community. Also, cultural issues influence the whole Bologna Process and the belief of the academic community in what it means.

A bad implementation of the SCL causes and increase in the workload a student has during a semester which is actually not contemplated in the calculation of the ECTS because when ECTS are calculated for a subject, there is not a real perception of the time it takes students to achieve the objectives of the course.

On the other hand, a misperception of this term has been the excuse to regulate all the academic evaluation systems and introduce, for example phrases such as:

“Bologna makes lectures mandatory”
“There has to be a continuous evaluation the students’ work”.

This statements conclude in obligatory assistance to every single lecture with sometimes no valid excuse and, once again, a misunderstanding between a “continuous evaluation” where the professor follows the students’ work and learning process and evaluates its progress and “evaluating continuously” or “massive evaluation”, where students face numerous evaluations in a very short period of time.

Students get frustrated because they lack time to reach all their obligations with each lecture and also, this causes a lack of time for self-development and personal issues.

SCL is one of the main pillars of the Bologna process event thought it has been developed lately. The essence of Bologna is a change in the learning-teaching system where students are more involved and are taken into consideration. ECTS were defined to take into consideration the workload of the students together with the workload of the professors.

Implementing SCL incorrectly makes not only students, but the whole academic community frustrated and stressed with the huge amount of work this supposes.

Solutions always go through making awareness and raining the academic community so that initially, legislators and regulators don’t misunderstand the concept and create unnecessary rules and further on, train and explain not only teachers but students what exactly SCL is about. In Spain it is a concept which rarely is known and used.