Student-Centered, Open Learning Environments: Research, Theory, and Practice

  • Michael J. HannafinEmail author
  • Janette R. Hill
  • Susan M. Land
  • Eunbae Lee


New learning environment designs and frameworks have emerged that are consistent with constructivist-inspired views of learning. Collectively, student-centered, open learning ­environments provide contexts wherein the individual determines learning goals, learning means, or both the learning goals and means. The individual may also establish and pursue individual learning goals with few or no external boundaries as typical during spontaneous, self-initiated learning from the Web. The approaches represent fundamentally different learning and design paradigms and philosophies. However, student or self-directed learning has been criticized for lacking compelling evidence to document effectiveness. As new models emerge and technologies develop, we need to both document evidence that supports and challenges student-centered approaches and refine our approaches to designing effective environments. This chapter provides an overview and critical analysis of student-centered learning, and proposes directions for advancing needed research, theory, and practice.


Student-centered learning Self-directed learning Problem-based learning Open learning environments 



We gratefully acknowledge the support and contributions of our numerous colleagues, collaborators, and coauthors who have shaped both the ideas and contributed to the scholarship upon which this chapter is based.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael J. Hannafin
    • 1
    Email author
  • Janette R. Hill
    • 2
  • Susan M. Land
    • 3
  • Eunbae Lee
    • 1
  1. 1.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  2. 2.University of GeorgiaAthensUSA
  3. 3.Pennsylvania State UniversityUniversity ParkUSA

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