No Image Available


Read more from TrainingZone

googletag.cmd.push(function() { googletag.display(‘div-gpt-ad-1705321608055-0’); });

TrainingZONE Glossary: Learner-centred training


Learner-centred training (Also known as Problem-based training, Constructivism)


A philosophy or model of how we learn, which focusses on facilitating the learner's involvement in developing themselves. Learner-centred training has implications for the relationships between teacher and students, the design of learning experiences ('learner-centred design'), and the use of technology in education and training.

The importance of the active learner in the training process

Instructivism: Traditional education has been guided by the paradigm of 'instructivism' or didactic instruction, where learning is viewed as a process whereby a teacher transmits information to each individual student. The student 'passively receives' the information.

Constructivism: During the last decade Instructivism has been criticised, in part because, although each learner in a group receives the same instruction, the way they take on board the message will vary according to their motivation, attitude and previous experience. Under the newer paradigm of 'constructivism', the role of active engagement in learning is advocated. By constructing understanding and meaning, the learner interprets and acts upon the material being learnt and thereby produces a better understanding of the material (Lave, 1993). Under a Constructivist approach, design of learning experiences should include opportunities for learners to actively engage in their own learning.

Constructivism emphasises the fact that learning always takes place in a particular social and cultural context (Brown et al., 1989). It highlights the fact that learners are not individuals working in isolation, or solely in a one-to-one relationship with an instructor. Instead, they collaborate with others to become collaborative 'meaning-makers' among a group defined by common practices, language, use of tools, values and beliefs. This has implications for the design of learning experiences, which needs to take the collaborative dimension into account.

Use of Technology in Education and Training: Under the Instructivist paradigm, technology was seen as a tool of the teacher, to be used as an administrative aid, or (in such applications as Computer-Based Training (CBT)) as a means of undertaking repetitive teaching tasks such as rote learning and drill and practice.

In the past 10-15 years, the design of web-based learning experiences has become strongly influenced by Constructivism, with learning designs now reflecting its philosophy and the use of collaborative tools. The emphasis has shifted from merely using technology to assist the teacher to using it to facilitate the learning of the individual and the group, of which the teacher is part. User interface design in computing has focussed upon improving the ease with which ordinary people can use the computer as a communications tool for work and learning. As a result, there is now an important range of facilities available for instant use by the individual learner in collaborative learning situations: e.g. email, chat, instant messaging, and whiteboards.

(Feature links and definition supplied by Robin T Cox)

Feature articles on learner-centred training :

Lave, J. (1993): Understanding practice: perspectives on activity and context (Cambridge University Press).

Learner Centred Education - Donald A. Norman, James C. Spohrer (Apple Computer Inc.)

Constructivism - notes by Martin Briner.

Learner Centred Teaching Strategies - Niki Fardouly, University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

Designing Educational Media – Learner Centred Processes - Andrew Litchfield.

Brown, J.S. et al. (1989): Situated cognition and the culture of learning. Educational Researcher, Jan-Feb, 32-42.

Related resources:

The Learning Campus has a number of examples of learner-centred training in action.

Providers using a learner-centered approach in their work:

Coming shortly - e-mail us to list your company here.


Get the latest from TrainingZone.

Elevate your L&D expertise by subscribing to TrainingZone’s newsletter! Get curated insights, premium reports, and event updates from industry leaders.

Thank you!