Reader's Forum: Pushing the student-centered envelope: A corporate meeting-style approach

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Dale Ward, Kansai University; Liz Wade, Corporate trainer; Andrew Dowling, Ritsumeikan University

This paper advocates a student-centered approach in which students teach an entire class with minimal instructor intervention. The roots of the approach come from corporate training and business skills classes which attempt to maximize learner involvement, and have been welcomed by corporate skills trainers, ESL teachers, and students.
This method uses a business meeting model in which students take turns acting as group chair, and, armed with a lesson outline provided by the instructor and a guide to appropriate chair language, conduct the whole lesson with minimal instructor involvement but with the instructor generally giving constructive feedback after the session. It is the group chairperson who maintains the pace and direction of the lesson by directing group work, and encouraging and focusing the energy of the class.
The method celebrates the efficacy of transferring control to learners by negotiating curricula, requiring the instructor to engage in considerable self-monitoring and reflection.