Student-centered learning: context needed


Six scholars provide their perspectives in response to Lee and Hannafin’s (Educational Technology Research and Development 64: 707–734, 2016) article describing the Own It, Learn It, Share It design framework. The framework combines constructivist, constructionist, and self-determination theories to address student-centered learning.


Student-centered learning is an integral component of course design that increases student engagement and student ownership of their learning. However, student success requires more than simply assuming a student-centered approach. In Lee and Hannafin (2016)’s article, A design framework for enhancing engagement in student-centered learning: own it, learn it, and share it, the authors propose a design framework that intersects constructivist, constructionist, and self-determination theories to address student-centered learning. The resulting framework is three parts. First, Own It involves students developing ownership over the process and achieving personally meaningful learning goals. Second, Learn It, students learn autonomously through metacognitive, procedural, conceptual, and strategic scaffolding. And lastly, Share It, when students generate artifacts aimed at authentic audiences beyond the classroom assessment. Perhaps the most valuable contribution from this article are the ten discrete design guidelines for the instructional design process.

In the shift to digital, Lee and Hannafin (2016)’s discussion about autonomy is especially useful in that designers are cautioned when incorporating the notion of it. Specifically, that autonomy is not synonymous with independence, but rather involves how self-determination reflects one’s will. In a time of major disruption, learners may find their own ability to evoke actions voluntarily to address external expectations, rules and pressures, especially difficult.

Six scholars offered a critique of the article. Wong brings an international perspective by encouraging careful consideration of cultural differences with each component in the framework. Tabor offers a policy perspective highlighting the importance of teacher training and a focused effort on studies conducted on the success of shifting to online, student-centered learning especially since online learning may persist, or possibly, increase. In addition to providing her own research experience with the shift to digital, Gu offers a design perspective that proposes additional considerations for making the framework more useful across the ten guidelines by including descriptive, practical examples illustrating their use. Baird puts the framework to use, from the practice perspective, by applying it as a blueprint to a flexible assignment designed to promote intrinsic motivation and engagement. Cheng offers a theoretical and practical perspective by recognizing the framework as soundly designed, while noting the challenges of the framework as a time-consuming, general approach rather than an efficient, customizable approach needed in times of restricted resources. Edyburn provides a research perspective encouraging replication studies of the model to better understand how the model can be applied in a variety of contexts.


  1. Lee, E., & Hannafin, M. J. (2016). A design framework for enhancing engagement in student-centered learning: Own it, learn it, and share it. Educational Technology Research and Development, 64(4), 707–734.

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Correspondence to Gwendolyn M. Morel.

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One of the authors of this article, Dr. Michael J. Hannafin, passed away in 2020. Dr. Hannafin was not only an author, but also a past editor for the ETR&D Research Section for many years. He will be greatly missed.

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Morel, G.M. Student-centered learning: context needed. Education Tech Research Dev (2021).

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  • Design framework
  • Shift to digital
  • Student-centered learning