Learning models help educational institutions design and deliver learning experiences by providing a concrete framework. Schools, colleges, and universities design and deliver learning experiences using several learning models. The learning models adopted by educational organizations can be divided broadly into two categories – teacher-led and student-led.

Teacher-led learning models emphasize students following a preset syllabus and taking directions from a teacher. The teacher helps students understand a topic by giving lectures or making presentations. In addition, he promotes deep understanding by clearing students’ doubts and answering various questions. Hence, the commonly used learning model always keeps the teacher as the center of attention.

On the other hand, student-led learning models emphasize providing more autonomy to students. In a student-led learning environment, teachers help and guide students to understand a topic or concept. However, the new-age learning model allows students to complete the syllabus at their own pace. For instance, students can take additional time to master the syllabus or complete a project. Autonomy fosters lifelong learning by making students feel responsible.

As highlighted by several studies teacher-led learning is still more popular with educators than student-led learning. However, the number of educational institutions supporting student-led learning models has been growing steadily. We can understand the transition by discussing two important questions –how does student-led learning differ from teacher-led learning and what are the key advantages of student-led learning?

How does Student-Led Learning Differ from Teacher-Led Learning?

Centre of Attention

In a teacher-led learning environment, the teachers remain the center of attention. They help students understand topics and clear doubts. However, a teacher acts as a guide and mentor in the student-led learning environment. He helps students achieve learning goals and focuses on personalizing their learning experiences.

Learning Goals

Teachers set learning goals in a conventional learning environment. Students achieve these preset learning goals by attending lectures and submitting assignments. On the other hand, students set learning goals in a Student Centred Learning Approach. Teachers help students accomplish learning goals by identifying opportunities and overcoming barriers.

Learning Pace

In a student-led learning environment, students have to focus on preset syllabi and follow preset routines. Hence, they accept the learning pace set by teachers. However, student-led learning creates opportunities for students to learn at their own pace. Teachers monitor learner progress by acting as guides.


In a conventional classroom environment, students explain topics and clear doubts. However, students access content in various forms and formats in a student-led learning environment. They can understand a topic by watching videos, listening to audio, or reading eBooks. Likewise, they discuss topics with peers on online discussion forums.


In a teacher-led classroom, teachers monitor students’ progress by giving assignments. In addition, they evaluate learning progress by conducting tests. However, the student centered Learning Approach supports multiple learner progress monitoring methods – self-assessment, peer review, and expert review. A teacher helps students complete courses by sharing observations and insights.

Learning Path

Teachers set learning paths for students in a conventional learning environment. Each student has to complete courses by following the preset learning path. Students have to option to create their learning paths in a student-led environment. The teacher assists them in customizing and personalizing the learning paths according to their precise needs and abilities.


In a teacher-led classroom, students acquire knowledge in a calm and organized environment. However, Student Centred Learning Approach makes them acquire knowledge in a dynamic and busy environment. They share viewpoints and discuss ideas regularly with peers. Hence, student-led learning environments may appear calm or chaotic from time to time.


In a traditional environment, students acquire knowledge by interacting with teachers directly. Hence, the interactions result in a strong relationship between students and teachers. But student-led learning model makes students part of a team or community. Hence, they build and sustain relationships with peers. Teachers drive the process by focusing on team building or relationship nurturing.

What are the Key Advantages of Student-Led Learning?


The amount of time and effort required by students to master the same syllabus differ. Some students need more time to understand specific topics or complete assignments. The student-led learning model creates opportunities for each student to understand topics and master the syllabus in his own way. The additional time helps students understand a topic deeply before learning the next topic.

Learner Engagement

Student-led learning model emphasizes involving students in setting up classrooms and planning learning activities. Students collaborate with teachers to make important decisions like what to learn and when to learn. Active participation keeps students curious and engaged. The engagement boosts knowledge acquisition and retention in a classroom environment.

Learner Motivation

No teacher can drive knowledge retention and application without keeping students motivated. Students usually feel unmotivated when they lack options to customize learning activities and schedules. The student-led learning model motivates students by developing a sense of ownership. The sense of ownership improves students’ academic performances. Also, students submit assignments and projects on time when they feel motivated.

Critical Thinking

In a teacher-led learning environment, students acquire knowledge by interacting with teachers. In addition to listening to lectures or accessing presentations, they clear doubts by asking questions to the teacher. Hence, students lack opportunities to explore ideas and analyze information. Student-led learning fosters critical thinking by enabling students to solve problems and make decisions by considering various options.


Student Centred Learning Approach creates opportunities for learners to participate in the decision-making process actively. In addition to sharing their viewpoints, students discuss learning activities with teachers and peers. The chances to express themselves boost students’ communication skills. The improved communication skills enhance their career prospects in the future.


Most educational institutions these days boost learner engagement and learning experiences by supporting student-led learning. The statistics compiled by Google suggest that they adopt autonomous learning using technologies in classrooms. For instance, educators enable students to acquire knowledge at their own pace by implementing learning management systems (LMSs).

Likewise, they create opportunities for students to access multimedia content by implementing digital library software. Leading institutions further implement unified learning platforms that provide essential edtech tools and solutions as a bundle. The unified learning platforms help educators support teacher-led and student-led learning by facilitating blended learning implementation.