I feel as though student centered classes can be effective, but also ineffective at the same time. For me, I believe that student led lectures allow students to become more creative and learn more about themselves and their peers while learning the lesson. They must come up with a way to incorporate their purpose for the class with the curriculum of the class. In this way, they develop creativity and traits that they may have left untouched without doing a student led lecture.
However, I also believe that student led lectures can lead to insufficient information and detail. Students are, after all, students and not masters of the subject to the extent that most teachers are. Therefore, with student-centered classes, it is more difficult for students to absorb all of the important and significant information from the subject. However, when teachers also participate in the student led lectures, it helps to reinforce the material as the teachers are able to pick up on things that the students do not know as much about or completely missed.
Without instructions and directions, students will have free reign over what they want to do in a student-centered class. This may lead to chaos and mayhem, which was evident in my class last year. In AP European History last year, my instructor, Mr. Kral, assigned us a project at the end of the year to present any topic of interest in a creative way. However, as these were the only few instructions and there were infrequent routine checks throughout the project process, some groups had difficulty keeping presentations appropriate and informative. This led to them having difficulties towards the end of the year with their grades.
Obviously, student led lectures can be effective without instructions as well. For instance, in my AP Chem class this year, we will be assigned to make soap using any chemicals or substances that we feel is suitable for the soap. Therefore, we will be applying all of the knowledge that we have accumulated over the years for a laboratory experiment.
I believe that student led lectures and classes can be effective as a reinforcing tool. I think that these student led activities should be used after the material has already been thoroughly taught. As a review mechanism, student-centered classes can be extremely effective as they help the student to think about the whole picture and everything that they have learned. Nevertheless, some bounding instructions are still required to keep the students from going off topic, and it is always important for an instructor to help correct and add onto what students have in order to gain the most from the lecture.