Facilitation theory, sometimes also called facilitative teaching, is a humanist approach to learning, developed during 1980s by an influential American psychologist Carl Rogers and other contributors and is best described in his own words:
Rogers' first significant area of interest was psychology and psychotherapy where since 1940s he started to apply a client-centered therapy which promotes trying to help or counsel the client viewing the problem through his eyes. In the second half of the 1960s he started to promote a similar approach for learning and the educational process. His starting beliefs were that people are by nature good and healthy and that every living creature strives to do best from his existence (the actualizing tendency).
In his works, Rogers addresses two kinds of learning3) introduced by earlier theorists4):
Rogers' theory therefore sees the teacher as the key role in the process of learning, but not as a walking textbook transmitting its contents, but as the facilitator of learning. The facilitation here occurs through the teacher's attitudes in his personal relationship with the students. Rogers suggests three attitudinal qualities necessary for facilitative practice (both in counseling and education). These so called core conditions are5):
Other tasks of teachers include establishing a pleasant atmosphere in the classroom and thereby facilitating learning and acquisition of new ideas by reducing possible negative effects of external factors. A facilitative teacher should also be open to new ideas, listen to students, pay as much attention to his relationship with the students as he does to the content he is teaching, encouraging learners to take responsibility for their learning and actions and to take self-evaluation as the highest form of evaluation. He should also use class feedback for further improvements.
Still, not all of the work during the educational process can be done by the teacher. Its effectiveness does depend on the learner as well. In order to contribute to their own learning, students should be:
If all the necessary conditions are satisfied,
Rogers' theory, as stated, has rather clear implementation goals, yet they are not always so easy to introduce to the classroom. Establishing a close contact with the students, getting to know them and offering them empathy and support requires a great amount of effort from teachers, who mostly ignore this side of educational process and orientate only on knowledge they are supposed to pass on to the students.
Some of Rogers' Advice for implementing the the core conditions are the following9):
Reported positive results of Rogers' theory in practice include: fewer disciplinary problems in the classroom, better knowledge and IQ test scores, usage of higher levels of thinking, fewer acts of vandalism, positive self-regard, increase in creativity and other.10)
Rogers' theory is criticized for similar reasons as other humanist theories: doubtable claim about the inherent human goodness, and willingness to learn.
Rogers, Carl R. The Interpersonal Relationship in the Facilitation of Learning. In Humanizing Education: The Person in the Process. Ed. T. Leeper. National Education Association, Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, p1-18. 1967.
Patterson, C. H. Carl Rogers and Humanistic Education. In Foundations for a Theory of Instruction and Educational Psychology, Chapter 5. Harper & Row, 1977.
Theories of learning: Holistic learning theory. Oxford Brookes University. Retrieved March 22, 2011.
Rogers, Carl R. Freedom to Learn: A View of What Education Might Become. Columbus, Ohio: Charles E. Merrill Publishing Company, 1969.
Smith, M. K. Carl Rogers and informal education, the encyclopaedia of informal education. 1997 - 2004.