Student-Centered Policy

REC Foundation Mission

The Robotics Education & Competition (REC) Foundation’s mission is to increase student interest and involvement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) by engaging students in hands-on, affordable, and sustainable robotics engineering programs. We believe that the student-centered model of learning is aligned with our mission and provides effective educational benefits to students. The REC Foundation student-centered policy should be frequently reviewed by organizations participating in REC Foundation events.

What is Student-Centered?

There are a variety of definitions for the term “student-centered” in the educational community, and the REC Foundation would like to communicate a definition for student-centered that will apply for teams that participate in any REC Foundation competition to increase the transparency of the expectations and increase the student learning opportunities. The term student-centered is encompassed in both the learning and application settings for REC Foundation events and activities:

  • Student-Centered Learning: Students are actively involved in learning opportunities to increase their knowledge and skills in the engineering design process, mechanical design, programming, and teamwork under the guidance of adult mentorship.
  • Student-Centered Application: Students have ownership on how their machine is designed, built, programmed, and utilized in gameplay with other teams and in standalone matches.

The REC Foundation acknowledges that students participating in official REC Foundation events come from a spectrum of educational backgrounds, and ultimately it is the responsibility of the adult to determine the appropriate amount of support for the individual student. Due to the competitive nature of these programs, teams may be tempted to prioritize winning over learning. We encourage adults to ask the following questions in each of your learning experiences with students to help gauge the appropriate amount of support for your students:

  • Am I teaching or telling?
  • Am I encouraging students to express their voice before sharing my thoughts?
  • Are the students asking for my assistance or are they able to be independent?
  • Are students able to use the knowledge or skills that I’m sharing independently in the future?

Ultimately, students learn the most when they are given opportunities to test their own ideas, fail, learn from those failures, and try again. Often in stressful or competitive situations, it may be easier or faster for an adult to solve the problem or fix a machine, but by doing so, the adult is missing a learning opportunity for a student. Instead, we encourage adults to provide guidance when needed to help educate students on the thinking behind problem solving rather than solving the problem. Adults can be a valuable resource to help students learn the skills they will need to work in a team and design machines. In the examples provided below, the role of the adult is primarily a facilitator for learning so that the student may apply the knowledge to their own machine, engineering notebook, game strategy, and communication with other teams.