It is well known that all people study differently. Someone enjoys reading textbooks and delving into abstract concepts, while someone finds real cases more productive and strives to gain hands-on experience.
Of course, it is easiest of all to create 30+ classes and treat all learners in the same way. Professors usually try to save time and school budgets, tailor curricular for some “average” student not taking into account individual needs, motivations, strengths, and weaknesses. But with this approach, some young people usually lag behind their peers, while others absorb knowledge faster. Failing students get harsh criticism from teachers and lose learning enthusiasm.
Even though opponents claim that personalized learning is a superfluous luxury unreasonable from economic point of view, in fact, this system is an indispensable condition for teachers to develop each learner’s talents. Therefore, it is important for educational institutions to adopt efficient and economical strategies for implementing individualized instruction.
In this article, experts from Pro-Papers have analyzed the main methods used by educators to compile unique academic routes for all students and lead them to success.
#1. Project-based Learning
In the framework of the traditional educational system, students read textbooks, listen to lectures, and perform academic assignments. They do not always understand what for all this routine is needed, do not think about preparing for exams until the last moment, study unwillingly, fulfill professors’ commands just to avoid punishment and not because they want to know more.
Projects set intermediary goals in front of learners, make the educational process dynamic and engaging, show how theoretical knowledge may be applied in practice. Professors ask questions, pose challenges and hypothetical problems. Young people should study a topic profoundly to find a solution, use different resources: read textbooks, conduct online research, or even consult specialists.
When evaluating students’ work, an emphasis is placed on their efforts, perseverance, and creativity rather than a final result. A teacher may suggest ways to improve young people’ performance, provide extra help and the most suitable course materials, develop individualized tasks and learning models to ensure better knowledge absorbing.
#2. Different Information Processing Styles
Most students do not like writing, think that essays, reports, reviews and other academic tasks are dull and useless. At the same time, literacy and the ability to maintain written correspondence are very important for career building and everyday life. As a compromise, educational institutions may offer students different ways to express thoughts on paper. For example, young people may create personal blogs, post mixed content (text + images), write poems, etc.
Sometimes, it is possible to cope without writing at all. Auditory learners prefer recording professors’ explanations, listening to audio books, and performing with oral reports in front of a class. Visual learners take advantage of educational videos, presentations, find it more interesting to conduct an experiment in a lab instead of reading about it in a textbook.
#3. New Classroom Design
What do most people imagine when talking about a traditional classroom? Rows of desks facing a professor and a blackboard. This is a teacher-centered model not taking into account the needs and peculiarities of different groups of learners. It is difficult for some young people to sit still, listen to a lecturer, and take notes for long. That is why a learning environment should provide more opportunities for movement and frequent change of academic activities.
The advocates of personalized learning often use round tables. Students can work in groups, discuss interesting problems, and hold brainstorming sessions. Multimedia projectors, smart desks and boards are increasingly popular. A professor may track each learner’s work and correct mistakes, show bright and interesting content to a whole class.
Virtual reality headsets are rather expensive and available in a limited number of educational institutions. However, experts claim that this technology will soon acquire mass character, just like it happened with personal computers which are now used in any school or university.
VR expands the borders of a physical classroom, allows learners to visit any place, travel to any epoch. It is easy to walk on a Moon surface or conduct a dangerous experiment without risking people’s lives. Programmers can create amazing digital universes and grant unforgettable learning experiences to students.
#4. Personalized Learning Plans
It is not an uncommon situation when some young people submit assignments ahead of schedule, while their peers complain that deadlines are too tough or a task is too complex. The fact that all students should reach a certain level of proficiency in a discipline does not mean that all they should stick to the same route. There are many paths and turns they may choose to get to an ultimate goal.
Of course, it is rather challenging for educators to compile customized curricula for each person. But time and resources would not be spent in vain. There will be no lagging students if everyone fills in knowledge gaps in a timely manner, before getting poor marks or failing exams.
Professors should strive to know young people better, collect information on their achievements and goals, consult parents and other teachers, distinguish patterns and methods which turned out to be efficient in the past, and adjust personal strategies when improvement is possible.
Mentorship is one of the most productive approaches in individualized instruction. One-on-one communication allows to ensure that a professor and one’s mentee are on the same page, that a young person understands all incoming information and enjoys the learning process. Teacher-student meetings should be held regularly so that educators stay updated on learners’ progress.
#5. Individualized Assessment
Standardized tests and pass/fail exams have drawbacks. Professors usually compare students with classmates or norms set by an academic community. Some persons lose enthusiasm after failing to comply with strict requirements. It is much more reasonable to assess each learner’s individual advancement. One may not be the best student in a class, but small victories should be noticed and celebrated. Teachers’ compliments inspire young people to work harder and reach new self-development levels.