Personalized Learning: What Does Research Say?
Increasingly, education is heading toward personalized learning for all students. In the past, gifted students and those students with special needs were the only ones to receive some personalized learning plan of some kind. Now, these programs are being expanded to reach out to all students. Research states many things about personalized learning, and it can make or break the future of education for many students.
Technology seems to be the most conventional method in which personalized learning is being achieved. Students will spend more time interacting with technology in this kind of situation, which will be a great avenue to open up one-on-one instruction time. However, research has indicated a concern with the lack of student-to-student interaction that will be lost during this one-on-one time being increased. Collaboration has proven to be a cornerstone of education in many countries that have successful students so it cannot be ignored or replaced without first being considered for its value.
As far as technology goes, some programs have proven to stand out among others in the arena of available tools for personalized learning. For example, some math programs are integrative and adaptive to the needs of each child using the program. These programs promote learning engagement and student motivation in ways that other models have failed to do so in previous years.
Some studies have spent lots of time focusing on research for these various types of technology and techniques regarding personalized learning. Schools that participated in the study have experienced positive effects as a result of using these technologies and techniques. Math, science, and reading scores have improved over the two years these schools took place in the study, too. Most of these scores are at or above national averages as well.
Unfortunately, there is not yet enough research to completely stand behind personalized learning. More research needs to be done to see if the funding costs will be worth the price for students to reap the benefits of personalized learning in a holistic way. Some of the concerns with this research being done are that it follows the standard model of research and development for typical classroom techniques to be investigated. The problem is that the processes being used in personalized learning follow modules and techniques that are not standard, so the research methods being used might not be the best ones to test what is happening in schools that are piloting many of these programs. In short, an improvement on test scores can only tell researchers so much information.
There are many upsides to personalized learning, though. Students are engaged and motivated to learn more, as stated previously. This situation occurs because learning situations are tailored to what students enjoy the most. Teachers can be more involved in making this process a reality, so long as too much technology is not involved. Projects can be made to pique student interest, making collaborative learning efforts all the more enhanced.
Another reason why personalized learning techniques might work over traditional teaching methods is the fact that the teacher-student role is somewhat reversed. Historically, teachers have been seen as leaders in the classroom, and students are meant to follow that lead completely. However, there is more autonomy given to students in a classroom that focus on personalized learning. Students no longer become a passive recipient of information because they are actively engaged and motivated, as stated previously, in the process all the more.
Though more research needs to be completed on the topic of personalized learning, it does not seem to be vanishing in the forefront of educational techniques any time soon. It should be considered as a viable method to be included in every classroom right alongside collaborative and other traditional learning methods.