What Is Personalized Learning And Why Is It Important?
By Megan, IvyWise Tutoring Manager
Every student is different – including the ways in which they learn. Just like students should focus on fit when selecting colleges to which to apply, fit is also important when analyzing the best way to help students achieve their academic goals in the college prep process. This is where Personalized Learning comes into play.
According to United States National Education Technology Plan 2017, Personalized Learning “refers to the instructions in which the pace of learning and the instructional approach are optimized for the needs of each learner. The concept of ‘personal learning’ has re-emerged in the last 10 years as a way of creating inclusive education opportunities for students. While this is a newer concept for many areas of education, this has been something IvyWise Tutoring has been specializing in since our founding.
The premise for Personalized Learning is to create custom curriculum and learning objectives, based on the learning needs of each individual student. While this has begun being applied to academic learning across the K-12 spectrum and specifically on a grand-scale platform by Mark Zuckerberg, the CEO of Facebook.
From an IvyWise Tutoring perspective, our programs are customized specifically for each student, ensuring all individual tutoring needs (academic and test prep) are met. Prior to developing an individualized tutoring plan, we conduct an in-depth consultation, as well as administer and evaluate diagnostic tests, in order to best assess students’ abilities and needs.
Let’s take a moment to analyze how curriculum design for college preparation can embody personalized learning by asking the following questions:
- How do our tutors implement personalized learning?
- What do we do regarding content density levels?
- When can students utilize our tutoring services?
- Where can students utilize our tutoring services?
Implementation of a Personalized Learning Experience
The first component of implementing personalized learning is getting to know your student and their educational background, interests, and academic/test prep goals. Having an understanding of where a student is coming from and where they want to go helps create a custom experience. Why? Distinguishing the student’s background and goals from past students allows our team to recognize that there is no ‘one size fits all’ for academic material retention and comprehension.
When it comes to test preparation, a core component needed to understand the background and current academic level of a student is their diagnostic test scores. Prior to beginning tutoring for a standardized test, we require our students to take a practice test in replicated test-like conditions. Encouraging our students to following the proctoring instructions mirroring those of the exam, we are able to acquire close portrayals of how they would perform under pressure.
Once we receive diagnostic scores, our Tutoring Manager reviews the scores to create a custom tutoring plan, called a Test Evaluation, evaluating scores, trends, pacing issues, and overall testing themes. From this Test Evaluation, tutors are able to review diagnostic scores and the Test Evaluation to have a strong profile view of what is needed for the student’s test preparation. From the tutor and Tutoring Manager’s analysis, we then recommend test prep or academic materials that are relevant to our student’s needs and send them to our student and their tutor to begin tutoring.
Recognizing & Modifying Content Density Level
An important component of fostering an environment of Personalized Learning is strategizing the content level to keep students motivated and engaged. Based on a student’s diagnostic score, tutors will customize their strategy and approach to match the starting point of the student. A student may come in as a novice in a certain section of the exam, perhaps Heart of Algebra on the SAT. Recognizing this, our tutor will start with the basics of Algebra and work on mastering easy and medium questions before starting to focus on the advanced levels or ‘hards’.
Learning on Your Time & Where You Want!
Having the flexibility with tutoring at home or on the go is important for personalized learning. Most of our students come to us with many different academic requirements, extracurricular activities and time commitments. With this being the case, it’s important for students to have the flexibility to choose when they would like tutoring, as well as having access to practice or prep materials outside of their sessions.
Tutoring sessions offered online give students the comfort of working from their own homes, while scheduling around all of these commitments. Our tutors offer additional supplemental work for students outside of their sessions or homework or enrichment purposes. One of these assigned outside materials could be a practice test, which we typically distribute to students after every 10 hours of tutoring in order to ensure they are making strides towards their goals.
No matter how to plan to reach your academic goals, it’s important to remember that test prep and tutoring is not “one size fits all.” Personalized Learning is a great approach that aims to optimize your abilities for academic and test success. In the end, make sure you are working towards your academic goals with materials and programs that work for you and your schedule.