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Aurora Institute

CBE Problems of Practice: Individualizing Learning

CompetencyWorks Blog

Author(s): Chris Sturgis

Issue(s): Issues in Practice, Learn Lessons from the Field

This is the fourth in a series on problems of practice. (Check out the articles on gradingattendance, and pace.) We are interested in hearing from readers about other problems of practice they’ve seen or are struggling with in implementation.

4. Defaulting to individual learning rather than cohorts of learners. Building on pace, quite a few districts have pushed for individual learning. It takes a very talented teacher to differentiate to this level; few are trained well to do so, few have received any training, and most are struggling. In fact, recent research suggests that collaboration brings valuable benefits to students and should be considered an important aspect of student-centered learning.

Neither personalized learning nor competency education requires all instruction to be individualized. In fact, individualizing learning may require teachers to organize the classroom in ways that are not optimizing learning. Remember, learning is a social process. Students can benefit from and add to the overall learning in the classroom when they work in teams and groups. Teachers can engage students in co-constructing performance criteria so they know when they have successfully reached their learning objective. Students can review each other’s work using these rubrics. Students can share with each other how they learned skills. Students can also benefit from creating a strong community of learners that work on projects at the same time.

Getting Implementation Right: Engage educators in meeting students where they are in ways that draw on the science of learning. This may include students knowing where they are in their learning, flexible grouping, goal-setting, and reflection to build stronger habits of success and lifelong learning skills. Ensure there is flex hour every day for students to access additional support as needed.

Read the Entire Series: