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Personalized Learning Paths

location_on Vantaa, Finland

A method for personalized learning and teaching in large student groups

This teaching method allows learning to be individualized according to each student's strengths, tendencies and temperaments, while they continue to work collaboratively in a social context.

HundrED 2019
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Overview

HundrED has selected this innovation to

HundrED 2019

HundrED 2018

Finland 100

2009

Established

-

Children/users

1

Countries
Organisation
Not-for-profit
Updated
November 22nd, 2022
Personalized learning is one of the most significant trends in education and pedagogy at the moment
Pekka Peura, teacher

About the innovation

What is Personalized Learning Paths?

Personalized learning is a teaching ideology, a Finnish version of the internationally renowned concept of reversed, or 'flipped' learning. It provides a theoretical framework for how each and every learner can be treated as an individual at a practical level, despite schools often having large and heterogeneous classes.

The model takes into account the key conditions of learning, such as the motivation of the student and the associated feelings of autonomy, ability and relevance of the learning.

The personalized learning model uses practical tools to help students gain more ownership of their learning. The aim is to increase motivation and commitment to learning, acknowledging that the students themselves often have a stronger understanding of what they are capable of and what drives them to succeed. An individual learning path and the associated self assessment is key to this. 

The idea of ​​individual learning is easiest to implement when one class teacher works with the same group of students throughout the academic year. Classes have multiple teachers, particularly in different subjects and in large schools, so long-term and deep-seated learning strategies require close co-operation between teachers.

The biggest challenges for personalized learning come from the current institutional culture of schools and from how teaching is organized. The curriculum-based model introduces subjects individually for a short period, two to three times a week.

Setting goals and receiving feedback are essential parts of the learning process. The learning path is a concrete, visualized and easily understandable list of goals designed to guide students from their current level of knowledge towards a higher level of competence. Self-assessment and peer-review, coupled with the learning path, help the student to better understand their own skills and increases their sense of autonomy and ownership in learning.

Pekka Peura began to develop the practical application of the teaching methodology and its theoretical model in 2009, giving high school students a seven week study assignment instead of shorter learning objectives. This proved to be a good practice for both fast and slower learners.

 

Impact & scalability

Impact & Scalability

Innovativeness

The method improves learning motivation, self-knowledge and learning outcomes by reorganizing instruction within the teacher's working hours.

Impact

Improved learning skills and school satisfaction can increase well-being outside of school as well.

Scalability

The method is easily applicable in different environments and subjects without significant financial resources.

Steps

Before the learning period
Plan a sufficiently extensive and flexibile learning path for a learning unit, that the students can follow according to their individual and natural learning pace.

The Learning path is created to guide students through their studies by presenting the tasks and goals of the learning unit on paper or digitally. It is intended to increase students' self-guidance and sense of autonomy. At the same time, it acts as a learning diary to facilitate observations of the learning progress.

"Sufficiently extensive" is a relative concept and depends on the age of the learner and the subject being taught. For high school students, it may mean, for example, a length of one period, which is about seven weeks. In primary school one week may suffice.

To facilitate for collaborative learning, arrange the classroom so that students can easily interact with each other. For example, desks can be set up opposite each other as workstations for 4-6 people. This is essential to facilitate communication and interaction of all kinds, through which we can build a sense of social cohesion.

Plan the evaluation practices
Learning objectives must be flexible so that they are scaled to the different abilities of the learners in each subject.

The evaluation practices must be planned carefully. Evaluation practices are an important factor for the learners' behavior, so a guiding and encouraging assessment of their goals should be prioritized, rather than concentrating on grades.

During the first lesson
Introduce the learning path, learning objectives, and evaluation practices of the learning period.

Divide your students into groups and do team building exercises to support a sense of togetherness.

Instruct students to try to do the first assignments in a small group and ask for assistance from the teacher if needed. First, it is advisable to choose easy "entrance assignments" that will help you learn more about the learning style than the contents of that subject.

During the first weeks
You can arrange lessons that everyone takes part in, but be sure to allow everyone the possibility for self-paced learning.

Give yourself time to go around the classroom to teach those that need help in the subjects that they have questions about. In this way the teacher has time to advise students personally and in small groups. Continuous personal interaction with learners facilitates a deeper understanding of the student's weaknesses and strengths. This enables teaching and guidance to be tailored more individually.

Learning at different paces allows the fastest learners to move forward quickly, as they do not have to wait for learning permission. At the same time, the teacher will have more time to support slower learners without a sense of urgency.

During the learning period
Support ownership of learning. It can help student motivation and commitment to give students the responsibility to decide on their own learning pace and how they demonstrate their skills to the teacher.

Support mastery learning. With regard to long-term learning, it is important that the student does not rush too fast in their studies, but rather has enough time to learn the basics.

At the end of the learning period
Arrange evaluation discussions with students. Evaluation discussions are a very good practice in supporting students’ learning, encouraging and creating a good relationship of trust.

Regular one-on-one discussions can be used to go through the individual goals of the learners, and at the same time learners have the opportunity to describe their own views on their knowledge and studying skills. This will give them the feeling that they are being heard, and they also have the power to decide on their own learning, hence on their future.

In addition to the evaluation discussion, a traditional test may be organized, but it can also be based on self-evaluation and it may not necessarily be taken into account in determining grades.

One practice is to organize a "mock test" instead of a final exam or a course test, with the aim of developing the learner's understanding of their skills. A mock test is an ordinary course test, but the learner themself checks and at the same time evaluates their level of expertise. The teacher does not grade it, nor does the learner get a grade based on it.

When a course test is based on self-evaluation, the teacher does not have to supervise it, but can simultaneously conduct evaluation discussions. With this arrangement, the teacher is able to arrange evaluation discussions within normal working hours.

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