Individualized learning helps students on practicing self-imposed learning strategies while giving teachers full control to the learning pace and better assessment of students. Individualized learning tackles the students’ ability to solve problems on their own and analyze their way towards the acquisition of new knowledge. The individualized learning may also pose some problems and concerns towards learning. Barrows and Tamblyn (2012) pointed out that self-imposed learning focuses too much on practicality, which often result in students’ non-inclusion of basic theories. They also pointed out that it may cause inefficiency because the length of time spent may play a factor on how a student truly understands the lesson and problems presented. The system of individualized or self-imposed learning may have glaring weaknesses too, and the need for an organized curriculum may be very well in demand. This case study and situation analysis will either prove or disprove that individualized learning should be implemented in schools or not.
Bob is a first-year teacher assigned to a group of students taking math class. The program is based on advancing to different stages, wherein students have to finish a specific worksheet assigned to them before proceeding to another worksheet. Worksheets assigned to students gradually increase in difficulty, which is the basis for student assessment in truly understanding the lesson through proper application. Bob thought that the learning system in place made sense as he could deal with each of his students’ individual strengths and weaknesses. Bob’s students also felt delighted on how the whole math class is going. The students were more driven, focused, and encouraged to study on their own because of the incentives they can reap. However, the process would seem to get repetitive– problems within the class would begin to show. Some of Bob’s students could not keep pace with other students progressing very well in the class. Bob as a teacher having difficulties because there is no universal and specific problem being tackled in class, so he had to attend to individual concerns of his students within the time needed. After Bob undertook the worksheet passing strategy, the main effect of the strategy would then materialize. Majority of Bob’s students did not even learn from the past worksheet activity when he held another learning activity in the form of the game, a strategy that should interest students.
Bob implemented a kind of learning activity that entailed a different strategy. This conceptualization of math learning helped students become more self-reliant towards their respective learning approaches. It is like when you have to finish something that is on your plate first before you can proceed to the next one. It might be assumed that Bob had prepared a set of worksheets that variedly increases in difficulty. Such learning method and conceptualization are designed towards self-independence. The new conceptualization of learning implemented by Bob was results-oriented, because students drive themselves to perform better in order to attain the rewards for getting a better score.
Implementing individualized learning gives a positive approach, while offering a fresh perspective. However, some students might struggle to keep pace with the lesson and teachers may find it very disenchanting. Bob may also be facing difficulties on his own, as he has to manage and control his emotions while dealing with every first-grader in his class, all of which are young children. Adding to those difficulties in student management, and deskwork is that he has different sets of lesson-related problems he should attend to properly. The conceptualization applied for math class should work in Bob’s advantage because he can have more time to do his deskwork and put more time in assisting the students for their individual efforts. He had more time for the activities mentioned as he entertains queries from at least five students at a time. However, since the class session is limited, he does not have enough time to teach/re-teach the lesson in front of his students.
The situation of the class may show that the self-imposed learning lacks concentration in addressing the universal problem being tackled. For example, instead of addressing a specific area of concern in a lesson, the whole discussion would contain questions that might be vague, or might not be included in the lesson syllabus. Instead, the class lacked direction, which Bob sensed after he realized he was becoming more of a paper pusher than being a teacher. Furthermore, he was not able to attend to his pupils and track their respective progresses in a specific lesson. Since the whole lesson lacked proper syllabus and direction, it might be inferred that the objectives and goals were either meek or simply not met. It was evident when Bob expected that his students could answer the problems through a simple game. That specific learning strategy should work in favor of a healthy class discussion. However, it seemed that Bob’s students were either not learning or having problems with the lesson.
Bob’s situation presents a dilemma on the side of individualized learning. Therefore, it raises a question on whether conceptualization should be applied in individualized and practical-based methods of learning. For the students and teachers to realize the objective of learning and acquiring new skills, is it necessary to impose a different set of curriculum for each child? Conceptualization is important and critical towards development of curriculum for better implementation of learning strategies. Walker and Soltis (2009) pointed out that the conceptualization gives humans the capability to distinguish and analyze problems and situations around us, and it can help us answer different useful questions. Conceptualization would either be beneficial and detrimental on how we face different situations in life. Conceptualization also enables humans’ critical and practical side; other skills required in learning and the basis of acquiring and applying knowledge properly. By that logic, each child does not need to have their sets of curriculum – conceptualization may be included in applied studies without schools changing the universally set academic curriculum.
For that situation, Bob could have implemented other styles of teaching since he felt that he was not giving instructions to his students other than passing answered worksheets. He could have implemented the traditional way of teaching that includes lecturing and providing of handout materials for further study. Since conceptualization can be considered as a learning strategy, Bob could have used this technique to help his teaching methodologies. What students learn from their teacher is different from the curriculum organization and one’s aims, even though there is an interrelation between the two elements of learning (Walker and Soltis, 2009). Any method of learning could be experimented and fused, as long as the students are learning and acquiring new knowledge.
Barrows MD, H., & Tamblyn, BSCN, R. (1980). Problem-Based Learning: An Approach to Medical Education. Springer Publishing Company.
Walker, D., & Soltis, J. (2009). Conceptualization. In Curriculum and aims (5th ed., pp. 41-42). New York: Teachers College Press.