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Arkansas State University

What Is Personalized Learning?

The term “personalized learning” surfaces again and again in the educational community. Students enrolled in online Master of Science in Education in Educational Leadership programs will likely encounter this term often; however, for those who are not familiar with it, the term refers to the idea that there are multiple ways of learning new information, and that learning should be fluid enough to reach a wide array of learners. Because each student has individual needs, teachers must work with students to develop personalized curricula, lesson modifications, technological assistance or customized learning environments.

Here are some factors involved in the development of personalized learning approaches for students.

Learning Environment and Pedagogy

Some students prefer to work independently, while others prefer to work in a group. Some students need to hear new information to retain it, while others need to read it. Some students may be able to work in a noisy classroom, while others need a silent environment. With a personalized learning approach, teachers allow students to drive the process by identifying the environment and learning methods that work best for them as individuals.

Academic Strengths and Weaknesses and Setting Goals

It is important to assess a student’s academic strengths and weaknesses in order to build on strengths and to make modifications for weaker areas. Teachers then develop academic goals for each student based on his or her strengths and weaknesses; these goals include a map to success via clearly achievable steps as well as regular teacher assessment.

Motivations and Goals

As the conversation around personalized learning has continued, it has become popular to discuss a student’s personal motivations and goals before shaping his or her personalized learning approach. This produces a “learner profile” for each student, which details how students think they learn best, what they are interested in and what motivates them to succeed.

The Role of Technology

Because schools enroll a wide range of learners, technology can play a critical role in developing personalized learning for each student. Technology is especially helpful in leveling the playing field for special needs students and students who do not speak English as a primary language.

For those working toward a master’s in education, personalized learning, and how schools across the country utilize it, will become a familiar topic. Factors such as a student’s motivations, goals, optimal learning environment and strongest learning method are all important considerations when developing a personalized learning plan.

Learn about the A-State MSE in Educational Leadership program.


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