Schools are customising education to individual abilities to improve learning outcomes
Creating a personalised learning environment in schools is more than just a novel approach to teaching and learning — this can bring out the best in each student. Education systems across the world are exploring ways to put pupils in the centre of learning to allow them to study at their own pace as well as improve student engagement in classrooms.
A unique study on personalised learning, conducted by RAND Corporation researchers for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, found that student-centric instruction can boost learner achievement. This approach, which focuses on customising learning based on student interests and areas of academic strength and weakness, has the potential to enhance learning outcome and engagement.
Realising its benefits, schools in the UAE have started adopting a variety of personalised learning strategies, tailoring instructions to address learning gaps and goals of each child.
“Fostering an environment for personalised learning is embedded into the very fabric of American School of Dubai (ASD),” says Sheryl Gruber, Middle School Principal and Incoming Associate Superintendent for Teaching and Learning.
“This is seen at all levels of the ASD educational experience. At the Early Learning Center, one will witness a Reggio Emilia-inspired play-based environment, where children have authentic opportunities to work, play, socialise and collaborate to make sense of their world. In the middle and high school, in addition to student choice being woven throughout the curriculum, there are times of the day reserved for personalisation.”
ASD’s Middle School Pursuits programme is an opportunity for students to engage deeply with their passions over the course of several weeks with a mixed grade level cohort. High school students personalise their learning each week during What I Need (WIN), where students choose their learning focus.
“At ASD, we continually strive to make the learning experience the best it can be for each and every student, according to their needs and their dreams.”
Meanwhile, German International School in Dubai (DISD) has specially created additional teaching positions for individualised learning of the German language in years 5 and 6.
“Treating students as individuals is one of the six pillars of our DISD mission statement. DISD students learn how to express themselves in a holistic and personalised way through sport, theatre, art, collaboration and multiple other ways,” says Principal Michael Lummel.
“We invited some of the most famous German authors of children and young adult literature to inspire our students. Non-German speakers at DISD are tutored by university volunteers in the inspiring “Speech Tandem” programme. At the same time, DISD has employed an additional school psychologist to alleviate the impact of the pandemic,” says Lummel.
Understanding that activity-based, interactive learning makes for an interesting experience for children, schools take unique measures to provide real life experiences in classrooms. Exploring creative teaching techniques and digital tools — interactive presentations, graphics and quizzes — schools are looking at ways to create engaging learning experience for students, especially for challenging subjects like maths and sciences.
“At Springdales School, Dubai, we recognise our students as 21st century learners who require a different approach to the schooling experience,” says Brian Gray, Principal.
“We work hard to help students see themselves as global leaders with the ability to influence the future. Springdalians are aware that education is crucial for future economic prosperity. And we know that our young people need the right skills to operate in an information-rich world.”
Technology plays a critical role in supporting the personalised instructional approaches and strategies.
Dove Green Private School uses a wide variety of learning apps and platforms to develop and support learning in the classroom. “We consider technology as a learning tool that enables each student to learn new things, develop learning strategies and reflect on the learning that has taken place,” says Patrick Affley, Principal. “Dove Green combines these learning platforms with differentiated activities tailored to the learning objectives of the lesson. Bespoke activities provide appropriate challenge and support for individual students to ensure they have the opportunity to consolidate and extend their subject knowledge.”
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