Using the Gibbs Reflective Cycle I have chosen to reflect about Personalising Learning.
Step 1 (Description): Personalised Learning is a concept I have tried to emulate in my own practice over the past 10 weeks. In Design and Visual Communication (DVC) I have implemented a student driven project that focuses on the students developing the content and ideas. The project allows for students interests and fosters engagement in their own learning (DfES, 2014). Personalised learning pathways allows for students to work collaboratively with others to shape and have control of their learning (Prain et al., 2013).
Step 2 (Feelings): I have been trying to implement a personalised “authentic” learning approach into the coursework by allowing students to develop their own projects and pathways. The biggest challenge has been the specific assessment based tasks. The focus on assessment based tasks took away from the personalised learning approach. Leadbeater ((2005, 2005) as cited in Bolstad et al., 2012) states that personalising learning enables success through motivation. When students were working on set tasks their motivation waned significantly from what it was when they were exploring their own content and ideas.
Step 3 (Evaluation): Allowing for student voice and vision enabled students to bring their interests into the learning. The most challenging part for the students was developing their own ideas. Once students overcame the challenges of thinking like an ‘innovator’ they were able to see success in their own ideas. To support the learners, as a teacher and facilitator I needed to scaffold the process in a more succinct manner. An area I am still developing is co-constructing the Learning Intentions and Success Criteria with the students. As the project has progressed the students have become more au fait with this process. This also allowed for students to have full ownership over what success would look like.
Step 4 (Analysis): On review, the type of personalised learning in my classroom would be considered more shallow (simple) personalisation, where I have tried to allow for personalisation within the constraints of the curriculum and coursework (Bolstad et al., 2012). The authentic learning underpinning the implementation was to ensure that students were passionate and engaged in what they were working on and that it was relevant to them. However, the authentic learning didn’t involve the wider community outside of the classroom. Students did work collaboratively to produce real life ideas and needs. But the learning would still fall in “the shallow expression of practice…” (Bolstad et al., 2012, p. 49).
Step 5 (Conclusion): The driving factor was developing student engagement through an authentic project. But were the students really engaged? And how do I measure engagement? Almarode (as cited in Schwartz, 2016) states that there are eight different qualities that can indicate whether students are engaged in a lesson. Having at least three of the characteristics present in a lesson will enable students to have higher levels of engagement.
How well did the project develop engagement?
- The project allowed for personalisation, but was it enough to sustain high levels of engagement?
- Expectations were modelled, however, additional scaffolding was needed…
- There were opportunities for collaboration, class discussion and critique
- The project allowed for authentic outcomes
Step 6 (Action Plan): The four points above were evident within the project, however, they were not necessarily happening in every lesson. Ensuring that at least three of the qualities are integrated into the planning for each lesson in future should enable students to have higher levels of engagement. As well as ensuring students are engaged in the learning, more personalisation is needed, students need to be able to work at their own pace through activities (Bolstad et al., 2012). As well as having more opportunities and flexibility around content, coursework and outcomes.
Bolstad, R., Gilbert, J., McDowall, S., Bull, A., Boyd, S., & Hipkins, R. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching — a New Zealand perspective. Report prepared for the Ministry of Education. Retrieved from https://www.educationcounts.govt.nz/publications/schooling/109306
Department for Education and Skills (DfES). (2004). A national conversation about personalised learning. Nottingham: DfES. Retrieved from http://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/DfES%200919%20200MIG186.pdf
Finlay, L. (2009). Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from http://www.open.ac.uk/opencetl/sites/www.open.ac.uk.opencetl/files/files/ecms/web-content/Finlay-(2008)-Reflecting-on-reflective-practice-PBPL-paper-52.pdf
Prain, Vaughan, Cox, Peter, Deed, Craig, Dorman, Jeffrey, Edwards, Debra, Farrelly, Cathleen, . . . Yager, Zali. (2013). Personalised Learning: Lessons to Be Learnt. British Educational Research Journal, 39(4), 654-676.
Schwartz, K. (2016, December 9). How To Ensure Students Are Actively Engaged and Not Just Compliant [Web log message]. Retrieved from https://www.kqed.org