Implementation of Personalized Learning in a New Charter School

Emily Cowart

Abstract


Personalized Learning (PL) is an educational approach that tailors instruction to the academic needs of each student. Most research on PL focuses on student achievement, technology, and implementation challenges. Little research has been conducted on the actual practices that teachers use to personalize instruction and on students’ and teachers’ feelings about being in a school that implements PL. I conducted a case study at a recently opened rural elementary charter school in the southern United States, which was implementing PL schoolwide. After attending a professional development workshop on PL hosted by the State Department of Education, I conducted classroom observations in a first-grade and a fifth/sixth-grade classroom. I interviewed the teachers of these classes, the school principal, and three students. Three themes emerged from my analysis of this material, relating to student engagement, teacher behaviors and dispositions, and student outcomes. Overall, I concluded that PL is not a quick or easy transition for a school to make, nor does it involve just changing the curriculum to individualize instruction for students. Personalized Learning requires an adaption of teacher and student mindsets and the development of a school culture that fosters both academic and social-emotional growth among the students.


Keywords


teaching; personalized learning; charter school

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.15273/jue.v11i3.11241

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The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Karen McGarry.

ISSN 2369-8721