What is Personalized Learning?

When we think of the term personalized learning, we think of making learning personal. This term refers to the model of learning which addresses various learning needs, interests, backgrounds, and individualism among students. This approach is like the “one size fits all” approach in education. As we know, the “one size fits all” approach strives to provide all students with the same type of instruction, assignments, and assessments with a slight modification from student to student.

Personalized learning is often referred to as student-centered learning as well. With that, the general goal is to make individual learning needs the primary consideration in important educational and instructional decisions, rather than what might be preferred or seemingly easier for teachers and schools. With personalized learning, the students are at the center of focus.

Of course, on the minds of all teachers, administrators, and school staff is pushing their students to reach their fullest potentials while still focusing on the data aspect of instruction. It is fundamental to drive the instruction. While incorporating student choice, interest, and style, data is a strong contributor in classroom development.

Benefits of Personalized Learning

In the Journal of Special Education Technology, there was a study done on the operational understanding of personalized learning in the classroom. The source states, “From an observational stance, there was a visible, omnipresent role of student self-regulation designed, built into, and consistently used throughout the personalized learning environments. Related to self-regulation, during the time of this study, all observed environments had a consistent use of classroom/system-level data; these data were transparent indicators of learner self-rated progress and effort. There was also a continual development and use of various protocols and strategies to help support both teacher and student decision-making in established personalized pathways in the learning process,” (Stahl and Carter). Thus, self-regulation among these types of learning environments helps students to behave and make decisions and produce positive results with doing so. When they are aware of their self-regulated processes, they are pushed towards more motivation to ultimately lead to higher success rates.

There are many benefits that can come from utilizing this learning model of personalized learning. One benefit is that it drives student engagement in the classroom. The environment becomes more dynamic and engaging when students are focusing on their own interests, choices, and motives, therefore driving academic achievement and personal growth. Especially in these current uncertain times we are all living in, educators that utilize technology are most likely able to engage students better as well. This might be done through videos, power point presentations, or even survey collections through various media platforms.

How to Personalize Student Learning in Your Class

Project-based learning is another approach that educators might wish to use to reach all learners. This could benefit students through also utilizing the personalized learning approach. Project-based learning is student-centered and allows teachers to tailor projects that take into consideration student interests, backgrounds, and needs.

Differentiated instruction is another element that comes to light with personalized learning, and it is another benefit to students. In Personalized learning, students are free to express their curiosity and put forth their best efforts. Their final products show their strengths rather than their weaknesses. This type of instruction is streamlined and creates a more positive, cultural environment for students to shine and continue pushing for overall success.

Additionally, with stronger engagement, PBLs, and differentiated instruction, students are likely to show more creativity as well. Even those that may not be as creative of thinkers will likely feel more comfortable to step outside the box and do so. There will be more respect in the classroom with each student’s individuality coming to light.

Studies show that students in a personalized learning environment improve their knowledge significantly. According to the Prodigy, there was a study done by the Gates Foundation and it states, “Using personalized learning to supplement math instruction substantially improved students’ test scores. The average scores of students in the study went from far below the national average to exceeding the national average, with researchers observing that: students attending [schools using personalized learning] made gains in math and reading over the last two years that are significantly greater than a virtual control group made up of similar students selected from comparable schools,” (Raudys, 2018). Thus, the conclusion that can be drawn from this is that when students feel more connected with their learning, for instance, math and reading instruction, they are pushed to higher levels to produce higher results. In this study the personalized learning model was used in place of the instruction itself and students performed way better.

In conclusion, personalized learning is an approach where the students are put first. It can provide advantages for both the educator and students. Nowadays, culturally diverse classrooms are something that do not come into the spotlight as much. With this approach, students can embrace and appreciate their cultures while feeling comfortable and confident doing so. This is an approach I have utilized in my own classroom and have enjoyed seeing the outcome among students. The amount of growth on a personal and academic level was very satisfying to see.


Basham, James D., Carter, Richard, Hall, Tracey and Stahl, William. (2016). An Operationalized Understanding of Personalized Learning. Journal of Special Education Technology 2016, Vol. 31(3) 126-136
Raudys, Justin. (2018). Seven Personalized Learning Strategies and Examples. The Prodigy. https://www.prodigygame.com/main-en/blog/personalized-learning

*Updated January, 2021