An evaluation of a general model for individualizing instruction
The purpose of this study was to develop, implement and assess the effectiveness of a general model for individualizing instruction in terms of its effects on: (i) students' academic achievement (ii) students' attitudes towards a subject (iii) teachers' attitudes towards students The need to develop a general model for individualizing instruction was deduced from an analysis of current models and procedures of individualization. The model is aimed at understanding individualized teaching and at the same time catering to individualized learning. Its purpose is to provide teachers with the opportunity to exercise their particular strengths in teaching and a chance to compensate in some way for their individual weaknesses and this without being prejudicial to the individual learner. The approach selected to achieve this purpose was to provide teachers with a flexible guide allowing them to design and administer individualized learning programmes according to their individual requirements, and above all according to the particular situations in which they are placed. An experiment was carried out in order to assess the effectiveness of the general model. The samples for the study consisted of 187 students and eight teachers in the fifth grade distributed in three Schools, in School District Number Thirteen, Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada. In a first step, the teachers in the experimental group were provided with appropriate training in the design and administration of an individualized learning programme according to the proposed general model. At the same time, the teachers in the control group were provided with a weekly seminar dealing with subjects related to the teaching-learning process in general. In a second step, the teachers in both the experimental and control groups administered their own instructional programmes; individualized learning programmes for the teachers in the experimental group and traditional instruction programmes for the teachers in the control group. Four major instruments were used to collect data for the study: a Mathematics achievement test developed by the Montreal Catholic School Commission; the Subject Perception Test Developed by the author; the Minnesota Teacher Attitude Inventory developed by Cook, Leed and Callis (1951); and the Teaching Strategies Inventory also developed by the author. The major findings of the study indicate that: (i) The Mathematics academic achievement of students who have been involved in individualized learning programmes designed according to the new general model proposed in this study is higher than that of students involved in more traditional programmes. (ii) The students who have been involved in individualized learning programmes designed according to the new general model have more positive attitudes towards Mathematics than the students involved in more traditional programmes. (iii) The teachers who have been involved in individualized learning programmes designed according to the new general model have more positive attitudes towards students than the teachers involved in more traditional programmes.