Students Needs – Addressing the Needs of Individuality

Accommodating lessons to meet different Students needs:

     Students achieve at different levels and this must be taken into consideration by all teachers. Students differ in their knowledge, skills, motivations and predisposition’s towards what they are about to be taught. A teacher starting a new lesson can usually assume that some students already know a great deal about the lessons content, some know less but will master the content early on and others might not be able to master the content at all in the time given. Accommodating teaching to student differences and student needs is a fundamental problem in education. There have been several attempts to deal with these problems.

     Some countries attempt to deal with this problem by testing students around the age of 10 or 12 years old and then assign them to different types of schools, only one of which is meant to prepare students for higher education. These systems have long been under attack and are changing in some countries, but remain in others. Many other secondary schools allow students (with the counsellors) to choose the levels of their courses. Another method that is used is the formation of reading groups within a classroom that divide students into groups according to their level.

     The problem of student differences has even led to the suggestion of the use of complete individualized instruction, which has been demonstrated using programs and computer based instruction.

     A common technique used is mastery learning. The basic idea behind it is to make sure that all students have learned the skills that they need before moving onto the next level. It is based on the assumption that almost every student can learn the essential skills in a curriculum, and the teacher’s job is to provide the instruction necessary to make it come true. The biggest problem of mastery training is how to provide instructional time to students who need it. Students who failed to meet the pre-established criteria following a lesson were given extra corrective instruction until they could master the skills. It could be given outside of regular class time such as recess or after school.

Some ways to give individualized instruction:

* Peer tutoring: Students can help one another learn. There are two types of tutoring – cross age tutoring (an older student tutors a younger) and same age tutoring (a student tutors a class mate). The effects of peer tutoring have shown that this strategy increases the achievement in both the student tutoring and being tutored. In fact, tutoring can be more beneficial to the tutor and is sometimes used to help older underachieving students to perform better at their own subjects.

* Adult tutoring: This is one of the most effective instructional strategies known, and it essentially solves the problem of appropriate levels of instruction. However, the main draw back is cost. To get around this volunteer tutors are used. Those that are well supervised and have well-structured materials can have an effect on children’s performance.

Related Links

Educational Psychology
Good Teachers
Childhood Development & Education
Student Diversity
Effective Lessons
Achievement Anxiety
Learning Environments
Dealing with Misbehaviour
Testing Students