|Effective Educational Practices (IAE - IBE - UNESCO, 2000, 24 p.)|
A variety of instructional techniques adapting lessons to individual students and small groups raises achievement.
Adaptive instruction is an integrated diagnostic-prescriptive process that combines several of the preceding practices - tutoring, mastery and co-operative learning, and instruction in learning strategies - into a classroom management system to tailor instruction to individual and small-group needs. The achievement effects of adaptive programmes have been demonstrated. The broader effects of adaptive instruction are probably underestimated, since it aims at diverse ends that are difficult to measure, including student autonomy, intrinsic motivation, teacher and student choice and parental involvement.
In the classroom
Adaptive education requires implementation steps executed by a master teacher, including planning, time allocation, task delegation to aides and students, and quality control. Unlike most other practices, it is a comprehensive programme for the whole school day, rather than a single method that requires simple integration into one subject or into a single teacher's repertoire. Its focus on the individual student requires that barriers to learning are first diagnosed and then a plan developed to address those needs.
A student with special needs or experiencing academic difficulties becomes the shared responsibility of a team of teachers and specialists. Such an approach to education calls for teachers to develop a broad spectrum of teaching approaches, along with knowledge of when to use each of them most productively, and to co-ordinate their efforts with those of other professionals providing support to a student. Time and opportunity to do this are crucial for implementation of adaptive education.
Skilful professional management is required to integrate all aspects of the programme. For example, curricular co-ordination means more than a plan for the teaching of subject-matter skills and knowledge across grade levels as it applies to all students. Instead, it encompasses the relationship of that curriculum to the abilities and needs of each student. Consequently, central-office staff, principals and teachers need more than usual training to install and maintain adaptive programmes.
As goals for school become more clear and uniform, it should be increasingly possible to develop and employ systemic approaches, such as adaptive education.
References: Walberg & Haertel, 1997; Wang 1992; Wang, Haertel & Walberg, 1998; Wang, Oates & Whiteshew, 1995; Wang & Zollers, 1990; Waxman & Walberg, 1999.