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Noel Enyedy, (310) 206-6271,
Dan Quinn, (517) 203-2940,

Brief finds Personalized Instruction is vaguely defined, isn't always boosting academic outcomes

EAST LANSING, Mich. (Nov. 24, 2014) – As schools increasingly look to tech-based Personalized Instruction for use in the classroom, a new policy brief cautions that the method doesn't always translate to clear improvements or cost savings – in large part because it lacks a clear definition.

"While Personalized Instruction may sound like a wholly positive method for use in our classrooms, educators and policymakers must be aware of the fact that it can cover diverse programs each of them implemented in diverse ways, that doesn't always translate into improved academic outcomes," said Daniel Quinn, executive director, Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The brief, written by Noel Enyedy, associate professor of education and information studies at the University of California-Los Angeles, is published by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

Enyedy cautions that without a clear definition of what Personalized Instruction is, policymakers and educators should be wary of advocacy promoting computerized instruction to an extent that oversteps the current research.

To better understand Personalized Instruction, Enyedy recommends:

  • Education policymakers should pursue an incremental path with technology.
  • Researchers develop a better vocabulary for technology in education and a better definition of Personalized Instruction.
  • Doing research on tech-based Personalized Instruction that focuses more on K-12 learning, something it currently lacks.

"We should pause before making a wholesale adoption of Personalized Instruction and weigh whether the outcomes justify the costs," said Enyedy.

Enyedy's review of the research found that students in blended learning classes – a mix of online and teacher-led courses – showed some improvements.

In his conclusion, he notes that there are many promising new models for how computers can be used to support learning, but we need to investigate how we're implementing technology to increase student outcomes.

Find the brief, Personalized Instruction: New Interest, Old Rhetoric, Limited Results – Time for a New Direction for Computer-mediated Learning, on the web at

This policy brief was produced by the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado Boulder with funding from the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice.

The brief can also be found on the NEPC website:

Noel Enyedy is an associate professor at the University of California-Los Angeles and Director of Research for the University Elementary School. His work explores how to use technology to spark and support productive conversations in classrooms.

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The mission of the Great Lakes Center for Education Research and Practice is to support and disseminate high quality research and reviews of research for the purpose of informing education policy and to develop research-based resources for use by those who advocate for education reform.

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