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When I go to a buffet, I oftentimes will get dessert before anything. I would be sad if a buffet were set up in a linear way—you could only get entrees after appetizers and no fruit is allowed until the end of the meal. Personalized eating paths are the heart of a pleasant buffet experience, and personalized learning paths can be a huge part of learning experiences that promote student engagement. Every student is different, they learn things at different paces, and they show mastery differently. We all know this. What’s held us back has been the administrative overhead of supporting 30 different students on 30 different paths.

John Hattie’s groundbreaking research on learning effect sizes shows us that personalized learning has a huge impact on student achievement. There are many ways for teachers to do this and Canvas includes some unique features to support it:

Activity: Acceleration

It’s a simple idea: Allowing advanced students to work ahead rather than being bored in class helps them learn and achieve more during the school year.

The Canvas Way: Modules

Modules enable teachers to organize course content by weeks, units, or other organizational structures. Teachers create their own flow, linear or otherwise, requiring students to review materials or complete assignments in a predetermined order. 

Bryan Davis, a curriculum specialist in the Santa Ana Unified School District (California), spoke about the need to embrace this strategy and gave a personal example: “If your pace is beyond the pace that I’m setting in this kind of traditional classroom, I don’t want to hold you back from accelerating. One student in particular really latched onto that, and I was challenged to try and keep up with her. And so Canvas gave us that communication. I’m not even teaching this lesson until a month out, and she’s already accomplished those tasks. She read the material, she did the assignments, she watched the videos based on the playlist, and succeeded.”

Activity: Mastery Learning

By identifying students’ knowledge gaps with pre- and post-assessments, then targeting those gaps, teachers can provide remediation or advancement based on the individual needs of each student.

The Canvas Way: Modules, MasteryPaths

In addition to Modules, which allow for multiple attempts, the Canvas-exclusive MasteryPaths feature enables teachers to create customized learning paths with differentiated assignments designed to help students fill knowledge gaps according to their individual needs.

Using Canvas tools to promote student engagement is the icing on the personalized buffet cake.

To learn more, check out our white paper: "Evidence-Based Ways to Improve Student Achievement with Hattie & Canvas".

Keep Learning,

Dorin Shen
Sr. Product Strategist of K-12 Product Strategy, Instructure