Personalising mathematics and English learning in the middle years through co-teaching
Thomas, D and Muir, T and Emery, S, Personalising mathematics and English learning in the middle years through co-teaching, Book of abstract of the annual conference of the Australian Association for Research in Education Conference, 1-5 December 2019, QUT, Kelvin Grove Campus, Brisbane, pp. 683-684. (2019) [Non Refereed Conference Paper]
Personalised learning is a form of instruction that tailors teaching to individual student needs. It
has been described as a route to a more socially inclusive education system that engages students
as they view learning experiences as meaningfully aligned with their learning needs. Such goals
are important yet challenging to achieve, as enacting personalised approaches requires schools to
reconsider responsibilities, goals, constraints, learning needs, and roles of teachers and students
in educational contexts. It has been claimed that teachers can enact personalised approaches and
learn from each other when they work in teams rather than in isolation to cater for individual and
group needs. This paper outlines two Tasmanian case studies that sought to personalise learning
for middle years students through collaborative teacher practice in the core subjects of
mathematics and English.
The case studies employed design-based research (DBR) to investigate whether team-taught,
personalised approaches could make prescribed mathematics and literacy learning more
meaningful for middle years students. Both case studies were conducted in real educational
settings and involved a collaborative partnership between researchers and practitioners.
The first case study examines how teachers capitalised on mathematics test results to personalise
students’ mathematics learning. Students were provided with agency in their learning through
discussing their strengths and weaknesses as revealed by the tests, and then setting personal
goals for their mathematics learning. The Grade 5/6 teachers adopted a team approach to
planning and group instruction whereby they developed a sense of shared responsibility for the
whole cohort. The results showed that students were able to articulate purposeful mathematical
goals and were motivated to engage in mathematical experiences to help them achieve their
The second case study outlines what enabled and constrained a local curriculum innovation in
literacy that sought to personalise student learning and promote teacher collaboration. The results
showed that meaningful literacy learning was enabled by collaborative teacher planning of
learning tasks that catered for different levels of challenge. Increased student agency to select
tasks relevant to learning needs and opportunities for self-paced learning also enabled
meaningful literacy learning for the middle years’ students.
The findings from both case studies have implications for education researchers and schools
regarding the challenges and opportunities of attempts to enact personalised learning and coteaching in core curriculum areas within the current context.