Personalizing learning with mobile technology in a secondary school in the Netherlands: Effects on students’ autonomy support, learning motivation and achievement

Abstract: Personalizing learning with technology in secondary schools is a way to empower students to take control of their learning. The more learners can direct their own learning experiences, including path, pace and instructional approach, the more they may learn what they want and need to learn. In a quasi-experimental design, data about the implementation and evaluation of three interventions in one secondary school in the Netherlands have been gathered with student questionnaires and regular exams. In these three interventions, each lasting one entire school year, teachers attempted to support their students’ autonomy in decisions during their learning process. Effects on students’ perceived autonomy support, learning motivation and their achievement have been examined. One intervention – the one with the highest scores on perceived autonomy support – shows small positive effects on students’ learning motivation and their achievement. Learner control over structural aspects of the curriculum, such as students’ autonomy to choose their tasks for practicing and reviewing and the way to complete them, is a possible effective way of designing personalizing learning in secondary education. In future research, more attention should be addressed to which combination of autonomy supportive activities might be effective. These effects might also be different for different student groups, based on, for example, their learning preferences and abilities.
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