Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity

American Institutes for Research (AIR) conducted this study as part of the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative’s initial cycle of research. The team at AIR worked alongside fellow scholars, educators, and policymakers to investigate the impact of specific student-centered practices and then translate their findings for cross-sector audiences.

AIR’s final report, Learning with Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity, and accompanying resources below represent their work over the past two years as they examined the impact of collaboration on learners in student-centered classrooms and how that impact varied by race and ethnicity.

Research Questions
  • What are the relationships among opportunities for collaboration, classroom experiences, and outcomes, particularly for students who identify as Black?
  • To what extent do students have opportunities to participate in high-quality collaborative learning experiences?
  • What contextual, school-level factors do teachers identify as helping or hindering their ability to provide opportunities for high-quality collaboration in diverse, student-centered classrooms?
Key Findings
  • Classrooms reflect society — for students to collaborate successfully in problem-solving, teachers must attend to status differences in the classroom.
  • Personalization shouldn’t require isolation. Students often learn the best and can learn the most when they work with peers to solve problems and develop projects. Well-designed group activities allow individual students to name and grow their unique interests and skillsets.

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

Explore the Full Report

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The executive summary for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity gives an overview of the study design, research questions, key findings, and implications.

Access the Executive Summary

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

Members of the AIR team reflect on their findings and possible implications for the field in these blog posts featured on Education Week‘s Learning Deeply column.

“Are We at Risk of Creating a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Personalization?”

Personalized learning is all about meeting the needs of the individual learner—and new research suggests that means more than students learning on their own.

Read On

“The Opportunity to Learn With Others: A Question of Equity”

Many personalized learning models equate personalized learning with individual learning, emphasizing the use of technology to customize learning activities to students’ individual needs. However, these approaches often ignore the reality that for many students, the opportunity for social support and exchange while they are learning is necessary for them to stay engaged, grasp and refine their understanding of concepts, and feel sufficiently challenged.

Read On

According to a new report from American Institutes for Research (AIR) and JFF’s Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative, “to truly personalize, we must recognize that students vary in their needs for social support and exchange.” But how can we effectively meet those needs in the classroom? In this webinar, the Research Collaborative and AIR dig into their new research on personalization, collaboration, and equity—and the implications for teacher practice.

Access the Slides

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The technical appendix for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity contains material that further explains the design of the study.

Access the Technical Appendix

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The study measures document for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity includes copies of the instruments used in this study, including the student survey, teacher survey, classroom observation rubric, student focus group protocol, and teacher interview protocol.

Access the Study Measures

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The student survey construct map for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity shows the student survey items that can be used as item sets to measure desired underlying constructs as indicated. For a copy of the student survey instrument please, see the study measures. To obtain information regarding the technical properties of the student survey item sets, please refer to the technical appendix.

Access the Student Survey Construct Map

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The teacher survey construct map for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity show the teacher survey items that can be used as item sets to measure desired underlying constructs as indicated. For a copy of the teacher survey instrument please, see the study measures. To obtain information regarding the technical properties of the teacher survey item sets, please refer to the technical appendix.

Access the Teacher Survey Construct Map

Final Report

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

Explore the Full Report

Executive Summary

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The executive summary for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity gives an overview of the study design, research questions, key findings, and implications.

Access the Executive Summary

Additional Insights

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

Members of the AIR team reflect on their findings and possible implications for the field in these blog posts featured on Education Week‘s Learning Deeply column.

“Are We at Risk of Creating a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Personalization?”

Personalized learning is all about meeting the needs of the individual learner—and new research suggests that means more than students learning on their own.

Read On

“The Opportunity to Learn With Others: A Question of Equity”

Many personalized learning models equate personalized learning with individual learning, emphasizing the use of technology to customize learning activities to students’ individual needs. However, these approaches often ignore the reality that for many students, the opportunity for social support and exchange while they are learning is necessary for them to stay engaged, grasp and refine their understanding of concepts, and feel sufficiently challenged.

Read On

Webinar: Diving into the Findings

According to a new report from American Institutes for Research (AIR) and JFF’s Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative, “to truly personalize, we must recognize that students vary in their needs for social support and exchange.” But how can we effectively meet those needs in the classroom? In this webinar, the Research Collaborative and AIR dig into their new research on personalization, collaboration, and equity—and the implications for teacher practice.

Access the Slides

Technical Appendix

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The technical appendix for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity contains material that further explains the design of the study.

Access the Technical Appendix

Study Measures

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The study measures document for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity includes copies of the instruments used in this study, including the student survey, teacher survey, classroom observation rubric, student focus group protocol, and teacher interview protocol.

Access the Study Measures

Student Survey Construct Map

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The student survey construct map for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity shows the student survey items that can be used as item sets to measure desired underlying constructs as indicated. For a copy of the student survey instrument please, see the study measures. To obtain information regarding the technical properties of the student survey item sets, please refer to the technical appendix.

Access the Student Survey Construct Map

Teacher Survey Construct Map

Personalized learning is often equated with individual learning using technology. Yet for many students, learning on their own may not effectively meet their needs. The aim of this study was to explore racial differences in experiences and benefits associated with collaboration.

The teacher survey construct map for Learning With Others: A Study Exploring the Relationship Between Collaboration, Personalization, and Equity show the teacher survey items that can be used as item sets to measure desired underlying constructs as indicated. For a copy of the teacher survey instrument please, see the study measures. To obtain information regarding the technical properties of the teacher survey item sets, please refer to the technical appendix.

Access the Teacher Survey Construct Map

Funding for this study provided by the Nellie Mae Education Foundation.

Learn more about the Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative at sclresearchcollab.org.

Bridging the worlds of research, practice, and policy, JFF’s Student-Centered Learning Research Collaborative investigates student-centered approaches to improve outcomes for learners from all backgrounds, particularly those who have been marginalized or underserved by the current system. In our first cycle of funded research, our grantees looked at competency-based education, student agency, personalization, collaboration, and networked improvement communities.

Other Research Collaborative studies in this cycle include:

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