No two persons are born exactly alike; but each differs from the other in natural endowments, one being suited for one occupation and the other for another.’
Plato said this almost 2000 years ago.
Individual differences is a subject area in modern psychology and it refers to the psychological differences among people and their similarities.
Education aims at enabling each student to attain development according to his attributes. For this, suitable assistance and guidance should be provided to them considering their abilities as well as requirements.
Every student is a unique individual having a completely different personality. Teachers have to face a huge variety of individual differences in the classroom out of which the most prominent are gender, intelligence, learning capability, background, culture, religion, motivation and interest. These differences are mostly recognized and distributed among the following four categories:
· Learning Style.
· Emotional Intelligence.
For effective learning, the teacher is the one who has to keep all these differences in mind while teaching a class and then work out the methods and means to address their academic needs. For this, diversified resources can be used to cater for the students’ individual needs.
Generally, the following three methods are used worldwide to deal with individual differences among students:
1. Multiple Events of Instruction:
In this strategy, the teacher conveys the different content to each student. All the students are working on a different task at the same time. Slow learners are guided more as compared to the good ones. This definitely increases the teacher’s responsibility to an incredible level.
He/She has to handle multiple intelligence simultaneously. But mostly this kind of medium is not supported by a great number of educationists.
Moreover, the biggest drawback this strategy has is that the students having a low learning profile can get many benefits from this policy but the students with a high-level of skills and abilities find it quite devastating for them. It hardly gives them the boost they are in need of. It is also called the learner-centred approach.
2.Between-Class Ability Group:
This method is used to make groups of different students having the same calibre or standard of learning within one class. There are several groups working in the same grade or class but these groups are assigned different tasks or classwork or even the homework. It also depends solely on the teacher. If the teacher is a well experienced one, capable to handle a diverse number of groups at the same time, then it can get easy to attain ultimate goals but otherwise, it can prove to be a disaster.
3. Class Grouping:
One major thing about this method is that it does not lie on the teacher’s authority, but the school administrators. This method refers to making different class groups pertaining to students’ learning differences. The students are already classified before they start learning. The whole class is formed based on a typical category of aptitude. They have to go through a testing procedure first. After judging their aptitude and capabilities they are given admission to the classes allocated for them.
This makes it quite easy for the teachers to go along with the students or work on them in a single way because the same kind of work or effort has been done in the class.
Whatever ways or means are adopted to tackle the students’ individual differences, few things should be assured before implementing them in the classroom.
Firstly, it should be confirmed either such diversity exists in the environment because it’s not possible to apply the first method everywhere successfully, as it needs a very highly qualified and trained teacher for the achievement of the goals.
Also, more than one teacher might be needed for this purpose. Though it would affect the school’s budget, it’s really worth the cost.
But to put all in a nutshell, much research and training are required regardless of which method is used to handle students’ individual differences.