Individualized instruction is an instructional method that personalizes instruction to the needs and learning style of the learner. This is done by varying the pace of instruction, the method of learning employed and the content to be learned. Often this is accomplished within the context of a larger group through the use of high-quality instructional materials and reduced lecture time. Individualized instruction is not the same as one-to-one instruction; it is simply varying the process to meet the needs of each individual learner in the group.
One of the ways individualized instruction tries to meet the needs of the learner is by varying the pace of instruction. By allowing learners to progress through content at their own pace, more knowledge is retained and less time is wasted. Individuals who are able to grasp a concept quickly are able to move on, while those who need more time to understand can take as much time as they need without pressure to match the pace of the group. This can mean that learners are at different levels in different subjects as well, progressing rapidly through subjects that involve areas of strength, and slower through those that require more effort.
Another way to personalize instruction using individualized instruction is through the use of carefully selected instructional materials. Individuals with different learning styles may use different materials to study similar content. Those who learn best through listening may use materials with a strong audio component, while visual learners may use a more traditional textbook, or materials with a video component. Computer-based instruction can be a good way to accomplish this, as it often uses a multimedia approach that is useful with a variety of learning styles. Some examples include features that allow text to be heard as well as seen for audio learners, and the incorporation of videos for the visual learner.
The quality of the instructional materials becomes extremely important when individualized instruction is being used. Materials need to be of exceptional quality, fully explaining the content to be learned. This allows the learner to move at his or her own pace more easily since he or she doesn't need to rely as much on explanations from lectures. It also frees much of the instructor's time from lectures so that he or she is able to spend most of the time monitoring learner's progress and assisting those who need it.
The use of individualized instruction can also meet individual learner needs by allowing content to be varied to a certain degree according to the interests and strengths of the learner. Once basic required content has been learned, individuals can be free to pursue additional learning within the subject according to their interests. Also learners with strengths in certain areas can spend extra time on them, and have them incorporated into other subject areas where possible.