The text below is a summary of the research evidence on the impact of Individualised Instruction on the educational attainment of pupils in sub-Saharan Africa. It is an analysis of individual studies of individualised instruction on educational attainment in sub-Saharan Africa. The information here is valuable for African school leaders, administrators and policy makers, as well as parents who may be thinking of better ways to improve the educational attainment of their children.
Effective Basic Services (eBASE) Africa developed this summary using available research evidence while also taking into consideration prominent themes arising from key informant interviews (KII) and focus group discussions (FGD), particularly FGD with teachers and students. The research evidence in this summary is acquired from a detailed and replicable search protocol used on a wide range – listed below – of research databases for related studies in low- and middle-income countries in general and sub-Saharan Africa in particular.
Definition of the strand
Individualised instruction involves different tasks for each learner and support at the individual level. It is based on the idea that all learners have different needs, and that therefore an approach that is personally tailored particularly in terms of the activities that pupils undertake and the pace at which they progress through the curriculum will be more effective. Different methods of carrying out individualised instruction have been applied, especially in mathematics. More recently, digital technologies have been employed to facilitate individual activities and feedback. (Higgins, et al., 2016).
Why is this strand important?
Individualised instruction has customarily been viewed as a crucial characteristic for special education practices to be effective, so much so that it has been viewed as the defining feature of special education. This is likely due to the belief that students come with different demands, with students usually at different levels cognitively. This strand is therefore important as it provides an evidence base on how educators can meet the special needs of students to ensure that no one is left behind.
Summary of research in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA)
Individualised instruction is disparately used in schools across SSA. However, very few studies have been conducted to determine the effects of individualised instruction on improving student outcomes in selected subjects. These studies were conducted, mostly carried out in Nigeria.
In a quasi-experimental study that targeted first year senior secondary biology students in Oyo town and Ibadan city, Nigeria, Yusuf & Afolabi (2010) examined the effects of computer-assisted instruction on the performance of secondary school students in biology. Looking at students exposed to individualised computer-assisted instruction (ICAI), cooperative computer assisted instruction (CCAI), and those exposed to conventional instruction, the study found that students who were exposed to CCAI performed better than those exposed to ICAI, and those in ICAI and CCAI outperformed their peers undergoing conventional instruction.
In a similar quasi-experimental study carried out in Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue State Nigeria, Nwaololo et al. (2019) probed the comparative effects of using individualised and cooperative video-based instructional strategies on secondary school students’ achievement in Biology among 84 Senior Secondary School I students. Findings were similar to that of Yusuf & Afolabi (2010) with individualised and cooperative video-based instructional strategies proving effective for improving student achievement, with a cooperative video base instructional strategy being more effective.
Following a quasi-experimental study in the Ebonyi state of Nigeria, Udi (2018) compared the effects of Individualised Instructional Strategy (IIS), Cooperative Learning Instructional Strategy (CLIS), and Lecture method on senior secondary school students’ academic achievement in Organic Chemistry. Using the Learning Activity Package Manual (LAPM), Cooperative Learning Instructional Manual (CLIM), Chemistry Achievement Test on Organic Chemistry (CATOC) and a sample of 602 SS2 students, the study revealed that both IIS and CLIS significantly enhanced students’ achievement in Organic Chemistry better than the regular lecture method, with CLIS being more effective than IIS.
In a similar context, Awofala et al (2013), investigated the relative effectiveness of framing and team assisted individualised (TAI) instructional strategies on the attitudes toward mathematics of 350 senior secondary school year two Nigerian students. When compared to standard practice, TAI and framing strategies were found to be more effective in promoting students’ achievement and attitude toward mathematics.
A personalized print-based instruction as a form of individualised instruction has also been shown to improve students’ attitudes toward mathematics word problems, self-efficacy, and achievement, when compared to a control of non-print-based instruction (Akinsola & Awofala, 2009; Awofala, 2014). To improve students’ performance in particular subjects, most of the authors recommend a combination of individualised instruction with some form of cooperative learning strategy, as both have been shown to be effective.
In SSA, there is a lack of evidence on individualised instruction, although a number of quasi-experimental studies have been carried out in Nigeria. These studies from Nigeria all highlight a positive effect of individualised instructions over standard classroom teaching methods. Some of these studies went further to determine students’ attitudes to mathematics, with findings indicating a positive effect.
There was however, a downside to individualised learning when compared to cooperative learning techniques, with the latter proving more effective in improving learning outcomes.
This said, challenges to implementation were highlighted in some of these studies, such as the extra cost the school incur when adopting individualised instruction strategies. In addition, studies that highlighted the use of cooperative computer-assisted instruction noted the lack of computers in many schools that forced researchers to carry out purposeful sampling of schools, based on the availability of computers.
Impact, Security, and Cost of Local Evidence
The available evidence from mostly quasi experimental studies suggest strong positive effects of individualized instruction on attainment. Nevertheless, the evidence is very limited and there is a need for high quality and rigorously conducted RCTs in different countries within the continent to further enlighten policymakers and practitioners on the impact (positive or negative) or lack thereof of individualized instruction strategies.
The cost of implementing individualized instruction in the Lake Chad basin is likely to be moderate.
Individualised instruction, tailored instruction, personalized instruction, and self-paced instruction
Taylor and Francis
Akinsola, M. K., & Awofala, A. O. (2009). Effect of personalization of instruction on students’ achievement and self-efficacy in mathematics word problems. International Journal of Mathematical Education in Science and Technology, 40(3), 389 – 404.
Awofala, A. O. (2014). Examining personalisation of instruction, attitudes toward and achievement in mathematics word problems among Nigerian senior secondary school students. International Journal of Education in Mathematics, Science and Technology, 2(4), 273 – 288.
Awofala, A. O., Arigbabu, A. A., & Awofala, A. A. (2013). Effects of Framing and Team Assisted Individualised Instructional Strategies on Senior Secondary School Students’ Attitudes toward Mathematics. Acta Didactica Napocensia, 6(1), 1 – 22.
Higgins, S., Katsipataki, M., Villanueva-Aguilera, A., Coleman, R., Henderson, P., Major, L., … Mason, D. (2016). The Sutton Trust-Education Endowment Foundation Teaching and Learning Toolkit. Durham Research Online, 56.
Nwaokolo, B., Adejoh, M. J., & Okwara, O. K. (2019). Comparative Effects of Individualized and Cooperative video-Based Instructional Strategies on Secondary School Students’ Achievement in Biology in Makurdi Metropolis, Benue State, Nigeria. International Journal of Social Science And Human Research, 02(01 November, 2019), 01 – 07.
Udu, D. A. (2018). Comparative Effects of Individualised and Cooperative Learning Instructional Strategies on Senior Secondary School Students’ Academic Achievement in Organic Chemistry. The Electronic Journal for Research in Science & Mathematics Education, 22(2).
Yusuf, M. O., & Afolabi, A. O. (2010). Effects of Computer Assisted Instruction (CAI) on Secondary School Students’ Performance in Biology. Turkish Online Journal of Educational Technology-TOJET, 9(1), 62 – 69.