New approach to Personalised Learning

End of Drill and Kill approach


As well as being the distinguished Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, Joseph Renzulli is Director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. His research has focused, in particular, on strength-based assessment, the identification and development of creativity and giftedness in young people, and models for personalised learning. A focus of his work, crucially, has been on applying the pedagogy of gifted education to the improvement of learning for all students. His most recent work is a computer-based assessment of student strengths and a teacher-planning tool integrated with an Internet based search engine that matches highly challenging enrichment activities and resources to individual student profiles and teacher selected curricular topics. Personalised learning means different things to different people and in the UK sadly it  seems to have slipped off the agenda and has now  morphed in to how you  can use ICT to support student learning. (give students an i-pad and that’s them sorted)

The story begins a few decades ago with Joe Renzulli, PhD., and Sally Ries, PhD., education researchers who pioneered influential new models to describe student learning. Their research centred on how personalisation and differentiation—constructed around a student’s interests, learning styles, and expression styles—inspire learning. The Renzulli Learning System is the culmination of these years of research, and if you are a fan of student-centred, personalised, project-centred and uplifting pedagogy, read on to see how we use the Renzulli model to make learning truly personal.

A student’s first experience with Renzulli Learning is with the Renzulli Profiler, a detailed online questionnaire that allows the Renzulli software to generate a personal profile of each student’s top interests, learning styles, and expression styles, making it easier for teachers to get to know their students and effectively differentiate instruction. Once a profile is generated, students and teachers may use it to guide their exploration of the 40,000 online educational resources in the Renzulli database. Students can engage in self-directed learning by exploring safe, fully-vetted resources that have been specifically matched to their individual profiles, and teachers can browse the database of resources to find activities that align to specific objectives, skills, or state and Common Core Standards.

Within Renzulli Learning, teachers can give assignments that help students to:

To support Common Core and state standards success Renzulli Learning can be used to have students:

Analyze informational texts, argue and defend a point of view

Research and draw information from multiple sources

Use mathematics to describe and solve real-world problems

Demonstrate deeper learning through projects and tasks

The resources in the Renzulli Learning System place a strong emphasis on the problem-solving, creativity, and critical thinking skills that are often neglected in a “drill-and-kill” environment. This helps ensure that learners are equipped for university (College) and career ready while developing the thinking and reasoning skills that prepare them for state and Common Core assessments.

Renzulli believes that an engaged student is more likely to invest in learning and that building a curriculum around student strengths empowers teachers to make a difference in the lives of their students. The Renzulli Learning System aims to allow students to apply, deepen, and extend their learning so that, in the words of Joe Renzulli, there is “no child left bored.”

My guess is that at some stage soon  in the UK we shall  revisit  personalised learning   and seek to redefine the concept  and accept that its not just our most disadvantaged pupils that have special education  needs, in our one size fits all system of learning .


Joseph S. Renzulli is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, where he also serves as director of the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented


Renzulli, J.S. (1978). What Makes Giftedness? Reexamining a Definition. Phi Delta Kappan, 60(3), 180-184, 261.

Renzulli, J.S. (1994). Schools for talent development: A practical plan for total school improvement. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press.

Renzulli, J.S., & Reis, S.M. (1985). The schoolwide enrichment model: A comprehensive plan for educational excellence. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s