How do we know self-pacing works?

We have the data to prove it!

Our first year, we did not implement self-pacing until our second semester - we just didn’t think of it until then. At the end of that school year, we realized we had an excellent source of data in our students. They had all experienced traditional learning as well as self-pacing in our classroom for equal periods of time. While our students seemed to enjoy self-pacing, their survey responses shocked us!

Eighty-eight percent of our middle school students agreed with the statement, “Compared to whole class units, I ENJOY the self-paced units more.” And 89 percent agreed with the statement, “Compared to whole class units, I am LEARNING MORE working through the self-paced units at my own rate.”

Seventy percent of students said they learn more with self-pacing because they “have more time to understand the concepts” and 60% said their teacher was available more often to answer questions. Finally, 80% of students said they enjoyed self-pacing because “I can work faster or slower depending on how I feel each day.”

Test scores - another surprise

When we began self-pacing, Minnesota had not yet adopted NGSS and we used traditional tests and quizzes in our science classes. After our first self-paced unit, we were surprised when test scores in all classes jumped and students who typically scored poorly on tests did well. Thinking it could be an anomaly (but hoping it was not!) we continued to watch test scores for the remainder of the year.

At the end of the year, we compared average test scores for semester one (traditional learning) and semester two (self-paced learning). The tests did not change - we continued to use our traditional tests throughout the year. We were thrilled when test scores for all students were an average of 22 percent higher semester two with self-pacing.

We believe the most significant factor in increased comprehension with self-pacing is the students’ ability to slow down and study a concept until they understand it - not until the worksheet is due or the lab is over or the bell rings. Kids get to focus on that one topic until they really get it.

Our students are happier and more productive with self-pacing and so are we.