Teachers' perceptions of instructional differentiation to cater for student diversity

Year: 2004

Author: Smith, Susen, Robinson, Greg, Arthur-Kelly, Michael, Morgan, Philip

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Primary school classrooms today are exemplified by student diversity and instructional differentiation has evolved as one approach to address diversity. Instructional differentiation entails providing a variety of instructional approaches and resources based on the needs of the individual student within a variety of learning contexts. When academic-engagement occurs this suggests students are benefiting from the instructional approaches utilised. Academic-engagement involves students being fully immersed in the learning process by responding academically. This presentation reports an investigation into the relationship between instructional differentiation, academic-engagement and student diversity in the primary classroom. A questionnaire was developed to examine regular classroom teachers' perceptions of usage of instructional approaches in their literacy blocks for students with low-, average- and high-reading ability. Specifically, teachers' perceptions of instruction in preparation, grouping, catering for diversity, research-based literacy, motivational and engagement approaches, and catering for individual student needs were analysed. This pilot study was undertaken with the teaching staff in one NSW primary school. Some results of this exploratory study will be reported here and some implications for the next phase of the study will be provided. The survey questionnaire complemented a multiple-method PhD study which also involved observations of classroom practice, interviews and the examinations of students' reading outcomes.