Differentiated Instruction Research Proposal

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Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom

Students in the classroom have varied abilities and learn at varying rates which makes differentiation of instruction a practice that supports the learning of all students. This work explores what differentiation of instruction is and what it is not with a particular focus on differentiated instruction in the science classroom.

Most teachers currently use the direct instruction approach and not all students are on the same level so achievement is not up to standards for all students.

The use of direct instruction in science classes doesn't allow adequate learning for all students.

The purpose of this project is to....determine the relationship between measures of student achievements in science classes in grades 9-12 and implementation of differentiated instruction over a period of 1 semester.


The significance of this study is to determine the relationship between measures of student achievements in science classes in grades 9-12 and implementation of differentiated instruction over a period of 1 semester.


1) Differentiated Instruction: This is a "broad term that refers to a variety of classroom practices that accommodate differences in students' learning styles, interests, prior knowledge, socialization needs, and comfort zones. On the secondary level, it involves a balance between the content and competencies expected on the mandated assessments and various pedagogical options to maximize durable learning." (Benjamin, 2002)


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The work of Saldanha (2007) entitled; "Differentiated Instruction in Science" reports a study in which thirty five students participated that addressed the question of "Differentiated Instruction in Science: What is the effect of student achievement in science and their attitude toward it?" (Saldanha, 2007) the students in this study additionally "shared their feelings towards the different strategies in the instruction of science used by the high school science teacher." (Saldanha, 2007)

Research Proposal on Differentiated Instruction Assignment

Differentiated instruction is stated to be "a teaching approach in which educational content, process, and product are adapted according to student readiness, interest, and learning profile." However differentiated instruction "unlike individualized instruction, in which teaching must be directed to the specific needs and skills of each individual student, differentiated instruction addresses the needs of student clusters." (Education World Professional Development Strategy of the Week; as cited in Saldanha, 2007) Saldanha states that differentiation is "tailoring instruction to meet individual needs..." And this includes differentiation of "content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction." (Saldanha, 2007)

There is "no recipe for differentiation" but instead is directly related to the professionalism of the teacher and is a "way of thinking about teaching and learning that values the individual and can be translated into classroom practice in many ways. To reach the needs of all students' differentiated instruction is becoming more typical in all classes from kindergarten through grade twelve." (Saldanha, 2007) According to Tomlinson (1999) the teacher needs to "make these accommodations for each student as they cannot modify themselves to fit the curriculum." (Saldanha, 2007)

According to Willis and Mann (2000) Differentiated instruction is teaching philosophy based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction to student differences. Rather than marching students through the curriculum." The work of Deighton (2006) relates that learning style utilization is a sound beginning toward differentiation of instruction and that it "increased attention to teaching methods and elevated professionalism. As well, the use of learning styles "increased [the teacher's] connection with students." (Saldanha, 2007) the work of Gaffey (2006) states that "...knowing students personally and guiding them through academics was a good way to teach effectively." (as cited in: Saldanha, 2007)

Gaffey reports that the study results indicate "that it is imperative to gain insight into variables that contribute to students. Such information can transform an ordinary classroom into an environment that taps into individual learning potential. The value of this study has resulted in a closer teacher-student bond, a dynamic classroom environment, and a greater sense of how students learn.. Results showed that, although differentiated instruction may take extra time and effort, it had a positive impact on student learning." (2006; as cited in: Saldanha, 2007)

The study reported by Saldanha (2007) reports having conducted one group posttest design test that compared student's achievement under there conditions:

1) Traditional text;

2) Differentiation of content;

3) by topic choice;

4) Differentiation of process by activity choice; and 5) Differentiation of product by product choice. (Saldanha, 2007)

Additionally, the students' attitude toward differentiation of instruction in science was compared in a search for a change in the student's attitudes during the progression of the semester. The hypothesis stated in this study was that the achievement scores in science of students would improve due to differentiation of instruction. Also stated as a hypothesis in this study is that the students' attitudes toward science learning would improve..." And that the "ESL students and low ability students will benefit from this instruction." (Saldanha, 2007)

Differentiation of content "refers to a change in the material being learned by a student." (Saldanha, 2007) Differentiation of process refers to the way in which a student accesses material." (Saldanha, 2007) Saldanha report that the study included tiered assignments and that students worked in team identifying and writing chemical formulas and composing original examples." (Saldanha, 2007)

Baum and Nicols (2007) state that there are four keys differentiation are:

1) I should know my students (and myself as a teacher);

2) I should know my curriculum;

3) I will develop a repertoire of strategies for effective differentiation; and 4) I will keep it simple, start slowly and be social. (as cited in: Saldanha, 2007)

Differentiated instruction is stated by Benjamin (2002) to be "a practice that grows out of certain values. That is, the way we treat out students, design our curriculum, and establish rules depends upon what we think is important." Differentiated instruction also results "from certain habits of mind about teaching and learning. These habits of mind enable the teacher to be flexible..." (Benjamin, 2002) the teacher in the differentiated classroom is stated by Benjamin to "revise and reflect" and to "encourage lots of student talk." The teacher in the differentiated classroom also:

offers choices and alternatives;

believes in reading

States "this reminds me of";

Is interested and curious about learning in general;

Values diversity;

Is aware of the networks, systems, and organization of knowledge;

Practices professionalism; and Understand the cumulative nature of knowledge. (Benjamin, 2002)

Benjamin (2002) states that critical thinking skills can be categorized in several ways including those as follows:

comparison and contrast;

Connecting cause and effect;

Going from the generality to the specific, and back to the generality;

Justifying an assertion;

Understanding your organization: arrangements, categories, subordination;

Description; and Evaluating against criteria. (Benjamin, 2002)

The work of Mary Doran Brown (nd) entitled: "Differentiated Elementary Science Instruction" states that there are "three modes of differentiation: (1) content; (2) process; and (3) product. Brown additionally states that "whole class instruction is not part of a differentiated classroom." (nd) Brown states that the two factors of assessment and instruction "are inseparable in a differentiated classroom." (nd)

Differentiation is also stated to by synonymous with "individualized instruction."

Also factors in planning differentiated instruction are:

1) Readiness;

2) Interest; and 3) Learning profile. (Brown, nd)

Differentiated instruction acknowledges the fact that children "come in different shapes and sizes. They also differ in interest, readiness levels, and learning profiles." (Brown, nd) Brown notes the work of Carol Ann Tomlinson (1995) who states that differentiation of instruction in mixed ability classrooms requires that the teacher:

Be clear on the key concepts and generalization that give meaning and structure to the topic;

Ensure that lessons for all students emphasize critical thinking;

Ensure that lessons for all students are engaging;

Ensures that a there is a balance between students selected and teacher assigned tasks and working arrangements. (Brown, nd)

Brown (nd) states drivers of instruction are those as follows:

products and work samples;

Standardized tests;


Every pupil response;

Writing prompts;

Exit cards;


Paper/Pencil tests; and Drawings related to the topic. (Brown, nd)

Students are able in the differentiated learning process to make sense of content through the following inputs:

interactive journals;

tiered assignments;

Learning centers;


Anchor activities. (Brown, nd)

Brown states that the input of differentiated learning or how the students demonstrate their learning and their abilities are through the following:

Product presentation uses varied modes of expression, materials, technologies;

Advanced assignments that require higher order thinking skills;

Evaluation by self and others; and Authentic assessment. (Brown, nd)

Three levels of structure science inquiry are stated by Brown (nd) to include the following:

1) Structured;

2) Guided; and 3) Open. (Brown, nd)

Guided science inquiry is stated by Brown (nd) to include:

1) Students provided materials and problem to investigate, and students compose their own procedures; and 2) Teacher facilitates and encourages student generated questions. (Brown, nd)

The following sample differentiated science lessons are stated by Brown (nd):

1) Structured Inquiry: Students are given testable question and verbal procedures -a re… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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