This thorough analysis of the cognition and behavior of expert teachers in practice provides rich insights into the knowledge and constituent skills needed to be able to adapt instruction to student differences. Our empirical study is guided by the following research questions: (1) Which constituent skills are required for differentiated instruction? ABSTRACT Providing differentiated instruction (DI) is considered an important but complex teaching skill which many teachers have not mastered and feel unprepared for. By analyzing expert performance, we were able to capture the complexity of this task in practice, enabling us to design curricula and develop assessment instruments that truly relate to this practice. Given the complexity of differentiating in itself and the interrelatedness of a variety of aspects involved in quality differentiation, the question remains whether and, if so, how we can assess this complexity in an efficient manner within the reality of the school context. As is shown in Table 2, the first step involved collecting preliminary knowledge required for conducting the CTA and making an inventory of real-life tasks and classroom situations that require differentiation skills. The sixth category consists mainly of general teaching dimensions. 0000002263 00000 n Tomlinson and Imbeau (2010) have stated that “the core of the classroom practice of differentiation is the modification of four curriculum-related elements – content, process, product, and affect – which are based on three categories of student needs and variances – readiness, interest, and learning profile” (p. 15). cPresent at the expert meeting, but not observed. Two play a role during instruction: monitoring and diagnosing student progress, and adapting instruction and activities accordingly. The subject-matter knowledge base is developed first during formal teacher training and is later developed on the basis of in-service experience. by Robi Kronberg. This group of subject-matter experts included three school inspectors, four educational consultants, one teacher trainer, and two researchers. Factors like “teaching a multigrade class” or “many students with behavioral problems in class”, for example, were coded under the overarching complexity factor “group composition”. Differentiation skill hierarchy. Registered in England & Wales No. For each identified constituent skill, the question is always which skills are necessary for performing that particular skill (Van Merriënboer & Tjiam, 2013). The description of the constituent skills and their relations were, as decided upon in Step 2, represented in a skill hierarchy with “differentiation” on top. Assessing differentiation adequately will therefore require information from multiple sources, as well as much time and effort from skillful assessor(s). In order to design professional development activities, a thorough description of DI is required. We encourage educational researchers to conduct similar CTAs for other complex skills such as “ensuring a safe pedagogical climate” or “classroom management”. 0000001286 00000 n 0000003102 00000 n In this hierarchy, the relationship between the preparation of a lesson period, a lesson, the enactment of a lesson, and the lesson evaluation is essential for differentiating instruction during a lesson. (3) Which factors contribute to the complexity of differentiated instruction? 0000007594 00000 n “Meeting the needs of all learners” assumes that teachers “have an accurate view of students’ levels of understanding, and that they know which instruction and learning activity is appropriate for children at different levels, given the goal they strive for” (Deunk et al., 2015, p. 52). The CTA focused on the actions and reasoning of teachers exposed to real-life classroom situations requiring instructional differentiation. To identify the factors influencing the complexity of differentiation, the list of complexity factors developed during the first expert meeting was used as the starting point. The resulting differentiation skill hierarchy is presented here, together with the knowledge required for differentiation, and the factors influencing its complexity. As such, it would be desirable to design a professional development trajectory or redesign the teacher-training curriculum to enhance this skill in (beginning) teachers. The factors were grouped and reduced to five overarching complexity factors. Four chronological differentiation stages can be distinguished that are closely interrelated: A teacher prepares a lesson (Stage 2) based on the evaluation of the previous lesson (Stage 4) and based on his preparation of the lesson period1 (Stage 1). The skill hierarchy and required knowledge can be used in the development of a professional development trajectory or the redesign of teacher training curricula. Although the teacher deliberately planned instruction, (s)he stimulates students’ self-regulation towards meeting the goals and provides them with options and opportunities to choose from, but redirects when necessary. Register to receive personalised research and resources by email, An International Journal of Research, Policy and Practice, Capturing the complexity of differentiated instruction, Department of Teacher Development, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands, School of Health Professions Education, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, The wheel of competency assessment: Presenting quality criteria for competency assessment programs, The promise of differentiated instruction for enhancing the mathematical understandings of college students, Cognitive task analysis for expert-based instruction in healthcare, Measuring teachers’ perceptions about differentiated instruction: The DI-Quest instrument and model, Determining validity in qualitative inquiry, Teacher perceived difficulty in implementing differentiated instructional strategies in primary school, A rationale for differentiating instruction in the regular classroom, Student perceptions of the classroom environment: Actionable feedback to guide core instruction, Ability grouping and differentiated instruction in an era of data-driven decision making, Teachers’ instructional adaptations: A research synthesis, Readiness-based differentiation in primary school mathematics: Expert recommendations and teacher self-assessment, REACH: A framework for differentiating classroom instruction, Teaching to address diverse learning needs: Development and validation of a Differentiated Instruction Scale, Using focus groups in medical education research: AMEE Guide No. This is in line with the work of Parsons et al. Furthermore, several lesson observation schemes aimed at assessing whether a teacher applies specific differentiation strategies were reviewed (Tomlinson, Brimijoin, & Narvaez, 2008; Van de Grift et al., 2011; Van Tassel-Baska, Quek, & Feng, 2006). Differentiating by Giving Choices The best way to differentiate instruction is to give students a choice in how they show their learning. 0000000787 00000 n In practice, numerous combinations of complexity factors are present. Van der Vleuten (2016) states: “any single assessment method can never be perfect on all criteria and in reality assessment always involves a compromise” (p. 885). The relatively more specific constituent skills at lower levels enable the learning and performing of skills higher up in the hierarchy. The interviews were used for finding general themes and behavioral patterns mentioned by a sample of teachers. Furthermore, several complexity factors are strongly interrelated. This allowed us to obtain more insight into their differentiation approaches and strategies, their reasoning, and the constituent skills required for differentiating. Table 2 presents how the steps described by Clark et al. The classroom observations and individual interviews at this step are the same as those in Step 1. Characteristics of expert teachers at the time of the classroom observation. 0000001632 00000 n The first is referred to as curriculum: to enable differentiation, teachers should be subject-matter experts with sufficient pedagogical content knowledge, and they should be able to plan a sequence of learning tasks. Furthermore, lesson content, instruction material, and the applied math strategies align with previous instruction and/or school policy. Since differentiated instruction requires the adaptation to student differences, the assessor ideally should be able to evaluate whether observed adaptations meet the needs of different learners. Next to analyzing student work, a teacher gains insight into these kinds of instructional needs by observing students during class and by asking them questions. (2015) stated: “the key of successful differentiation may not merely be placing students in groups but actually adapting the teaching to the needs of different ability groups” (p. 49). Differentiated instruction is a term that has been developed by Carol Ann Tomlinson (2001) to mean “the process by which The factors in this list were rather specific, and for this reason were coded axially (Mortelmans, 2007). This article is an excerpt from Part II of Laura Robb’s book, Teaching Reading: A Differentiated Approach. Grades. 0000046953 00000 n Previous Article / Next Article. On the one hand, this is about knowing their levels of achievement: the level at which they are and the problems they encounter when learning math. In other words, we need to know what quality differentiation looks like as a basis for improving and assessing the quality of differentiation. Furthermore, the performance indicators showed that effective differentiation is not only complex due to the interrelatedness of these chronological phases, but also because the core of differentiation is in deliberate and accurate choices. The cognitive task analysis we performed resulted in a unique overview of constituent skills required for providing differentiated instruction. The second goal of the expert meeting was to identify teachers’ activities and decision-making processes during a differentiated mathematics lesson. These elements should therefore be included when designing training opportunities, especially for beginning teachers. Differentiated Instruction in the Content Areas: Strategies for Reading, Thinking, and Writing to Learn. 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