Date of Graduation
Doctor of Philosophy in Curriculum and Instruction (PhD)
Curriculum and Instruction
Marcia B. Imbeau
Second Committee Member
Third Committee Member
Education, Differentiated instruction, Differentiation, Elementary education, Gifted education, Teacher support
Differentiated instruction as a philosophical approach to teaching has been around for decades. In recent weeks differentiation has come under fire as being an approach to teaching that is simply too difficult for teachers to implement. While teachers may attend a workshop or take a graduate class on the topic of differentiation and choose not to embrace the philosophy, there are also teachers who have successfully implemented differentiation. The argument against differentiation is based on the amount of effort required to simultaneously implement all components of differentiation.
To address these concerns the following question provided guidance for the present multi-method qualitative study: What does differentiated instruction look like in an elementary classroom? The purpose of this multi-method qualitative study was to unpack the thinking of teachers who have successfully implemented differentiated instruction. This goal was achieved through interviews, observations, and an analysis of artifacts from three case studies following three elementary teachers over a four-week window during the final quarter of the school year.
The research was conducted in a large school district in southwest Missouri. Results indicated teachers who implement differentiated instruction share common beliefs, attitudes and characteristics. Additionally, ongoing professional support is important for the successful implementation of differentiated instruction.
Cunningham, Curtis James, "Differentiation Revealed: A Multiple-methods Qualitative Study on the Implementation of Differentiated Instruction in a Mixed-ability Elementary Classroom" (2015). Theses and Dissertations. 1298.