Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction is an inclusive educational process that recognizes each student’s unique learning style, preferences, abilities and background; instruction is tailored to meet each student where s/he is to support success in learning. All learners are engaged through the teacher’s skillful use of choice, flexibility, ongoing assessment, and creativity. Once learning outcomes are established for a course or lesson, the teacher may differentiate 1) delivery methods; 2) how students process and develop understanding of concepts/skills, or 3) ways in which students demonstrate learning and their level of knowledge.

Evidence Base for Differentiated Instruction:
Articles and Websites

Anderson, Kelly M. “Differentiating Instruction to Include All Students.” Preventing School Failure 51.3 (2007): 49-54. Defines and describes differentiated instruction, and provides tips for teachers to use in getting started.

Dynan, Linda et.al. “The Impact of Learning Structure on Students’ Readiness for Self-Directed Learning.” Journal of Education for Business 1 (2008): 96-100. Self-directed learning skills are viewed as the basis of lifelong learning; findings from a classroom experiment to assess acquisition of self-directed learning skills in structured v. unstructured learning environments are presented. The author makes recommendations for the development of self-directed learning across the college curriculum.

Fisher, Ron and Dale Miller. “Responding to Student Expectations: a Partnership Approach to Course Evaluation.” Assessment and Evaluation in Higher Education 3.2 (2008): 191-202. Newly developed instruments are used to investigate student expectations at two points in a semester-based course. Establishing student expectations provides a framework for developing a responsive and iterative approach to achieving excellence in teaching and learning.

Hall, Tracey et. al. Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation: NCAC Effective Classroom Practices Report. National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum, 2003. This paper examines the theory and research behind differentiated instruction and its intersection with Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a curriculum design approach that seeks to increase flexibility in teaching and minimize barriers that limit student access to materials and learning in the classroom. UDL’s framework for recognition learning, strategic learning, and affective learning is discussed using examples with mathematics and natural sciences content. UDL teaching methods are compared to features of differentiated instruction. The paper concludes with recommendations for implementation at the classroom level. An excellent annotated bibliography on differentiated instruction is included.

National Center on Accessible Instructional Materials:  http://aim.cast.org/ .This site provides multiple resources for educators, parents, publishers, and media producers interested in implementing accessible instructional materials (AIM). Teaching and training resources, papers, technologies, and materials for AIM across the curriculum are provided in addition to extensive resources for parents.

Partin, Ronald L. “Multiple Option Grade Contracts.” The Clearinghouse 53.3 (1979): 133-135.
The author describes a framework for using multiple option grade contracts—a criterion referenced evaluation tool that can be adapted and modified to fit particular teaching styles, student populations, and course characteristics.

Santangelo, Tanya and C.A. Tomlinson. “The Application of Differentiated Instruction in Postsecondary Environments: Benefits, Challenges, and Future Directions.” International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education 20.3 (2009): 307-323. A scholarly self-study of the use of differentiation in an introductory level graduate course comprised of students whose levels of readiness, interest, and learning profiles varied significantly. Emergent themes and impact on students are discussed, highlighting the need for pedagogy that reflects college students’ (1) diverse ways of knowing, (2) diverse interests, experiences and goals, (3) diverse personal circumstances.

Tomlinson, Carol Ann. Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. ERIC Digest: ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education, EDO-PS-00-7, August 2000. This brief article describes differentiated instruction, its purpose and keys to successful implementation. Differentiation is discussed as it occurs in four classroom elements: learning content, processes, products, and environments.

Barkley, Elizabeth F. (2010) Student Engagement Techniques: a Handbook for College Faculty.San Fransisco, CA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Dodge, Judith. (2006) Differentiation in Action: A Complete Resource With Research-Supported Strategies to Help You Plan and Organize Differentiated Instruction New York, NY: Scholastic, Inc.

Tomlinson, Carol A. and J. McTighe. (2006) Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wormeli, Rick (2007). Differentiation: from Planning to Practice, Grades 6-12. Portland, ME: Stenhouse Publishers Inc.