Differentiated instruction: perceptions, practices and challenges of primary school teachers
This study focused on assessing the perceptions, practices and challenges of differentiated instruction by primary school teachers. The research design utilized was descriptive survey type with embedded mixed approach. Data were gathered from randomly selected 232 primary school teachers via questionnaire, semi-structured interview and focus group discussion. The reliability coefficient of the questionnaire was computed using Chronbach alpha as 0.79. Data were analyzed quantitatively using percentage, mean, standard deviation, one sample T-Test, independent samples T-Test, and One Way-ANOVA. Besides, the interview, and focus group discussion data were analyzed qualitatively. The main findings of the study were: the majority of primary school teachers did not have enough exposure to differentiated instruction and its elements and as a result they have relatively lower conceptions. Most primary school teachers were also less familiar with the main instructional strategies of differentiated instruction. Though the overall result indicated below the expected standard, comparisons made based on sex indicated that female teachers practiced differentiation better than male teachers. But in qualification (degree and diploma) and experience (in service years) statistically significant difference was not indicated. In terms of departments, Language and Mathematics department teachers performed differentiation better than Natural Science and Social Science department teachers. However, most teachers teach diversified learners in the same classroom in a form of one-size-fits-for-all approach without significantly addressing the students’ readiness, interest, and learning profile. Different factors like knowledge and experience, commitment and motivation, availability of materials/resources, availability of time, class size, range of diversity in classroom, leadership and parental support and staff collaboration were taken as augmenting or deterring factors.
Keywords: Differentiation, diversity, differentiated instruction, content, process, instructional strategies