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Differentiated instruction: perceptions, practices and challenges of primary school teachers

Tadesse Melesse

Abstract


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




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