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Copyright © 2015 American Scientific Publishers Advanced Science Letters
All rights reserved Vol.X, XXX-XXX, 2015,
Printed in the United States of America
Differentiated Instruction: A Way of Rethinking Education
Author: Manal Sharab Ramadan
Co-Author: Dr. Anwar Kawtharani
ABSTRACT
The purpose of this study was to determine whether differentiated instruction was an effective teaching strategy to alleviate
students’ achievements, the degree of the learners’ satisfaction in the learning experience, and the factors that helped or
hindered differentiation. The research answered two questions “Does differentiated instruction alleviate students’
achievements?” and “What are the factors that are helping or hindering the educators’ ability to differentiate instruction?” The
study applied a mix of quantitative and qualitative design. First, a quantitative survey of 2 questionnaires was conducted to
cycles 2 and 3 educators and learners who belong to both the private and public education sector in Beirut during the scholastic
year 2012-2013. Results from the quantitative findings directed the researcher on how to frame the qualitative research design.
A qualitative analysis of 1 structured formal interview with a school educational leader was carried out for highlighting the
most effective teaching practices that were encouraged at school. The research findings supported the effort of learning styles
theorists and suggested that differentiation strategies of choice and interest should first be implemented since they play a key
role in alleviating students’ achievements and raising the degree of learners’ satisfaction regarding the whole learning
experience. Besides, curriculum designers, school administrators, education managers and coordinators, official examiners,
parents, and educators should all share one perspective that every learner is unique and could learn at his special pace and in his
own style. Another journey towards differentiation not as a teaching practice but as a way of rethinking education was highly
recommended with a goal in mind to create and sustain effective differentiation of learning construction that successfully
accommodates to enhance, extend, and empower the every learner’s affective, cognitive, and psychomotor growth.
Differentiated Instruction, a Way of Rethinking Education
After the growing interest of the Lebanese Ministry in
education had developed and provided approval for equal
learning opportunities for all learners, the meaning of
student achievement took on a broader definition, so that
educators were no longer only expected to show
improvement in test scores overall, but also to demonstrate
documented improvement for every learner to the school
administrational system. In essence, schools always knew
there were certain populations of students incapable of
making as much achievement growth as others. This has
been documented with disadvantaged students for years, so
that any achievement gap would produce its lifetime
consequences limiting the opportunities for below average
students in higher education.
Besides, schools were also aware that students at the
high end of the spectrum continued to show less
achievement gains than those students in the middle of the
achievement spectrum. This research indicated that most
classrooms have taken on the role of teaching to the ‘on
grade level’ student population, leaving the learning needs
of the talented and below average groups unmet. Educators
who view classrooms as whole entities and do not account
for individual differences in the learners levels of readiness
to construct their own learning may either over-challenge or
under-challenge some students.
According to Vygotsky 1962; Howard 1994, as cited in
Tomlinson (2001), “We know that learning happens best
when a learning experience pushes the learner a bit beyond
his or her independent level. When a student continues to
work on understandings and skills already mastered, little if
any new learning takes place. On the other hand, if tasks are
far ahead of a student’s current point of mastery, frustration
results and learning doesn’t occur.” (p. 8).
In other words, classrooms in which differentiation is the
title of the learning practice may help to close every
learner’s achievement gap more effectively than classrooms
in which no accommodation of learning abilities, needs, or
preferences are considered by spoon feeding teachers.
According to Tomlinson (1999), teachers in
differentiated classrooms use time flexibly, call upon a
range of instructional strategies, and become partners with
their students. Educators are diagnosticians, prescribing the
best possible instruction for their students. Therefore,
differentiation suggests that all and every single learner can
achieve and be appropriately challenged within any learning
environment that should be pre-set by the educator to meet
every distinct need in the diverse classroom opening a wide
door for learning to occur.
In fact, children need not only to nourish but also to
flourish. In a differentiated classroom, fear is removed
and children are free to take risks in their learning. By
developing lessons appropriate to students’ readiness
levels, preferences, and learning profiles, educators will
be able to draw upon prior knowledge and learners’
experiences outside of the school environment which will
empower students to be more engaged in learning process.
With adjustments made to lessons, students are being
accommodated and challenged at fitting levels to reduce
frustration and demotivation. Maslow (1998) emphasized
that before higher level needs are even perceived, lower
level needs must be satisfied. The need to differentiate
instruction is supported by practitioners who recognize
that the two ends of the achievement spectrum are not
being appropriately challenged within heterogeneous
classrooms where one instructional strategy is deemed to
fit all.
According to Tomlinson (2001), “Differentiation calls on
a teacher to realize that classrooms must be places where
teachers pursue the best understandings of teaching and
learning every day, and also to recall daily that no practice is
truly best practice unless it works for the individual learner”
(p. 17). Classrooms are currently filled with diversity in
students’ promptness, concentration, cultural backgrounds,
prior knowledge, and learning profiles.
Moreover, there are many ways to accomplish
differentiation within a classroom. For the purposes of this
study, differentiation will be defined according to
Tomlinson (1999), who said, “In a differentiated classroom,
the teacher plans and carries out varied approaches to
content, process, and product in anticipation of and
response to student differences in readiness, interest, and
learning needs” (p. 10). Thus, differentiation suggests that
teachers can not only design lessons to tap into the interests
and readiness of their students, but also craft them in ways
that tap into multiple student intelligences to promote
heightened learner interest adequately intrinsically
motivated to achieve the intended learning outcome.
Likewise, it allows teachers to vary the ways in which
students work, alone or in groups, auditory or visual means,
or creatively to further enhance, extend, and empower
every student’s learning.
Accordingly, a differentiated classroom differs from a
traditional classroom in many ways. Most importantly, in a
differentiated classroom more than one way to complete a
lesson exists for any given topic. These lessons are
designed around the needs of the students. A lesson plan is
not created for each student; rather, lesson plans are tiered
keeping in mind the readiness, interests, and learning
profiles of the group. Pre-assessments play a vital role in
the development of the lessons since based on their results;
lessons are created to best match the needs of the learners.
Hence, educators ought to insist on changes that will
definitely benefit all learners. This study will examine
classroom practices that support differentiation with the
purpose of determining if differentiated instructional
strategies have an effect on student achievement. There are
three components of the curriculum that can be
differentiated to meet students’ needs: content, process, and
product. The content is what the teacher wants each student
to know by the end of the unit. The process is the “how”
the teacher decides to design the lesson. Student
background data are taken into consideration when
planning. Teachers need to understand that the prior
knowledge with which students enter their classroom is
based on many factors such as cultural background and
family opportunities. The “how” must be based on best
practices in instruction and student learning such as
readiness, interest, learning profile, choice, and learning
styles of the students. The product, which is some form of
assessment of the content, also revolves around the
readiness, interests, and learning profile of the student. The
process is the way in which the teacher designs activities to
ensure the students learn the content. Products are what the
students create to demonstrate their understanding of the
content. Products vary as students are given choices on
how to show their mastery of the content. If based on
student readiness, lessons would be designed to challenge
students at all levels of the achievement spectrum - the
high, low, and middle. A student’s readiness is determined
through pre-assessments. Advanced students are allowed to
excel past the standard curriculum to perform application
activities to the standards. At the opposite end of the
achievement spectrum, students are held accountable for
the grade level standards and are allowed to master them
through appropriate activities geared to their readiness level
and interests. Initially, a lesson organized around interest
gives students a choice in how they learn the lesson.
Students may be placed into groups based on a variety of
ways including learning styles, interests, or choice, or they
may work independently to complete the assignment.
Students would have choices as to how to demonstrate their
knowledge of the concept. The teacher can control the
choices by creating a choice chart where students select
their preferred way to demonstrate understanding of the
topic. Second, a lesson designed to meet the learning
profile of students would take into consideration the way in
which students’ best process information and ideas, and
ways in which learning style, gender, culture, and
intelligence preference influence the students. Teachers
need to recognize and understand if a student is a whole-to-
part, part-to-whole learner or likes to work in silence,
groups, or independently through written expression,
speaking, and so on. It is important that students also
understand their learning strengths so they can make the
appropriate choices within the classroom. The teacher
would accommodate for differences in how students learn
so optimal learning can take place. According to Merrill
(2002), most effective learning environments start with a
meaningful problem that provides the focus for four phases
of instruction: activation of existing knowledge (including
skills), demonstration of new knowledge, application of
new knowledge, and integration of new knowledge into the
learner’s world. In short, instructional strategies should
comprise a differentiated classroom. Therefore,
differentiation should not be examined as an instructional
strategy by itself; it is a climate of learning created in a
classroom by using best practices in teaching, learning, and
lesson design. The purpose of this study was to determine
the extent to which teachers believe if they were using
differentiated instructional strategies, higher achievement
results would be produced and sustained with their students
than if they were implementing one teaching practice that
is intended to equally fit all learners. Specifically, the study
focused on the following two research questions:
1. Does differentiated instruction lead to increased
student achievement?
2. What are the factors that might either help or
hinder the teacher’s ability to successfully
implement differentiated instruction in the
classroom?
These two questions directed the researcher to
synthesize quantitative and qualitative data. In
responding to the last question, the researcher
analyzed information around the variables studied
to determine any causal relationships between the
research variables and student achievement.
Hypothesis
HA: Though some factors are hindering the teacher’s ability
to differentiate instruction, the adequate and relevant
implementation of effective differentiated instruction in the
learning environment will definitely have its positive
implications alleviating students’ achievements.
H0: Though some factors are hindering the teacher’s ability
to differentiate instruction, the adequate and relevant
implementation of effective differentiated instruction
strategies within any learning environment has no causal
relationship with alleviating students’ achievements.
Methodology
To attain the research purpose, both quantitative
and qualitative research methodology was utilized regarding
the relation between differentiated instruction and students’
achievement. The quantitative research technique consisted
of a survey of 2 questionnaires: the first one was conducted
to cycles 2 and 3 educators randomly chosen from both the
private and the public educational sector, whereas the
second questionnaire was a student appraisal of the
instructional process students were engaged in at their
schools. Students who participated were aged 9 to 14; i.e.,
belonged to cycles 2 and 3. The qualitative research data
consisted of 1 structured formal interview with an
educational leader. Worth mentioned, the data was collected
during the scholastic year 2012-2013. Both the teachers’ and
the learners’ questionnaires consisted of 12 items each
structured either dichotomous or in Likert scale and
developed by the researcher. Dissimilarly, the 4 interview
questions were open ended. The questionnaire items
revealed some of the instructional strategies related to
differentiated instruction in purpose of discovering the
degree of awareness among cycles 2 and 3 educators
regarding the significance of differentiation in enhancing the
learners learning outcomes. 40 questionnaire formats were
distributed by the researcher to 40 educators, whereas only
31 were fully answered and submitted back. On the second
level, the students’ survey tool was fully answered by 24
students. The researcher supposed that both educators and
learners had answered transparently and truthfully. Thus, the
educators’ response rate was around 76%, yet the students’
response rate was 100%. Respondents among educators
varied in terms of age, gender, experience, and teaching
cycle and subject matter being taught. At the same time,
respondents among students varied in terms of age, gender,
and learning cycle. To facilitate, the quantitative data was
collected via 2 different questionnaires from a parametric
sample of 31 educators and a non-parametric sample of 24
learners and was interpreted in bar graphs by means of
employing an excel program.
Furthermore, the quantitative data was compiled,
analyzed, and interpreted in bar graphs; besides, the
quantitative research methods allowed the researcher not
only to analyze the sampled educators’ degree of awareness
regarding the importance of considering the element of
diversity within any learning environment and the extent to
which they believe differentiated instruction might alleviate
students’ achievements, but also to explore the learners’
degree of satisfaction within the whole current learning
experience inside their schools. In addition, 1 interview
allowed the researcher to collect data on an educational
manager’s outlook on how knowledgeable teachers are in
implementing differentiation strategies, how often
differentiated instruction occurs and in what subjects, what
factors help teachers productively differentiate in their
instructional practices, and what factors hinder effective
differentiated instruction to occur.
Data Result
I. Educators’ Differentiated Instruction Questionnaire (Sample = 31 educators)
The purpose of this survey is to investigate the knowledge educators possess in using differentiated instruction in their
classrooms. Participation is voluntary. In choosing to complete the following survey, you are agreeing to participate in a research
study about differentiated instruction. The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. Confidentiality is assured;
return of the survey to the researcher acts as the participants agree for their responses to be compiled with others. Please
understand that using the data will be limited to the research purpose.
 Gender: 12 males (Cycle 3) ; 19 females (Cycles 2 and 3)
 Age: 14 educators < 30 years old;
30 years old <10educators <40 years old;
7educators > 40 years old
 Teaching Experience /years: 17 educators’ experience > 5 years
08 educators’ experience >10 years
06 educators’ experience < 5 years
 Teaching qualifications: 15 educators: Primary Gr. K-6;
16 educators: Middle Gr. 7-9;
None: Secondary Gr. 10-12
 Current Teaching Assignments: Grade(s): -------------;
Sector: 21 educators Private;
10 educators Public
 Subject Area Being Taught:
07: English Language Arts 05: Mathematics 02: Visual Art 04: French
06: Sciences 01: Geography 06: Arabic  Social Studies  History
Yes No
1. Do you use differentiated instruction in your classroom?
18 (58%) 13
2. Are you familiar with the following instructional and managerial strategies?
a. Learning Contracts: 16 (52%) 15 (48%)
b. Tiered Assignments: 06 (19%) 25 (81%)
c. Independent Projects: 23 (74%) 08 (26%)
d. Independent Study: 09 (29%) 22 (71%)
e. Curriculum Understanding by Design: 07 (22.5%) 24 (77.5%)
f. Curriculum Compacting: 06 (19%) 25 (81%)
g. Interest Centers: 19 (61%) 12 (39%)
h. Learning Centers: 14 (45%) 17 (55%)
i. Varied instructional materials: 23 (74%) 08 (26%)
j. Provisions for student’s choice: 08(26%) 23 (74%)
k. Flexible Grouping: 22 (71%) 09 (29%)
l. Varying Questions: 27(87%) 04 (13%)
m. Pre-assessment data to differentiation: 17 (55%) 14 (45%)
3. How often do you use strategies mentioned in number (2) of this questionnaire in your classroom?
Always (daily basis) Frequently (weekly basis) Sometimes (monthly basis) Never
03 (10%) 08 (26%) 15 (48%) 05 (16%)
4. In what subject areas do you think differentiation is most effective? (Check all that apply)
Eng. Lang. Arts Math Arabic Visual Arts French Geography Sciences History& others
12 (39%) 08
(26%)
14(45%) 12(39%) 12(39%) 04 (13%) 08 (26%) None (0)
5. Do you think that implementing differentiated instruction strategies alleviate
student’s achievement?
Yes No
26 (84%) 05 (16%)
6. Please indicate how often you differentiate your instruction.
Always Frequently Sometimes Never
07 (22.5%) 09 (29%) 12 (39%) 03 (10%)
7. Please indicate how important using differentiated instruction is in the following.
a. Lesson Planning:
Very important Important Somewhat important Not important
11 (35.5%) 12 (39%) 08 (26%) None (0)
b. Assessment and Evaluation:
Very important Important Somewhat important Not important
10 (32%) 06 (19%) 11 (35.5%) 04 (13%)
c. Lesson Delivery:
Very important Important Somewhat important Not important
15 (48%) 13 (42%) 03 (10%) None (0)
8. In your opinion, which of the following factors help(s) your ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in your
classroom? (Check all that apply.)
Factors Educators
 School leadership/ administration: 15 (48%)
 Parents’ expectations: 02 (6.5%)
 Knowledge and experience 13 (42%)
 Creativity 05 (16%)
Assessment purpose and type 00 (0%)
 Support of other staff 05 (16%)
 Instructional Goals: 04 (13%)
 Lebanese Curriculum design 00 (0%)
 Amount of instructional time 06 (19%)
 Amount of planning time 00 (0%)
 Range of diversity in the classroom 12 (39%)
 Availability of materials 12 (39%)
Integration between curriculum and instruction 00 (0%)
9. What factor(s) do you think hinder(s) your ability to implement differentiated instruction in your classroom?
Check all that apply)
Factors Educators
 School leadership/ administration: 16 (52%)
 Parents’ expectations: 29 (93.5%)
 Knowledge and experience 18 (58%)
 Creativity 26 (84%)
Assessment purpose and type 31 (100%)
 Support of other staff 26 (84%)
 Instructional Goals: 27 (87%)
 Lebanese Curriculum design 31 (100%)
 Amount of instructional time 25 (81%)
 Amount of planning time 31 (100%)
 Range of diversity in the classroom 19 (61%)
 Availability of materials 19 (61%)
Integration between curriculum and instruction 31 (100%)
10. What resources would you like to use in order to enhance your knowledge and understanding about differentiated instruction?
(Check all that apply)
Staff professional development and workshops 19 (61%)
Reading books and journals 10 (32%)
Watching videos demonstrating its application 02 (6.5%)
11. My students take a learning style inventory every year.
Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree
0 (0%) 10 (32%) 02 (6.5%) 14 (45%) 05 (16%)
12. I pre-assess my learners to determine their readiness in constructing their own learning.
Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree
05 (16%) 18 (58%) 0 (0%) 08 (26%) 0 (0%)
II. Students’ Questionnaire (Sample=24students)
Please indicate your level of agreement regarding the following statements about your learning experience at your school.
1= Strongly agree 2= Agree 3= Neutral 4= Disagree 5= Strongly disagree
Learning Experience 1 2 3 4 5
1. I like school time. 5
(21%)
10
(42%)
00 16
(67%)
00
2. Most learning activities meet my interests and needs. 00 8
(33%)
6
(25%)
14
(58%)
3
(12.5%)
3. My work at school is neither too hard nor too easy. 00 11
(46%)
5
(21%)
15
(62.5%)
00
4. I’m motivated to learn during class time. 00 10
(42%)
10
(42%)
8
(33%)
3
(12.5%)
5. We discussed in class how we learn best. 2
(08%)
5
(21%)
3
(12.5%)
21
(87.5%)
00
6. I think that my teachers know that every student has his style
of learning.
5
(21%)
6
(25%)
3
(12.5%)
14
(58%)
3
(12.5%)
7. I understand all my lessons during class time. 00 19
(79%)
2
(08%)
10
(42%)
00
8. We often work in groups. 00 16
(67%)
00 12
(50%)
3
(12.5%)
9. Group members are always the same. 5
(21%)
10
(42%)
4
(16%)
12
(50%)
00
10. The teacher gives us choices regarding how to complete our
assignments and projects.
00 00 00 18
(75%)
13
(54%)
11. The teachers helped me accept that students learn at different
levels.
0 10 0 16 05
12. Sometimes, our class activities, assignments, and exams
aren’t all the same.
0 05 02 14 11
Data Analysis
The purpose of this study was to figure out whether
differentiated instruction as a way of thinking of curriculum
and instruction would alleviate students’ achievements. For
that purpose, the researcher aimed to identify supports that
teachers needed successfully and effectively to differentiate
instruction so that school leaders would develop and sustain
a sense of awareness regarding how to strategically plan for
an effective implementation of differentiated education.
Subsequently, professional development sessions would be
planned to address the identified needs. The findings
enclosed the educators’ perspective regarding the relation
between differentiated instruction and students’
improvement in learning, the degree to which teachers were
knowledgeable about differentiated instruction strategies
and the extent to which such strategies would embrace the
consecutive teaching practices, and the factors that might
play a vital role either helping or hindering an effective
implementation of differentiation.
First and foremost, the results demonstrated
inconsistency in the responses of some educators as some
responses to some interrelated questions were contradictory.
To begin with, when asked whether they differentiated their
instruction in their classrooms (Table1; Q.1), the majority of
educators responded positively (58%); whereas when asked
in details about how often they apply differentiation
strategies in their instruction (Table.1; Q.3), only 10% of the
sampled educators responded that differentiation had been
among their daily teaching practices, and only 26 % had
applied differentiation strategies on weekly basis, whereas
48% claimed that they used to monthly differentiate, and
16% were so frank to confess that they had never
differentiated their instruction. Thus, the (58%) of educators
who claimed differentiation in their instruction in Q.1 was
actually reduced to (36%) of educators who showed
frequent or constant differentiation of instruction in Q.3.
In table1.Q.2, the researcher needed to identify
how familiar the sampled educators were with differentiated
instruction strategies, and the majority of the responses
disclosed knowledge-ability with varying questions (87%),
independent projects and varied instructional materials
(74%), and flexible grouping (71%). In addition, 61% of the
sample revealed familiarity with interest centers, and more
than 50% showed understanding of pre-assessment data to
differentiate and learning contracts. Thus, of the 13
differentiation strategies questioned, the educators might be
skilled at 7; on the other hand, 6 differentiated instruction
strategies (learning centers, tiered assignments, independent
study, curriculum by design, curriculum compacting,
provisions for student’s choice) needed sessions of training
and development to build among educators a sense of
knowledge and expertise about what’s missed though
prerequisite for effective and fair education nowadays
especially that a sense of awareness about the significance
of such teaching approach had been already developed
among educators as 84% believed that the affective
implementation of differentiated instruction would definitely
alleviate every student’s achievement (table 1; Q.5). Still
some educators not totally aware of the fact that
differentiated instruction could be applied in almost all
subject areas (table1; Q4.). Thus, the researcher
recommended that empowerment in training educators how
to differentiate was compulsory to guarantee successful and
authentic implementation of differentiation. Furthermore,
considering how often they differentiate their instruction in
general (table1; Q6), 22.5 % of educators reported that they
differentiate on daily basis, 29% differentiate on weekly
basis; in contrary, 39% differentiate on monthly basis, and
10% do not differentiate at all. In comparing the results of
questions 3 and 6, the researcher found that differentiated
instruction is practiced either on daily or weekly basis on a
range of 36% to 51%; nevertheless, differentiation is passive
or almost passive in instruction on a range of 49 % to 64%
though educators greatly understand its value in extending
learning and elevating the achievement scale.
In view of that, Questions 8 and 9 of the educators’
questionnaire sought to determine not only the factors that
help, but also those that hinder the educators’ ability to
appropriately and most adequately employ differentiated
way of thinking in planning for achieving intended
instructional objectives, assessing learners, preparing
activities, and practicing instruction for learners’
construction of learning. The survey results illustrated that
the sole modest support for the teacher to apply
differentiated instruction was referred to school
administration in a contribution of 48%; besides, educators’
knowledge and experience in a variety of teaching strategies
were active supporters only up to 42%, range of diversity in
the classroom and availability of materials were 39% aiding
differentiated instruction. In other words to make a long
story short, the factors examined by the researcher were
establishing a passive relation with differentiated instruction
as the graph of Q9 in the educators’ survey proved the
following disappointing educators’ perspectives:
1. The Lebanese curriculum design, integration
between curriculum and instruction, planning of
instruction time, and assessment purpose and type
were 100% hindering the educators’ ability to
successfully implement differentiated instruction in
their inclusive classrooms.
2. Parents’ expectations of their children learning
experiences were 93.5% hindering the educators’
ability to successfully implement differentiated
instruction in their inclusive classrooms.
3. Instructional goals, the element of creativity,
support of other staff, and instructional time were
hindering the educators’ ability to successfully
implement differentiated instruction in their
inclusive classrooms on a scale of 81% to 87%.
4. Range of diversity in the classroom along with the
availability of materials was 61% hindering the
educators’ ability to successfully implement
differentiated instruction in their inclusive
classrooms.
5. Educators’ knowledge and experience along with
school leadership were the least factors really
hindering the educators’ ability to differentiate,
respectively 58% and 52%.
In fact, such result made it obvious for the researcher
why educators were still passive regarding the extent to
which differentiation as a way of re-thinking education as a
whole is very important; whereas, their active notion of
differentiation is further interconnected with lesson delivery
than with lesson planning or assessment and evaluation.
(Table1; Q7.)
Nonetheless, though 72 % of the educators reported that
they pre-assess their learners to identify their level of
readiness in constructing their own learning (Q12), only 32
% agreed on students’ need to take a learning style inventory
every year (Q11); this fact would only emphasize the
educators’ more than 60% at least need for staff professional
training and workshops (Q10).
Next, the 2nd
questionnaire was a reflection of students’
perspectives regarding their learning experiences at school.
As graph 8 demonstrated, 67% of the sampled learners
expressed their negative feeling in relation to school time,
and 58% reported their disinterest in class activities, where
as 25% showed indifference. Regarding the level of ease or
difficulty of their learning, 46% of the participants in the
student survey agreed that their work at school is neither too
hard nor too easy; thus, adequate. In contrary, considering
the 21% that reported neutral response and the 62.5 % that
totally disagreed about the adequacy in the level of ease or
difficulty of their work at school, the researcher summed up
that 83.5 % of the sampled students were either over or less
challenged to actively and effectively engage in school work
and construct, enhance or extend their own learning. This is
quite evidently proven in the fact that 45.5 % of the learners
disagreed that they’re motivated during school time; whilst,
42 % responded indifferently that they’re neither motivated
the opposite. That is, around 87% of the sampled learners
lacked the inspiration to be high achievers since with the
lack of motivation, the learner’s self-efficacy would be
deteriorated adding only passivity and disengagement to the
his/her whole learning experience and hence, insufficiency
of achievement.
What’s more, the survey result showed that only 29% of
the students’ participants were taught how they learn best;
i.e. 1/3 of the sample leaving 2/3 lost regarding their best
style of learning, which if considered during studying, the
learner would increase the possibility of alleviating his/her
achievement level. Unsurprisingly, the majority of learners
had displayed disagreement regarding how knowledgeable
their teachers are about the diversity of learning styles
existed in class. Such opinion reflects the kind of teaching
that usually occurs inside those learners’ classrooms, a
learning experience which is either too near to lecturing and
spoon feeding or too far from differentiation. Naturally, the
result would be not surprising if 50% of the learners leave
the class not understanding their lessons.
Moreover, with respect to some differentiation
strategies such as flexible grouping, tiered assignments, or
choice centers, the learners’ responses revealed the
following:
1. Though 67% agreed that they often worked in
groups, 63 % clarified that group member were
always the same. This fact raises an important
question regarding the objective of grouping and
the extent to which it’s taking into consideration
student’s different needs, preferences, or learning
abilities.
2. The teachers were still not skilled or even trying to
give differentiated assignments. Every learners
choice regarding how to accomplish assignments or
projects was neglected as 75% of the sampled
learners revealed.
In conclusion, the results of the quantitative survey
revealed a high level of dissatisfaction among both
educators concerning the factors that they believed were
hindering their abilities to successfully implement
differentiated instruction in their weekly or daily teaching
practices and learners concerning school time, classroom
curricular activities, and assignments. As a result, the
researcher inferred that accommodation and adjustment are
no more optional but essential means that must accompany
any educational experience if effective learning is intended
to be its ultimate goal.
Moreover, the quantitative data findings guided the
researcher towards a qualitative method by formally
interviewing an educational school manager who answered
the interview questions stressing on the significance of
differentiated instruction as a teaching approach to address
all learning needs and preferences. The interviewee
emphasized that the school’s educators were highly
knowledgeable about how to apply differentiation strategies
inside their classroom learning environments. He reported
that almost all teachers used differentiation strategies;
however, it’s most used in languages and sciences subject
areas. Moreover, the education manager revealed a
boundless extent of awareness concerning the aspects that
might either help or hinder the teachers’ ability to
differentiate and accentuated the fact that the school is
trying its best to provide and develop effective learning for
every student as an entity, yet he was too reticent in
uncovering up how.
Conclusions and Recommendations
Classroom diversity is multifaceted and not easy to
understand. Educators are the assets that can not only
enhance learning experiences but also build as well as
break the reputation of education as a whole. The main
purpose of this study was to explore the most important
factors that might help or hinder the educators’ ability to
successfully implement differentiated instruction and to
establish a thought concerning whether a successful
differentiation in inclusive classrooms could alleviate
every learner’s achievement record.
The research study focused mainly on the extent to
which differentiated instruction strategies were adopted
by educators and education leaders, discovering the
educators’ degree of knowledge and understanding about
differentiated instruction as a way of rethinking
education, curriculum and instruction, starting up down
from the curriculum itself, its materials, training and
development, reaching the instructional daily practices,
and inspiring the learners’ different domains of
knowledge and skills.
The research answered to research questions
through emphasizing that an adequate adoption of the
notion of differentiated education will definitely alleviate
every student’s achievement and highlighting some of the
factors that play a key role either in advancing or
hindering the teachers’ capacity to differentiate
instruction. Four independent variables seemed to be the
most significant roots obstructing the teacher’s
willingness to differentiate.
These were first, the Lebanese curriculum design
itself, integration between the curriculum and instruction,
assessment purpose and type, and amount of planning
time.
On the second level, parents’ expectation of the
whole learning experience and the tension of attaining the
preplanned instructional goals passively affected the
implementation of differentiated instruction in
classrooms.
On the third level, shortage in the merit of creativity
among educators, deficiency in staff support, and the
amount of instructional time were impeding the
appropriate demonstration of differentiated instruction,
facts that had their negative influence on the learners’
degree of satisfaction regarding their curricular learning
practices.
Consequently, the researcher recommended a tour
revisiting the Lebanese curriculum for the purpose of
reformation to bridge the elongated gap between the
curriculum itself and instructional essential needs
towards differentiation not as a teaching practice but as a
way of rethinking education to produce and retain
effective instructional strategies that respect and honor
the difference; hence, addresses it sensitively and
empathetically through strategically accommodating to
enhance, extend, and empower every learner’s affective,
cognitive, and psychomotor growth.
References
Maslow, A. (1998). Toward a psychology of being. New
York: John Wiley & Sons.
Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction.
Educational Technology Research
and Development. 50, (3), 43-59.
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom:
Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in
mixed-ability classrooms. (2nd
ed.). Alexandria, VA:
Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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1570128231DI_A_Way_of_Rethinking_Education

  • 1. Copyright © 2015 American Scientific Publishers Advanced Science Letters All rights reserved Vol.X, XXX-XXX, 2015, Printed in the United States of America Differentiated Instruction: A Way of Rethinking Education Author: Manal Sharab Ramadan Co-Author: Dr. Anwar Kawtharani ABSTRACT The purpose of this study was to determine whether differentiated instruction was an effective teaching strategy to alleviate students’ achievements, the degree of the learners’ satisfaction in the learning experience, and the factors that helped or hindered differentiation. The research answered two questions “Does differentiated instruction alleviate students’ achievements?” and “What are the factors that are helping or hindering the educators’ ability to differentiate instruction?” The study applied a mix of quantitative and qualitative design. First, a quantitative survey of 2 questionnaires was conducted to cycles 2 and 3 educators and learners who belong to both the private and public education sector in Beirut during the scholastic year 2012-2013. Results from the quantitative findings directed the researcher on how to frame the qualitative research design. A qualitative analysis of 1 structured formal interview with a school educational leader was carried out for highlighting the most effective teaching practices that were encouraged at school. The research findings supported the effort of learning styles theorists and suggested that differentiation strategies of choice and interest should first be implemented since they play a key role in alleviating students’ achievements and raising the degree of learners’ satisfaction regarding the whole learning experience. Besides, curriculum designers, school administrators, education managers and coordinators, official examiners, parents, and educators should all share one perspective that every learner is unique and could learn at his special pace and in his own style. Another journey towards differentiation not as a teaching practice but as a way of rethinking education was highly recommended with a goal in mind to create and sustain effective differentiation of learning construction that successfully accommodates to enhance, extend, and empower the every learner’s affective, cognitive, and psychomotor growth. Differentiated Instruction, a Way of Rethinking Education After the growing interest of the Lebanese Ministry in education had developed and provided approval for equal learning opportunities for all learners, the meaning of student achievement took on a broader definition, so that educators were no longer only expected to show improvement in test scores overall, but also to demonstrate documented improvement for every learner to the school administrational system. In essence, schools always knew there were certain populations of students incapable of making as much achievement growth as others. This has been documented with disadvantaged students for years, so that any achievement gap would produce its lifetime consequences limiting the opportunities for below average students in higher education. Besides, schools were also aware that students at the high end of the spectrum continued to show less achievement gains than those students in the middle of the achievement spectrum. This research indicated that most classrooms have taken on the role of teaching to the ‘on grade level’ student population, leaving the learning needs of the talented and below average groups unmet. Educators who view classrooms as whole entities and do not account for individual differences in the learners levels of readiness to construct their own learning may either over-challenge or under-challenge some students. According to Vygotsky 1962; Howard 1994, as cited in Tomlinson (2001), “We know that learning happens best when a learning experience pushes the learner a bit beyond his or her independent level. When a student continues to work on understandings and skills already mastered, little if any new learning takes place. On the other hand, if tasks are far ahead of a student’s current point of mastery, frustration results and learning doesn’t occur.” (p. 8). In other words, classrooms in which differentiation is the title of the learning practice may help to close every learner’s achievement gap more effectively than classrooms in which no accommodation of learning abilities, needs, or preferences are considered by spoon feeding teachers. According to Tomlinson (1999), teachers in differentiated classrooms use time flexibly, call upon a range of instructional strategies, and become partners with their students. Educators are diagnosticians, prescribing the best possible instruction for their students. Therefore, differentiation suggests that all and every single learner can achieve and be appropriately challenged within any learning environment that should be pre-set by the educator to meet every distinct need in the diverse classroom opening a wide door for learning to occur. In fact, children need not only to nourish but also to flourish. In a differentiated classroom, fear is removed and children are free to take risks in their learning. By developing lessons appropriate to students’ readiness levels, preferences, and learning profiles, educators will be able to draw upon prior knowledge and learners’ experiences outside of the school environment which will empower students to be more engaged in learning process. With adjustments made to lessons, students are being accommodated and challenged at fitting levels to reduce frustration and demotivation. Maslow (1998) emphasized that before higher level needs are even perceived, lower level needs must be satisfied. The need to differentiate instruction is supported by practitioners who recognize that the two ends of the achievement spectrum are not being appropriately challenged within heterogeneous classrooms where one instructional strategy is deemed to fit all. According to Tomlinson (2001), “Differentiation calls on a teacher to realize that classrooms must be places where teachers pursue the best understandings of teaching and
  • 2. learning every day, and also to recall daily that no practice is truly best practice unless it works for the individual learner” (p. 17). Classrooms are currently filled with diversity in students’ promptness, concentration, cultural backgrounds, prior knowledge, and learning profiles. Moreover, there are many ways to accomplish differentiation within a classroom. For the purposes of this study, differentiation will be defined according to Tomlinson (1999), who said, “In a differentiated classroom, the teacher plans and carries out varied approaches to content, process, and product in anticipation of and response to student differences in readiness, interest, and learning needs” (p. 10). Thus, differentiation suggests that teachers can not only design lessons to tap into the interests and readiness of their students, but also craft them in ways that tap into multiple student intelligences to promote heightened learner interest adequately intrinsically motivated to achieve the intended learning outcome. Likewise, it allows teachers to vary the ways in which students work, alone or in groups, auditory or visual means, or creatively to further enhance, extend, and empower every student’s learning. Accordingly, a differentiated classroom differs from a traditional classroom in many ways. Most importantly, in a differentiated classroom more than one way to complete a lesson exists for any given topic. These lessons are designed around the needs of the students. A lesson plan is not created for each student; rather, lesson plans are tiered keeping in mind the readiness, interests, and learning profiles of the group. Pre-assessments play a vital role in the development of the lessons since based on their results; lessons are created to best match the needs of the learners. Hence, educators ought to insist on changes that will definitely benefit all learners. This study will examine classroom practices that support differentiation with the purpose of determining if differentiated instructional strategies have an effect on student achievement. There are three components of the curriculum that can be differentiated to meet students’ needs: content, process, and product. The content is what the teacher wants each student to know by the end of the unit. The process is the “how” the teacher decides to design the lesson. Student background data are taken into consideration when planning. Teachers need to understand that the prior knowledge with which students enter their classroom is based on many factors such as cultural background and family opportunities. The “how” must be based on best practices in instruction and student learning such as readiness, interest, learning profile, choice, and learning styles of the students. The product, which is some form of assessment of the content, also revolves around the readiness, interests, and learning profile of the student. The process is the way in which the teacher designs activities to ensure the students learn the content. Products are what the students create to demonstrate their understanding of the content. Products vary as students are given choices on how to show their mastery of the content. If based on student readiness, lessons would be designed to challenge students at all levels of the achievement spectrum - the high, low, and middle. A student’s readiness is determined through pre-assessments. Advanced students are allowed to excel past the standard curriculum to perform application activities to the standards. At the opposite end of the achievement spectrum, students are held accountable for the grade level standards and are allowed to master them through appropriate activities geared to their readiness level and interests. Initially, a lesson organized around interest gives students a choice in how they learn the lesson. Students may be placed into groups based on a variety of ways including learning styles, interests, or choice, or they may work independently to complete the assignment. Students would have choices as to how to demonstrate their knowledge of the concept. The teacher can control the choices by creating a choice chart where students select their preferred way to demonstrate understanding of the topic. Second, a lesson designed to meet the learning profile of students would take into consideration the way in which students’ best process information and ideas, and ways in which learning style, gender, culture, and intelligence preference influence the students. Teachers need to recognize and understand if a student is a whole-to- part, part-to-whole learner or likes to work in silence, groups, or independently through written expression, speaking, and so on. It is important that students also understand their learning strengths so they can make the appropriate choices within the classroom. The teacher would accommodate for differences in how students learn so optimal learning can take place. According to Merrill (2002), most effective learning environments start with a meaningful problem that provides the focus for four phases of instruction: activation of existing knowledge (including skills), demonstration of new knowledge, application of new knowledge, and integration of new knowledge into the learner’s world. In short, instructional strategies should comprise a differentiated classroom. Therefore, differentiation should not be examined as an instructional strategy by itself; it is a climate of learning created in a classroom by using best practices in teaching, learning, and lesson design. The purpose of this study was to determine the extent to which teachers believe if they were using differentiated instructional strategies, higher achievement results would be produced and sustained with their students than if they were implementing one teaching practice that is intended to equally fit all learners. Specifically, the study focused on the following two research questions: 1. Does differentiated instruction lead to increased student achievement? 2. What are the factors that might either help or hinder the teacher’s ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in the classroom? These two questions directed the researcher to synthesize quantitative and qualitative data. In responding to the last question, the researcher analyzed information around the variables studied to determine any causal relationships between the research variables and student achievement. Hypothesis HA: Though some factors are hindering the teacher’s ability to differentiate instruction, the adequate and relevant implementation of effective differentiated instruction in the learning environment will definitely have its positive implications alleviating students’ achievements. H0: Though some factors are hindering the teacher’s ability to differentiate instruction, the adequate and relevant implementation of effective differentiated instruction
  • 3. strategies within any learning environment has no causal relationship with alleviating students’ achievements. Methodology To attain the research purpose, both quantitative and qualitative research methodology was utilized regarding the relation between differentiated instruction and students’ achievement. The quantitative research technique consisted of a survey of 2 questionnaires: the first one was conducted to cycles 2 and 3 educators randomly chosen from both the private and the public educational sector, whereas the second questionnaire was a student appraisal of the instructional process students were engaged in at their schools. Students who participated were aged 9 to 14; i.e., belonged to cycles 2 and 3. The qualitative research data consisted of 1 structured formal interview with an educational leader. Worth mentioned, the data was collected during the scholastic year 2012-2013. Both the teachers’ and the learners’ questionnaires consisted of 12 items each structured either dichotomous or in Likert scale and developed by the researcher. Dissimilarly, the 4 interview questions were open ended. The questionnaire items revealed some of the instructional strategies related to differentiated instruction in purpose of discovering the degree of awareness among cycles 2 and 3 educators regarding the significance of differentiation in enhancing the learners learning outcomes. 40 questionnaire formats were distributed by the researcher to 40 educators, whereas only 31 were fully answered and submitted back. On the second level, the students’ survey tool was fully answered by 24 students. The researcher supposed that both educators and learners had answered transparently and truthfully. Thus, the educators’ response rate was around 76%, yet the students’ response rate was 100%. Respondents among educators varied in terms of age, gender, experience, and teaching cycle and subject matter being taught. At the same time, respondents among students varied in terms of age, gender, and learning cycle. To facilitate, the quantitative data was collected via 2 different questionnaires from a parametric sample of 31 educators and a non-parametric sample of 24 learners and was interpreted in bar graphs by means of employing an excel program. Furthermore, the quantitative data was compiled, analyzed, and interpreted in bar graphs; besides, the quantitative research methods allowed the researcher not only to analyze the sampled educators’ degree of awareness regarding the importance of considering the element of diversity within any learning environment and the extent to which they believe differentiated instruction might alleviate students’ achievements, but also to explore the learners’ degree of satisfaction within the whole current learning experience inside their schools. In addition, 1 interview allowed the researcher to collect data on an educational manager’s outlook on how knowledgeable teachers are in implementing differentiation strategies, how often differentiated instruction occurs and in what subjects, what factors help teachers productively differentiate in their instructional practices, and what factors hinder effective differentiated instruction to occur. Data Result I. Educators’ Differentiated Instruction Questionnaire (Sample = 31 educators) The purpose of this survey is to investigate the knowledge educators possess in using differentiated instruction in their classrooms. Participation is voluntary. In choosing to complete the following survey, you are agreeing to participate in a research study about differentiated instruction. The survey will take approximately 10-15 minutes to complete. Confidentiality is assured; return of the survey to the researcher acts as the participants agree for their responses to be compiled with others. Please understand that using the data will be limited to the research purpose.  Gender: 12 males (Cycle 3) ; 19 females (Cycles 2 and 3)  Age: 14 educators < 30 years old; 30 years old <10educators <40 years old; 7educators > 40 years old  Teaching Experience /years: 17 educators’ experience > 5 years 08 educators’ experience >10 years 06 educators’ experience < 5 years  Teaching qualifications: 15 educators: Primary Gr. K-6; 16 educators: Middle Gr. 7-9; None: Secondary Gr. 10-12  Current Teaching Assignments: Grade(s): -------------; Sector: 21 educators Private; 10 educators Public  Subject Area Being Taught: 07: English Language Arts 05: Mathematics 02: Visual Art 04: French 06: Sciences 01: Geography 06: Arabic  Social Studies  History Yes No 1. Do you use differentiated instruction in your classroom? 18 (58%) 13
  • 4. 2. Are you familiar with the following instructional and managerial strategies? a. Learning Contracts: 16 (52%) 15 (48%) b. Tiered Assignments: 06 (19%) 25 (81%) c. Independent Projects: 23 (74%) 08 (26%) d. Independent Study: 09 (29%) 22 (71%) e. Curriculum Understanding by Design: 07 (22.5%) 24 (77.5%) f. Curriculum Compacting: 06 (19%) 25 (81%) g. Interest Centers: 19 (61%) 12 (39%) h. Learning Centers: 14 (45%) 17 (55%) i. Varied instructional materials: 23 (74%) 08 (26%) j. Provisions for student’s choice: 08(26%) 23 (74%) k. Flexible Grouping: 22 (71%) 09 (29%) l. Varying Questions: 27(87%) 04 (13%) m. Pre-assessment data to differentiation: 17 (55%) 14 (45%) 3. How often do you use strategies mentioned in number (2) of this questionnaire in your classroom? Always (daily basis) Frequently (weekly basis) Sometimes (monthly basis) Never 03 (10%) 08 (26%) 15 (48%) 05 (16%) 4. In what subject areas do you think differentiation is most effective? (Check all that apply) Eng. Lang. Arts Math Arabic Visual Arts French Geography Sciences History& others 12 (39%) 08 (26%) 14(45%) 12(39%) 12(39%) 04 (13%) 08 (26%) None (0) 5. Do you think that implementing differentiated instruction strategies alleviate student’s achievement? Yes No 26 (84%) 05 (16%) 6. Please indicate how often you differentiate your instruction. Always Frequently Sometimes Never 07 (22.5%) 09 (29%) 12 (39%) 03 (10%) 7. Please indicate how important using differentiated instruction is in the following. a. Lesson Planning: Very important Important Somewhat important Not important 11 (35.5%) 12 (39%) 08 (26%) None (0) b. Assessment and Evaluation: Very important Important Somewhat important Not important 10 (32%) 06 (19%) 11 (35.5%) 04 (13%) c. Lesson Delivery: Very important Important Somewhat important Not important 15 (48%) 13 (42%) 03 (10%) None (0) 8. In your opinion, which of the following factors help(s) your ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in your classroom? (Check all that apply.) Factors Educators  School leadership/ administration: 15 (48%)  Parents’ expectations: 02 (6.5%)  Knowledge and experience 13 (42%)  Creativity 05 (16%) Assessment purpose and type 00 (0%)  Support of other staff 05 (16%)  Instructional Goals: 04 (13%)  Lebanese Curriculum design 00 (0%)  Amount of instructional time 06 (19%)  Amount of planning time 00 (0%)  Range of diversity in the classroom 12 (39%)  Availability of materials 12 (39%) Integration between curriculum and instruction 00 (0%) 9. What factor(s) do you think hinder(s) your ability to implement differentiated instruction in your classroom? Check all that apply) Factors Educators  School leadership/ administration: 16 (52%)  Parents’ expectations: 29 (93.5%)
  • 5.  Knowledge and experience 18 (58%)  Creativity 26 (84%) Assessment purpose and type 31 (100%)  Support of other staff 26 (84%)  Instructional Goals: 27 (87%)  Lebanese Curriculum design 31 (100%)  Amount of instructional time 25 (81%)  Amount of planning time 31 (100%)  Range of diversity in the classroom 19 (61%)  Availability of materials 19 (61%) Integration between curriculum and instruction 31 (100%) 10. What resources would you like to use in order to enhance your knowledge and understanding about differentiated instruction? (Check all that apply) Staff professional development and workshops 19 (61%) Reading books and journals 10 (32%) Watching videos demonstrating its application 02 (6.5%) 11. My students take a learning style inventory every year. Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree 0 (0%) 10 (32%) 02 (6.5%) 14 (45%) 05 (16%) 12. I pre-assess my learners to determine their readiness in constructing their own learning. Strongly agree Agree Neutral Disagree Strongly disagree 05 (16%) 18 (58%) 0 (0%) 08 (26%) 0 (0%) II. Students’ Questionnaire (Sample=24students) Please indicate your level of agreement regarding the following statements about your learning experience at your school. 1= Strongly agree 2= Agree 3= Neutral 4= Disagree 5= Strongly disagree Learning Experience 1 2 3 4 5 1. I like school time. 5 (21%) 10 (42%) 00 16 (67%) 00 2. Most learning activities meet my interests and needs. 00 8 (33%) 6 (25%) 14 (58%) 3 (12.5%) 3. My work at school is neither too hard nor too easy. 00 11 (46%) 5 (21%) 15 (62.5%) 00 4. I’m motivated to learn during class time. 00 10 (42%) 10 (42%) 8 (33%) 3 (12.5%) 5. We discussed in class how we learn best. 2 (08%) 5 (21%) 3 (12.5%) 21 (87.5%) 00 6. I think that my teachers know that every student has his style of learning. 5 (21%) 6 (25%) 3 (12.5%) 14 (58%) 3 (12.5%) 7. I understand all my lessons during class time. 00 19 (79%) 2 (08%) 10 (42%) 00 8. We often work in groups. 00 16 (67%) 00 12 (50%) 3 (12.5%) 9. Group members are always the same. 5 (21%) 10 (42%) 4 (16%) 12 (50%) 00 10. The teacher gives us choices regarding how to complete our assignments and projects. 00 00 00 18 (75%) 13 (54%) 11. The teachers helped me accept that students learn at different levels. 0 10 0 16 05 12. Sometimes, our class activities, assignments, and exams aren’t all the same. 0 05 02 14 11 Data Analysis The purpose of this study was to figure out whether differentiated instruction as a way of thinking of curriculum and instruction would alleviate students’ achievements. For that purpose, the researcher aimed to identify supports that teachers needed successfully and effectively to differentiate instruction so that school leaders would develop and sustain a sense of awareness regarding how to strategically plan for an effective implementation of differentiated education. Subsequently, professional development sessions would be planned to address the identified needs. The findings
  • 6. enclosed the educators’ perspective regarding the relation between differentiated instruction and students’ improvement in learning, the degree to which teachers were knowledgeable about differentiated instruction strategies and the extent to which such strategies would embrace the consecutive teaching practices, and the factors that might play a vital role either helping or hindering an effective implementation of differentiation. First and foremost, the results demonstrated inconsistency in the responses of some educators as some responses to some interrelated questions were contradictory. To begin with, when asked whether they differentiated their instruction in their classrooms (Table1; Q.1), the majority of educators responded positively (58%); whereas when asked in details about how often they apply differentiation strategies in their instruction (Table.1; Q.3), only 10% of the sampled educators responded that differentiation had been among their daily teaching practices, and only 26 % had applied differentiation strategies on weekly basis, whereas 48% claimed that they used to monthly differentiate, and 16% were so frank to confess that they had never differentiated their instruction. Thus, the (58%) of educators who claimed differentiation in their instruction in Q.1 was actually reduced to (36%) of educators who showed frequent or constant differentiation of instruction in Q.3. In table1.Q.2, the researcher needed to identify how familiar the sampled educators were with differentiated instruction strategies, and the majority of the responses disclosed knowledge-ability with varying questions (87%), independent projects and varied instructional materials (74%), and flexible grouping (71%). In addition, 61% of the sample revealed familiarity with interest centers, and more than 50% showed understanding of pre-assessment data to differentiate and learning contracts. Thus, of the 13 differentiation strategies questioned, the educators might be skilled at 7; on the other hand, 6 differentiated instruction strategies (learning centers, tiered assignments, independent study, curriculum by design, curriculum compacting, provisions for student’s choice) needed sessions of training and development to build among educators a sense of knowledge and expertise about what’s missed though prerequisite for effective and fair education nowadays especially that a sense of awareness about the significance of such teaching approach had been already developed among educators as 84% believed that the affective implementation of differentiated instruction would definitely alleviate every student’s achievement (table 1; Q.5). Still some educators not totally aware of the fact that differentiated instruction could be applied in almost all subject areas (table1; Q4.). Thus, the researcher recommended that empowerment in training educators how to differentiate was compulsory to guarantee successful and authentic implementation of differentiation. Furthermore, considering how often they differentiate their instruction in general (table1; Q6), 22.5 % of educators reported that they differentiate on daily basis, 29% differentiate on weekly basis; in contrary, 39% differentiate on monthly basis, and 10% do not differentiate at all. In comparing the results of questions 3 and 6, the researcher found that differentiated instruction is practiced either on daily or weekly basis on a range of 36% to 51%; nevertheless, differentiation is passive or almost passive in instruction on a range of 49 % to 64% though educators greatly understand its value in extending learning and elevating the achievement scale. In view of that, Questions 8 and 9 of the educators’ questionnaire sought to determine not only the factors that help, but also those that hinder the educators’ ability to appropriately and most adequately employ differentiated way of thinking in planning for achieving intended instructional objectives, assessing learners, preparing activities, and practicing instruction for learners’ construction of learning. The survey results illustrated that the sole modest support for the teacher to apply differentiated instruction was referred to school administration in a contribution of 48%; besides, educators’ knowledge and experience in a variety of teaching strategies were active supporters only up to 42%, range of diversity in the classroom and availability of materials were 39% aiding differentiated instruction. In other words to make a long story short, the factors examined by the researcher were establishing a passive relation with differentiated instruction as the graph of Q9 in the educators’ survey proved the following disappointing educators’ perspectives: 1. The Lebanese curriculum design, integration between curriculum and instruction, planning of instruction time, and assessment purpose and type were 100% hindering the educators’ ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in their inclusive classrooms. 2. Parents’ expectations of their children learning experiences were 93.5% hindering the educators’ ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in their inclusive classrooms. 3. Instructional goals, the element of creativity, support of other staff, and instructional time were hindering the educators’ ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in their inclusive classrooms on a scale of 81% to 87%. 4. Range of diversity in the classroom along with the availability of materials was 61% hindering the educators’ ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction in their inclusive classrooms. 5. Educators’ knowledge and experience along with school leadership were the least factors really hindering the educators’ ability to differentiate, respectively 58% and 52%. In fact, such result made it obvious for the researcher why educators were still passive regarding the extent to which differentiation as a way of re-thinking education as a whole is very important; whereas, their active notion of differentiation is further interconnected with lesson delivery than with lesson planning or assessment and evaluation. (Table1; Q7.) Nonetheless, though 72 % of the educators reported that they pre-assess their learners to identify their level of readiness in constructing their own learning (Q12), only 32 % agreed on students’ need to take a learning style inventory every year (Q11); this fact would only emphasize the educators’ more than 60% at least need for staff professional training and workshops (Q10). Next, the 2nd questionnaire was a reflection of students’ perspectives regarding their learning experiences at school. As graph 8 demonstrated, 67% of the sampled learners expressed their negative feeling in relation to school time, and 58% reported their disinterest in class activities, where as 25% showed indifference. Regarding the level of ease or difficulty of their learning, 46% of the participants in the
  • 7. student survey agreed that their work at school is neither too hard nor too easy; thus, adequate. In contrary, considering the 21% that reported neutral response and the 62.5 % that totally disagreed about the adequacy in the level of ease or difficulty of their work at school, the researcher summed up that 83.5 % of the sampled students were either over or less challenged to actively and effectively engage in school work and construct, enhance or extend their own learning. This is quite evidently proven in the fact that 45.5 % of the learners disagreed that they’re motivated during school time; whilst, 42 % responded indifferently that they’re neither motivated the opposite. That is, around 87% of the sampled learners lacked the inspiration to be high achievers since with the lack of motivation, the learner’s self-efficacy would be deteriorated adding only passivity and disengagement to the his/her whole learning experience and hence, insufficiency of achievement. What’s more, the survey result showed that only 29% of the students’ participants were taught how they learn best; i.e. 1/3 of the sample leaving 2/3 lost regarding their best style of learning, which if considered during studying, the learner would increase the possibility of alleviating his/her achievement level. Unsurprisingly, the majority of learners had displayed disagreement regarding how knowledgeable their teachers are about the diversity of learning styles existed in class. Such opinion reflects the kind of teaching that usually occurs inside those learners’ classrooms, a learning experience which is either too near to lecturing and spoon feeding or too far from differentiation. Naturally, the result would be not surprising if 50% of the learners leave the class not understanding their lessons. Moreover, with respect to some differentiation strategies such as flexible grouping, tiered assignments, or choice centers, the learners’ responses revealed the following: 1. Though 67% agreed that they often worked in groups, 63 % clarified that group member were always the same. This fact raises an important question regarding the objective of grouping and the extent to which it’s taking into consideration student’s different needs, preferences, or learning abilities. 2. The teachers were still not skilled or even trying to give differentiated assignments. Every learners choice regarding how to accomplish assignments or projects was neglected as 75% of the sampled learners revealed. In conclusion, the results of the quantitative survey revealed a high level of dissatisfaction among both educators concerning the factors that they believed were hindering their abilities to successfully implement differentiated instruction in their weekly or daily teaching practices and learners concerning school time, classroom curricular activities, and assignments. As a result, the researcher inferred that accommodation and adjustment are no more optional but essential means that must accompany any educational experience if effective learning is intended to be its ultimate goal. Moreover, the quantitative data findings guided the researcher towards a qualitative method by formally interviewing an educational school manager who answered the interview questions stressing on the significance of differentiated instruction as a teaching approach to address all learning needs and preferences. The interviewee emphasized that the school’s educators were highly knowledgeable about how to apply differentiation strategies inside their classroom learning environments. He reported that almost all teachers used differentiation strategies; however, it’s most used in languages and sciences subject areas. Moreover, the education manager revealed a boundless extent of awareness concerning the aspects that might either help or hinder the teachers’ ability to differentiate and accentuated the fact that the school is trying its best to provide and develop effective learning for every student as an entity, yet he was too reticent in uncovering up how. Conclusions and Recommendations Classroom diversity is multifaceted and not easy to understand. Educators are the assets that can not only enhance learning experiences but also build as well as break the reputation of education as a whole. The main purpose of this study was to explore the most important factors that might help or hinder the educators’ ability to successfully implement differentiated instruction and to establish a thought concerning whether a successful differentiation in inclusive classrooms could alleviate every learner’s achievement record. The research study focused mainly on the extent to which differentiated instruction strategies were adopted by educators and education leaders, discovering the educators’ degree of knowledge and understanding about differentiated instruction as a way of rethinking education, curriculum and instruction, starting up down from the curriculum itself, its materials, training and development, reaching the instructional daily practices, and inspiring the learners’ different domains of knowledge and skills. The research answered to research questions through emphasizing that an adequate adoption of the notion of differentiated education will definitely alleviate every student’s achievement and highlighting some of the factors that play a key role either in advancing or hindering the teachers’ capacity to differentiate instruction. Four independent variables seemed to be the most significant roots obstructing the teacher’s willingness to differentiate. These were first, the Lebanese curriculum design itself, integration between the curriculum and instruction, assessment purpose and type, and amount of planning time. On the second level, parents’ expectation of the whole learning experience and the tension of attaining the preplanned instructional goals passively affected the implementation of differentiated instruction in classrooms. On the third level, shortage in the merit of creativity among educators, deficiency in staff support, and the amount of instructional time were impeding the appropriate demonstration of differentiated instruction, facts that had their negative influence on the learners’ degree of satisfaction regarding their curricular learning practices. Consequently, the researcher recommended a tour revisiting the Lebanese curriculum for the purpose of reformation to bridge the elongated gap between the
  • 8. curriculum itself and instructional essential needs towards differentiation not as a teaching practice but as a way of rethinking education to produce and retain effective instructional strategies that respect and honor the difference; hence, addresses it sensitively and empathetically through strategically accommodating to enhance, extend, and empower every learner’s affective, cognitive, and psychomotor growth. References Maslow, A. (1998). Toward a psychology of being. New York: John Wiley & Sons. Merrill, M. D. (2002). First principles of instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development. 50, (3), 43-59. Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.