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Differentiated Instruction in a Chemistry Class (Coursework Sample)


exploring instructional differentiation strategy


Differentiated Instruction in a Chemistry Class
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Contents TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u Differentiated Instruction in a Chemistry Class PAGEREF _Toc41317290 \h 3Introduction PAGEREF _Toc41317291 \h 3Differentiated Instruction: Definition and Approaches PAGEREF _Toc41317292 \h 4Research Rationale PAGEREF _Toc41317293 \h 6Research Methodology PAGEREF _Toc41317294 \h 7Review of Research Evidence PAGEREF _Toc41317295 \h 8Content Differentiation PAGEREF _Toc41317296 \h 10Process Differentiation PAGEREF _Toc41317297 \h 12Product Differentiation PAGEREF _Toc41317298 \h 14Discussion and Reflection on Designing a Differentiated Chemistry Class PAGEREF _Toc41317299 \h 16Conclusion PAGEREF _Toc41317300 \h 19References PAGEREF _Toc41317301 \h 20
Differentiated Instruction in a Chemistry Class
The topic of differentiated instruction is one that has dominated educational and pedagogical discourses for a long time. Simply, differentiated instruction entails respecting the fact that learners are different and therefore customizing learning to suit their needs. It involves modifying the course content, instructional methods, and learning resources and activities to drive all students to succeed (Altintas and Özdemir, 2015). Differentiated learning acknowledges that there is no one-size-fit-all approach to learning and it therefore has to be adapted to the specific needs and abilities of each learner. Underpinning the idea of differentiated learning is the need to enhance equality and equity in education and the fact that the nature of classes have changed. The modern class for instance is populated by learners from multiple ethnicities, languages, and background. Moreover, the growing evidence that learners with disabilities achieve more when integrated with learners with no disabilities has led to a situation where all learners attend the same class regardless of presence of a disability (Cheung, Slavin, Kim and Lake, 2017). Even in the rare situation where classes are homogenous as in the absence of diversity in ethnicities or learners with disabilities, learners have different cognitive levels, backgrounds, and motivations. One cannot therefore escape the need to adapt instructional methods to the different needs to ensure that all learners thrive.
The merits of differentiate instruction is a subject that has received wide scholarly attention. Generic studies on the issue show that where instructional methods are adapted to the differences of the learners, all learners tend to thrive as opposed to a few (Dixon, Yssel, McConnell, and Hardin, 2014). However, an ever growing body of studies shows that many teachers do not understand the concept of differentiated learning or how to implement it. A 2016 study by Schleicher shows that globally, many teachers do not adapt their instructional methods to students’ characteristics. Many prefer a one-size-fit-all approach in order to save time and avoid the rigours that come with preparing and executing lesson plans based on individual learners rather than the class (Olufunmilayo, 2010). The problem is more serious in science classes where struggling students are repeatedly bombarded with content they do not understand while high ability students repeat tasks they have already mastered. This paper explores the existing research evidence for differentiated instruction in secondary education through a systematic review. The paper is focused on chemistry. Based on current scholarly and professional discussions about pedagogy and current professional development concerning pupil progress that will be systematically reviewed, the paper will design classroom based interventions for differentiated instruction.
Differentiated Instruction: Definition and Approaches
Differentiated instruction is the deliberate adaptation of the curricula and learning processes and activities to fit the needs of different learners. Typically, differentiated instruction starts with assessing a student’s characteristics including learning readiness, interests, and preference (Kulik and Fletcher, 2016, Schipper, Goei, de Vries, and van Veen, 2018). Ideally, the process of assessing these learner’s characteristics is an on-going one because the needs change with time. A teacher may therefore check a learner’s responsiveness to learning as it unfolds and also use different assessment tools. Principally, the content area, instructional methods, and learning resources and activities should be continuously adjusted in response to the learner’s changing characteristics.
Differentiated learning typically takes varied approaches. The first approach entails the methods and techniques employed by the teacher (Smale-Jacobse, Meijer, Helms-Lorenz, and Maulana, 2019). It also entails the specific details on what a teacher differentiates. Some teacher may go for the approach in which they modify the content to adapt to a learner’s characteristics. It may also entail the adjustment of the learning process to adapt it to the learner’s needs. Assessment may also be changed to fit the learner. Moreover, the teacher may modify the learning environment so that it helps to meet the learner’s needs. Regarding the process, the teacher may adjust the learning time so that learners with the need for more attention can have their needs addressed. A teacher may for instance organise for a pre-teaching or a post-teaching session to address students whose needs have not been met in the normal lessons.
Another approach to differentiate instruction entails embedding organisational changes into the process of adapting learning to different learners. One of the approaches used in organisational adaptation is macro-adaptation (Schipper, Goei, de Vries, and van Veen, 2017). In this approach, students are grouped based on similar characteristics. The teacher may opt to group students based on uniform characteristics in which case students with homogenous interests and readiness are grouped together. The teacher may also group students based on their differences. In this instance, students divide tasks based on their ability to support each other. Those students who grasp concepts first and easily are grouped with those who do not for peer support. Alternatively, the teacher may opt for an individualised approach in which learners handle tasks individually following individualised trajectories that fit within the general framework.
The other approach to differentiated learning is called mastery learning. The approach is centralised and entails the division of the subject matter into the pieces that makes it up (Adeniji, Ameen, Dambatta, and Orilonise, 2018). Each piece stands as its own unit and is administered to the whole class flowing from a class in which all students received the same instructions. Thereafter, the students sit for a formative assessment to test their mastery of the subject matter. Students who score above the set level of mastery are classified as not needing corrective instruction. Those who score below the set score, typically below 80%, are subjected to correctional instruction (Smale-Jacobse, Meijer, Helms-Lorenz, and Maulana, 2019). This may take the form of extra tuition by teachers. It may also be in form of peer teaching. Where parents or the school can manage, independent practice is also provided. Problem-based learning may also be introduced to help students improve their mastery of the subject area as can flipped classroom models. Progressively, the formative assessment is used again to test mastery of subject matter and apply corrective instruction where necessary. An important note about approaches to differentiated instruction is that all the spontaneous adjustments that a teacher engages in do not qualify as differentiate teaching. As stated in the definition, differentiated learning is a deliberate, proactive process and all the spontaneous adjustments done in class do not meet this criterion.
Research Rationale
The systematic review of evidence on differentiated instruction is significant for various reasons. First, there is a dearth of review of empirical studies on differentiated instruction that policy makers and teachers can rely on to inform practice and decision making. As observed earlier, many teachers lack a grasp of what differentiated instruction entails or how to implement it. This overview of research evidence is therefore important as it explores differentiated instruction in details and how to implement it.
Secondly, there is a shortage of research that overview differentiated instruction as it relates to secondary education in general and chemistry subject specifically. Most of the studies of this nature have focused on primary education and science in general. This overview is therefore important as it delves into secondary education and chemistry in particular.
Thirdly, there is a dearth of overview of research evidence that details the design of a differentiated chemistry classroom. This paper is therefore important as it plugs an important gap. The paper offers practical lessons on how to differentiate a chemistry classroom and therefore ensure that all leaners thrive.
Research Methodology
The systematic review of research evidence employed a best evidence synthesis study design. Simply, best evidence synthesis entails analysing and synthesising research evidence on a matter using a rigorous, consistent, and transparent method of selecting the studies to use (Majid and Zahra, 2010). For this review, the researchers started by settling on a working definition of differentiated instruction that would guide the selection of the studies to be selected. The definition encapsulated deli...

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