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Browsing eScholarship@Morgan by Subject "Ability grouping in education"
(2016) Mahon, Velta Mary; Welsh, Benjamin H.; Education and Urban Studies; Doctor of Education
Differentiated instruction (DI) is defined as an approach to teaching students of differing abilities in the same classroom. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine, understand and describe how DI was being practiced in an elementary school classroom in a public school setting. Data collection included classroom observations, interviews of the teachers and site document reviews. The data were collected for a period of two weeks at one particular school. One principle teacher was observed thoroughly and three others were briefly observed in order to compare and to contrast and to gain a deeper understanding of the implementation of DI. The results of the study determined that the teachers followed a district wide school mandate to differentiate instruction. They used pre-assessment data to identify students for DI. The teachers used ability grouping to a great extent to differentiate instruction. Ability grouping occurred at two levels at the school: within classrooms and between classrooms. Within classrooms, differentiated instruction theory was partially followed but between classrooms DI theory was not followed. The teachers had a supportive school principal who believed in DI and who provided them with all the necessary resources they needed to make DI work. The principal also provided the teachers with professional development in DI and adequate planning time. The teachers collaborated for grade level strategic lesson planning in DI on a daily basis. In that particular school, all of the teachers followed a school wide classroom management behavior initiative which did not work for all the students. The disruptive behavior of certain students reduces the effectiveness of the implementation of DI. Data in this research revealed some of the challenges that teachers may face when implementing DI in the classroom. They include pre-existing ability grouping, spontaneous ability grouping, and the handling of students with behavioral problems.