Implementation of Differentiated Instruction in Middle School Classrooms: A Qualitative Study

LaToya Benjamin, Sunddip Panesar-Aguilar


Despite research on the benefits of implementing Differentiated Instruction (DI) practices within an inclusive classroom, many teachers do not utilize the practice regularly. An instrumental case study that included teachers from 1 middle school in a rural school district in a southeastern state was used as the qualitative research design in this study. The purpose was to explore rural middle school teachers’ experiences and challenges with incorporating the components of DI to support special education students in inclusion classrooms. Tomlinson’s model of DI as it relates to teachers providing responsive instruction to meet the needs of each of their students regardless of their ability was used as the conceptual framework. A purposeful sample of 10 middle school teachers Grades 6–8 from various content areas in the school participated in interviews, observations, and submitted documents for review. Data were coded and thematic relationships and patterns related to the DI framework emerged. Themes included concerns regarding teachers’ lack of knowledge and professional development for fidelity of implementation of DI with special needs students, insufficient resources to support implementation of DI, and concerns with class size and accommodation of DI needs of all students within an inclusion-based classroom. Based on the results, the research may contribute to positive social change by helping middle school teachers use the components of DI in their inclusion-based classes and by providing instructional support to enhance learning and increase academic success for special education students.

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Copyright (c) 2020 World Journal of Education


World Journal of Education
ISSN 1925-0746(Print)  ISSN 1925-0754(Online)

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