Godor, Brian P. (2021, January). The many faces of teacher differentiation: Using Q methodology to explore teachers preferences for differentiated instruction. The Teacher Educator, 56(1), 43-60. (doi: 10.1080/08878730.2020.1785068) (Link: https://doi.org/10.1080/08878730.2020.1785068) (Open Access: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/08878730.2020.1785068)

Abstract: Differentiated instruction occurs when teachers use students’ level of readiness, interests, and learning preferences to adjust the content, process, or products, which increases engagement and academic performance. However, teachers cannot offer every form of differentiation to every student all the time. There exist limits of resources as well as an essential balance that teachers need to make in terms of benefits for student learning on the one hand and classroom efficiency on the other. Additionally, the choices teachers make in terms of differentiation are also rooted in and stem from their personal beliefs systems. The goal of this research was to investigate teachers’ preferences for differentiating their instruction by using Q methodology. 32 teachers, coming from a single Dutch secondary school, completed a paper version of a Q sort containing 33 statements. Three groups of teachers were identified who emphasized 1) content mastery over students’ interests, 2) offering options over content growth, and 3) students’ interests or experiences over deliberate teaching. Therefore investigating teachers’ personal differentiation preferences will offer insight into what teachers choose to focus on in their differentiation as well as what teachers do not emphasize. Each cluster is explored in terms of possible effects on student learning. Additionally, the implications for teacher development are also discussed per cluster.

Brian P Godor <godor@essb.eur.nl> is in the Department of Psychology, Education and Child Studies, Erasmus Universiteit, Rotterdam, Netherlands.

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