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Primary school teachers’ development of differentiation skills : comparing skills, teachers’ mastery of skills, and factors influencing the development of skills

Safar, I. (2019) Primary school teachers’ development of differentiation skills : comparing skills, teachers’ mastery of skills, and factors influencing the development of skills.

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Abstract:Differentiation is an approach that requires teachers to adjust their teaching to students’ needs. In previous research (Van Geel et al., 2018) it was identified which differentiation skills teachers need to master. However, many teachers still cannot adjust their teaching to students’ needs, even though education requires teachers to differentiate (Inspectie van het Onderwijs, 2014). To help teachers adapt their teaching to students, insights into the development of teachers’ differentiation skills were needed. Therefore, to gain more insight into how teachers develop differentiation skills and which factors promote and this development, this research was conducted. To examine what teachers do to differentiate per phase of a lesson and lesson period, which skills they think are easy and hard to master, and what they think supported and obstructed them in developing the differentiation skills, seven teachers were interviewed. The results led to an extension of the second instrument. To investigate how teachers develop the differentiation skills, the Differentiation Self-Assessment Questionnaire (DSAQ) was used and new items and questions related to influencing factors were added. A total of 288 Dutch primary school teachers filled out the online survey. To determine the reliability of the DSAQ including the new items, Cronbach’s alpha was calculated and the reliability turned out good. It is concluded that, on average, teachers think they master the required differentiation skills well. The skills to conduct diagnostic conversations, set goals with students, and support high-achieving students are mastered to a lower extent by teachers and considered as more difficult skills to master. To examine differences in the mastery of differentiation skills between the beginning and more experienced teachers, between teachers teaching different grades, and between part-time and full-time teachers, analyses were done. Teachers with less than three years of teaching experience think they master differentiation skills to a lower extent than teachers with more than three years of teaching experience. Upper grade teachers think they master differentiation skills to a higher extent compared to other teachers. There is no difference between the mastery of differentiation skills by full-time and part-time teachers. Factors influencing teachers’ development of differentiation skills were also described. The most promoting factors are teachers’ experiences, their positive attitude and beliefs, and support from Teacher Education. Hindering factors are the lack of time to differentiate, lack of information from Teacher Education, and teachers’ lack of knowledge and experience. The insights are valuable for the specification of previous findings on teachers’ development and can be used to improve activities for teachers’ development of differentiation skills and to increase the effectiveness of differentiation.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:31 mathematics, 81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/79558
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