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Differentiation According to Educators: Using the Delphi Approach

Dysinger, Billie Kamananipilialoha (2020) Differentiation According to Educators: Using the Delphi Approach. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



Differentiation is a well-known and popularly endorsed aspect of teaching. However, the lack of effective adoption and implementation of it as a practical classroom strategy suggests some uncertainty relating to the definition and indicates the challenge or difficulty of effective implementation.
This study sought to investigate primary school teachers’ understanding of the idea and explores the educational concept through the Delphi technique, which uses both qualitative and quantitative methods (open-ended survey responses, Likert scale questions, semistructured questions and response to summaries of previous rounds). The main research question for the study is ‘what definitions can be generated in regard to the teaching and assessment strategies associated with differentiation among a group of teachers working in a similar environment?’, a series of secondary questions explore further aspects of teachers’ thinking about differentiation. Four rounds of surveys following the Delphi methodology were completed by 19 primary school teachers. A series of different questionnaire types were used to enable a panel of teachers to reach a final consensus by analysing and refocusing each subsequent round of survey questions.
The data collected in each round produced a total of 38 teaching and 20 assessment strategies relating to differentiation. The final round led to 32 teaching strategies and 15 assessment strategies reaching consensus. This left a six teaching and five assessment strategies that did not reach consensus.
A key to developing a better understanding of concerns among educators may be through the process of creating a shared definition by practitioners and not relying upon handed-down terms and definitions. By engaging teachers with an opportunity to jointly create, discuss, and reflect upon the meaning and strategies of complex pedagogy like differentiation through active consensus-building such as the Delphi methodology, schools and professional development leaders can address misconceptions and develop and reinforce a shared understanding and common vocabulary that enables collegial support to be timely, effective, and more importantly, understandable for the educator. While such consensus-building efforts like this research project are time-intensive, they are also valuable because the process allows teachers to engage in professional discourse that is meaningful for the teacher and perhaps better suited to support ongoing professional development efforts for increased implementation. This implementation of a best practices pedagogy like differentiation may,in turn, help improve student learning, which is ultimately the end goal of any educational endeavour.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Education
Keywords:Differentiation, classroom teaching, Delphi technique, mixed methods.
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of
Thesis Date:2020
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:28 Sep 2020 11:43

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