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DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION -Does it Affect student’s Understanding And Outcomes? Janice Congreaves ED. 7202T

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-Does it Affect student’s

Understanding And Outcomes?

Janice Congreaves

ED. 7202T

Fall 2010

Table of contents

Introduction Results

Statement of the Problem

Review of related literature Discussion

Method Implications

Participants (N)

Threats to Internal

Instruments (s) and External Validity

Experimental Design

Procedure References


With the inclusion of students from non-English backgrounds, disabilities, diverse cultural backgrounds, in today’s classroom, educators are looking to teaching and learning strategies that cater for a variety of learning styles.

As a result, differentiated instruction has been gaining ground in many educational circles.

Differentiated instruction which has been defined as a philosophy of teaching that is based on the premise that students learn best when their differences are accommodated, is an innovative way of thinking about teaching and learning.

Being able to identify a student’s learning style and to teach to accommodate these can assist students to achieve better results academically and improve their attitudes to learning.

Statement of the problem
Statement of the Problem

Regular classroom teachers make very few modifications in their instructions to suit the learning preferences of the students in their classroom. There is the tendency “to teach to the middle,” which can result in poor academic results and attitudes to learning.

Review of related literature
Review of Related Literature


(Robert Gagne, Dunn and Dunn, Howard Gardner).

Each of these theorist address the idea that students are not made from the same cookie cutter mold, and teaching should be adjusted accordingly.

Gagne in his Condition of Learning stipulates that there are several different types or levels of learning. The significance of these classification is that each different type of learning requires different type of instruction.

Review of related literature1
Review of Related Literature

Gardner describes learning differences through his multiple intelligences theory. According to his theory, humans have at least eight ways of being intelligent or talented about the world. (Gardner 1999).

Dunn and Dunn learning styles model is buildt on the theory that each individual has a unique set of biological and developmental characteristics. These unique characteristics impact substantially on how a person learns new information and skills. (Good & Brophy ,1986).

Review of related literature2
Review of Related Literature

Vygotsky stresses the importance of looking at each child as an individual who learns distinctively. Consequently, the knowledge and skills that are worthwhile learning varies with the individual. (Vygotsky,1962).

Tomlinson, a renown educator states that “the differentiated classroom balances learning needs common to all students, with more specific needs tagged to individual learners” ( Tomlinson, 2001).

Review of related literature3
Review of Related Literature

Differentiation can liberate students from labels , offering students individual opportunities to perform at their best (Tomlinson, 2003)

Implementing Differentiated instruction exposes students to a variety of learning strategies and experiences, which helps them to be successful in our democratic society. When this happens, the level of student engagement increases because students are working at their ability and interest levels.

Review of related literature4
Review of Related literature

Doyle and Ruterford (1984) states that learners differ in a wide variety of ways and these differences are likely to influence how they respond to and benefit from a given instructional method or program. If instruction is adapted to specific intellectual or emotional ‘aptitudes’ then it would seem that in comparison to standard teaching situations, more students would reach higher level of achievement.

Review of related literature5
Review of Related Literature

Differentiated instruction, when implemented effectively, can be a solution to managing mixed-ability classrooms, reducing boredom, increasing motivation, improving behavior, and close educational gaps.

Differentiated instruction is a lot of work, but the students love it, frustration levels are lowered, and deeper understanding occurs (Scherer,2000).

Review of related literature6
Review of Related Literature


Many teachers do not feel equipped to differentiate for a class of diverse needs and disabilities with an in-service training.

Planning for differentiating instruction is time consuming.

Few teachers have the time, energy or support for making substantial changed in how they teach, let alone the opportunity to arrive at a determination to do so. (Neely & Alm, 1992).

Statement of the hypothesis
Statement of the Hypothesis

HR1. Grouping 28 second grade students at

P.S. X in Brooklyn, N.Y. by learning styles will improve their math score over a four week period.



Twenty-eight second grade students at an elementary school in an urban community in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Thirteen girls and fifteen boys.

General education classroom.



Consent Form to Principal

Student Survey

Math Assessment - 2 Pretest – 1 without D.I, 1 with D.I. (using Everyday Math program).

-1 Posttest (using Everyday Math program).

Experimental design
Experimental Design

Pre-Experimental design: one group pretest- Post test design.

Single group pretested (O), exposed to a treatment (X), and post tested (O).

Symbolic design: OXO.

Groups were not randomly selected.


Students were given a pretest without differentiation at the end of Unit 1in September. Students were then asked to complete a survey that best describes how they like to learn.

Based on students responses on the survey, students were designated as global or analytical learners using the Dunn and Dunn Learning Style Inventory. There were 17 analytical learners and 11 global learners.

Students were given a second pretest in October in their preferred learning style.

Over a four week period, students were taught math concepts covered in Unit 3 in Everyday Math in their preferred learning style.

Students were then post tested in December on Unit 3.

All data collected was used in the study.


Analytical Learners


The data was analyzed by looking at the overall change in student’s pre-post test scores.

Analytical learners did not show any improvement in math scores . There was a decrease in their post test scores. Their pretest scores were 81% and their posttest scores were 73%.

Global learners also did not show any increase in math scores.Their pretest scores were 60% and 66% and their posttest scores were 58%.


Correlation of students sitting on cushions or on the floor when they work and test sores.

Survey Question 11:

I like sitting on cushions

or on the floor when I work.

Correlation was found between students lying on cushions or on the floor when they work in math and test scores. There was a positive correlation rxy =0.126.


Correlation between students who like to work at a desk.

Survey question5:

I like to work sitting

at a desk.

Correlation was found between students who like to work sitting at their desk.

There was a positive correlation of rxy = 0.112


The Dunn and Dunn Learning Inventory used in this research project was an abbreviated one and was hand scored by the researcher. As such it may not be as accurate as the complete survey.

When student responses to the survey indicated opposite answers to what was in effect the same question, the researcher had no basis for determining which response was a true representation of the students’ preference.


This research project sought to examine the effectiveness of learning styles on the improvement of math scores.

The findings did not support the hypothesis- that learning styles had an effect on math scores.

The research possibly requires a longer period of study to truly investigate whether learning styles has an effect on math scores.

Threats to internal and external validity
Threats to Internal and External Validity

Internal Threats to Validity External Threats to Validity

History Ecological Validity

Maturation Selection Treatment Interaction

Testing Experimenter Effects

Instrumentation Reactive Arrangements/ Participants Effects

Statistical Regression

Differential Selection


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Cox, S. (20080. Differentiated instruction in the elementary classroom. Education Digest, 52-54. Retrieved February 23, 2010 , from ERIC database.

Cuthbert, P.F. (2005). The student learning process: learning styles or learning approaches? Teaching In Higher Education, 10(2), 235-245. Retrieved April 07, 2010, from JSTOR database.

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Dembo, M.H., & Howard, K. (2007). Advice about the use of learning styles: a major myth in education. Journal of College Reading and Learning, 37(2), 101-109. Retrieved April 27, 2010, from ERIC database.

Doyle, W., Ruterford, B.(1984). Classroom research on matching learning and teaching styles. Theory and Practice, 23(1), 20-25. Retrieved April 07, 2010, from JSTOR database.

Dunn, R., & Dunn, K. (1992). Teaching elementary students through their individual learning styles: practical approaches for grades 3-6. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

Dunn, R., Griggs, S.A., Olson, J., Beasley, M. & Gorman, B.S. (1995). A meta-analytic validation of the Dunn and Dunn model of learning-style preferences. The Journal of Educational Research, 88(6), 353-362. Retrieved April 13, 2010, from JSTOR database.

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