The Impact of Differentiated Instruction In Enhancing The Academic of Secondary School Students
Students come to class bringing with them their diverse cultural background, learning styles, interests, abilities and multiple intelligences. The diversity of students in the classroom can result in a significant challenge for teachers when it comes to meeting the needs of all students. Some students may find the lesson too easy while some find it too hard; some may find the topic interesting while some find it boring. It is the goal of differentiated instruction (DI) to reach out to each student and approach the lesson in a way that fits their learning styles, interests, abilities or multiple intelligences.
Differentiated instruction has a strong theoretical basis that includes constructivist theory, brain-based research and multiple intelligences (Felder & Soloman, 2004; Gardner, 1993; Vygotsky, 1978). However, the philosophy of differentiation is lacking empirical validation (Ducey, 2011; Subban, 2006; Tulbure, 2011). Many of the studies are qualitative in nature indicating positive emotional outcomes in terms of motivation, task commitment, and excitement about learning (Burkett, 2013; Maeng, 2011). On the quantitative studies determining the effectiveness of differentiated instruction, some studies revealed the effectiveness of differentiated instruction over traditional instruction (Aliakbari & Haghigi, 2014; 2010; Dosch & Zidon, 2014; Joseph, et al., 2013; Stavroula, et al., 2011), but some showed no significant difference with the traditional instruction (Ducey, 2011; McCoach, et al., 2013; Maxey, 2013; Vincent, 2012). Studies on differentiated instruction are mostly focused on the elementary and middle-school level and are very rare on the high school level (Maeng, 2011). Furthermore, differentiated instruction occurs most often in reading, writing and math classrooms and is seldom applied to other subject areas including science (Eady, 2008; Tobin & Tippett, 2014).
The limited literature on the use of differentiated instruction in secondary school science classes and the conflicting results of previous quantitative research calls for more studies to be conducted. The gap in the literature has motivated the researchers to conduct this study.