Promoting change in teacher practice through supported differentiation of instruction in mathematics
AuthorDermody, Bryce Gilchrist
AffiliationSchool of Mathematics and Statistics
Access StatusOpen Access
© 2019 Dr. Bryce Gilchrist Dermody
Differentiated instruction has been shown to be effective in improving student learning outcomes; however, the resulting work load can be difficult for teachers to manage. A teaching package known as the NRP (Number Resource Package) was created to support teachers to differentiate their instruction, and used effectively in two classrooms. The package allows teachers to identify their students’ current understanding using a diagnostic test and a Guttman Chart, and then provides appropriate material for the area in which students need further consolidation. It assists teachers to identify, and provide instruction for, several different knowledge levels within the one classroom. Use of the NRP in the two experimental classes was compared with five classes that did not use the NRP and continued to follow their school’s mathematics curriculum. This study involved a quasi-experimental approach, using qualitative and quantitative data. Involved were an experimental group (two teachers) and a control group (five teachers) and a total of 147 year 7 students. The research took place in a large school in western Melbourne, Australia. The qualitative data consisted of three surveys and provided information on the effectiveness of the components in the NRP. The quantitative data consisted of a pre- and a post-test completed by students in both the experimental and control groups. These tests were completed at the beginning and the end of a nine-week teaching cycle and the learning gains were determined for each student (i.e. the difference between the pre- and post-test). There was a statistically significant difference between the experimental group and the control group when these learning gains were analysed. The results demonstrated that students in the experimental group who were taught using the NRP showed greater improvement on the post-test when compared to students in the control group. It was noted that those students who performed ‘below’ the expected level and those students who performed ‘above’ the expected level showed the most improvement in the experimental group, when compared with the control group.
Keywordsdifferentiation; individualised learning; mathematics; education; professional development
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