January 7, 2010

Differentiated Insturction and Student Achievement

Research Description

The presentation intended for the realization of this research proposal clearly gives an important emphasis of student achievement through differentiated instruction. The proposal will involve relevant data in terms of providing a concrete review of the literature integrating useful information needed in order for the researcher to vividly present what needs to be considered in acquiring the purpose of the study and what needs to be done in the whole process of data and interpretation as well as providing clear research questions that must be answered concisely with good content materials and substance. There needs to have the use of respondents that will basically cover as the sample population of the study along with methods to be used for this research be it statistical or quantitative data and the application of preliminary as well as secondary data is also important. It is a must to show dependent and independent variables that will give clarity to the topic being investigated. There needs to have the discussion of the issues concerning the steps to protect the research respondents from such risks. This research proposal presentation will serve as a tool for further investigations of the study as well as future research that speaks clearly of the factors relating to the research topic and will provide awareness to the people involved in giving worth and value for the completion of this research study respectively.




Statement of the Problem


There are many issues that involve differentiated instruction that intends to increase student achievement in reading as well as mathematics that will inhibit students' possibility for improvement. The findings will provide insights on the future of differentiated instruction relating to student achievement in terms of their reading and mathematics abilities per se. The problem is that, is true that not all students are alike and basing from this statement, it can be said that differentiated instruction applies an approach to teaching and learning so that these students will have various options for taking in information and making sense of ideas. That is why this study aims to analyze and evaluate them and later to use them as evidences that differentiated instruction really increases student achievement in any circumstances and situations. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize student's growth and individual success by meeting each student where he is and assisting in the learning process.








To address the problem of the study, the following general research questions will be explored:


Research Questions


  1. Does the use of differentiated instruction increase student achievement?


  1. Does the use of differentiated instruction increase student achievement in reading?


  1. Does the use of differentiated instruction increase student achievement in mathematics?












Review of Literature


moreover, research evidences indicates that students are more successful in school and more engaged if they are taught in ways that are responsive to their readiness levels (Vygotsky, 1986) their interests (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990) and their learning profiles (Sternberg et al., 1998). According to Tomlinson (2003) in adopting differentiated instruction, teachers are always trying to address such characteristics for every student. Moreover, in reinforcing the concept of differentiation as it involves a compilation of many educational theories and practices. (Howard, 1994; Jensen, 1998) Many teachers assert that their classrooms have been transformed significantly and better by means of a differentiated instruction (Tomlinson, 2000) towards differentiation as a promising practice and principles which are basic to any good teaching, as critical to and the foundation for successful differentiated instruction. (Howard, 1994; Jensen, 1998) The learning environment must make students feel safe before learning will take place that teachers demonstrate and encourage openness and respect for student differences and value learners (Watson, 1985; Tomlinson, 2001; Pettig, 2000).




Thus, it is said that learning is the construction of understanding, each learner needing to make his own meaning of the ideas and skills being taught. Therefore, effective teaching is based on concepts with concept-based teaching, learners are more likely to construct and enhance frameworks of meaning, understand the relationship of the parts to the whole and relate the subject to their life and to other topics (Kesner et al., 1993). They also are more likely to retrieve and remember the ideas and information (Erickson, 1998) and to use ideas more readily (Keverns et al., 1997). However, in the recent studies Murphy et al (2001) found evidence of a positive association with the use of student achievement in reading and mathematics, an association consistent with earlier reviews of the research literature on the effectiveness of differentiated instruction through computers (Kulik & Kulik, 1991; Kulik, 1994; Fletcher-Flinn & Gravatt, 1995; Ryan, 1991). Students in the early grades, from pre-kinder to grade 3 and middle school grades appear to benefit most from DES applications for reading instruction, as students with special reading needs.







n a 2000 study commissioned by the Software and Information Industry Association, Sivin-Kachala and Bialo (2000) reviewed 311 research studies on the effectiveness of technology on student achievement. Their findings revealed positive and consistent patterns when students were engaged in technology rich environments, involved gains and achievement in certain subject areas, increased achievement in preschool through high school for both regular and special needs students and improved attitudes toward learning and increased self-esteem. Thus, O'Dwyer, Russell, Bebell and Tucker-Seeley (2005) found that while controlling for both prior achievement and socioeconomic status, fourth-grade students who reported greater frequency of differentiated instruction at school were likely to have higher total English arts test scores on fourth grade test scores on the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) English Arts test.  Schacter (1999) found that students with access to any of a number of technologies like for example, computer assisted instruction, integrated learning systems, simulations and programming technologies show positive gains in achievement on researcher constructed tests, standardized tests and national tests.  Cavanaugh's synthesis (2001) of 19 experimental and quasi-experimental studies of the effectiveness of interactive distance education using videoconferencing and telecommunications for K-12 academic achievement found positive effect in favor of distance education and more positive effect sizes for interactive distance education programs that combine an individualized approach with traditional classroom instruction.


Researchers are making progress on the more complicated task of investigating the impact of differentiated instruction on student achievement in terms of reading and mathematics on higher thinking skills as measured through the use of standardized tests. They are examining students' ability to understand complex phenomena, analyze and synthesize sources of information and build logical representations of their knowledge that will emphasize the ability to access and synthesize information. (Roschelle, Pea, Hoadley, Gordin and Means, 2000) Research studies focusing on student achievement seem to bear different results than studies focusing on equity issues about the educational significance of the findings. Students can move from group to group as they progress, and the whole class receives the same basic instruction. Mullis, 1991) On the basis of results from many separate studies, some have argued that students of all ability levels do no better in tracked classes than in classes of mixed ability (Slavin, 1990). These findings prompted many schools to abolish tracking. Gamoran also found that the difference in achievement between students in the upper and lower tracks was even greater than the difference between those who stayed in school and those who dropped out.





In attempting to place these findings in a broader context, it is worth considering the general levels of proficiency in mathematics among high school seniors as measured by the National Assessment of Educational Progress (Mullis, 1991). Though students in academic programs, with plans to attend college, performed significantly higher in mathematical achievement than students in general was barely above the level required to successfully understand the material introduced.  The gap between high and low achievers will indeed narrow under mixed ability grouping, because the high and average students will likely achieve less, but the lower students will not likely achieve more. It also seems that the process does not necessarily have the same effects in reading and math courses (Epstein & MacIver, 1992) while lower achieving students were found to benefit from mixed-ability grouping in some math survey courses that seemed to benefit students some tracked algebra classes.










Definition of Terms


Differentiated Instruction is a teaching theory based on the premise that instructional approaches should be adapted in relation to individual and diverse students in classrooms. (Tomlinson, 2001) It is an approach that enables teachers to plan strategically to meet the needs of every student. It is rooted in the belief that there is variability among any group of learners and that teachers should adjust instruction accordingly (Tomlinson, 2003). It is the teacher's response to the diverse learning needs of his or her students. (Tomlinson, 2003)


Student achievement involves the accomplishments of the students in relation to their academic that has improved across levels and have higher achievement and that the rate of gain varies significantly and that student efforts shows better achievement and the idea to always take in control of the challenges within the context of better instruction received at school engaging to a better process of education.






Readiness refers to a student's knowledge, understanding and skill related to a particular sequence of learning. It is influenced by a student's cognitive proficiency as well as life experiences and attitudes about school. Readiness can vary according to topic and circumstance. As Tomlinson (2003) points out, if readiness levels in a class vary, so must the complexity of work provided. It can also be addressed through small group sessions or the provision of one on one teacher and peer support or coaching.


Interest arises from topics that evoke curiosity and passion in students and in which they want to invest time and energy to learn about. When a student's interests are tapped, that student is more to be engaged to persist in learning (Csikszentmihalyi, 1990; Maslow, 1962; Sousa, 2001; Wolfe, 2001).


Learning Profile refers to how a student learns best. Preferences for learning are shaped by intelligence preference, culture and gender. Teachers differentiate by learning profile when they provide learning activities that offer students choices for demonstrating mastery of learning: journals, presentations, role plays




Content refers to what students need to learn: the major concepts, principles and skills that are taught. The learners should be given access to the same content. (Tomlinson, 2001) Teachers should adjust the degree of complexity using diverse instructional processes to teach the content. (Tomlinson, 1999)

Process refers to ways in which the content is taught the activities that help students understand and eventually own the concepts and skills being taught. The key to differentiating process is flexible grouping, in which learners are sometimes grouped by readiness levels, sometimes by interest, and sometimes by learning profiles. This approach supports the growth of a strong community of learners among everyone in the class. It would be difficult to differentiate instruction without using flexible grouping.


Instruction is concept focused as well as principle-driven as these concepts should be broad based and not focused on such unlimited facts. Teachers must focus on the principles and skills that students should learn. The content of instruction should address the same concepts with the students but be adjusted by degree of complexity for the diversity of learners in the classroom.









The methodology of the study is to have a random sampling analysis with certain comparisons of data and information gathered to have valid details as well as analysis that if certain instruments will have unstable reliability and validity if the methods to be used in the sampling of the population are not randomized per se. The research design that will be used in the study is descriptive research. Descriptive research intends to present facts concerning the nature and status of a situation, as it exists at the time of the study (Creswell, 1994). It is also concerned with relationships and practices that exists and processes that are ongoing, trends that are developing. (Best, 1970) In addition, such approach tries to describe present conditions, events or systems based on the impressions or reactions of the respondents of the research (Creswell, 1994).  Respondents in the study high school students who will be chosen randomly from different school campuses within the US. They will be chosen through stratified random sampling and will be surveyed with a self-report survey instrument. A five-point Likert Scale will be used to measure the level of differentiated instruction (as the dependent variable for this study) in student achievement in terms of reading and mathematics (as the independent variable) in every statement in the questionnaire.






In the Likert technique, the degree of agreement or disagreement) is given a numerical value ranging from one to five, thus a total numerical value can be calculated from all the responses (Underwood, 2004). The equivalent weights for the answers will be:



Range                                                            Interpretation

            4.50 – 5.00                                                    Strongly Agree

            3.50 – 4.00                                                    Agree

            2.50 – 3.49                                                    Uncertain

            1.50 – 2.49                                                    Disagree         

            0.00 – 1.49                                                    Strongly Disagree



Finally, personal interviews will be conducted on both students and teachers to determine the educational nature of the differentiated instruction among the desired sample population.. This will be done with a guide of an open interview questionnaire regarding on the matter. Data will be analyzed with the use of the latest survey software and will be compared with the use of chi-square.





The researcher anticipate that use of such tools that will increase the students' achievement in reading and mathematics due to the exposure of differentiated instruction and active learning through interaction with both supplemental materials and their classmates and teachers. This interaction and active searching for information are not components of a modern lecture type course within the context structure of differentiated instruction and it is expected to increase the level of student achievement performance like for instance, on quizzes and examinations in their reading and mathematics classes. An incentive for students to utilize on these instructions along with the interactive components that involves the provision of each student's grade devoted to classroom achievements because of enough involvement and participation during class. One hundred students enrolled in two middle reading and mathematics courses at a university will need to participate in this study and will complete an online survey during the second week of classes. The demographic data will be tabulated as it will provide a basis from which to describe the increase of student achievement because of the use of differentiated instructions both reading and mathematics and will include the following: class standing: freshman, sophomore, junior and senior as well as gender and race, hours spent and the amount of time they spend commuting to campus.





There should be a certain study analysis and the useful application of the methodology. There is a comparative study to be done to the participants who are the freshmen students done to the senior students by means of the following: The Coates & Humphreys (2001) study utilized the students enrolled in their own reading and mathematics classes. This study will evaluate data collected from two intermediate level courses that have been taught in differentiated instruction format with web based support. The control that helps equate the recently taught differentiated classes and that there is an underlying principle of comparison that is made between each study through the sampling process. The intermediate classes are chosen to more closely mirror the choice of instruction in order to measure properly student achievement in both reading and mathematics class as a part of the secondary school curriculum. There describes the tools, measures and techniques for collecting data that could be of so much use in simple ways as the study may use certain established validity and reliability and to see to it that the mind in terms of student achievement and the differentiated instruction will relate vividly to the educational appropriateness of the study that is valid and reliable when being used by the sample students. The instruments are in the form of survey technique as well as comparison with the respected analysis that is of great relevance in dealing to the context of the study.





The use of quantitative methods will involve demographic data gathered from the survey conducted during the second week of class. To answer the research question as mentioned earlier in this study. The Pearson r statistical test will be used to determine the presence or absence of a relationship between the variables: student achievement in reading and in mathematics. A likelihood-ratio c2 (Pearson c2) test with a predicted value of more than 5 percent to make the c2 test valid and will be used in finding out the focal point of this study that, is the idea that the use of differentiated instruction will increase student achievement such as in reading and mathematics respectively.  This research study will somewhat repeat Coates and Humphrey's statistical model to provide a method for analysis that mirrors differentiated instruction efforts. The model relates student achievement and performance on quizzes and examinations to the gathered data from the student survey and measures the efforts to access differentiated instruction material and participate in interactive communication activities.









The basic model being repeated is:


Yi,t = α0 + α1 Wi,t + α2Ci + α3Zi + ei,t

Were i indexes students (i=1…N) and t indexes student achievement in terms of scores on quizzes, exams and the overall grade of their reading and mathematics (t=1…T), the αj's are vectors of parameters to be estimated and the variables are defined as:

Yi,t                    Outcome for student i on examination t

ZI, 2, 3               A class indicator variable

Wi,t                  List of variables reflecting student i's of differentiated instruction material prior to the examination t

Ci                    List of variables reflecting measurable factors specific to student I

ei,t                    Mean zero, normally distributed error term


Thus, included in the Wi,t are variables measuring the number of attempts students' achievement as well as variables reflecting experience with the differentiated instruction and participation on class discussions. Ci contains attributes of the student and involvement in their reading and mathematics class. These factors may vary across students but do not vary from achievement to the next. Zi is a dummy variable distinguishing students enrolled in the each of the intermediate classes in reading and mathematics. (Bassey, 1999; Klein, 2000; Rodgers & Jensen, 2001).


Students were required to reflect on the results and the class discussion and write a summary that they would take to improve their learning in experiencing differentiated instruction. Students were encouraged to continuously reflect and make changes in their cognitive functioning if required for greater success. However, while overall student achievement seems to have risen somewhat in recent years, the middle grades are not necessarily responsible for that gain. For instance, it has been argued that the value added by grades five to eight has actually declined over time in mathematics and has remained stagnant in reading (Haycock and Ames, 2000). That is, eighth-grade student scores have improved, this improvement might be attributable to better student achievement in fourth grade rather than what is happening in the middle grades.  (Mizell, 2000; Cooney, 1998; Schmidt et al, 1996).


Students performing in the lowest quartile tend to receive less academic guidance than their high-achieving peers and face lower expectations from their teachers. Their teachers tend to score lower on various indicators of pedagogical effectiveness and personal efficacy than teachers of students performing at higher levels. (Wang, 2001; Bracey, 2000), it provokes much concern about middle grades student achievement particularly in mathematics. The key findings are well-known: In mathematics and reading, U.S. fourth-graders reached a higher achievement level than their peers in other developed nation.





The issues will cover ethical principles, ethical dilemmas between informed choice and informed consent and emerging reality that raise ethical concerns.


Human Research Must Protect Participants

Research among humans is necessary to learn how to better improve methods, and policies as it is essential that such research be done in an ethical manner with careful planning and procedures to protect research participants. Thus, by means of informed choice and informed consent, research providers and researchers can help ensure that clients and study participants make fully informed and voluntary decisions about the goal and purpose of the study. Researchers need to have a converted standard consent format to a brochure with clear diagrams which is suitable for the reading level of the students as the respondents for research wherein some volunteers would be required in the process.









Week One:

Drafting and Lay outing of the research proposal and determine such important and related studies to support any validity of findings and results

Week Two:

Collecting and Gathering of possible data information and appropriate research evidences

Week Three:

Finalization, Assessment and Evaluation of research discussions and its overall contextual process and be applicable for future research













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