Date Approved

2007

Degree Type

Open Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Leadership and Counseling

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to determine if differentiated instruction had an effect on student achievement. The researcher sought to answer two research questions “Does differentiated instruction have an impact on student achievement?” and “Are there components of differentiated instruction that have a greater impact on student achievement than others?”

The study followed a mixed method design and consisted of two parts. First, a quantitative analysis of test scores from the Michigan Education Assessment Program (MEAP) and teacher and student survey results were analyzed as a means to outline broad relationships from the data. Results from the quantitative findings directed the researcher on how to frame the qualitative design. Second, a qualitative analysis of classroom observations and interviews with teachers was conducted.

The qualitative portion of this study followed a social interactionism orientation adopted by social interactionism theorist (Blumer, 1969). This approach allowed the researcher to analyze relationships between the differentiation variables. The quantitative data methods of surveys and test scores, qualitative techniques of classroom observations, and teacher interviews were triangulated. Triangulation of data was used to support research findings through independent measures to point to the same conclusions (Webb et al., 1965). The conceptual framework (Hall, 2004) served as the foundation in the identification of the differentiation variables to be studied.

The research findings supported the work of learning styles theorists (Dunn, Griggs, Olsen, Beasley, and Gormann, 1995). Findings also suggested that the differentiation strategies of choice and interest play a vital role in achievement and student satisfaction in learning. Findings suggested that teachers just beginning differentiation should first administer a learning styles inventory to their students. The administration of this inventory will provide the teacher with the necessary information to differentiate for choice and interest, two manageable techniques with which to begin differentiation.

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