Universiteit Leiden

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Differentiated instruction in practice

A teacher perspective

Saskia Stollman
23 May 2018


The research in this thesis was conducted in the context of an innovation implemented at a school for secondary education that aimed to further develop students' talents at school. Since differentiated instruction (DI) was encouraged in this innovation, and because DI appears to be a complex approach to implement, we studied teachers' implementation of DI, teachers' interactive cognitions of DI, and their sense-making of the innovation. We therefore conducted a systematic literature review, and studied 4 secondary school teachers using stimulated recall interviews and 15 secondary school teachers using questionnaires with open-ended questions. The literature review provided an overview of how many different factors in the teachers' daily working environment influenced teachers' implementation of DI: for example, the school principal appears to be important in providing support to teachers to change their practices towards more DI. The stimulated recall interviews and questionnaire showed that the context of the innovation might provide the teachers with more freedom to experiment with DI, since they did not have to follow the regular curriculum in this innovation. In addition, the stimulated recall interviews provided the insight that teachers mainly take student readiness into account and that their DI resembles convergent DI.

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