Date of Award

Summer 2007

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science in Education (MSEd)

Department

Education and Human Development

First Advisor

Thomas Allen

Second Advisor

not legible

Abstract

Meeting the needs of all students in a classroom is one of the biggest challenges that teachers face today. Planning lessons in a differentiated format allows teachers to bridge the gap between different levels and styles of learners in their classrooms, since it acknowledges varying readiness levels, learning preferences, and interests. The author evaluated whether teaching in a differential style would increase a student’s motivation and learning engagement. The author worked with a small group of students in guided reading activities, first teaching in a traditional, teacher-led instructional format and then in a differentiated, student-focused format in which students played a more active role. Pre-study and post-study surveys were conducted to measure students’ responses to the differing teaching styles. Students found the differentiated approach to be more engaging and for concepts taught in that mode to be easier to grasp. However, evidence for increased reading comprehension was inconclusive. The author calls for more empirical research on the direct effects of differentiated teaching on student motivation and engagement.

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