A Pilot Study of Singapore Teachers’ Perceptions of Differentiated Instruction

Project Number
SUG 15/15 HTT

Project Duration
January 2016 - November 2017


Student population in Singapore has seen increasing diversity that reflects the changes in our society. Consequently, the Ministry of Education has called for differentiated instruction in the classroom to meet diverse student learning needs. Differentiated instruction aims to attend to different readiness, interests, motivations, and learning profiles and has been shown to improve student engagement and achievement. In spite of the changing diversity in schools as well as policy and scholarly recommendations for differentiation, there have been scant studies investigating how teachers understand the term differentiated instruction and apply the concept within their classrooms. Thus, this proposed qualitative study seeks to address the gap in research by investigating teacher conceptions around the rationale, goals, practices, and challenges of differentiated instruction. Data will be collected through two avenues. The first involves 20 teachers participating in a Masters level class. Classroom discussions, semi-structured reflection questions in assignments, and class discussion artefacts will provide data that form a broad understanding of teachers’ perspectives. The second involves a case study of a school embarking on differentiation. Professional development workshop and consultation discussions, on top of teacher interviews, will provide a deeper understanding of differentiation within a school context. It is hoped that a combination of both data sets will provide us with a horizontal and vertical preliminary overview of how teachers understand and practise differentiation; as such, policymakers, researchers and teacher educators can better support teachers in implementing differentiated instruction to help students reap the alleged benefits of differentiated instruction. At the same time, teachers and schools interested in implementing differentiated instruction could benefit from the experiences of local teachers, thus heightening their self-efficacies in using differentiated instruction.

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