In this post I would like to share my experience of working on the literature review section. I believe that this process is fundamental to my research as it defines the directions in which I will explore teachers’ perceptions and experiences of differentiated instruction. So, I have been reading a lot on differentiated instruction since I decided to research this approach to teachers’ instructional practices. It has been a focus of attention of many scholars who investigate the problem of contemporary teaching practices to meet the needs of all individual learners. The readings that I have done so far prompted me to identify the following themes: theories and concepts around differentiated instruction, teachers’ understandings and experiences of differentiated instruction, and challenges in implementing differentiated instruction. I am still thinking if strategies that are generally expected to be employed in differentiated instruction should be included into the section about teachers’ practices or outlined as one more theme. Some sources research and discuss the strategies based on the theory of multiple intelligences and constructivist approach as an effective way to address the diversity of learning profiles, while some propose that differentiated instruction do not provide recipes to fit all. Some authors firmly believe and promote the idea that differentiated instruction is not entrenched in dogma. On the contrary, it is a thinking paradigm which endorses multiple contextual approaches to teaching. So, I continue reading in order to get more informed about the existing teaching practices and their methodological underpinnings.
As for challenges, I have not encountered any difficulties in finding relevant sources since there are many scholarly works and studies in my research area. What I found a bit challenging first is that differentiated instruction highly resonates with many other instructional approaches such as personalization, individualization, Universal Design for learning, backward design and adaptive teaching. And now I think that this is good for me because such similarities give me more opportunities to point out its conceptual differences.
To my mind, one of the most meaningful works that I draw upon in my thesis is written by McTighe and Brown (2005) under the title “Differentiated Instruction and Educational Standards: Is Détente Possible?” The article discusses the challenges faced by teachers in their daily practices under the pressure of rigorous curriculum and assessment standards. It also considers backward planning which is based on the constructivist approach of meaning making. This planning design sends lots of implications for differentiated teaching.
Concluding, I want to say that I still have questions and in order to answer them I keep reading and simultaneously I keep integrating the new ideas and findings into my paper. I would like to wish my peers the best of success in writng their papers and meeting the deadlines!