Secondary school teachers' instructional adaptations: Perceiving and addressing students' various learner characteristics in daily practice

Monday 23 October 2023, 4:30 pm
PhD student
L.M. Jager MSc.
prof. dr. P.C. Meijer, prof. dr. A.H.N. Cillessen, prof. dr. E.J.P.G. Denessen

Teachers are expected to respond to differences between students within a class by tailoring their didactics to these differences. These instructional adaptations are assumed to lead to better facilitation of student learning. In secondary education, such instructional adaptations are rarely observed. Teachers themselves say they find this kind of adaptations challenging. This PhD research aims to contribute to a better understanding of what makes these adaptations so complex. The research in this PhD thesis is based on two questions: (1) What differences between students in a class are observed by teachers? And (2) How do teachers tailor their teaching to perceived differences between students in their classrooms? 
The findings suggest that teachers' perceptions of their students as well as their instructional adaptations are multiple in nature. Teachers see a multitude of differences between students and try to tailor their teaching to these differences in multiple ways. In addition, instructional adaptations proved to be aimed at achieving different objectives (motivational, group dynamic, metacognitive), and to be dependent on situational factors (the teacher, subject content, context). Instructional adaptations therefore require teachers to constantly reassess the differences that they need to respond to, and how to do so, given the specific situation and the various educational objectives. 

Lieke Jager was born in Utrecht on 24 May 1987. In 2008, she completed the Teacher Training Programme in History at Fontys University of Applied Sciences in Tilburg. She then enrolled in the study programme in Pedagogical Sciences and Educational Science at Radboud University in Nijmegen. She obtained her Master's degree in Educational Science from Radboud University in 2012. Since then, she has worked as a teacher trainer at the Radboud Teachers Academy. From September 2015 to July 2020, she combined her work as a teacher trainer with a part-time appointment as a PhD candidate, conducting research on teachers’ adaptations in secondary education. 
During her PhD research, she was part of the Faculty of Social Sciences' research school, the Behavioural Science Institute (BSI), and the interuniversity research school for educational research, the Interuniversity Centre for Educational Sciences (ICO). She has presented her research at national and international conferences. She was Secretary of the Board of the Teacher and Teacher Training Programmes division (Leraar en Lerarenopleidingen, L&L) of the Dutch Educational Research Association (Vereniging voor Onderwijs, VOR), and involved as a co-convenor in organising and structuring the Emerging Researchers Conference (ERC) of the European Educational Research Association (EERA).