Why this research?
Even in the future, we as a society will need a large number of professionals with a background in Science and Technology (S&T). To this end, it is important that all students already develop a solid foundation of knowledge and skills around S&T in elementary school and maintain their interest in S&T topics. Differentiated instruction can support teachers in this mission. This instructional approach aims to adapt teaching activities to the learning needs of (groups of) students in the classroom.
How will the research be done?
The research project consists of four parts:
- We use interviews and lesson observations to identify which aspects of differentiated instruction teachers already apply in their S&T lessons and for which reasons they do so.
- We use a questionnaire to investigate the extent to which teachers indicate that they apply differentiated instruction during S&T lessons and to what extent the application of differentiated instruction is related to things such as years of teaching experience, the teachers' S&T knowledge, and their self-efficacy beliefs in teaching S&T.
- We analyze existing literature in a systematic way to see which professional development (PD) programs have been developed for differentiated instruction, how the PD programs were structured, and whether as well as how teachers and students benefitted from the PD programs.
- We design our own PD program specifically for S&T education and follow how teachers and students develop during this PD program.
What does it yield?
We can offer a first impression of which aspects of differentiated instruction teachers already apply and how differentiating S&T education is related to different teacher characteristics.
The first three parts of the project contribute to the development of a PD program that can be used to support teachers in adapting S&T lessons to the children’s needs.