Differentiated Instruction: Are Hong Kong In-service Teachers Ready?

Mar. 01, 2017

Source: Teachers and Teaching: theory and practice, VOL. 23, NO. 3, 284–311, 2017
(Reviewed by the Portal Team)

Differentiated instruction (DI) is regarded as the most effective strategy to cater for learner diversity. It emphasises the roles of teachers who have to address students’ diversity in readiness, interest, and learning profile. Hence, this study aims to examine in-service teachers’ readiness for using differentiated instruction (DI) strategies and perceived challenges in its implementation.

The participants were in-service teachers from two primary schools in Honk Kong.
Using a mixed-methods design, a questionnaire was used to investigate teachers’ perceived readiness for and obstacles toward using DI strategies, as followed by semi-structured focus group interviews that were done to in-service teachers.

Conclusion and implications

The results indicate that teachers generally held positive attitudes towards the use of differentiated strategies. However, there seemingly is still a struggling paradigm shift from teacher-centred to learner-centred curriculum in the Confucius heritage classrooms whilst teachers facing a range of obstacles that hampered DI practice.
Furthermore, three perceived obstacles toward DI were identified: class size and diversity, time, and understanding of teaching strategies.

The author argues that further development to better preparing teachers, including principals and curriculum leaders, for DI should be done. First, more attention should be paid to professional development in the use of deeper forms of differentiated strategies.
Second, taking teachers’ perceived obstacles into consideration, to facilitate the DI practice at different levels, including classroom and curriculum management levels, teachers should be well-supported through the school infrastructures, including reformulating curriculum management, restructuring timetable and reallocating resources and manpower, to get sufficient embedded professional development opportunities, and build up teachers’ capacities in curriculum modifications for addressing students’ learning needs.

Updated: Aug. 09, 2017