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Journal of Education and Development in the Caribbean

Teachers' experiences with the use of Differentiated Instruction in a Jamaican Inner-City Primary School

Publication Date: 
December 2020

In response to the diverse nature of the learners in any one classroom, many teachers have employed the use of differentiated instruction. Central to the tenets underpinning this approach is the idea that all learners enter the classroom with differences in learning abilities, styles, interests, cognitive skills, and life experiences which ultimately determine how they receive and interpret information (Tomlinson, 2017; Prince, 2011; Huebner, 2010; Vygotsky, 1978).
Differentiated instruction is recognized by its proponents as a best practice that maximizes each student’s full potential. However, there still exist inconsistencies in the implementation of this strategy. This generic qualitative study presents the experiences of four teachers using differentiated instruction in an inner-city Jamaican primary school. The purpose was to ascertain the teachers’ understanding, perception, and the challenges they experienced with the use of differentiated instruction. These teachers were purposively selected. Data were collected through semi-structured face to face interviews and observation of lessons. The data from the four teachers revealed that they had mostly positive perceptions, possessed adequate knowledge and skills in the use of differentiated instruction, and considered it an effective strategy for pedagogy in the 21st century. However, they also felt that limited administrative support and resources, along with the time-consuming nature of the strategy, acted as barriers to its effective implementation. Based on these findings, the paper recommends that administration and middle management provide the necessary support to assist classroom teachers with their use of differentiated instruction.

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