Differentiation in the Classroom: Engaging Diverse Learners through Universal Design for Learning

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Abstract

This document reports on a one-year project undertaken by Monash University in collaboration with Silver Wattle High School (SWHS)*. The project was conducted with a group of teachers and school leaders, and it was implemented in the context of a series of professional learning workshops over the four school terms of 2017. The focus of the project was on developing teachers’ capacity to respond to student diversity by designing differentiated teaching and assessment plans to engage all learners and create equitable learning environments. The Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework was used to frame an inclusive approach to differentiating teaching for diverse learners. The framework was used as both a conceptual tool for understanding diverse learning needs, as well as a practical set of design principles for planning curriculum, lessons, and assessments. The focus of the early workshops was on cultivating a shared understanding of what differentiation and engagement are, and how they can be framed as a pedagogical response to learner diversity. The later focus was on identifying teachers’ priorities for differentiation to address learner diversity in their classrooms, and building knowledge and skills for implementing differentiated teaching practices. The findings are based on surveys and interviews with the staff and leaders involved.
*A pseudonym
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationClayton Vic Australia
PublisherMonash University
Number of pages50
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2018

Keywords

  • Differentiation
  • Universal Design for Learning
  • Inclusion

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