Primary School Teachers’ Knowledge, Attitude and Practice of Differentiated Instruction


  • Solomon Melesse Mengistie Bahir Dar University


this study explored primary school teachers’ knowledge, attitude and practice of differentiated instruction. The target population of this study was primary school (Grades 1-4) teachers of the Amhara Region who were attending summer in-service diploma level training at Debre Markos College of Teacher Education in 2017 academic year. To this end, questionnaire and FGD were used as data collection instruments. The findings of the study revealed that there was a general level of understanding of differentiated instruction among primary school teachers. Though there was a seemingly adequate level of understanding of differentiated instruction by primary school teachers regarding the ways to support each group of students (i.e., fast learners, medium learners, and slow learners), teachers lacked knowledge of specific strategies to manage mixed ability classrooms in a way that engages each group of students during classroom hours simultaneously. The findings also indicated that there was a lower degree of implementation of differentiated instruction as compared to their level of understanding. It was also found that differentiation of content was the lowest practiced area. The data revealed that teachers were not regularly differentiating instruction in their classrooms due to lack of knowledge of specific strategies, the time constraints to prepare differentiated instructional lessons, and lack of relevant resources. Some teachers mentioned that large class size also obstructed their attempt of implementing differentiated instruction. They also do not usually have adequate opportunities to plan ahead and reflect on their work due to extremely high work load. To alleviate these problems, the researcher has forwarded relevant recommendations in the paper

Author Biography

Solomon Melesse Mengistie, Bahir Dar University

Teacher Education and Curriculum Studies, Associate Professor


Adami, A.F. (2004). Enhancing students’ learning through differentiated approaches to teaching and learning: a Maltese perspective. Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs, 4(2), 91-97.

Ansalone, G. (2010). Tracking: Educational differentiation or defective strategy? Educational Research Quarterly, 24(2), 3–17.

Benson, B. (2003). How to meet standards, motivate students, and still enjoy teaching. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Caro, D. H. (2009). Socio-economic status and academic achievement trajectories from childhood to adolescence. Canadian Journal of Education, 32(3), 558–591.

Daniels, H., & Bizar, M. (2005). Teaching the best practice way: Methods that matter. Portland, ME: Stenhouse.

Ethiopian Ministry of Education (2015). Education Sector Development Programme V (ESDP V): 2015/16 – 2019/20 G.C. Addis Ababa: Federal Ministry of Education.

Holloway, J.H. (2000). Preparing teachers for differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, 58 (1), 82-83

Johnston, O. & Wildy, H. (2016). The effects of streaming in the secondary school on learning outcomes for Australian students – A review of the international literature. Australian Journal of Education, 60(1), 42–59 Sage publishers.

Lawrence-Brown, D. (2004). Differentiated instruction: Inclusive strategies for standards-based learning that benefit the whole class. American Secondary Education, 32(3), 34-62.

Levy, H. (2008).Meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction: Helping every child reach and exceed standards. The Clearing House, 81(4) 161-178.

Muijs, D. & Reynolds, D. (2005). Effective teaching: Evidence and practice. London/Thousand Oaks/New Delhi: Sage Publications.

Pettig, K. L. (2000). “On the road to differentiated practice.” Educational Leadership, 58(1), 14–18.

Rubie-Davies, C. M. (2010). Teacher expectations and perceptions of student characteristics: Is there a relationship? British Journal of Educational Psychology, 80(2), 121–135.

Schutz, G., Ursprung, H. W., &Wo¨ßmann, L. (2008).Educational policy and equality of opportunity. Kyklos, 61(2), 279–308.

Terwel, J. (2005). Curriculum differentiation: Multiple perspectives and developments. In Tomlinson, C. A. (2003). Differentiation into practice. A resource guide for differentiating curriculum, grades K-5. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Tomlinson, C.A. & Imbeau, M. (2010). Leading and managing a differentiated classroom. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.

Tomlinson, C.A. & Eidson, C.C. (2003). Differentiation in practice: A resource guide for differentiating curriculum. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Tomlinson, C. (2014). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2003). Differentiation into practice. A resource guide for differentiating curriculum, grades K-5. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Tomlinson, C.A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms, (2nd ed). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Tomlinson, C.A., Brimijoin, K., & Narvaez, L. (2008). The differentiated school: Making revolutionary changes in teaching and learning. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Development.

UNESCO (2004). Changing Teaching Practices: Using curriculum differentiation to respond to student diversity. Paris, UNESCO.

Van Garderen, D., & Whittaker, C. (2006). Planning differentiated, multicultural instruction for secondary inclusive classrooms. Teaching Exceptional Children, 38(3), 12-20.

Van Houtte, M. & Stevens, P.A.J. (2009). Study involvement of academic and vocational students: Does between-school tracking sharpen the difference? American Educational Research Journal, 46, (4), 943-973.