Differentiation in Response to Learner Diversity in Rural Sou ...

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Abstract

Teachers are responsible for ensuring that learners are included and supported in all learning experiences so that they can benefit and achieve their potential, irrespective of their intellectual and/or cultural backgrounds. However, educational exclusion and marginalization remain the experience of large numbers of children and young people across the globe, despite legislation and policy that promote access and participation in education. This article explores how teachers use differentiation to accommodate diversity in a multi-grade classroom and the difficulties they face when implementing differentiation. A qualitative inquiry was conducted whereby data were gathered through document analysis, field notes and observation, and interviews with a purposeful sample of eight teachers in four multi-grade rural primary schools in the North West province in South Africa. Thematic analysis showed minimal implementation of differentiation in multi-grade schools. A lack of resources and time constraints were impediments to full inclusion through differentiation. The findings of this study highlight the need for teachers to be capacitated to use differentiation to accommodate diversity that exists in multi-grade classrooms.