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ERIC Number: EJ820132
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2005-Feb
Pages: 21
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1551-2169
The Promise and Pitfalls of Differentiated Instruction for Undergraduate Political Science Courses: Student and Instructor Impressions of an Unconventional Teaching Strategy
Ernst, Howard R.; Ernst, Tracey L.
Journal of Political Science Education, v1 n1 p39-59 Feb 2005
Pedagogical differentiation (i.e., tailoring instruction to each student's learning style, readiness level, and interest) has been applied to primary and secondary classrooms for over a decade but has never been formally applied to the undergraduate classroom. This paper explores the potential for differentiated instruction within the undergraduate political science classroom by evaluating student and instructor responses to the unconventional teaching method. The study is both descriptive and analytical in nature; illustrating the characteristics of a differentiated classroom and assessing the practical and ethical concerns associated with learning and teaching in a differentiated setting. The primary research questions are whether students would accept a teaching approach that challenges their notions of academic fairness, and whether the approach would prove practical for college level instructors, leaving it to future research to assess the overall effectiveness of the teaching strategy. The study implemented a case study methodology in which the principles of differentiated instruction were applied to a public policy course taught to 35 undergraduates at the University of Virginia during the spring of 2000. The findings reveal that students generally responded favorably to the differentiated approach, reporting higher levels of intellectual growth, interest in the subject, and satisfaction with the course than students in the non-treatment group. The instructor's evaluation of the approach was also generally positive, though the considerable time commitment involved in teaching a differentiated class and the instructor's concerns related to the fairness of the approach were seen as limiting factors. (Contains 1 figure and 10 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: Teachers
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Virginia