Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ed.D. in Education

First Advisor

Joe Sumrall

Second Advisor

Douglas Davis

Third Advisor

Ann Monroe

Abstract

Bridging the gap in student performance has changed the teaching practice in classrooms across America. Educators have the responsibility to teach all learners. There is a need for instruction to be tailored to boost the higher-level achievers and balance the gaps. This study examined the attitudes and actions of regular and gifted teachers toward differentiating instruction for gifted learners to find out: (a) the types of differentiated instruction regular classroom teachers use for gifted learners, (b) the differences in gifted teachers' lesson plans from regular teachers' lesson plans, (c) the evidence in lesson plans that demonstrate differentiated instruction, and (d) the comparison of regular teachers and gifted teachers attitudes toward providing differentiation for gifted learners. The mixed methods design provided both quantitative and qualitative data. Subjects were regular and gifted teachers in grades second through fifth in a rural school district located in the Southeast United States. The quantitative data stated there was a significant difference in the mean attitude between regular and gifted teachers. Thus, the null hypothesis was rejected. A comprehensive look at the individual responses between both groups provided a comparison of the groups' responses to the survey items. Additional data was collected and analyzed through the qualitative portion of the study. Lesson plans were coded for themes and patterns. Five observations were conducted to determine the types of instructional strategies used to provide differentiation. Effective differentiation was documented through the observations. However, the weakest component of differentiation documentation was in the lesson plans. Based on the results of this study for both types of data, it was concluded there is a need for professional development to bridge the gap in understanding and implementation of differentiated instruction.

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