Benefits and Drawbacks of Differentiation in a Classroom
Differentiation is usually viewed as an approach that is effective to address the problem of heterogeneous classrooms where diverse students learn under the supervision of only one teacher. As a result, a teacher is expected to work as a real professional in her or his sphere. From this point, the main benefits that are associated with differentiation are possibilities to respond to the needs and interests of all students in a class, to contribute to their intellectual development, and to create an atmosphere of effective learning.
Furthermore, even though some researchers can discuss differentiation as a challenging task, it is almost impossible to ignore its benefits. Thus, according to Delisle (2015), the promoted advantages of differentiation are the focus on learners’ needs, the use of multiple methods and instructions in a class, and the reference to a complex teaching-learning process. From this point, it is possible to note that even an opponent of differentiation refers to the widely accepted advantages of this practice. Still, differentiation, like any other strategy, also has drawbacks. According to Delisle (2015), it is rather problematic to implement differentiated instructions in classrooms and expect high results. However, according to Tomlinson (2015), it is possible to overcome these challenges while planning lessons and focusing on those practices that work in this or that class or environment.
From this perspective, differentiation is a strategy that should be applied by experienced teachers. Despite having a lot of benefits, it also has some drawbacks. Still, these challenging aspects can be overcome easily when teachers pay much attention to investigating the needs of their students and planning lessons.
Preparation of Differentiated Lessons as a Detracting Factor
The preparation of lessons is complex and even a challenging process that requires much effort. While preparing lessons, teachers spend a lot of time to select the most appropriate instructions and materials to address students’ needs and interests. Therefore, it is important to state that the work that can be required to prepare for a lesson with diverse students cannot detract a teacher from performing her or his tasks effectively.
In his work, Delisle (2015) notes that many teachers can fail to apply the principles of differentiation in their work, and the adherence to these principles is a time-consuming process that cannot result in positive outcomes. However, it is possible to disagree with this idea because a good teacher usually focuses on selecting a range of resources and activities to propose to students in her or his class. In this case, the focus can be not on differentiation but on the provision of students with opportunities to develop their skills and knowledge. In this context, it is possible to agree with Tomlinson (2015) and state that teachers work to make a learning process challenging and students’ experiences rich.
Thus, the necessity of differentiation in a classroom can be viewed as not a complex and obligatory task but as a possibility to apply a systematic approach to selecting materials for students. It is important to state that teachers usually pay much attention to making their lessons interesting and useful. From this point, differentiation is an approach to make lessons appropriate and motivating for all students regardless of their abilities, backgrounds, cultures, skills, and needs.
Delisle, J. R. (2015). Differentiation doesn’t work. Education Week, 34(15), 28-36.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2015). Differentiation does, in fact, work. Education Week, 34(19), 27-29.