Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Lucille Lang

Abstract

Self-efficacy beliefs, a component of Bandura's social cognition theory, provided the basis for this study of teachers' participation in professional learning. Training and positive experiences increase teacher efficacy, or the level of effort and persistence educators are willing to exert as they teach. The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the relationship between teachers' participation in differentiated instruction (DI) in-service opportunities and teachers' knowledge and frequency of use of DI. It was hypothesized that middle school teachers' levels of DI training would be related to teachers' knowledge and use of DI in the classroom. An anonymous survey was used to collect data from 79 teachers. Regression analyses revealed that teachers' levels of DI training were not positively related to teachers' knowledge of DI, but there was a positive relationship between teachers' familiarity and use of content, process, product, and DI strategies. Teachers' education levels influenced their use of DI; however, teachers' experience levels did not. ANOVA was used to compare teachers' use of DI across grade levels, and results indicated that grade levels taught did not affect teachers' use of DI. Descriptive analyses indicated that most teachers were familiar with DI and used many of the DI techniques often; however, most reported that they learned how to differentiate using methods other than staff development. Many teachers reported that they would be willing to participate in future DI training. DI staff development is recommended as a way to educate teachers in additional DI methods. Implications for positive social change include increased DI training opportunities for teachers that can result in increased self-efficacy and instructional changes that can help improve student achievement.