Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)

School

Education

Advisor

Gregory Stephens

Abstract

Elementary students in one school have shown a decline in proficient and advanced performance on statewide assessments. This decline increased for reading and mathematics achievement from 2003--2008, especially for disabled and minority students in grades 3--5. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to determine the extent to which differentiated instruction was implemented in instructional practices to increase student academic performance. Vygotsky's theory of constructivism, Bruner's theory of problem solving, and Gardner's theory of multiple intelligences provided the conceptual frameworks for this study. The research questions focused on the instructional strategies and resources used by teachers. Data included interviews, observations, and lesson plans from 2 third-grade, 2 fourth-grade, and 2 fifth-grade teachers. Data were coded using categorical aggregation through the use of inductive analysis to identify patterns. Results included the processes used to determine ability levels, methods used to differentiate instruction, and resources used to supplement instruction. Findings revealed that teachers differentiated instruction using a variety of strategies. It is recommended that a program that features differentiated math instruction could be offered, more time could be allocated for collaborative planning, and support could be offered for classroom management. This research has the potential to effect positive social change by equipping teachers, through professional development opportunities, to implement strategies relative to their students' learning needs.