Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michelle McCraney


A problem at three elementary schools in an Appalachian state was that some or all instructors were struggling to implement differentiated instruction in the classroom. Because differentiation is a research-based best practice, teachers should be consistently using this strategy to meet the varying needs found within the inclusive classroom. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate perceptions of third- and fourth-grade teachers on their knowledge, implementation, and self-assessment of using differentiated instruction in classrooms in three elementary schools. A qualitative case study methodology was used with the interpretation of differentiation as the conceptual framework. The two research questions that guided this study asked how do third- and fourth-grade teachers use differentiation to support all students and what perceived opportunities and struggles do these teachers believe affect their ability to implement this strategy. Nine third and fourth grade inclusive teachers volunteered to participated in semi-structured phone interviews and lesson plan analysis. Data were hand coded and analyzed using a spreadsheet to look for reoccurring categories and themes. Six themes emerged within the collected qualitative data to include ability grouping, technology, planning for differentiated instruction, professional supports, lack of training, and instructional support. With the findings, specific professional development was created to help the teacher more consistently use differentiation in the classroom. This project study has positive social change implications because it might lead to a stronger administrator and teacher understanding of the perceived uses of differentiation as well as the perceived opportunities and struggles to fully implement the strategy.

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