• Flemming Robert Skaarup
4. term, Master of Learning Processes (Continuing education) (Continuing Education Programme (Master))
The principle of differentiation in the teaching is very fundamental for the teaching in the Danish schools. Inside the community of the class and the diversity of the pupils the teacher adjusts her teaching with her point of departure in aims, content, methods, organization, materials and amount of time. The teaching should fundamentally be based on an analysis and evaluation on the pupils’ needs and prerequisites and the didactic choices should be based on these.

The challenge with differentiation in the teaching was included in the legislation in 1993, however reports from Danmarks Evalueringsinstitut (institute of assessment) in 2004 and 2011 show that teachers have had difficulties handling the task concerning differentiation in the teaching.

This Master Thesis tries to answer the following questions:
What do we know about differentiation in the teaching?
What are our intensions concerning differentiation in the teaching?
What does differentiation in the teaching require from the teachers?
What is the perspective for differentiation in the teaching - what possibilities and what challenges?

The teachers’ understanding and implementation of differentiation in the teaching is the core in the Master Thesis. The section about the methods used and the empirical collection are founded on the idea of a displacement from legitimacy through an exact scientifically theoretically foundation and epistemology to a situation of knowledge that is centred on the fact that knowledge should not be legitimized but accepted. Knowledge finds its eligibility of existence in the usefulness and should not be legitimized within certain basic rules or dogmas of truth. The practice story with its subjective character is able at illuminating complex aspects and therefore promotes and contributes with another kind of verification of an experienced reality.

The description of the principle of differentiation in the teaching includes two important aspects. These are simultaneously focused on the practical implementation of the differentiation as well as a fundamental and vital understanding of and insight in the purpose of differentiation – as basis for an individual human developmental process and societal democratic developmental process.
The principle tries to develop the school context from teaching to learning where the pupils partly take over some of the responsibility for their own learning in a common frame of reference. In this, the developmental process of Dewey, which is described in the section of the understanding of learning for this Master Thesis, is visible.
The fundament of Dewey tries to deal with the criticism of differentiation in the teaching as a principle that in the implementation is too pupil-centred and focused on individualisation and in this way lack on focus on the community, the teacher and the academic content in the teaching.

As well in the reports from the Evalueringsinstitut as in the stories from teachers’ practices there are some distinct descriptions of status of the schools and the teachers’ work with a difficult manageable term. After nearly 20 years of significantly and centrally position in the Danish Folkeskole Act and the Common Objectives etc. the principle still has great difficulties as well in the principal understanding of the term as in the implementation of the practical dimension at schools. At the present time the pedagogical principle hasn’t directly and evidently fulfilled the commitments of informing the teacher about what, where, when and how differentiation in the teaching ought to be organized and implemented.
One of the most important conclusions is that differentiation in the teaching must have an obvious connection to assessment concerning pupils, to the insight of the teacher into the needs and developmental potential of the specific pupil and the teacher’s didactic choices in the preparation and implementation of the differentiated teaching. Thus, the teachers have an unexploited potential of profession in the task of making a clear connection between a professional assessment of the pupils’ needs and prerequisites and the didactic choices in the effort with a differentiated teaching.
In this way parameters such as involvement of pupils, determination of aims and continuously assessment become essential for this development and the teachers’ future management of the principle. It is of great importance that the teachers develop their theoretical understanding of the term, develop a huge basic knowledge of how to implement it in their teaching practice and continuously incorporate many practical examples of how the teaching appears when it is differentiated.
SpecialisationDidactics and Professionalisation
Publication date18 Dec 2012
Number of pages60
ID: 71692300