Every classroom has students with a range of different ability levels and needs and this can be particularly challenging for teachers to support.

What is differentiation?

Differentiation put simply, is a teaching approach that focusses on groups of students rather than individual students. Teachers can flexibly group students for targeted instruction, activities or assignments. This small group learning is supported by research and has an effect size of 0.47 (Visible learning, n.d.). Students are grouped into smaller groups within a class, however they are not left in the group permanently, the groups are flexible and based on the needs of the students.

Female teacher helping primary students in classroom

For example, a teacher identifies that a group of students has not understood a concept and that this will need to be re-taught. These students are placed in a small group for the purposes of re-teaching and learning this concept. It is a short-term grouping and ends when the students show evidence of understanding. Another example is a teacher identifies a group of students who already show evidence of understanding part of a topic. The teacher groups these students together to provide opportunities for them to accelerate their learning.

two high school students studying

What is individualised learning?

Individualised learning focusses on the needs of individual students in the class.

“Teaching is specific and targets one need at a time. This teaching method can be used on its own, or it can be part of differentiated teaching. Some students who receive individualised instruction need teachers to help them understand and learn. Other students using the same teaching method can skip topics they already know and go on to advanced information” (Osewalt, 2021).

Many students are on individualised education programmes (IEP) which are shown in SEQTA through the Student Alert function. These IEP’s outline the educational accommodations required to meet the student’s individual learning need.

Differentiation

  • Instruction is to a group of students

  • The teacher adjusts instruction to meet the needs of the groups

  • The teacher has high expectations for all students

  • The teacher designs the instructional materials to meet the needs of the group

  • Groupings are flexible

Individualisation

  • Instruction is to individual students

  • The teacher adjusts instruction to meet individual needs

  • The teacher has high expectations of the individual student

  • The teacher designs the instructional materials to meet the needs of the individual

Differentiation Individualisation
Instruction is to a group of students Instruction is to individual students
The teacher adjusts instruction to meet the needs of the groups The teacher adjusts instruction to meet individual needs
The teacher has high expectations for all students The teacher has high expectations of the individual student
The teacher designs the instructional materials to meet the needs of the group The teacher designs the instructional materials to meet the needs of the individual
Groupings are flexible
Female teacher helping older student

Tools in SEQTA

SEQTA supports teachers to deliver both differentiated instruction and individualised learning, however it is up to the teacher to determine the right tool to use based on the needs of their students. A number of tools are available to access:

  • Unit Planner: provides an area for teachers to document how they will differentiate the written, taught and assessed curriculum to meet the needs of groups of students.

  • Planner/Online Lessons: provides an area for teachers to outline the differentiation requirements for each lesson.

  • Individualised learning tool (myEdOnline): enables teachers to create and deliver engaging individualised learning; track individual student progress; provide just in time 1 on 1 feedback; ask students’ questions and track their responses and view each student’s entire learning pathway.

Individualised Learning Tool: Benefits for Students

  • Students can learn at their own pace anytime, anywhere and independently negotiate their own learning paths.

  • Gives students choice in how they show their own learning.

  • Supports students to develop the skills to become independent, self-managed learners.

Teachers need to use the technology to help them deliver a differentiated and/or individualised learning programme. It supports them to track student progress, facilitate timely interventions, if necessary, and monitor individual learning. The key is that the teachers connect the right tool to the right student.

Watch this video to learn more

References

Osewalt, G. (2020, October 22). Individualized Instruction vs. Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/individualized-instruction-vs-differentiated-instruction
Visible Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/influences/view/small_group_learning