Challenging but positive! – An exploration into teacher attitude profiles towards differentiated instruction (DI) in Germany

Abstract

Background Research has highlighted that personal characteristics such as teachers’ attitudes play an important role in the implementation of inclusive education. However, there are only a few studies that have shed empirical evidence on the relationship of attitudes and inclusive teaching approaches, such as differentiated instruction. In this vein, the present study tackles this research gap and aims to explore teachers’ attitudes specifically towards the inclusive practice of DI in Germany. Aims The present study aimed to investigate teacher profiles based on their attitudes towards differentiated instruction, as well as further to explore whether teachers differentiated instructional implementation varies between the teacher profiles. Sample The sample consists of 450 teachers (Mage = 42.89, SD = 10.48, 65% female), from different school tracks in Germany. Methods A two‐step cluster analysis was performed in order to identify teacher attitude profiles concerning their implementation of differentiated instruction. Moreover, an analysis of variance was conducted in order to identify variations in terms of the implementation of differentiated instruction across the three clusters. Results Results from the cluster analyses indicate three distinct teacher attitude profiles: Cluster 1 ‘The valuing‐teacher’, Cluster 2 ‘The non‐valuing‐teacher’ and Cluster 3 ‘The challenged‐but‐valuing‐teacher’. Moreover, the findings reveal gender and school track differences between the three teacher attitude profiles. Lastly, an analysis of variance indicated that teachers’ differentiated instruction practice varied significantly across the clusters. Conclusions The findings from the present study indicate that teachers not only perceive the value of DI but also the insufficient resources. Thus, it can be assumed that teachers identify both the ‘positive’ and the ‘negative’ aspect of DI, and more importantly, they can recognize both attitude domains towards DI in a similar or different level. Consequently, the results show that attitudes in the context of inclusion cannot be characterised as continuum with two distinct poles.Peer Reviewe

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