Differentiation in the Classroom: A Pedagogical Approach for a Successful Engagement of Students in Secondary Schools

  • Jada Pasquale Yengkopiong, PhD Catholic Education Western Australia
Keywords: Differentiation, Pedagogy, Instructions, Curriculum, Assessment
Share Article:


Teaching and learning are important educational processes that prepare young people for the greatest common good. This common good is not conditioned by the requirements of young people but by the requirements of the human family. The greatest good demands that young people, regardless of their abilities or disabilities, race, language, or religion receive the best educational opportunities of their generation. To fulfil their aspirations, all methods of differentiation must be utilised to provide the greatest educational opportunities for all. In this study, the aim was to understand how differentiation processes are harmoniously used by teachers to provide successful engagement of students. The study was carried out by reviewing the literature on how differentiation of instructions, curriculum, and assessment improves the engagement of students in secondary school settings. Differentiation is a framework of teaching that aims to address individual learning needs and maximise students’ learning opportunities, which may then lead to a positive change in students so that they can achieve positive learning outcomes. It is reported that once the instructions and curriculum are differentiated, different types of assessments can be created to meet the diverse needs of the students. Because students in the classrooms are not homogeneous, they bring with them a conundrum of issues, which can only be resolved when teachers become part of the solution, differentiating not only their teaching styles but also their programs of teaching. The teachers can then produce assessments that are pitched at the right level to test whether the students have understood the concepts taught


Download data is not yet available.


ACER. (2013). How the Brain Learns: What lessons are there for teaching? (pp. 1 - 193). Melbourne, Victoria: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Bahr, N., & Pendergast, D. (2007). The Millennial Adolescent. Camberwell, Victoria, Australia: Australian Council for Educational Research.

Bruin, K. D. (2019). The impact of inclusive education reforms on students with disability: an international comparison. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 23, 811-826.

Carrington, S., Saggers, B., Webster, A., Harper-Hill, K., & Nickerson, J. (2020). What Universal Design for Learning principles, guidelines, and checkpoints are evident in educators’ descriptions of their practice when supporting students on the autism spectrum? International Journal of Educational Research, 102, Article in Press.

Choudhury, S.-J. B. (2006). Development of the adolescent brain: implications for executive function and social cognition. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47(3/4), 296–312.

Confrey, J., Maloney, A. P., Belcher, M., McGowan, W., Hennessey, M., & Shah, M. (2018). The concept of an agile curriculum as applied to a middle school mathematics digital learning system (DLS). International Journal of Educational Research, 92, 158 - 172.

Dinham, S., & Rowe, K. (2007). Fantasy, Fashion and Fact: Middle Schools, Middle Schooling and Student Achievement. Australian Council for Educational Research.

Do, K. T., Moreira, J. F., & Telzer, E. H. (2017). But is helping you worth the risk? Defining Prosocial Risk Taking in adolescence. Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, 25, 260 - 271.

Dowden, T. (2014). Challenging, integrated, negotiated and exploratory curriculum in the middle years of schooling: Designing and implementing high-quality curriculum integration. Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 14(1), 16-27.

Education, W. A. (2013). Make their heads spin! - Improving learning in the middle years. Department of Education, Perth, WA.

Eysink, T. H., Hulsbeek, M., & Gijlers, H. (2017). Supporting primary school teachers in differentiating in the regular classroom. Teaching and Teacher Education, 66, 207-116.

Freire, S. (2009). Creating Inclusive Learning Environments: Difficulties and Opportunities Within the New Political Ethos. Journal of Deaf Studies and Deaf Education, 14(1), 131-135.

Gallant, A., & Riley, P. (2017). Early career teacher attrition in Australia: inconvenient truths about new public management. Teachers and Teaching, 23(8), 896-913.

Gheyssens, E., Consuegra, E., Engels, N., & Struyven, K. (2021). Creating inclusive classrooms in primary and secondary schools: From noticing to differentiated practices. Teaching and Teacher Education, 100, 103210.

Hao, Y., & Lee, K. S. (2016). Teaching in flipped classrooms. Computers in Human Behavior, 57, 250-260.

Harris, L. (2011). Secondary teachers’ conceptions of student engagement: Engagement in learning or in schooling? Teaching and Teacher Education, 27, 376-386.

Hill, N. E., & Tyson, D. F. (2009). Parental involvement in middle school: A meta-analytic assessment of the strategies that promote achievement. Developmental Psychology, 45(3), 740-763.

Juma, S., & Lehtomäki, E. (2016). Moving towards Inclusion: how Zanzibar succeeds in transforming its education system? International Journal of Inclusive Education, 20(6), 673-684.

Kaplan, S. N. (2007). Classics Curriculum: A Focus to Differentiated Curriculum: Gifted Education International, 23(1), 15-18.

Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The Leadership Challenge: How to Make Extraordinary Things Happen in Organisations. Hoboken, New Jersey, United States of America: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Marsh, C. (2008). Becoming a Teacher: knowledge, skills, and issues. (5th, Ed.) New South Wales, Australia: Pearson Australia.

Mason, S., & Matas, C. F. (2015). Teacher Attrition and Retention Research in Australia: Towards a New Theoretical Framework. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 40(11), 3.

McKay, L., Carrington, S. B., & Iyer, R. (2014). Becoming an Inclusive Educator: Applying Deleuze & Guattari to Teacher Education. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 10.

Migliarini, V., Stinson, C., & D’Alessio, S. (2019). ‘SENitizing’ Migrant Children in Inclusive Settings: Exploring the Impact of the Salamanca Statement Thinking in Italy and the United States. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 23, 754-767.

Naparan, G. B., & Alinsug, V. G. (2021). Classroom strategies of multigrade teachers. Social Sciences & Humanities Open, 3, 100109.

Paris, L. F. (2013). Reciprocal Mentoring: Can it Help Prevent Attrition for Beginning Teachers? Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 38(6), 136-1578.

Pendergast, D. (2006). Fast-tracking middle schooling reform: a model for sustainability. Australian Journal of Middle Schooling, 6(2), 13-18.

Pendergast, D., Main, K., & Bahr, N. (2020). Teaching Middle Years: Rethinking Curriculum, Pedagogy and Assessment. (3rd, Ed.) New York, USA: Routledge Taylor & Francis Group.

Reeves, S. (2009). Making It Happen: Using Differentiated Instruction, Retrofit Framework, and Universal Design for Learning. Teaching Exceptional Children-Plus, 5(6).

Reindal, S. M. (2016). Discussing Inclusive Education: An Inquiry into Different Interpretations and a Search for Ethical Aspects of Inclusion Using the Capabilities Approach. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 31(1), 1-12.

Sailor, W. (2017). Equity as a Basis for Inclusive Educational Systems Change. Australasian Journal of Special Education, 41(1), 1-17.

Saks, K., Hunt, P., Leijen, Ä., & Lepp, L. (2021). To stay or not to stay: An empirical model for predicting teacher persistence. British Journal of Educational Studies, 1-25.

Suprayogi, M. N., Valcke, M., & Godwin, R. (2017). Teachers and their implementation of differentiated instruction in the classroom. Teaching and Teacher Education, 67, 291-301.

Tomlinson, C. A., & Moon, T. R. (2013). Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. Alexandria, USA: ASCD.

Valientes, S. (2015). Evaluating the impact of differentiated instruction on literacy and reading in mixed ability classrooms: Quality and equity dimensions of education effectiveness. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 45, 17-26.

Vannucci, A., & Ohannessian, C. M. (2019). Social Media Use Subgroups Differentially Predict Psychosocial Well-Being During Early Adolescence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 48, 1469–1493.

Vantieghem, W., Roose, I., Gheyssens, E., Griful-Freixenet, J., Keppens, K., Vanderlinde, R., . . . Avermaet, P. V. (2020). Professional vision of inclusive classrooms: A validation of teachers’ reasoning on differentiated instruction and teacher-student interactions. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 67, 100912.

Venville, G., & Dawson, V. (2012). The Art of Teaching Science for Middle and Secondary School. (2nd, Ed.) Crown Nest, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin.

Waite, L. H., Zupec, J. F., Quinn, D. H., & Poon, C. Y. (2020). Revised Bloom’s taxonomy as a mentoring framework for successful promotion. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 12, 1379-1382.

Wilson, J. A., Waghel, R. C., & Dinkins, M. M. (2019). Flipped classroom versus a didactic method with active learning in a modified team-based learning self-care pharmacotherapy course. Currents in Pharmacy Teaching and Learning, 11(12), 1287-1295.

Woolfolk, A., & Margetts, K. (2013). Educational Psychology. (3rd, Ed.) New South Wales, Australia: Pearson Australia.

Wormeli, R. (2006). Differentiating for Tweens. Educational Leadership, 63(7), 14-19.

15 May, 2023
How to Cite
Yengkopiong, J. (2023). Differentiation in the Classroom: A Pedagogical Approach for a Successful Engagement of Students in Secondary Schools. East African Journal of Education Studies, 6(2), 9-24. https://doi.org/10.37284/eajes.6.2.1213