Tackling Mathematics Differentiation: Embracing Change and Building Capacity Through School Leadership Support and Practitioner Pedagogy in K-8 Mathematic Practices

Pion, Debra
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Florida Southern College
Recently released data from international math and science assessments indicate that U.S. students continue to underperform when compared to other countries. Mathematics achievement has not only shown a downward trend but has also been stagnant in the United States for several years (National Center for Education Statistics, 2018). The shift in the delivery of instructional content is crucial for mathematics achievement to increase. This is where differentiated curricula would prove beneficial in reaching eclectic learners in a mixed ability classroom (Tomlinson, 2001). The purpose of this study was twofold. First, to explore the support relationship between school principals and educators leading to a differentiated instruction initiative, and secondly to identify perceived barriers leading to a comprehensive mathematics DI initiative.A single instrumental qualitative case study design was utilized to collect data to construct a meaningful explanation to the framework of a mathematics differentiated instruction (DI) initiative. This study was intended to gather data from both teachers and school leader’s reflecting their insights of an effectively designed DI program in the K-8 mathematics classroom. Research questions centered on how school leaders offer support to a DI program and what teachers’ perceptions are of the support given. Additionally, perceived barriers of mathematics differentiation through the lens’ of teachers and school leaders were explored. Data saturation was achieved after interviews with school leaders and teachers as well as the collection of artifacts. Data gathered was merged for thematic content analysis that identified themes. Analysis revealed that school leaders and teachers agreed that time and teacher buy-in were barriers to a DI initiative. However, much of the data collected were in direct contrast to each other and represented dissenting viewpoints of the implementation of a mathematics differenced instruction initiative.
Dissertation presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership in the School of Education at Florida Southern College by Debra L. Pion.
Mathematics education, Elementary education, Educational leadership, Differentiated instruction
Pion, D. L. (2020). Tackling mathematics differentiation: Embracing change and building capacity through school leadership support and practitioner pedagogy in K-8 mathematic practices (Order No. 28002563). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global: The Humanities and Social Sciences Collection. (2420616508). Retrieved from https://search.proquest.com/docview/2420616508?accountid=27315