Date Awarded


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Christopher R. Gareis

Committee Member

Steven M. Constantino

Committee Member

Michael F. DiPaola


Differentiated instruction (DI) is an approach to teaching that considers the individual needs of students based on readiness levels, interest, learning styles, and learning profiles. This pragmatic, exploratory, sequential mixed-methods study investigated the conceptualizations of teachers at high-performing elementary schools within Miami-Dade County Public Schools (M-DCPS) regarding DI, the degree of successful implementation, and the extent to which the degree of implementation correlates with student achievement in reading. Data were collected from 29 semi-structured teacher participant interviews, two 90-minute observations of each participant's reading instruction, and a comparison of i-Ready reading achievement data over two diagnostic assessments. The participants conceptualized that Instructional Delivery and Engagement and Learning Environment were the most important domains within the M-DCPS Framework of Effective Instruction (FEI; Appendix A), which encompasses six areas in which teachers are directly responsible for the actions needed for student success, related to DI. The qualitative and quantitative observational data indicated that Knowledge of Learners, Learning Environment, and Instructional Planning practices, as contained in the FEI, were equally implemented during instruction. Correlation analysis of the frequency of implementation and i-Ready gain scores between diagnostic assessments found a significantly positive correlation of three domains: Knowledge of Learners, Learning Environment, and Instructional Delivery and Engagement. Gaining knowledge of teachers' conceptualizations and implementation of this approach at high-performing, schools can assist the schools and the district in providing training and support to teachers, which can further promote the effective use of DI in the classroom.




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