Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Differentiated Instruction on Reading Comprehension of Iranian Rural Efl Learners

Academic journal article Modern Journal of Language Teaching Methods

The Effect of Differentiated Instruction on Reading Comprehension of Iranian Rural Efl Learners

Article excerpt


For many teachers efficiency of the teaching and achieving the preplanned goals of the educational system and goals of the class, is a vital issue in teaching-learning process. Rock, Gregg, Ellis and Gable (2008) acclaim that, today teachers are responsible not only for meeting the diverse needs of all students but also for ensuring improved educational outcomes.

Improving skills and specially reading skill and comprehension from reading in EFL setting is a pivotal issue which concerns any language teacher, educational expert and learners themselves in any educational system. Importance of reading in lesson plan and curriculum and its effect on other skills is emphasized by some of the scholars (Brown, 2001; Chastain, 1988; Lindsay and Knight, 2006; etc.). DI which takes into account differences of the learners, can be an alternative approach for teaching English in rural areas. So this approach seems to be effective in rural environment and more probable to meet the needs of all learners. Tomlinson & Allan (2000) proposes that in order to use DI teachers determine at the onset of their planning what their students should know and what each child should be able to do at the conclusion of the lesson or unit.

A major drawback of traditional instruction is that many teachers "teach to the middle" (Haager & Klinger, as cited in Anderson, 2007) also Friend and Bursick (as cited in Anderson, 2007) assert that traditional instruction has a particularly deleterious effect on students with disabilities who often display diverse cognitive abilities, evidence multiple and varied instructional needs, and perform academically below their same-age classmates.

Each student has unique features that brings them into the class with himself, so it is teachers' duty to identify and respect those differences and plan lessons in a way that no student become frustrated due to ignoring his differences. One of the approaches that takes into account these differences and adjusts teaching methods and tasks with the class and students preferences is what Carol Ann Tomlinson (1999, 2001), a leading expert in the field, defined as Differentiated Instruction (DI).

Differentiated Instruction and assessment (also known as differentiated learning or, in education, simply, differentiation or multilevel teaching ) is defined as a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learning (often in the same classroom) in terms of: acquiring content; processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability (Tomlinson, 2001). Differentiated classrooms have been described by Brown (2004) as ones that are responsive to students' variety in readiness levels, interests and learning profiles.

Differentiated Instruction is a teaching and learning philosophy that emphasizes students at the core. Because each student is different, Differentiated Instruction stresses that one style of teaching will not accommodate every student, especially when the teacher's style is a mismatch of the student's style (Levine, 2002 as cited in Stanford & Reeves, 2009). Tomlinson & Allan believe that in the context of education, we define differentiation as a teacher's reacting responsively to a learner's needs (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000).

Tomlinson and Allan (2000) put it as "Within 30 year cognitive psychologists and educational researchers have recognized that individuals have diverse ways of thinking, learning, solving problems and creating product. Differentiation is simply attending to the learning needs of a particular student or small group of students rather than the more typical pattern of teaching the class as though all individuals in it were basically alike "(p.4).

Tomlinson (1999) believes that teachers in differentiated classes use time flexibly, call upon a range of instructional strategies, and become partners with their students to see that both what is learned and the learning environment are shaped to the learner. …

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