Teacher Attitudes and Motivation as Mediators between Teacher Training, Collaboration, and Diff Erentiated Instruction

By Hartwig, Svenja Janina; Schwabe, Franziska | Journal for Educational Research Online, January 1, 2018 | Go to article overview

Teacher Attitudes and Motivation as Mediators between Teacher Training, Collaboration, and Diff Erentiated Instruction


Hartwig, Svenja Janina, Schwabe, Franziska, Journal for Educational Research Online


1. Teacher attitudes and motivation as mediators between teacher training, collaboration, and differentiated instruction

Today's classrooms are heterogeneous in many ways, especially in terms of diverse achievement levels in several groups of learners (Clayton, 2011; Lotan, 2008). Due to students' individual achievement levels, specifi c educational contents and strategies are not necessarily equally useful for each individual learner (Dixon, Yssel, McConnell, & Hardin, 2014; Pashler, McDaniel, Rohrer, & Bjork, 2008). Although some countries, such as Germany, mostly track students after elementary school by achievement, heterogeneity still exists and needs to be dealt with (cf. Gröhlich, Scharenberg, & Bos, 2009). As a result, there is great interest in teachers' ability to adjust teaching practice to diverse student populations. One expedient instructional behavior for supporting each student adequately is differentiated instruction (DI, see Kyriakides, Creemers, & Antoniou, 2009; Vogt & Rogalla, 2009). In this concept, the teacher tries to meet the educational needs of every student by adapting to her or his individual achievement level (Hall, 2002). DI covers several aspects. In this article, we examined the structure of DI based on Hall (2002) by measuring (a) preparing DI (Lawrence-Brown, 2004; Tricarico & Yendol-Hoppey, 2012), (b) performing DI during classroom lessons (Levy, 2008; Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006), and (c) reflecting on DI (Tomlinson, 2014; Tricarico & Yendol-Hoppey, 2012) in a sample of secondary school teachers working in Germany. For instructional behavior in general, previous research has demonstrated the importance of adequate teacher training (Darling-Hammond, 2000) and collaboration (Rogers, 2015). Whether teachers show high levels of DI may therefore also depend - at least partly - on these aspects. Because of that, the main question addressed in this article is whether teacher training quality and collaboration facilitate teachers' DI. Farther, the article examines teachers' attitudes and motivation as relevant teacher competencies for instructional behavior (see Baumert & Kunter, 2013; Butler & Shibaz, 2008). Teachers' attitudes and motivation can be connected to their perceived quality of teacher training and collaboration (see Baldwin, Buchanan, & Rudisill, 2007; Hartwig, Schwabe, Gebauer, & McElvany, 2017). Concluding, because teacher training and collaboration might not just influence DI directly, a mediation by teachers' attitudes and motivation toward heterogeneity in achievement is investigated. Such mediation might occur because of the relevance of heterogeneity in achievement as a starting point for DI in classrooms (see Boyd, Goldhaber, Lankford, & Wyckoff, 2007, for the mediating effect of motivation between teacher training and instructional behavior).

1.1 DI in heterogeneous classrooms

Student diversity in achievement exists in most classrooms across educational systems throughout the world (Clayton, 2011; see Bos & Scharenberg, 2010, for Germany). The diverging achievement has been demonstrated empirically within international comparative large-scale studies (Duru-Bellat & Suchaut, 2005; Raitano & Vona, 2013). Heterogeneity in achievement has been shown to be pronounced especially in institutions like integrated schools (Bos & Scharenberg, 2010; Raitano & Vona, 2013). The same may also apply to school systems that do not divide their students into various school types after elementary school (see Green, 2011). Traditionally, heterogeneity within classes has often been assumed to inhibit optimal learning processes - especially for high-achieving students (see Johnson, Johnson, & Johnson Holubec, 1984). However, recent studies have shown that achievement gains depend more on teachers' instructional behavior than on classroom composition (e.g., Rjosk et al. 2014). Thus, instructional behavior plays a key role in exploiting the potential of classrooms that display heterogeneity in achievement. …

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