Differentiation is a pedagogical approach that considers student heterogeneity in the classroom. Most of the literature on differentiated teaching proposes a constructivist or socio-constructivist perspective. This pedagogical vision is not based on evidence. Jobin and Gauthier stated in 2008 that “the general meaning of this concept [differentiated instruction] still eludes us, as do its methods of application”. This is similar to what Kershner and Miles affirmed in 1996: “I think it's a term that is like a bar of soap, you try to grab it and suddenly it's out of your hand”. However, there is a different, more research-based approach to differentiation, namely the Response to Intervention (RtI) model.
The use of evidence is a growing theme in educational discourse. One type of review of the scientific literature that is strongly associated with it is the meta-analysis. Meta-analysis combines results from a variety of research studies on the same topic into a single study in order to identify a central trend expressed as an effect size. However, meta-analysis is dependent on the quality and quantity of the research that is selected.
Ever since March 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has forced schools to replace in-person teaching with remote means of learning. These unprecedented circumstances are, for the evangelists of technology, ideal for the complete transformation of the regular teaching system, favouring the concept of the virtual school and the development of 21st century competences, the rising personalisation of student learning paths and truly differentiated education.
Teaching or confusing the students? What the research tells us about the idea that «the teaching method must be varied»
Belgium and several other countries are discussing the possibility to base pedagogical choices on the competencies approach, the discovery approach, and pedagogical differentiation. Based on recent research, Clermont Gauthier, Steve Bissonnette and Marie Bocquillon criticise those proposals, but they point out that the teacher's action must maintain a stable orientation and vary learning activities according to the subject and the students, and not because of the idea that it is necessary to vary.