Differentiating instruction in the pre-service science education classroom

Lisa Brown (USA), Rebecca Wentworth (USA)

In today’s increasingly diverse classrooms, instructors must be prepared to use a variety of teaching methods in an attempt at reaching all students. Students enter the classroom with a vast array of experiences, backgrounds, and other diversity markers that can impact their perceptions and skill level in science courses. This is of particular importance in the field of teacher training, where students need to not only study innovative teaching techniques but authentically experience these techniques that are varied. The purpose of this paper is to demystify differentiated instruction in the science methods classroom and provide strategies for assessment, materials access, and activities. Throughout instruction and assessment, students are given voice, the opportunity to provide input regarding what and how they learn, and choice, the opportunity to opt for activities/assessments they find interesting, stimulating, or match their learning preferences. Finally, differentiation is a philosophy of education that not only acknowledges but celebrates diversity and differences in students. As we prepare these students to become teachers, it is imperative that students not only discuss instructional strategies but authentically experience them as well. Differentiation gives the professor the ability to be the “guide on the side” and provide the students a wider range of discussion and demonstration of common goals.