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What is it?
Differentiated learning happens when different students, either within a specific cohort or in a class, are given opportunities to learn that are appropriate for their individual needs and abilities. Differentiation can focus on:
- Content (what students learn)
- Process (how students learn)
- Product (how students demonstrate their learning)
- The physical learning environment
How does it help?
Differentiated learning is important in STEM education because student needs and abilities typically vary widely within a single classroom or cohort. While meeting the needs of the average student is important, it is also important to provide for students outside of the middle range. Effective differentiation supports all students to achieve learning growth, regardless of their starting point. This can help lower-performing students to improve and higher-performing students to excel.
How do you do it?
- Identify and respond to varying levels of student readiness, interests and learning preferences.
- Set appropriate expectations for learning activities that are based on student need and ability.
- Provide additional support to lower-performing students and provide opportunities for higher-performing students to extend themselves.