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Title: The effects of differentiated instruction on students' language attitude and critical thinking in an ESL context
Author: Mohd Said, Nur Ehsan
ISNI:       0000 0004 7964 5214
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2019
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Acknowledging the inevitable differences between learners in terms of learning capabilities, readiness, and aptitudes, some educators have strived for a more responsive teaching practice. The approach, which is labelled differentiated instruction, aims to help teachers to accommodate all types of learning needs in a single classroom. The present study investigates the effects of an English language module developed using the differentiated instruction framework in an ESL (English as a Second Language) context in Malaysia. Much of the impetus to integrate differentiated instruction as a teaching framework in the Malaysian classroom stems from the requirement for differentiated teaching as stated in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, a Ministry of Education's document seeking to improve the country's education system. The study was designed to promote evidence-based classroom practice in Malaysia by developing a differentiated teaching module and measuring its effects on students from an intact classroom of 16-year-old students at a government-funded school. The research design was facilitated by the mixed methods approach; the data collection was conducted through pre- and post-tests and later through a series of semi-structured interviews. Prior to the intervention period, the study began by developing a differentiated lesson checklist based on the literature. The differentiated module was then created in accordance with the national curriculum and the student-participants' language learning style preferences and implemented for 13 weeks. The first part of the data collection and analysis measured the student-participants' language attitude and critical thinking through pre- and post-tests. The two-tailed paired-samples t-test on language attitude suggested that the participants scored significantly higher in the post-test with a large effect size (d=0.89). On measuring critical thinking, it was also revealed that the participants scored significantly higher in the post-test but with a medium effect size (d=0.58). Meanwhile, the interview data were discussed around three main themes: a) similarity and differences between differentiated instruction and conventional teaching approach, b) impact of differentiated instruction on students' language attitude and critical thinking, and c) future of differentiated instruction in Malaysia. The study suggested positive effects albeit of varying degrees on students' language attitude and critical thinking with encouraging feedback from both teacher and students. The effects concurred with previous studies in that differentiated instruction had induced autonomous learning experience and it resulted in a student-centred classroom. The findings were in line with the government's vision for the education sector, suggesting the possibility for further similar studies to be carried out gradually across the nation to increase the generalizability of the reported finding.
Supervisor: Harwood, Nigel Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available