Professional Article Presentation

Case Study

Increasing the teaching efficacy of a beginning special education teacher using differentiated instruction


This articles provides a description of how a beginning special education teacher in an inclusion classroom used pre-assessment, self-assessment and on-going assessment to implement the principles of differentiated instruction to become more responsive to her students’ needs in a systematic way.

The article is divided in three parts:

Why is this important?

To ensure the right of all students to have equal education access.

To recognize the right of persons with disabilities to inclusive education at all levels.

Ongoing worldwide intention of generating spaces of inclusion in every school.

How to do it?

Preparing teachers to effectively teach an increased number of students with challenging and diverse educational needs, through preparation programs and field experiences.

Using constant research and critical reflection upon professional practice.

Using evidence to support and implement strategies in a systematic way.

Generating confidence on their teaching efficacy based on evidence.

Empirical Support for Differentiated Instruction

“It is rooted in tears of educational theory and practice” (Hall, 2002, p.5)

Each student is unique. Interests, skills, strenghts and needs will vary.

Teachers who succeed on differentiating instruction reflect upon their teaching practices.

Models of differentiated instruction

Tomlison says that differentiated instruction is when teachers are providing ongoing assessment of instruction and learning activities that are interesting and relevant to the students.

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The application must follow a structure. It can’t be improvised, it must be systematic and based on evidence.

Case Study

Beginning special education teacher, working to become certified on special education teacher.

Full time teacher

Three Special Education Students

First semester was dedicated to identify and implement management and instructional strategies that have demonstrated effectiveness, as well as taking a course focused on assessment.

Theoretical Framework

Teacher Candidates are expected to use evidence based practices.

Collect data to monitor performance, use the data to guide their instruction.

  1. Collect data

  2. Plan

  3. Approach individualization

Self assessment: Not the student, but the teacher’s practice.


A) Determine best course of action

A.1 Goal setting based on data obtained.

A.2 Data based planning.

A.2.1 Grouping activities

A.2.2 Picture best student’s learning approach

A.2.3 Structure lessons to achieve quick success

B) Assessment to see if struction is working

B.1 Identify best moments to conduct formative assessments

C)Implement strategies for at least a week



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  1. Conceptualize the challenges, day by day

  2. Choose and implement evidence based practices in a systematic way

Change perspective, teachers are working for the whole class

Differentiation generates growth

Differentiation is synergic and helps inclusion


  1. How would you link the need of an evidence based planning with the report based planning we use in Ecuador?

  2. How would you conduct critical reflection to improve your practice?


Ernest, J.M., Heckaman, K.A., Thompson, S.E., Hull, K.M., & Carter, S.W. (2011). Increasing the teacher efficacy of a beginning special education teacher using differentiated instruction: A case study. International Journal of Special Education, 26 (1), 191-201