Effects of a Differentiation Strategy on Seventh Grade Students' Science Academic Gains

Effects of a Differentiation Strategy on Seventh Grade Students' Science Academic Gains

Author: 
Michelle Marie Anderson
Program of study: 
Ed.D./CI
Abstract: 
The purpose of this quantitative, nonequivalent control group study was to discover how a differentiated strategy, product choice, affected seventh grade students’ academic gains in science. The literature review disclosed a gap in information concerning differentiation strategies’ effectiveness in increasing students’ academic gains demonstrated through traditional assessments. While much literature exists on how and what to differentiate for students, little exists supporting the idea that using specific differentiated strategies increases students’ scores on traditional assessments similar to ones students experience on high-stake state assessments. Students in both the control and experimental groups took a pre-test assessing content of the upcoming science unit of study and instruction occurred on the pre-tested content. Students in the experimental group completed a differentiated product choice task whereas the control group reviewed with the teacher. All students took a post-test. Repetition of this process occurred with the same students for two different science units of study. The percentages for each pre- and post-test score were recorded and descriptive and inferential statistics were calculated and analyzed. Statistics from ANCOVA enabled the researcher to answer the research questions and accept or reject the null hypotheses (indicated by P > .05 for the F statistics). The statistical evidence indicated that none of the null hypotheses could be rejected. No effect could be found between the differentiated strategy, product choice, gender, or repeated use of the strategy upon science academic gains of seventh graders in a Midwest suburban middle school.
Dedication: 
I dedicate this work to my husband Greg, who continued to encourage me throughout the process and enjoyed many Daddy weekends alone with our twins because Mommy had to do homework. I dedicate this work to my twin daughters Sabrina Hope and Sydney Paige. You are my daily inspiration to continually improve myself and be the best mother and role model possible. I also dedicate this work to all teachers. May you strive to continually improve your professional skills and be leaders who inspire others inside and outside of the classroom.
Acknowledgements: 
Thank you to my committee member (who was my chairperson for most of my journey), Dr. Joshua Fischer, for continuing with me this long journey even after I took a two-year break from the program when I delivered my twin daughters. Thank you Dr. Fischer for your guidance, encouragement, advice, editing, and helping me calm down in tense deadline moments. I will be forever grateful to you for continuing to work with me as you started to wind down working with doctoral students. Thank you to my committee members Dr. Eleanore Miller (former), Dr. Debra Knaebel, and Dr. James Bailey for their advice, editing, and continued support of me throughout this process. Thank you to Dr. Bailey, a former instructor of mine, who stepped in and switched committee places with Dr. Fischer. I appreciate Dr. Bailey’s assistance in leading me through the last part of my dissertation journey. Thank you to the school district, cooperating teacher, students, and families for allowing me to conduct my study with you. Thank you to my professors at residencies that looked at my work with new, critical eyes. I appreciate the challenge and knowledge gained from my content class professors as I often directly applied what I learned into my teaching and leadership. A special thank you to Laurie Hofman who freely shared with me what she learned throughout the dissertation process so I would not make the same mistakes. Thank you to colleague, Laurie Saulys, for editing my work with a critical eye. Without my family and friends’ encouragement and support I would not have accomplished this massive endeavor. Thank you to everyone in my life – you know who you are.