Arab World English Journal (AWEJ) Volume 12. Number1  March 2021                                               Pp. 374 -387

Full Paper PDF

Teachers’ Perceptions of Customizing Students’ Learning through Differentiated
Instruction at a Tertiary level

Munira Said Al Siyabi
Department of English Language and Literature
University of Technology and Applied Sciences
Rustaq, Oman
Correspondent Author:

Dalal Abdullah Al Shekaili
Department of English Language and Literature
University of Technology and Applied Sciences
Rustaq, Oman

Received : 11/4/2020              Accepted: 3/5/2021                 Published :3/24/2021


Abstract :
Traditional ways of teaching were challenged by differentiated instruction which aims to embrace students’ variance. Teachers are expected to maximize the learning opportunities by meeting the diverse needs of their learners. English teachers in Omani schools are trained and instructed to modify the content to meet students’ different levels; however, teachers in higher education institutions are given more freedom in planning and conducting their classes. This research investigated teachers’ perceptions of differentiated instruction which is customised to meet the diversity of learning needs and interests of English as foreign language students in the University of Technology and Applied Sciences-Rustaq (UTAS-Rustaq). The study also sought to identify practices teachers follow to implement differentiated instruction. An exploratory, descriptive analysis and a survey were employed to obtain the necessary data, which indicated that teachers are aware of differentiating instruction and the related practices. Teachers also showed a good understanding of the type of knowledge needed to obtain before implementing differentiation and the assessment tools to attain them.  However, the results also indicate an essential need for structural support, professional development, to meet the challenges identified by teachers to maintain the continuity of these practices.
Keywords: Content, differentiated instruction, process, product, teachers’ perception

Cite as:  Al Siyabi, M. S., &  Al Shekaili, D. A. (2021). Teachers’ Perceptions of Customizing Students’ Learning through Differentiated Instruction at a Tertiary level. Arab World English Journal, 12 (1) 74 -387.


Abbati, D. G. (2012). Differentiated Instruction: Understanding the personal factors and organizational conditions that facilitate differentiated instruction in elementary mathematics classrooms, University of California, Berkeley. (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). Retrieved from

Amabile, T. M. (1996). Creativity in context: Update to “The Social Psychology of Creativity.” Westview Press.

Bamburg, J. (1994). Raising expectations to improve student learning. Oak Brook, IL: North Central Regional Educational Laboratory.

Blumenfeld, P. C. et al. (1991). Motivating Project-Based Learning: Sustaining the Doing, Supporting the Learning. Educational Psychologist. 26(3&4). 368-398.

Campbell, B. (2009). To-with-by: A three-tiered model for differentiated instruction. New

         England Reading Association Journal, 44(2), 7-9. Retrieved from EBSCOhost. (Accession No. 36835958).

Cobb, G., Dyer, J., Stallings, G., & Wampler, R. (2014). Prior Knowledge Assessment Guide. Arlington, VA: U.S. Army Research Institute for the Behavioral and Social Sciences.

Corley, M. (2005). Differentiated instruction: Adjusting to the needs of all learners. Focus on Basics: Connecting Research and Practice, 7(C), 13-16.

Dodge, J. (2009). 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom. New York, USA: Scolastic.

Dunn, R., & Griggs, S. A. (1998). Learning styles: Link between teaching and learning. In R. Dunn, & S. Griggs. (Eds.), Learning styles and the nursing profession (pp. 11-23). NLN Press: New York.

Ernest, J., Heckman, K., Hull, K., & Carter, Sh. (2011).  Increasing the teaching efficacy of a beginning special education teacher using differentiated instruction: A case study. International journal of special education, 26(1),191-201.

Fisher, D., Frey, N., & Williams, D. (2003). It takes us all. Principal Leadership, 4(3), 41-44.

Fox, J., & Hoffman, W. (2011). The Differentiated Instruction Book of Lists. San Francisco: Jossey-bass.

Furtak, E., & Kunter, M. (2012). Effects of Autonomy-Supportive Teaching on Student Learning and Motivation. The Journal of Experimental Education,  80(3), 284-316. DOI:10.1080/00220973.2011.573019.

Garrison, C., & Ehringhaus, M. (2007). Formative and summative assessments in the classroom. Retrieved from /1120/Default.aspx.

Hall. T., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2003). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved from

Hattie, J. (2009). Visible learning. New York: Routledge.

Jager, T. de. (2016). Perspectives of teachers on differentiated teaching in multicultural South African secondary schools. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 53, 115- 121.

Koeze, P. A. (2007). Differentiated instruction: The effect on student achievement in an elementary school. Eastern Michigan University, Michigan. (Doctoral Thesis). Retrieved from

Levy, H. M. (2008). Meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction: Helping every child reach and exceed standards. The Clearing House, 81(4), 161- 164.

Lewis, S., & Batts, K. (2005). How to implement differentiated instruction? Adjust, adjust, adjust. Journal of Staff Development, 26(4), 26-31.

Luster, R. J. (2008). A quantitative study investigating the effects of whole-class and differentiated instruction on student achievement. Walden University. (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). (UMI No: 3320691).

McTighe, J., & Brown, J. L.  (2005) Differentiated Instruction and Educational Standards: Is Detente Possible? Theory Into Practice, 44(3), 234-244.

Moon, T.R. (2005). The Role of Assessment in Differentiation. Theory into Practice, 44 (3), 226- 233.

National Research Council. (1996). National Science Education Standards. Washington, DC: National Academy Press.

Nicolae, M. (2014). Teachers’ beliefs as the differentiated instruction starting point: research basis. Procedia – Social and Behavioral Sciences, 128. 426 – 431.

Njagi, M. W. (2014). Teachers’ Perspective towards Differentiated Instruction Approach in Teaching and Learning of Mathematics in Kenya. International Journal of Humanities and Social Science, 4(13), 236-241.

Nugent, L. (2006). When technology met accountability. T H E Journal,33(12), 41.

Raffini, J. (1993). Winners without losers: Structures and strategies for increasing student motivation to learn. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

Reeve, J. (2006). Teachers as facilitators: What autonomy-supportive teachers do and why their students benefit. Elementary School Journal, 106 (3), 225–236.

Renninger, K. (1998). The roles of individual interest(s) and gender in learning. An overview of research on preschool and elementary school-aged children/students. In L. Hoffmann, A. Krapp, K. Renninger, & J. Baumert (Eds.), Interest and learning: Proceedings of the Second Conference on interest and gender (pp. 165–175). Kiel, Germany: IPN.

Robison, E. M. (2004). Teacher decision-making in utilising differentiated instruction, (Unpublished Doctoral dissertation). Marywood University, Pennsylvania.

Strassman, B. K. (2005). Differentiated instruction in the English classroom: Content, process, product and assessment. Journal of Adolescent & Adult Literacy, 48(4), 358-359.

Thompson, R. & Zamboanga, B. Prior Knowledge and Its Relevance to Student Achievement

in Introduction to Psychology. Teaching of Psychology, 30(2):96-101.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2000). Reconcilable differences. Educational Leadership, 58(1), 6-11.

Tomlinson, C. & Allan, S. (2000). Leadership for Differentiating Schools and Classrooms. Alexandria, Virginia: ASCD.

Tomlinson, C. A. et al. (2003). Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 27 (2-3),119–145.

Tomlinson, C. A. et al. (1997). Becoming architects of communities of learning: Addressing academic diversity in contemporary classrooms. Exceptional Children, 63, 269–282.

Tomlinson, C. A., & Imbeau, M. B. (2010). Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Tomlinson, C., & Moon, T. (2013). Assessment and student success in a differentiated classroom. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

Van Casteren W., Bendig-Jacobs J., Wartenbergh-Cras F., Van Essen M., & Kurver B. (2017). Differentiation and Differentiation Skills in Secondary Education. Nijmegen.

Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in Society: The Development of Higher Psychological Processes. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and language. Cambridge: The MIT Press.

Walker, S. Y. (2002). The survival guide for parents of gifted kids. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing Inc.

Zailinawati AH., Schattner P., & Mazza D. (2006). Doing a pilot study: why is it essential? Malaysian Family Physician, 1(2&3), 70-7.

Received: 11/4/2020 
Accepted: 3/5/2021
Published: 3/24/2021 

Munira Said Al-Siyabi is an assistant lecturer at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Rustaq with nine years of experience of teaching English as a second language. Munira completed her MA in TESOL at Leeds University, UK in 2011. Her research interests include teaching and learning in higher education and learner autonomy.

Dalal Abdullah Al-Shekaili is a lecturer at the University of Technology and Applied Sciences, Rustaq College of Education. She has nine years of experience in the field of teacher preparation program. Dalal is an MA holder in TESOL from the University of Durham, UK.