Carrie Vander Zwaag

Doctor of Philosophy, (Education)
Study Completed: 2018
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Differentiation in Rural New Zealand Secondary Science

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Differentiation – the modification of teaching and learning through adaptations to content, process, or product – can increase educators' abilities to meet students' diverse learning needs. However, little research provides teachers with how to differentiate effectively in mainstream science classrooms. Ms Vander Zwaag's mixed methods action research study enabled a rural, bicultural Aotearoa school community's years nine and ten students, science teachers and whānau (families) to share their perspectives on current classroom practice and from these perspectives, develop, implement and evaluate a differentiated science unit. Findings indicated that student engagement and learning in science improved, for Māori and non-Māori students from across the learning spectrum, when teachers differentiated responsively. A model of community-driven differentiation was conceptualised, he waka eke noa: differentiation in 3-D (teacher/student/whānau), that could potentially be a strategy for increasing the quality of culturally responsive science teaching and learning that meets diverse learners' needs both within Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally.

Professor Tracy Riley
Dr James Graham