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Title page for ETD etd-07202012-151210

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Puzio, Kelly G.
URN etd-07202012-151210
Title Social and organizational influences on literacy differentiation: a mixed methods study
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
David Cordray Committee Co-Chair
Robert Jimenez Committee Co-Chair
Bridget Dalton Committee Member
Georgine Pion Committee Member
Victoria Risko Committee Member
  • multilevel growth modelling
  • Differentiated instruction
  • literacy instruction
  • mixed methods
Date of Defense 2012-06-29
Availability unrestricted
In this mixed methods study, I investigated the practice of literacy differentiation in its organizational context. First, to identify social and organizational variables that reliably predicted the outcome of literacy differentiation, I fitted data from a cluster randomized field trial (with 164 fourth and fifth grade teachers in 31 schools) to a sequence of multilevel growth models. Quantitative results indicated that teachers differentiated their literacy instruction to a higher extent when they reported valuing the professional development and when they attended more consultative support sessions. Further, when principals reported valuing the professional development in differentiated instruction, teachers in their schools increased their literacy differentiation at a higher rate. Second, to understand how literacy differentiation was supported in school contexts, I purposively identified, recruited, and interviewed teachers (n=15) and principals (n=3) at three schools that showed positive growth in literacy differentiation. Qualitative results indicated that literacy differentiation was supported in multiple ways. Across settings, differentiation was a long-term focus and actively supported by local, district, and external brokers. In addition to providing teachers with common planning time to share resources and narratives, principals recruited teachers based on their beliefs about differentiation, evaluated teachers during periods of the day when teachers would be differentiating, and strategically networked teachers so that they could observe other educators enacting differentiated lessons. Potential implications for research and policy are discussed.
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