Seeking Differentiated Instruction in Higher Education: An Analysis of the Literature




Understanding by design, Differentiated instruction, Higher education, Cross-disciplinary material, Bibliometrix, R Studio


This research is a part of the Erasmus+ internationally funded InDo research project, involving a consortium led by an Italian higher education institution. An objective of the project is to include desk and field research on the topics of Understanding by Design and Differentiated Instruction, which led to this article having been produced, for knowledge transfer purposes. To carry out this research study, the Boolean operators "Understanding by design"; "Differentiated instruction"; "Higher education" and, "Cross-disciplinary material" applied to the title, abstract, and keywords in the Scopus database were used. Using all operators simultaneously returned no results. Only the Boolean operators "Differentiated instruction" AND "Higher education" and the operator "Cross-disciplinary material" alone brought results. 24 articles were found on Differentiated instruction and Higher education. This group of articles was previously analyzed in a Bibliometric way, using the "Bibliometrix" package from the free software R Studio. Regarding the searches for the term "Cross-disciplinary material", the Scopus database returned only 1 result, which was combined with the 24 articles previously identified, totaling a total of 25 articles related to the two themes. Given the difficulty of access - articles, books, and book chapters with restricted access - 6 investigations were excluded, leaving 19 potentially relevant articles, which were read in their entirety. From the analysis of the 19 articles selected for full reading, 1 investigation was excluded for not fitting the parameters of this research, resulting in a total of 18 articles that were analyzed using a meta-synthesis. After the analysis performed, it can be seen that the main theory used has been differentiated instruction coupled with issues such as standardized assessments for the identification of learning styles, personalized feedback instruments, online applications, the perception of self-efficacy, as well as concern for the development of analytical models for differentiated instruction. Less expressively, other theories that emerge from the analysis performed, are the flipped classroom, Universal Learning Design, a diagnostic assessment and interdisciplinary education.

Author Biography

Cicero Eduardo Walter, 1GOVCOPP, DEGEIT, University of Aveiro, Aveiro, Portugal

2Federal Institute of Education, Science and Technology of PiauĂ­, Brazil