Blog Tutors Tutoring Tips What is Differentiated Instruction and How Can You Apply It?

What is Differentiated Instruction and How Can You Apply It?

In this article, I will be giving a quick introduction to differentiated instruction as it is a effective teaching style that is being increasingly adopted by teachers and tutors from all over the world.

In Singapore, we are used to conforming to discipline and uniformity. This is especially prominent when we are in school. From school uniforms to our standard curriculums, it seems that we are always following set rules.

Differentiated instruction is a term coined by educator, author, and speaker Carol Ann Tomlinson in 1999. It is where the students’ differences are taken into account in their learning, and not limiting students in the way they learn.

There are many types of differences among students, which include their:

  • Learning speeds
  • Abilities/disabilities
  • Interests/motivations
  • Standards
  • Learning styles

Teachers/tutors are one of the main factors that can impact a student’s learning. While it is impossible to prepare individualised lessons for each student,  differentiated instruction is not as difficult as it seems.

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It does not require individualised preparations but rather a flexibility in classrooms.

Teachers/tutors need to first acknowledge that every student is different and be willing to adjust accordingly to their learning needs. 

Differentiated instruction requires the adaptability of teachers to think on their feet to suit the needs of students at that very moment. It also means knowing their students well, including their motivations in learning.

For example, a class has to do a composition practice; one of the students loves sport and finds it difficult to concentrate in a classroom setting. The teacher can appeal to the student’s interest by allowing the student to write about sport. 

With differentiated instructions, students are able to hone in on their own creativity as well as their problem-solving skills.

Very often, differentiated instruction has already been incorporated into our education system in Singapore today. Such examples include allowing students to choose their essay topic or the materials that they will work on for their assignment.

Differentiated instruction is very important in ensuring that no student gets left behind or develops hate for learning when actually all it takes is just a different approach for them to learn effectively.

What do you think? Is our country practising differentiated instruction enough, or have we been too used to a one-size-fits-all approach?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

Rum Tan

Rum Tan is the founder of SmileTutor and he believes that every child deserves a smile. Motivated by this belief and passion, he works hard day & night with his team to maintain the most trustworthy source of home tutors in Singapore. In his free time, he writes articles hoping to educate, enlighten, and empower parents, students, and tutors. You may try out his free home tutoring services via or by calling 6266 4475 directly today.