Date of Award

12-15-2007

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Degree Program

Curriculum & Instruction

Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Speaker, Richard B.

Second Advisor

Austin, Patricia

Third Advisor

Bedford, April

Fourth Advisor

Barnitz, John

Fifth Advisor

Davis-Haley, Rachel

Abstract

If human beings are believed to be individually unique, why are students evaluated with standardized tests? Differentiated instruction, honoring individual differences of each learner, provides an alternative answer to the question by employing tiered performance tasks to address personal needs in assessment situations. To explore the applicability of differentiated instruction in an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) environment, this case study explored Taiwanese college students’ perspectives on tiered performance tasks and educational implications of the perspectives with regard to EFL learning and teaching at the tertiary level. Grounded in the humanistic stance of education and sociocultural view of learning, the study’s premise is that culturally responsive learner-centered instruction will promote English learning experience in a Chinese context. Data gathering techniques employed included observations, interviews, videotaping, and artifact collection, while data analysis procedures followed a three-step process: data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing and verification. A total of 12 participants demonstrated generally positive responses to tiered performance tasks offered in a final examination for a freshmen English listening and speaking class. An overall acceptance of the assessment strategy was generated through recognition and appreciation of choices of leveled tasks, heightened motivation, increased efforts, improved English skills, and greater confidence. Concerns caused by the challenging tasks included complexity level, time required to complete the task, partnership, and score. Affirmative results were particularly evident in low-ranking students. The acceptance of tiered performance tasks indicated that differentiated instruction is promising in supporting English language learning of college EFL learners in Taiwan. Implications pointed to the needs of an authentic assessment to link teaching and learning, as well as an equitable relationship between the educator and the learner. Suggestions for future research were offered.

Rights

The University of New Orleans and its agents retain the non-exclusive license to archive and make accessible this dissertation or thesis in whole or in part in all forms of media, now or hereafter known. The author retains all other ownership rights to the copyright of the thesis or dissertation.

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