Improving kindergarten teachers’ differentiation practices to better anticipate student differences

Elma Dijkstra, Amber Walraven, Ton Mooij, Paul A. Kirschner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This article presents the findings from a teacher intervention in Dutch kindergartens aimed at improving teachers’ differentiation practices (DP) to better anticipate student differences. The intervention was designed to improve the match between student levels and curricularactivities, in particular for high-ability students and consists of threecomponents. A pretest–posttest cluster randomised design was usedwith three conditions: control (n = 34), pilot intervention (n = 32) andimproved intervention (n = 34). Quantitative results demonstratethat the intervention fidelity was relatively high in the improvedintervention. Correlations confirmed that teacher-reported DP werehigher in schools where the intervention was more completelyimplemented. DP were enhanced in both intervention conditions,but showed greater improvement in the improved intervention.Qualitative data revealed process characteristics that reflect problemsschools encounter with this intervention. Teachers can be supportedin improving DP, but this requires school-wide intensive and longsupport.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-377
JournalEducational Studies
Publication statusPublished - 2016



  • Screening
  • instructional differentiation
  • curriculum differentiation
  • kindergarten teachers
  • school policy

Cite this