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Improving Engineering Education Pedagogy Via Differentiated Instruction

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2010 Annual Conference & Exposition


Louisville, Kentucky

Publication Date

June 20, 2010

Start Date

June 20, 2010

End Date

June 23, 2010



Conference Session

Educational Methods and Technologies

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

15.695.1 - 15.695.12



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Paper Authors


John Marshall University of Southern Maine

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John Marshall received his Ph.D. from Texas A&M University and is the Internship Coordinator for the Department at the University of Southern Maine. His areas of specialization include Power and Energy Processing, Applied Process Control Engineering, Automation, Fluid Power, and Facility Planning.

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William Marshall Alief Independent School District

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William Marshall is the Director of Instructional Technology and Career & Technical Education for the Alief Independent School District in Texas. He provides supervision of Program Managers in the areas of Career & Technical Education, Computer Interventions, Distance Learning, Information Literacy, Technology Applications, Campus Technology Specialists and Library Information Specialists.

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Improving Engineering Education Pedagogy Via Differentiated Instruction

The participants populating our schools are becoming more diverse. They are coming from different cultures and have different learning styles. They also have different interests and different levels of maturity. As technical teachers, we frequently teach a blend of theoretical and applied engineering topics. Our goal is to provide our students with the skills and knowledge they need to safely and accurately accomplish their jobs to high standards of quality in a cost effective manner.

Central to providing effective instruction is knowing something about how people learn. The more we know about the learning process the more effective we can be in designing and delivering appropriate instruction. A one-size-fits-all teaching method lacks the flexibility needed to challenge and encourage learning in today’s effective teaching programs. “Differentiated instruction, often referred to as universal design, is a teaching and learning style that is the result of neuroscience research on how the human brain processes and retains new information”. 1


“Acknowledging that students learn at different speeds and that they differ in their ability to think abstractly or understand complex ideas is like acknowledging that students at any given age aren’t all the same height: It is not a statement of worth, but of reality”.2 In a differentiated classroom and laboratory, the teacher proactively plans and carries out varied approaches to content, process, and product in anticipation and response to student differences in readiness, interest, and learning needs. According to Tomlinson, our teaching style “can influence a students’ IQ by 20 points in either direction, that’s a 40 point IQ swing”.2 Key concepts of differentiated instruction include:

More qualitative than quantitative. Merely assigning more or less work based on a learner’s ability is typically ineffective.

Rooted in assessment. Evaluation is no longer predominately something that happens at the end of a chapter to determine “who got it”. Assessment routinely takes place to determine the particular needs of individuals.

Student centered. Learning is most effective when experiences are engaging, relevant, and interesting.

A blend of whole-class, group, and individual instruction.

Marshall, J., & Marshall, W. (2010, June), Improving Engineering Education Pedagogy Via Differentiated Instruction Paper presented at 2010 Annual Conference & Exposition, Louisville, Kentucky. 10.18260/1-2--16616

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2010 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015