Equity, equality, and need: A qualitative study into teachers' professional trade-offs in justifying their differentiation practice
Number of pages
SourceOpen Journal of Social Sciences, 9, 8, (2021), pp. 236-257
Article / Letter to editor
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SW OZ BSI OLO
SW OZ BSI OGG
Open Journal of Social Sciences
SubjectDevelopmental Psychopathology; Learning and Plasticity
This article reports on the findings of a qualitative study of 15 primary school teachers' differentiation beliefs which were assessed against principles of distributive justice. The study was performed to examine which beliefs about justice teachers use to legitimize the choices they make regarding differentiation in the classroom. We used justice principles (equity, equality, and need) as themes to describe and analyze teachers' arguments. By doing so, we gained more insight into what teachers consider to be fair in the distribution of educational goods as outcomes and as resources. Consistent with our expectations, teachers simultaneously reason from different distributive justice principles to account for their beliefs. Findings demonstrate that the equity principle combined with the equality principle of equal distribution of educational resources dominated teachers' beliefs about differentiation. In their practice, however, teachers perceive an educational support dilemma with, on the one hand, a desire to distribute time and support equally among students and, on the other hand, the urge to provide more time and support for students who are in need. The principles of distributive justice as an embedded aspect of social ethics may be useful for teachers to systematically reflect on their choices about distributing educational goods and to discuss and align the distribution of resources with colleagues or other stakeholders.
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