Differentiating Through Problem-Based Learning: Learning to ExploreMore! with Gifted Students

  • Neporcha Cone
  • Bongani D. Bantwini
  • Ethel King-McKenzie
  • Barry Bogan
Part of the ASTE Series in Science Education book series (ASTE, volume 1)


The rapid growth in student diversity in US public schools has created challenges leading to questioning and improvement of science teaching and learning approaches used in the science classroom. The mixed ability classroom requires instructional approaches that provide a framework for engaging students in authentic problem solving. While participating in a 6-week summer academy, Neporcha implemented a problem-based science unit to meet the academic needs of gifted students from low-income backgrounds in grades five through eight. As a result of this experience, Dr. Cone and her coauthors learned new strategies for differentiating instruction that inform the way they prepare preservice elementary-grades teachers to meet the needs of students from diverse backgrounds.


Preservice Teacher Science Teacher Scientific Concept Diverse Background Critical Thinking Skill 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Anderson, K. (2007). Tips for teaching differentiating instruction to include all students. Preventing School Failure, 51(3), 49–53.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bybee, R. (2002). Learning science and the science of learning. Arlington: National Science Teachers Association (NSTA).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Cox-Petersen, A., Melber, L. M., & Patchen, T. (2012). Teaching science to culturally and linguistically diverse elementary students. Boston: Pearson.Google Scholar
  4. Fraser-Abder, P. (2011). Teaching budding scientists: Fostering scientific inquiry with diverse learners in grades 3–5. Upper Saddle River: Pearson.Google Scholar
  5. Gallagher, S., Stepien, W., Sher, B., & Workman, D. (1995). Implementing problem-based learning in science classrooms. School Science and Mathematics, 95, 136–146.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Gallagher, S. A. (1997). Problem-based learning: Where did it come from, what does it do, and where is it going? Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 20(4), 332–362.Google Scholar
  7. Gerdes, D. (n.d.). IMSA’s PBLNetwork. Retrieved October 10, 2011, from http://pbln.imsa.edu/index.html
  8. Haager, D., & Klinger, J. K. (2005). Differentiating instruction in inclusive classrooms: The special educator’s guide. New York: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  9. Heacox, D. (2002). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom: How to reach and teach all learners, grades 3–12. Minneapolis: Free Spirit.Google Scholar
  10. Huebner, T. (2010). Differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership, 67(5), 79–81.Google Scholar
  11. K’NEX User Group. (2004). Mousetrap challenge. Retrieved 13 July, 2013, from http://www.knexusergroup.org.uk/acatalog/knex-mousetrap-challenge.html
  12. Levy, H. M. (2008). Meeting the needs of all students through differentiated instruction: Helping every child reach and exceed standards. Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 81(4), 161–164. Retrieved February 01, 2012, from Academic Search Premier database.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Mastropieri, M. A., Scruggs, T. E., Norland, J. J., Berkeley, S., McDuffie, K., Halloran-Tornquist, B., & Conners, N. (2006). Differentiated curriculum enhancement in middle-school science: Effects on classroom and high-stakes tests. Journal of Special Education, 40, 130–137.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. National Research Council (2012). A framework for K-12 science education: Practices, crosscutting concepts, and core ideas. Committee on a Conceptual Framework for New K-12 Science Education Standards, Board on Science Education, Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.Google Scholar
  15. Tomlinson, C. (1995). Differentiating instruction for advanced learners in the mixed ability middle school classroom. Retrieved March 3, 2012 from, http://www.nagc.org/index.aspx
  16. Tomlinson, C. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed ability classrooms. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  17. Treffinger, D. J., & Barton, B. L. (1988). Foster independent learning. Gifted Child Today, 11, 28–30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neporcha Cone
    • 1
  • Bongani D. Bantwini
    • 1
  • Ethel King-McKenzie
    • 1
  • Barry Bogan
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Elementary and Early Childhood EducationKennesaw State UniversityKennesawUSA

Personalised recommendations