A rising tide lifts all boats? The model of differentiation as a tool for diversity in science towards social inclusion

Sarah Kieferle, Itzok Devtak, Jane Essex, Sarah Hayes, Marina Stojanovska, Rachel Mamlok-Naaman, Silvia Markic

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Approaches for inclusive science teaching currently tend to focus on only one dimension of diversity at a time. This neglects the fact that diversity is multidimensional in nature, and the consideration of only one dimension of diversity can yield inclusive practices with limited scope. Therefore, the goal of the project “Diversity in Science toward Social Inclusion─Non-formal Education in Science for Students’ Diversity” (DiSSI) is to promote inclusive teaching practices for dealing with several dimensions of diversity simultaneously for non-formal education. Researchers from Ireland, Germany, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, and North Macedonia are developing a teaching approach that considers the needs of (i) students with a low socioeconomic status, (ii) students of ethnic minorities or with cultural backgrounds that differ from those of the mainstream culture, (iii) students with different linguistic skills, and (iv) gifted students. For this purpose, the Pedagogical Model of Differentiation was developed. In addition, the approaches of inquiry-based learning, context-based learning, game-based learning, and cooperative learning were reviewed in regard to their suitability for inclusive learning settings for non-formal science education. Conclusions were drawn about the mentioned dimensions of diversity. An innovative combination of pedagogical approaches that benefits all learners and thus is truly inclusive is presented. The teaching is inclusive in the sense that it allows for cooperative learning while simultaneously supporting the learning progress of the four differentiated groups of students. Thus, in this paper, the model of differentiation is presented and explained, and a summary of the approaches is discussed, which are applicable for inclusive teaching.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)789–797
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number3
Early online date13 Feb 2024
Publication statusPublished - 12 Mar 2024


  • inclusion
  • differentiation
  • diversity


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