Dr. Christine Trinter, an assistant professor of mathematics education in the Notre Dame Center for STEM Education and a Fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, has been awarded a Luksic Family Collaboration Grant through Notre Dame International. The grant will contribute a portion of the funds necessary for her team to host a research-practitioner conference in Santiago, Chile, to study the philosophy of differentiated instruction in Chilean schools.
The conference comes as a response to a 2015 mandate from the Chilean Ministry of Education that schools in the country include Universal Design for Learning in their curriculum, that is, empowering teachers to design flexible educational experiences to better meet the needs of individual learners. “All students are unique and have different learning needs in one classroom,” Trinter says. “How do we meet this diverse student body? Universal Design for Learning is grounded in differentiated instruction.”
The conference will provide a forum for a conversation between policymakers, faculty from universities, researchers, and the teachers themselves. Trinter says, “We will all be in the same room so, our hope is that we can craft a research study for this in Chile. There will be a number of teachers there, too, so we will focus on practical strategies for adopting this philosophy in the classroom. Teams will develop lesson plans that are differentiated so they better understand how this philosophy manifests in their curriculum and instruction. Designing a teaching and learning experience in this way is a matter of the educator being more attuned to student needs. It’s more focused on the dignity of the individual than just the learning target.”
Through her work at the University of Virginia with Carol Tomlinson, a leading scholar on differentiated instruction, Trinter partnered with a team of educational consultants at Tandem Profesores, as well as Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile faculty members including Horacio Solar. The conference is scheduled for April 17-18, 2020. Following the conference, a two-day summit will explore further collaboration between PUC, Notre Dame, UVA, and Tandem. Trinter says, “We all came together in a total partnership to help promote this idea that looks at the dignity of the person — the uniqueness of all students. I’m going to learn so much.”