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Differentiation

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Differentiation

Differentiation is an education philosophy/framework for effective, tailored teaching that involves providing different students (with different abilities and interests) with different avenues to learning.

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According to Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario’s (HEQCO) 2010 report, the term differentiation has been used in various ways in the context of the higher educational system.
“1. Differentiation on the basis of structure such as size (large or small) or funding (private or public) or legislated mandate (undergraduate only or mixed undergraduate and graduate student bodies).   
2. Differentiation on the basis of the type of program offered such as research intensive or teaching intensive, technical/design school or comprehensive university.  
3. Differentiation on the basis of how research, teaching or services are provided by the institution (on‐line university or a residential university; co‐op or traditional)  
4. Differentiation on the basis of institutional status, prestige or rankings. 
5. Differentiation on the basis of differences in the composition of the student populations served (Bilingual or Francophone or Anglophone; First Nations and other indigenous students; denominational colleges; mature students or direct from high school).” (HEQCO 2010, 7)

According to HEQCO, differentiation can also be vertical or horizontal.  Vertical differentiation refers to the ranking of institutions by a dimension – such as research intensity or reputation – that alludes to a stratified hierarchical system where institutions differ in their value and prestige, perceived or real.  Almost all media‐driven higher education ranking systems have this approach (even if they differ in the particular dimension along which institutions are ranked).  Horizontal differentiation suggests a coordinated system composed of institutions with a diversity of missions and mandates that are equally valued but that may serve different students in different ways.  The postsecondary framework in Alberta has this underlying philosophy (in fact, in that province all were discouraged from saying that the system had different “levels”; it had different “categories”) (HEQCO 2010, 7-8).

References
Weingarten, Harvey, and Fiona Deller. “The Benefits of Greater Differentiation of Ontario’s University Sector.” Higher Education Quality Council of Ontario Report. Accessed June 27, 2015, http://www.heqco.ca/SiteCollectionDocuments/DifferentiationENG.pdf

Page Created by: James Ban on 6 July 2015.


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