This thesis explores the effectiveness of differentiated instruction on student performance based upon Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences. Currently the United States employs a system of standardized testing to assess student achievement that has had an immense impact on classroom instruction. The teacher-centered, teaching to the test that standardized testing encourages has placed severe limitations on learning. To examine the alternative approach of differentiated instruction and the benefits it might have for the classroom environment, the achievement and attitudes of forty-three fourth grade students at a local public elementary school were compared. Students were assessed using an MI inventory to determine their dominant form of the multiple intelligences. Then, students received instruction in either a differentiated or non-differentiated format. The students were pre- and post-tested on the material covered in the unit, and surveyed to collect data concerning their attitudes toward the method of teaching they experienced. The findings of the study revealed that both the post-test and survey scores of students from the differentiated lessons were higher than those of students from the non-differentiated group to a statistically significant degree. The results of the research have serious implications for the social institution of schools, demanding a closer examination of the assessment, instruction, and accountability systems currently in place and how best to teach America’s youth.


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



© Copyright 2007 Eileen Galligan