Study-Unit Description

Study-Unit Description


TITLE Responding to Diversity in the Primary Classroom

UM LEVEL 02 - Years 2, 3 in Modular Undergraduate Course



DEPARTMENT Early Childhood and Primary Education

DESCRIPTION This study-unit is closely linked to teaching practice. It is intended to enable participants to adapt their teaching to the strengths and needs of their students. Participants will be introduced to the main concepts of inclusive education and differentiated teaching. This includes the equal valuing of each student; the importance of an inclusive community and learning environment; the importance of a holistic approach to education; the understanding of students strengths and needs and development of an Individual Educational Plan for a particular student; how to prepare and deliver differentiated learning content, process and product; how to evaluate the impact of teaching for an individual student. Students will be expected to develop, implement and evaluate an IEP for a particular student in their class during their teaching practice.

Study-unit Aims:

The aim of this study-unit is to help participants approach learning from an inclusive and differentiated perspective. This entails the development of attitudes, knowledge and skills in: regarding all students as worthy learners; identifying the diversity of learners’ background, characteristics, interests, learning profile, strengths and needs; and responding to them through differentiated teaching approaches and Individual Educational Plans (IEPs) where necessary in a real classroom context.

Learning Outcomes:

1. Values and attitudes:

By the end of the study-unit the student will:
- Be able to recognise that each child, whatever his or her characteristics, is entitled to a quality education;
- Become aware of their attitude towards each of their students;
- Be able to adopt an optimistic approach to each student’s potential;
- Become reflective practitioners and willing to learn new ways of organising learning.

2.Knowledge & understanding:

By the end of this study-unit, the student will be able to:
- State in clear terms the importance of inclusive education and differentiated teaching;
- Articulate a rationale for differentiation based on the strengths and needs of learners;
- Understand that students are individuals with differing cultural baggage, interests, learning profiles, and readiness levels;
- Understand the need for and nature of IEP for children with IENs;
- Understand how different learning environments can make an impact on students’ learning;
- Understand how learning can be differentiated in content, process, and product;
- Relate success or failure of inclusive teaching to the relevant theory and research.

3. Skills:

By the end of the study-unit the student will be:
- Reflective in and on their teaching action;
- Apply techniques for communication about differentiation with learners;
- Apply skills for building an inclusive classroom community;
- Apply appropriate skills for understanding the diversity of individual needs in the classroom;
- Apply strategies for planning and implementing differentiated teaching;
- Apply skills for developing and using an IEP for particular students;
- Evaluate the appropriateness and effectiveness of their own and other colleagues’ differentiation strategies applied during lessons.

Main Text/s and any supplementary readings:

Main Texts:

- Bartolo, P. A., Agius Ferrante, C., Azzopardi, A., Bason, L., Grech, L., & King, M. (2002). Creating inclusive schools: Guidelines for the implementation of the National Minimum Curriculum policy on inclusive education. Malta: Ministry of - Education. (Available on:
- Bartolo, P.A., Hofsaess, T., Mol Lous, A., Ale, P., Calleja, C., Humphrey, N., Janikova, V., Vilkiene, V., Wetso, G. (2007). Responding to student diversity: Teacher’s handbook. Malta: University of Malta. (available online
- Bartolo, P.A. (2010). Responding to student diversity through differentiated teaching. In A. Azzopardi (Ed.), Making sense of inclusive education: Where everyone belongs (pp.106-116). Germany: VDM Verlag.
- Calleja, C. (2005) Differentiating Instruction in the Primary: A Whole School Approach for Achieving Excellence. Malta Education Division.
- Peterson, J.M., & Hittie, M.M. (2009). Inclusive teaching: Creating effective schools for all learners (2nd ed). Boston: Pearson Education.

Supplementary Readings:

- Bartolo, P. A., & Borg, G. (2008). ‘The development of inclusive education in Malta.’ In G. Bunch & A. Valeo (Eds.), Inclusive Education: Emergent solutions (pp. 224–62). Toronto, ON, Canada: Inclusion Press.
- Barton, L., & Slee, R. (1999). Competition, selection and inclusive education: Some observations. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 3(1), 3-12.
- Booth, T., & Ainscow, M. (2011). Index for inclusion: Developing learning and participation in schools (3rd. ed.). Bristol, UK: CSIE. (Index for Inclusion).
- Bunch, G. (1999). Inclusion: How to: Essential classroom strategies. Toronto: Inclusion Press.
- Covington, M.V., & Teel, M. K. (1996). Overcoming student failure: Changing motives and incentives for learning. Washington: American Psychological Association.
- EU Charter of Fundamental Human Rights (2000). (
- Gardner, H.E. (2006). Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice. New York: Basic Books.
- Gibb, G.S., & Taylor Dyches, T. (2000). Guide to writing quality individualized education programs. Massachusetts: Allyn & Bacon.
- Gregory, G.H., & Chapman, C. (2002). Differentiated instructional strategies: One size doesn’t fit all. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.
- Holt, J. (1964). How children fail. New York: Pitman.
- Meijer, J.W. (Ed.) (2003). Summary Report: Inclusive Education and Classroom Practice. European Agency for Development in Special Needs Education (
- Ministry of Education (2000). Inclusive education: Policy regarding students with a disability (mimeograph formulated by the Ministerial Committee on Inclusive Education, 15.07.2000). Malta: Ministry of Education.
- National Minimum Curriculum (Malta) (1999). (
- OECD (2002). Understanding the brain: Towards a new learning science. Paris: OECD.
- Snell, M. (Ed.) (2005). Instruction of students with severe disabilities (6th ed). New York: Macmillan.
- Tomlinson, C.A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed –ability classrooms (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development.
- UNESCO (1994). The Salamanca Statement and Framework for Action on Special Needs Education, World Conference on special Needs Education. Paris: Author. (
- UNESCO (2009). Policy Guidelines on inclusion in Education. Paris: UNESCO. (


STUDY-UNIT TYPE Lecture and Project

Assessment Component/s Sept. Asst Session Weighting
Project Yes 100%

LECTURER/S Paul A. Bartolo
Colin Calleja (Co-ord.)


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It should be noted that all the information in the description above applies to study-units available during the academic year 2023/4. It may be subject to change in subsequent years.