This study contributes to our understanding of the complex issues inherent in dealing with the heterogeneity of current high school science classrooms, by reporting on in-depth interviews with 38 experienced biology teachers. Analyses of teachers' responses revealed complex and occasionally counter-intuitive relationships among: (a) their perceptions of what was distinctive about their school, its biology program, or their students; (b) their allocation of class time; (c) their efforts to individualize instruction and meet the needs of a heterogeneous student population; (d) their student outcome goals; and (e) the methods they used to evaluate student progress. Thus, for example, of the 9 teachers who cited the diversity of their students. 4 also commented on their poor motivation, but another 4 also commented on their high motivation. In addition, teachers reported using a similar range of instructional formats but for different reasons, depending on the characteristics of their students (e.g., cooperative learning groups used to compensate for poor attention spans, to challenge bright students, and to foster social tolerance). Discussion of these findings addresses several points of relevance for science education, teacher preparation, and curriculum reform.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/amy_strage/19/