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Ricerca per l'innovazione della scuola italiana
Innovazione metodologica e organizzativa del modello scolastico

Differentiated learning – Didactic differentiation for the inclusion and educational success of students

Ambito: Ricerca endogena

Research on didactic differentiation has contributed to the mosaic of ideas of the Avanguardie Educative  Movement since 2016, investigating and promoting the principles of differentiation in the didactic sphere in schools of the first cycle of education. Differentiated Learning is based on the practices of the Senza zaino (Without Backpack) network, through its leading school, the IC Mariti di Fauglia (PI) and refers to the concept of personalization of learning, configuring itself both as an educational culture and as a didactic model, which interprets and values ​​diversity in the classroom context.

The design for all approach concerns the aspects of school inclusion, whereby each student is enhanced for his/her talents, potentials and special educational needs. Thanks to differentiation, all students are given the opportunity to follow personalized paths, in order to stimulate every different form of intelligence. Differentiation is based on the assumption that training must be sensitive to people’s differences, accounting for the multiplicity of their individual (cognitive and affective) and social dimensions (the family environment and the socio-cultural context).

Research questions

Q1: What are the didactic differentiation practices that contribute most significantly to offering quality educational didactic perspectives in different levels of education? What are the emerging and consolidated evidences in the first cycle? And which are emerging in the second cycle?

Q2: What are the impacts of didactic differentiation on the development of students’ twenty-first century skills from a perspective of verticality between school levels? How did the didactic differentiation stimulate the educational success of the students who practiced and experienced it in the first cycle? What are the repercussions of didactic differentiation on the training path of students who are currently in the second cycle?

Q3: What are the ways of evaluating learning that contribute most significantly to educational success? What are the prevalent assessment practices implemented by Italian teachers in the various school levels? [interrelation with the research project “The evaluation of learning”].

Research object


The research intends to detect the relationships between educational differentiation practices and the educational success of students, with particular attention to the development of students’ 21st century skills and self-regulation processes of the training path in a lifelong perspective. The impacts of the research unfold on the horizon of disciplinary and transversal teaching, on the quality of the educational experience and on the development of educational scenarios, to support the inclusion and enhancement of the talents and potential of the students and teachers involved.


The subjects of the research are head teachers, teachers and students of primary and lower secondary schools, for the more consolidated practices of didactic differentiation (development of skills in students, aspects of evaluation of learning); and head teachers, teachers and secondary school students, for the more exploratory aspects of research on differentiation practices, in the second cycle, concerning the curriculum and school subjects.