Differentiated Instruction Catalog

School of Education & Human Services
Differentiated Instruction (MSEd and Gifted Extension)

Program Director:  Barbara A. Burns, PhD

Faculty:  Amber Chandler, Kristen Frawley, Lynn O'Connor,  Patrick Wirth

Degree: Master of Science in Education


The Differentiated Instruction graduate program is a rigorous 30-hour program that meets the master’s degree requirement for permanent or professional teacher certification in New York State. The degree also meets the requirements for a certification extension in Gifted Education.

Our mission is to provide a meaningful, hands-on approach to delivering the best pedagogical methods and strategies available in order to meet the diverse needs in the classroom, including the gifted population. Our courses are taught by instructors who are practitioners in the field, who each day integrate the most widely recognized aspects of differentiated instruction into their own classroom. The curriculum is based on the following tenets:

  • We believe that all people are creative, with unique gifts to contribute.
  • We encourage cultivating habits of mind such as critical thinking and risk-taking through which one can discover and uncover the content.
  • We expect the creation of multi-modal products by which students demonstrate their understanding of material.
  • We find the above works best when offered in an environment that sparks individual creative spirit and connects people together through collaboration, idea-sharing, openness and trust.

The experience you gain in this program will seamlessly translate into the classroom and beyond, as you go forth in making your mark in differentiating yourself as an educator and change agent in the classroom, school, community and the world.

Licensure Disclosure

Canisius College cannot determine whether completion of this program would be sufficient to meet licensure requirements outside of New York State for the intended occupation. We advise you to contact your state licensing board or appropriate licensing entity to determine whether the program meets requirements for Professional Licensure in the state where you are located or the state in which you intend to pursue licensure. Please contact the associate dean of your school if you have further questions.


Program Details

Required Core Courses
EDDI 500Dimensions of Learning 3
EDDI 505Introduction to Differentiated Instruction3
EDDI 510Introduction to Gifted Education and Collaboration3
EDDI 515Identification and Assessment of Students in Gifted Education3
EDDI 520Curriculum Development for Gifted Students3
EDDI 600Practicum and Seminar in Gifted Education3
EDDI 615Action Research for a Differentiated Classroom3
Elective Courses
Select three of the following (additional courses may be used with prior approval from program director)9
EDDI 530
Differentiated Instruction in Mathematics K-12
EDDI 540
Social and Emotional Issues in Gifted Education
EDDI 575
Enhancing the Differentiated Classroom through Creativity
EDDI 585
Integrating Technology in the Differentiated Classroom
EMC 552
Human Growth and Development: Middle Childhood
EMC 553
Cognition, Learning, Assessment and Diagnostic Teaching: Middle Childhood
Any Special Education (SPE) elective except SPE 536 or SPE 541 or any EDDI course at the 500 or 600 level.
Total Credits30

Please note, the Differentiated Instruction program curriculum above fulfills the coursework requirements for the certification extension in Gifted Extension. Students interested in that extension must pass the CST exam for New York State certification.

Learning Goals & Objectives

Learning Goal 1 (Knowledge – Observed in Writing)

Candidates in the Differentiated Instruction program will demonstrate content knowledge, pedagogical, and professional knowledge necessary for successful performance in their field.

Candidates will:

  • Demonstrate recognition of how foundational influences affect professional practice, including assessment, instructional planning, delivery, and program evaluation. They further demonstrate understanding of issues of human diversity impact families, cultures, and schools, and how these complex human issues can interact in the delivery of gifted and talented education services.
  • Express how different characteristics interact with the domains of human development and use this knowledge to describe the varying abilities and behaviors of individuals with gifts and talents, understanding how families and communities contribute to the development of individuals with gifts and talents.

Learning Goal 2 (Knowledge – Observed Skills and Dispositions)

Candidates in the Differentiated Instruction program will demonstrate professional skills and dispositions necessary for successful performance in their field.

Candidates will:

  • Educators of the gifted understand the effects that gifts and talents can have on an individual’s learning in school and throughout life, and understanding of these learning differences and their interactions provides the foundation upon which educators of the gifted plan instruction to provide meaningful and challenging learning.
  • Select, adapt, and use these strategies to promote challenging learning opportunities in general and special curricula and to modify learning environments to enhance self-awareness and self-efficacy for individuals with gifts and talents, enhancing the learning of critical and creative thinking, problem solving, and performance skills in specific domains.
  • Create learning environments for individuals with gifts and talents that foster cultural understanding, safety and emotional well-being, positive social interactions, and active engagement, fostering environments in which diversity is valued and individuals are taught to live harmoniously and productively in a culturally diverse world.
  • Understand the role of language and communication in talent development and the ways in which exceptional conditions can hinder or facilitate such development and use relevant strategies to teach oral and written communication skills to individuals with gifts and talents.
  • Develop long-range plans anchored in both general and special curricula. They systematically translate shorter-range goals and objectives that take into consideration an individual’s abilities and needs, using differentiated instructional strategies.
  • Collaborate with families, other educators, and related service providers, enhancing comprehensive articulated program options across educational levels and engagement of individuals with gifts and talents in meaningful learning activities and interactions.

Learning Goal 3 (Service)

Candidates in the Differentiated Instruction program will demonstrate willingness to use their skills to benefit and serve society. Within the contexts of their work, candidates promote authentic learning, social and emotional development, and a commitment to social justice in environments that foster respect for diversity and the dignity of all.

Candidates will:

  • Demonstrate respect for their students as unique human beings, understanding variations in characteristics and development between and among individuals with and without exceptional learning needs and capacities.
  • Educators of the gifted can express how different characteristics interact with the domains of human development and use this knowledge to describe the varying abilities and behaviors of individuals with gifts and talents.
  • Educators of the gifted also understand how families and communities contribute to the development of individuals with gifts and talents. Educators of the gifted are familiar with assistive technologies to support and enhance communication of individuals with exceptional needs. They match their communication methods to an individual’s language proficiency and cultural and linguistic differences. Educators of the gifted use communication strategies and resources to facilitate understanding of subject matter for individuals with gifts and talents who are English language learners.

Learning Goal 4 (Professionalism)

Candidates will demonstrate self-reflection as a habit of mind, continuously assessing and refining their professional practice as they construct a rich repertoire of research-based knowledge, skills, and attitudes for effective performance ensuring that all students and/or clients have optimal opportunities to learn and grow.

Candidates will:

  • Engage in professional activities that promote growth in individuals with gifts and talents and update themselves on evidence-based best practices, regularly reflecting on and adjust their practice. They are aware of how attitudes, behaviors, and ways of communicating can influence their practice.

Learning Goal 5 (Leadership)

Candidates will become adept at applying their acquired knowledge in the process of evaluating their own professional performance and decision-making with respect to its impact on students and/or clients, organizations, and the wider community.

Candidates will:

  • Use the results of assessments to adjust instruction and to enhance ongoing learning progress, understanding the process of identification, legal policies, and ethical principles of measurement and assessment related to referral, eligibility, program planning, instruction, and placement for individuals with gifts and talents, including those from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


EDDI 500 Dimensions of Learning 3 Credits

Participants will explore and understand a learning-centered framework for instructional planning. This course translates the latest research on cognition and learning into practical classroom strategies. Participants learn how to help students develop positive attitudes and perceptions about learning, develop habits of mind for critical, creative and self-regulated behaviors, construct meaning for declarative and procedural knowledge and extend and refine knowledge.

Offered: every fall.

EDDI 505 Introduction to Differentiated Instruction 3 Credits

Provides an introduction to the philosophy of differentiation. This course will examine ways that classrooms can effectively support differentiating instruction and assessment to address the complex challenges of meeting the diverse learning needs of all students. Participants will gain an understanding of the reasons and assumptions underlying differentiation and acquire the ability to identify key indicators in a classroom. Knowledge of the characteristics of students who learn at different paces and levels will be developed. Students will study a variety of curriculum options such as those of content and implementation of differentiated lessons that optimize learning for all students, including gifted students and other high-ability learners.

Offered: every fall.

EDDI 510 Introduction to Gifted Education and Collaboration 3 Credits

Participants will explore the history, research, laws and varied philosophies of gifted education. The class will also focus on developing skills in communication and collaboration to individualize instruction for gifted students. Participants will learn how to develop a support system and manage open communication among classroom teachers, special area teachers, administrators, parents and outside agencies.

Offered: every fall.

EDDI 515 Identification and Assessment of Students in Gifted Education 3 Credits

This course will provide an overview of tools and methods for identifying and assessing students who learn at a pace and level that is significantly different from that of their classmates. Assessment tools will be examined, utilized and evaluated. Implications for instruction will be discussed.

Offered: every spring.

EDDI 520 Curriculum Development for Gifted Students 3 Credits

This course focuses on methods of instruction for gifted students. Participants will develop knowledge and skills for planning, providing, coordinating and evaluating differentiated teaching and learning environments to challenge and assist gifted students in learning to their highest levels of achievement. Participants will learn how to develop a layered curriculum in order to maximize each student's growth and individual success. Instructional strategies for differentiating the key elements of content, process and products will be addressed.

Offered: every spring.

EDDI 530 Differentiated Instruction in Mathematics K-12 3 Credits

Differentiating instruction means providing students with options for learning new information, helping them to make sense of ideas and express what they learn. This course will focus on helping the teacher learn approaches for differentiating mathematics instruction in the classroom. Participants will discuss and apply the principles of differentiated instruction to math instruction, learn effective strategies for managing flexible groups, acquire ideas for providing students with a variety of options that successfully target math standards and understand how to plan strategically in order to reach the needs of diverse learners in the classroom.

Offered: every spring.

EDDI 540 Social and Emotional Issues in Gifted Education 3 Credits

This course focuses on social and emotional issues in a differentiated classroom. This course will address issues such as fairness and grading, taking charge of individual learning, developing organization and study skills, procrastination and perfectionism, fear of failure, struggling with appropriately challenging activities, and underachievement behaviors. The role the parent plays in supporting a child in a differentiated classroom will also be explored.

EDDI 575 Enhancing the Differentiated Classroom through Creativity 3 Credits

This course will offer students the opportunity to learn about the field of creativity and current research supporting its value in enhancing the learning environment. Participants will discuss and experience ways to nurture teacher creativity to better prepare them to recognize and support creativity in students. Activities and resources to develop creativity will be explored and evaluated.

Offered: once a year.

EDDI 585 Integrating Technology in the Differentiated Classroom 3 Credits

This course introduces educators to technology that can be used to support, supplement and deliver differentiated content and assessment in the mixed ability classroom. The benefits and challenges of incorporating technology will be considered while participants learn how to integrate technology into their curriculum. Participants will gain hands-on experience using technological strategies for differentiation that will engage learners of all styles, ranging from new uses for basic software applications and online collaboration to the production of multimedia.

Offered: every fall.

EDDI 600 Practicum and Seminar in Gifted Education 3 Credits

This course involves completing a college supervised practicum experience of 50 hours differentiating instruction for all students including gifted students. The practicum is individualized and takes place near the end of the program. Students will have the opportunity to discuss and reflect on the practicum experiences in on-campus seminars.

Corequisite: EDDI 615.

EDDI 615 Action Research for a Differentiated Classroom 3 Credits

Focuses on the study of the background of educational research, understanding research methodologies and designs, tools and techniques of educational research, and the collection, treatment, analysis and interpretation of research data. The student will develop an action research project that will be implemented during the practicum.

Corequisite: EDDI 600.