What are homogeneous and heterogeneous groupings?

Woman and children at a table
Photo courtesy William Bronston, M.D.

Homogeneous groupings refers to the practice of arranging instructional groups of children and youth based on an identified label. This practice is utilized in general education when children and youth are placed in "tracks" such as "basic," "average" and "accelerated." In special education, homogeneous groups are frequently formed based on disability labels. The premise behind the use of homogeneous groupings is that children and youth who are perceived to experience the same difficulties with learning should be taught together.

Heterogeneous groupings refers to a practice of arranging instructional groups to ensure that children and youth of diverse abilities are represented in each classroom and/or activity. The premise behind the use of heterogeneous groups is that children and youth of various abilities, talents and gifts benefit from learning together, by teaching and learning from one another.

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