Education has been widely accepted as a veritable instrument for national transformation, development and improved productivity. It is an empowerment tool for both individual and national growth.  The Nigerian government in realization of this fact has made education a national priority and engages in investments that are designed to provide access and promote quality education in the country. These intents were aptly captured in the national policy on education when it emphasized that Nigerian’s education should be geared towards developing national consciousness and unity as well as promoting social, economic, political, scientific and technological progress (Federal Republic of Nigeria, 2004). The policy clearly notes that achieving these require that life- long education shall be the basis of the nation’s educational planning, and educational activities shall be based on the learner for proper self-development and self-fulfillment.
In spite of the recognition of the place of education in the national policy on education, the issue of access and the quality of education provided for learners at the basic, post-basic and tertiary levels in Nigeria remain a major source of concern to stake holders in the nation’s education industry. Observations and informed comments from key stakeholders indicate that most school leavers and graduates from the nation’s tertiary institutions cannot favourably compete in a world that has become a global village. This is a world where knowledge, skills and competencies drive national economies. The downturn in the quality of the products of our educational system has been blamed on a number of factors. Some of which include: policy implementation problems as result of lack of accountability on the part of major operators, poor quality of teaching arising from ill-equipped teaching force, poor quality assurance mechanism, and unattractive learning environment. These problems have implications for the quality of teaching and learning in our schools at all levels.
The teachers and the learners are central in any educational process. The attitude/disposition of teachers and the professional competencies possessed are critical factors in learner achievement in schools. The teachers as facilitators of instruction and motivators of students’ learning set the tone for the climate of learning which may focus the learners or distract them from achieving learning goals. Professionally competent teachers are abreast of the latest in educational practices and employ evidence based approaches in designing and implementing instruction. They are advocates of change and mobilize major education stakeholders through informed opinions towards formulating polices that focus on evidence based best practices for enhanced productivity. However, the attitude/dispositions of many Nigerian teachers as shaped by some of the problems facing the nation’s education system do not enhance the quality of learning in schools. Many teachers who were found professionally qualified at the point of entry demonstrate little professionalism in the discharge of their duties and show little interest or have no opportunity for continuous development. These problems are noted to have been compounded by a weak monitoring and evaluation system. These problems have resulted in classrooms where teachers read notes to students and students in turn memorize and regurgitate same information. Thus, students leave schools lacking in creativity and skills in problem solving; the basic requiremenst for survival in today’s world. There appears to be a discrepancy between knowledge acquired during pre-service professional development and actual practice in the work place. Many teachers seem to believe that learning should be learner driven with teachers providing adequate scaffold to support learning until they become self-regulated and independent learners but observations in the field show that teachers require support to able to translate theory to practice.
The Excellence in Teaching and Learning Research group intends to develop a teacher professional development programme based on a differentiation model of instruction and assess the impact of the programme on teachers’ performance as indicated by students learning outcomes. Differentiated instruction is a learner centred pedagogical approach that enables teachers to modify instruction to meet the diverse needs of learners. It enables the teacher to differentiate by individualizing instruction and assessment and creating opportunities for students to make choices in content, process and in products. Through this approach students acquire active learning strategies and are motivated to take charge of their own learning as they become self regulated learners.
Membership of the Group
1. Professor Nkadi Onyegegbu-  Coordinator
Nkadi Onyegegbu is a Professor of Science Education, University of Nigeria Nsukka, a Fellow of Science Teachers Association of Nigeria (STAN), member Nigerian Academy of Education and a well published researcher. She is currently a consultant for UNICEF, Nigeria and has coordinated a number of funded researches and teacher professional development workshops.
2. Professor Uche Eze-  Member
Uche Eze is a Professor of Educational Psychology, University of Nigeria Nsukka, a member of Nigerian Council for Educational Psychologist, Nigerian Academy of Education and Association for Childhood Education International. He is an educational data analyst, a research consultant for UNICEF, Nigeria and has been involved in a good number of teacher professional development workshops.
3. Dr. Eric Nwagu- Member
Eric Nwagu is a senior Lecturer in the Department of Social Science Education, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, with a strong background in Environmental Education, Measurement, Evaluation and Research. He is an educational data analyst, a research consultant for UNICEF, Nigeria and has been involved in a good number of teacher professional development workshops.
4. Dr. Liziana Nnenna Onuigbo
Liziana Nnenna Onuigbo is a Lecturer in the Department of Educational Foundations, University of Nigeria, Nsukka, and specialized in the area of Special Education with research focus on inclusive education. She is a research consultant for UNICEF, Nigeria and has been involved in a good number of teacher professional development workshops.
5. Christian Ugwuanyi
Christian Ugwuanyi is a Lecturer in the Department of Science Education and currently pursuing a Ph.D. degree in physics education. He is very proficient in the use of information communication technology and competent in educational data analysis. A promising educational researcher and committed science teacher.