Teacher perceptions regarding the teaching of gifted students in the traditional classroom setting



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Gifted education remains a controversial topic across the United States, and, as school districts struggle to meet mandated sanctions, funding for gifted education is not a priority. This sequential explanatory mixed method study examined the perceptions of the general education teacher, supported by quantitative findings. Forty-seven K-12th grade teacher participants completed an online survey and four of those participants agreed to be interviewed to gain insight into teachers’ perceptions of giftedness and gifted education. The perceptions of experienced teachers were explored to find out if they believed they were prepared to address the needs of the gifted learner in the traditional classroom. This study was framed by two research questions: “What are teacher’s perceptions of giftedness and gifted education?” and “How might teacher’s perceptions of gifted education correlate with their own training and professional development?” The answers to these two questions were obtained first through an anonymous online survey using a snowball sample to obtain the quantitative portion of the study. Secondly, they were obtained by interviewing four of those participants who, by providing their contact information, asked to be included in the group of participants to be considered for the qualitative portion of the study. The four interview participants assisted in providing perceptions of a current classroom teacher. Three themes emerged pertaining to the first research question, “What are teacher’s perceptions of giftedness and gifted education?” The three themes that came to the forefront are that every teacher has an impact on the students they teach, there is still no consensus on what defines giftedness, and that gifted students are not being challenged in traditional classrooms. There were two themes which answered the second research question, “How might teacher’s perceptions of gifted education correlate with their own training and professional development?” These two themes were that the gifted are not always easily identifiable and there is a lack of teacher preparation in gifted educational needs. Synthesizing the qualitative and quantitative data provided some anomalies. According to the correlations there was almost a perfect correlation between those participants who had received training to differentiate and those participants who were supportive of a pull-out program as a delivery method for gifted instruction provided beyond the classroom. In the interview portion the participants shared that they did not differentiate their instruction or teach gifted students in a different manner than the other students within the classroom learning community. Another strong correlation occurred between the impact that experience had on teachers’ perceptions and of being prepared to teach the gifted. The interview participants believed that even though they had the experience and felt prepared to teach the gifted student, a pull-out program was still in the student’s best interest. The constantly changing environment surrounding education of the gifted and talented student affirms the need for teacher preparation and professional development for in-service teachers within the context of research-based principles and strategies. The positive responses to my study indicated that teachers are aware that to adequately educate the diverse population of students within the traditional classroom setting additional training is essential. There is still much research and work to be completed in the field of gifted education and gifted curriculum to see this additional training come to fruition. Continued research to determine a consensus on what defines giftedness across the United States would be very beneficial not only to teachers but to teacher educators and curriculum writers. Larger research studies exploring inservice teachers’ perceptions of teaching of the gifted in traditional classrooms should be undertaken. In classrooms across the United States teachers are often tasked with teaching gifted students in the traditional classroom setting. Preparation and professional development is required to empower teachers to use research-based practices to facilitate student learning for all students, including the gifted.



Gifted education, Giftedness, Teacher perceptions, Teacher preparation, Traditional classroom, Identification, Characterization