Yesterday we had the pleasure of attending the launch of a comprehensive report into gifted education in Ireland. In a groundbreaking study, Dr. Jennifer Riedl Cross along with her colleagues Professor Tracy Cross, Dr. Colm O’Reilly and Sakhavat Mammadov conducted a wide-ranging survey of teachers and principals beliefs and attitudes in relation to their gifted students.
This is the first study of its kind in an Irish context and is an important step forward for those who support and advocate for gifted learners in Ireland. In order to ensure impartiality and objectivity, CTYI asked the Center for Gifted Education at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia to carry out the study. A total of 470 teachers and 367 principals and other school staff took part by responding to the survey. The detail contained in the report sheds light on the experience of many of us and our children within the education system. For many years those of us who have been researching and advocating for gifted children have had our own anecdotal evidence of the attitudes to giftedness in our schools.
Now, for the first time, confirmation comes from those who teach and interact with gifted students on a daily basis in an educational setting. The study verified that our teachers’ attitudes towards gifted students are largely positive although some persistent beliefs not supported by research remain. Most believe that gifted learners need modification to the regular curriculum in order to be adequately challenged and many agree that they are more likely to achieve at higher levels if they are given opportunities to work with similarly matched peers. However, a large number of teachers consider it challenging to provide this without more resources, smaller class sizes and further training.
Among the most interesting aspects of the survey was the exploration of teachers’ own sense of efficacy in providing for their gifted students and their classroom practices. This part of the report is one to which we hope to return in more depth in a later post. CTYI have advised us that they will be happy to forward a copy to any interested parties. At more than 100 pages and a further 60 or so in appendices and additional information, we would urge anyone with an interest to do so. For those who would prefer an electronic copy, we are informed that one will be available shortly and we will post a link here.
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