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An Observational Study of Instructional and Curricular Practices Used With Gifted and Talented Students in Regular Classrooms

Karen L. Westberg
Francis X. Archambault, Jr.
Sally M. Dobyns
Thomas J. Salvin

The Classroom Practices Study conducted by The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) examined the instructional and curricular practices used with gifted and talented students in regular third and fourth grade classrooms throughout the United States. Descriptive information about these practices was obtained from surveys and classroom observations. This report describes the procedures used in the study and the results obtained from systematic observations of gifted and talented students in 46 third and fourth grade classrooms. The observations were designed to determine if and how teachers meet the needs of gifted and talented students in regular classroom settings. The Classroom Practices Record (CPR) instrument was developed to document the types of differentiated instruction that these students receive through modifications in curricular activities, materials, and teacher-student verbal interactions. Descriptive statistics and chi-square procedures were used to analyze the CPR data. The results indicated that little differentiation in the instructional and curricular practices, including grouping arrangements and verbal interactions, was provided for gifted and talented students in regular classrooms. Across five subject areas and 92 observation days, gifted students received instruction in homogeneous groups only 21 percent of the time, and the target gifted and talented or high ability students experienced no instructional or curricular differentiation in 84 percent of the instructional activities in which they participated.

Reference:
Westberg, K. L., Archambault, F. X., Jr., Dobyns, S. M., & Salvin, T. (1993). An observational study of instructional and curricular practices used with gifted and talented students in regular classrooms (Research Monograph 93104). Storrs, CT: The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented, University of Connecticut.


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An Observational Study of Instructional and Curricular Practices Used With Gifted and Talented Students in Regular Classrooms
Karen L. Westberg
Francis X. Archambault, Jr.
Sally M. Dobyns
Thomas J. Salvin


Conclusions

  1. Little or no differentiation in instructional and curricular practices is provided to gifted and talented students in the regular classroom whether the school has a gifted program or not.
  2. The gifted and talented students in the study spent the majority of their time doing written assignments and listening to explanations or lectures.
  3. No significant differences in the types of questions (knowledge/comprehension vs. higher order) were found between target students across all subject areas and sites.
  4. Significantly more wait time was provided to target average ability students than to target gifted students.
  5. Preservice and inservice training practices for teachers need to be modified to include specific strategies for meeting the needs of gifted and talented students in the regular classroom, along with the encouragement and opportunity to practice these strategies.
  6. The role of the gifted education specialist should be expanded to include consultation or collaboration with classroom teachers on meeting the needs of gifted and talented students in the regular classroom.