NRC/GT Destination: Around the Corner

Fall 1994 Masthead


E. Jean Gubbins
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

It seems like a few months ago, rather than years ago, that I penned an article for the NRC/GT Newsletter entitled “NRC/GT Destination: So Near and So Far.” We have accomplished so much since the fall of 1992 that it always amazes us. The level of productivity and the ability to get the word out about the emerging research results have been remarkable feats. We could only accomplish this by the cooperation of many of you in our network. There have been so many times when we have provided you with documents that you have reproduced through your local newsletters or journals. We truly appreciate your involvement in the NRC/GT dissemination plan.

I rifle through my files and note an article by Joe Renzulli for Gifted Child Quarterly (Spring 1991). In the article entitled “The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented: The Dream, the Design, and the Destination,” Joe captured the essence of what the Research Center could become over five years. We have been fulfilling the dream designed several years ago and this fulfillment has been possible because of the quality of the research studies implemented across the four universities, as well as through the help of our Consultant Bank Members. Our Consultant Bank Members have prepared commissioned papers and conducted Collaborative Research Studies. In the Gifted Child Quarterly article, Renzulli stated:

A major conviction underlying NRC/GT is that research in an applied field must be grounded in the realities of schools and classrooms and must be accessible and meaningful to those people who work and study in them. A guiding principle for the Center; therefore, is that all research and dissemination activities must have derived benefits for practitioners and must result in some kind of direct impact upon educational policy, management, or practice. At the same time we recognize the essential need for research to be theory based and empirically sound. (p. 73)

 
We have focused on this conviction, and we will continue to do so as we complete our final year of the Center. Our final year should prove to be as productive as earlier years. We have embarked on a new series of studies that will look at various research questions using qualitative and quantitative methodologies. We hope to gather information on learning, teaching, staff development techniques, and achievement and underachievement issues. Abstracts of the four new studies that are being implemented in Year 5 of the NRC/GT are summarized in this newsletter.

While we are engaged in the new studies, we continue to implement and finalize other projects. Everything that has reached its completion is shared with you. Several projects have been disseminated recently. I’d like to highlight some of the more recent products to draw your attention to some practical information that may be of interest to you in your present educational position.

Linda Jensen Sheffield, in her monograph entitled The Development of Gifted and Talented Mathematics Students and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Standards, has concluded the following:

Teachers should encourage students to construct their own mathematical understanding and talented students should be encouraged to reach the highest levels of construction.

 
We also like to take the findings of various projects and apply them to everyday activities and situations in the classroom. One of our most popular approaches to translating theory into practice has been the series of practitioners’ guides developed by Del Siegle, Editor. There are a few new ones that are available and more are in production. Some of the more popular ones at this point in time are:

  • What Parents Need to Know About Early Readers
  • What Educators Need to Know About Gifted Students and Cooperative Learning
  • What Educators Need to Know About Mentoring

All of you on our newsletter list will, of course, be receiving these practitioners’ guides and you may choose to reproduce them for interested parties. Some highlights of the practitioners’ guides are:

What Parents Need to Know About Early Readers—
Precocious readers almost always remain at least average in their reading ability and most stay well above average as they progress through school. For later reading development, the most important aspect of language acquisition is a wide ranging knowledge of the world and the ability to express that knowledge through language.

What Educators Need to Know About Gifted Students and Cooperative Learning—
Having gifted students in a cooperative group neither helps nor hinders other group members’ academic performance. A variety of cooperative learning models have been developed and some are more appropriate for gifted students than others.

What Educators Need to Know About Mentoring—
The benefits of a mentor relationship for a student are both personal and academic. The relationship encourages students to pursue their interests at advanced levels. In a 22-year study of 212 adults, E. Paul Torrance found that those who worked with mentors completed a larger number of years of education and earned more adult creative achievements than persons who did not have mentors.

Having concise formats, such as the practitioners’ guides, allows people in our network to get the word out to others who may raise questions about various topics and would like a brief overview of the topic that is supported by research facts. The guides have been very popular handouts at conferences and meetings.

We have used a variety of media to deliver the messages from research and continue to explore other alternatives. Whether you prefer words, numbers, visual images, or sound bites, you can access our findings. If verbal presentations are your preferred style of learning, you will have another opportunity to become involved in learning about the findings of the NRC/GT. We will organize a conference highlighting all of our work from March 31 to April 1, 1995. We are currently in the process of finalizing plans for the exact location, but we know it will be held in Connecticut. The conference entitled “Building a Bridge Between Research and Classroom Practices in Gifted Education” will feature findings from the research studies, as well as invited presentations from those who have been involved with our Research-Based Decision Making Series, Collaborative Research Series, or those who are members of our Consultant Bank.

We hope that you will consider attending the NRC/GT conference, and we are sure that it will be well received. We look forward to distilling our work to such an extent that common themes will emerge across all of our studies that can be translated to practical applications to improve the educational environment for all children. This conference will be an additional way to meet the guiding principle that was set in the article “The Dream, The Design and the Destination,” which stated that all of our work should have derived benefits for practitioners and must result in some kind of educational policy, management, or practice. That is our goal and we continue to hit the mark because of an incredible network of researchers and practitioners.

Reference
Renzulli, J. S. (1991). The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented: The dream, the design, and the destination. Gifted Child Quarterly, 35(2), 73-80.

 

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