Recent Research

Fall 1992 Masthead

Attitudes of Day School Principals and Teachers Toward Gifted Education
Melvin A. Isaacs
Yeshiva University
New York, NY

This study investigated the reported attitudes toward educating the academically gifted among principals and teachers of both the General Studies and Judaic Studies departments employed in Board of Jewish Education-affiliated day schools in the Greater New York area. A modified version of the Wiener Attitude Scale was adapted in order to reflect the conditions of learning in the participating Jewish day schools. The questionnaire was completed by 357 teachers and 39 principals randomly selected from three lists that classified the schools by the variable “Type.” This represented 39.8% of the population surveyed.

Six research questions were analyzed. The data comprised two major subscales: a) attitudes and implications of gifted programming, and b) attitudes toward formatting structures of gifted programming.

Analysis of the data suggested that attitudes of teachers and principals were generally positive toward gifted education. When analyzed by the variable “Department,” it was found that teachers who taught in the General Studies department and in both departments had a more favorable attitude toward gifted education than Judaic Studies staff. Results for the variable “Type of School” indicated that teachers of co-ed schools had more favorable attitudes than those who taught in all-boy and/or all-girl schools. Significant differences in attitudes were found between teachers who had educational background in gifted education and those who did not. Results also suggested that teacher attitudes were influenced by an existing gifted program within the school but this did not seem to affect the attitudes of principals. Principals reported preferences toward serving gifted students within the framework of the regular classroom. They further reported that specialized training in teaching the gifted was not necessary. Both teachers and principals with ten or more years of experience reported a more positive attitude toward organizing gifted students into instructional units.

In addition, findings indicated that there were differences of opinion among principals and teachers in the three types of schools surveyed and in each of the departments as to the definition of giftedness, the existence of specific programming for the gifted, and perception of administrative support services.

Family Impact on High achieving Chinese-American Students: A Qualitative Analysis
Den-Mo Tsai
Taitung Teacher’s College
Taitung, Taiwan

Today, Asian-Americans are often called a “model-minority.” Evidence exists that Asian-American students excel in school. Their academic achievement has created considerable attention among educators. The purpose of this study was to investigate family factors that might contribute to the high academic achievement of one group of Asian-Americans, the Chinese-Americans.

Qualitative methodology was used to investigate family factors. Subjects in this study were Chinese-American parents with high-achieving children over the age of 10. Both parents and their highest-achieving child were interviewed. A semi-structured open-ended questionnaire developed by the researcher was sent to parents before the interview was conducted. Thirty-five questionnaires were completed, and ten families with extremely high-achieving children were interviewed. Four of the students are Westinghouse Scholarship winners, and three are Presidential Scholars. All the high achievers are currently attending prestigious universities like Harvard and Yale. The first interview with parents lasted approximately four hours. Follow-up interviews were pursued by phone. The high-achieving students were also interviewed by phone.

Results in this study indicate that the families with high achieving Chinese-American students tend to have parents with stable marriages and close relationships among family members. The family values contributing to high achievement include an emphasis on family cohesion, education, hard work, discipline, and the respect for teachers and elders. Parents also tend to emphasize the importance of mingling with the U.S. mainstream society. Characteristics of successful parenting are:

     Emphasizing consistent attitudes towards education
     Expecting children to perform well based on their ability
     Understanding and challenging children
     Supporting children psychologically and financially
     Providing role models
     Spending time with children beneficially
     Teaching young children naturally
     Reinforcing children’s good habits
     Communicating with teachers.


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