New NRC/GT Studies for Year Five

Fall 1994 Masthead

  • Implementing Enrichment Clusters
  • Underachievement Among Black Youth
  • Instructional Practices in Middle Schools
  • Achievement Among American Indian Students

Extending the Pedagogy of Gifted Education to All Students
Principal Investigator:
Sally M. Reis

For the last four years, many of our research efforts at the NRC/GT have concentrated on the use of various techniques with gifted and talented students across the country. In the course of this research, questions have arisen about whether these types of techniques and strategies can be used with a broader range of students than those normally identified for participation in gifted programs. This study addresses these questions and the challenges presented in the recently released report by the United States Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement, entitled National Excellence: A Case for Developing America’s Talent. Consistent with the priorities of the Jacob Javits Act, this study is designed to assess the impact of providing gifted education pedagogy, specifically, a series of enrichment clusters, to the entire population of two schools in economically disadvantaged urban settings with a high percentage of minority students. Enrichment clusters provide a regularly scheduled time for students and adults who share a common interest and purpose to come together. They are based on the acquisition of advanced content through an inductive approach to the pursuit of real-world problems and provide opportunities for multi-age, cross-grade student participation in open-ended investigations of student interest. Central office administrators in two districts have already agreed to participate in the study. One school from each district will serve as the treatment in which enrichment clusters will be implemented and one school will serve as the control site for comparative purposes. Students in each treatment school will attend two series of enrichment clusters. All students in all four schools will be assessed on their attitudes toward school and learning, and on a number of other teacher and student outcomes. Data will also be collected from parents and teachers related to school satisfaction, use of enrichment strategies, and other related variables. Qualitative data will also be collected on the attitudes of teachers, students, and parents about the implementation of enrichment clusters.

Correlates of Underachievement Among Gifted and Nongifted Black Youth
Principal Investigator:
Donna Ford-Harris

Underachieving gifted and nongifted Black students (n=200) in grades 7 through 9 will be surveyed regarding their perceptions of factors that negatively or positively affect their achievement. Issues related to self-concept (academic, social, physical appearance, and global), racial/ethnic identity, and test anxiety will be examined, as well as the influence of other social and cultural factors affecting underachievement.

The Relationship Between Policy, Beliefs, and Instructional Practice in Middle Schools:
How Do Schools Implement the Philosophy and Recommendations of the Leaders in Middle School Education
Principal Investigators:
Carol Tomlinson
Carolyn Callahan
Ellen Tomchin

The primary objective of this study is to probe the ways in which the current middle school literature on meeting the needs of diverse learners, including the talented, is reflected in the policies, beliefs, and practices of administrators and teachers in those settings. In addition, the literature and the policies, beliefs, and practices will be compared to the research findings of cognitive and developmental psychologists, educators, and sociologists regarding the learning and development of students in the transition years.

The Paradox of Academic Achievement in High Ability, American Indian High School Students
Principal Investigator:
Jann Leppien

Gifted students from culturally diverse populations exist in high schools across the country, yet many do not achieve at a level commensurate with their abilities. It has been suggested that underachievement may be one reason that many young people are excluded from educational programs for high ability students. Despite a call to researchers to investigate the “untapped resources” in children from racial and ethnic minority groups, a paucity of research exists about high ability, American Indians living on or near reservations, and the factors identified by these students that influence their patterns of achievement or underachievement.

This ethnographic study will identify the patterns of achievement and underachievement experienced by high ability, American Indian, high school students. By examining differences between those who achieve and those who underachieve, factors which mediate the achievement of these students will be identified, through participant observation, ethnographic interviews, and document review. Descriptions of how the school experience is perceived by two samples of American Indian high school students, those who achieve, as well as those who underachieve will emerge, as will the factors which influence their beliefs regarding this phenomenon.


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