What Is the Research Agenda of the Center?

June 1991 Masthead

The Research Center has adopted a mission that demands the interaction of scholars and practitioners from various disciplines to plan and implement problem-driven research. The research studies for Year 1 are described below.

Research Needs of the Gifted and Talented Through the Year 2000
The University of Connecticut—Principal Investigators: Dr. Joseph S. Renzulli and Brian D. Reid
This study deals with a comprehensive assessment of research needs in the 50 states and territories. Local and state level groups that are representative of the full range of educational personnel and representatives of parent groups, policy making groups, and members of the private sector have been asked to respond to a survey instrument organized around factors that define the field (e.g., Identification, Curriculum, Policy Development). In order to ensure representativeness of subgroups within the population such as ethnic minorities, non-public schools, vocational/technical schools, and the arts, a stratified random sample was used to gather and analyze needs assessment data. The results will be reported by various sub-populations, demographic characteristics, and the 10 factors around which the survey instrument was developed. The needs assessment results will become the basis for creating future research projects for the Center.

Regular Classroom Practices with Gifted and Talented Students
The University of Connecticut—Principal Investigator: Dr. Francis X. Archambault
This study inquires into the nature of regular classroom practices used with gifted and talented students through an extensive national survey of 7,000 teachers and intensive observation of 50 classrooms. The national survey will provide information on the frequency with which certain instructional practices are used with traditionally identified gifted students as well as less frequently identified students who are economically disadvantaged, have limited English proficiency, represent certain ethnic groups, or have particular handicapping conditions. The survey will also provide data on the extent to which practices used with gifted students differ from those used with other students located in the same classroom, and whether these differences relate to characteristics of the district, the classroom, or the teacher providing the instruction. The classroom observation portion of the study replicates some of the data acquired through the survey, thereby providing a validity check. I will also provide more detailed information on classroom dynamics, teacher/student interactions and teaching modifications than is permitted by the survey.

A Theoretical Plan for Modifying the Regular Curriculum for Gifted and Talented Students
The University of Connecticut—Principal Investigator: Dr. Sally M. Reis
Since research indicates that the challenge level of textbooks is declining and that teachers often use whole-class instructional techniques, curriculum modification is necessary to meet the needs of gifted and talented students in regular classroom settings. One technique that has been designed to accomplish this goal is entitled curriculum compacting (Renzulli, Reis, & Smith, 1981) which involves elimination of skills students have already mastered and replacement of more challenging work that is often selected by the students. The research study concerning curriculum compacting uses three experimental groups of classroom teachers involved with different methods of training in the compacting technique (i.e., handbook, videotape, inservice training, simulations, and peer coaching) and a control group of classroom teachers that continues with their normal teaching practices. The effects of personal variables, professional variables and participation in training sessions on teachers’ use of curriculum compacting will be examined. Other variables to be studied include student achievement, attitude toward learning and subject area preference.

An Investigation of Giftedness in Economically Disadvantaged and Limited English Proficient Students
The University of Georgia—Principal Investigator: Dr. Mary M. Frasier
The University of Georgia will investigate distinguishing characteristics of Economically Disadvantaged (ED) and Limited English Proficient (LEP) students who display various potentials but who are not identified for gifted programs. The purposes of this study are to: (a) approach the identification of gifted economically disadvantaged and limited English proficient students from an intensive investigation of gifted behaviors within and across cultural groups; (b) examine giftedness in target students by analyzing the development of intellectual processes and functioning within the cultural context; and (c) focus on the strengths in children from diverse cultures in order to understand their gifts and talents.

Investigations into Instruments and Designs Used in the Identification of Gifted Students and the Evaluation of Gifted Programs
The University of Virginia—Principal Investigator: Dr. Carolyn M. Callahan
The University of Virginia will establish a National Repository for Instruments and Strategies used in the Identification of Gifted Students and the Evaluation of Gifted Programs. Existing instruments, systems and designs used in identification and evaluation will be collected through a nationwide survey. In addition, a paradigm will be created for evaluating the identification instruments in light of the wide variety of definitions and conceptions of giftedness. Non-traditional and product/performance instruments currently in use in evaluation of gifted programs will also be reviewed for their usefulness. Potentially useful instruments will be investigated through formal validation processes.

Evaluation of the Effects of Programming Arrangements on Student Learning Outcomes
The University of Virginia—Principal Investigators: Dr. Dewey Cornell and Dr. Marcia A. B. Delcourt
This study represents the first major national attempt to assess the effects of gifted and talented programs on learning outcomes for elementary students. Academic and affective learning will be evaluated within four popular types of program grouping arrangements: within-classroom programs; pull-out classroom programs; separate classroom programs; and separate schools. The sample of students includes those from a variety of geographic locations as well as individuals representing minority and disadvantaged populations. Data collection sources include students, teachers, and parents, while results focus upon assessments of achievement, attitudes toward school, self-concept, intrinsic-extrinsic motivation, student activities, and behavioral adjustment.

A Theory-Based Approach to Identification, Teaching, and Evaluation of the Gifted
Yale University—Principal Investigator: Dr. Robert J. Sternberg
Three major aspects of gifted education will be studied—identification, teaching, and student evaluation within one integrated investigation. The study is based on Sternberg’s Triarchic Theory (1985), which postulates three aspects of intellectual ability: analytic, synthetic-creative, and practical-contextual. Identification of students who are gifted in one of each of these areas (as well as those who are balanced among the three abilities, and a control group) will be followed by instruction tailored to the various abilities. In order to determine the effects of these interventions, equal numbers of students with each kind of giftedness will receive each kind of instruction, and all students will be evaluated through all assessment methods. First year activities include development of the alternative versions of introductory psychology materials, and establishing the construct validity of the Sternberg Triarchic Abilities Test for use with gifted populations.


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