10 SES 05.5 PS, General Poster Session
General Poster Session
This study explores Lithuanian teachers’ perceptions and attitudes and experience with education of gifted children. Gifted children education is one of the most relevant pedagogical and psychological problems in education worldwide. Inclusion of gifted education programs in schools depends on the educational system, and on teachers’ education and experience. Prior to 1990, under Soviet occupation, the environment for gifted education was very unfavorable, and very different from what was possible in much of Europe and North America.
It was only in 2005 that a specific strategy for the education of gifted children and young people. In a document prepared by the Lithuanian Ministry of Education and Science, a gifted child is described as the child who, “can acquire knowledge and skills rapidly and effectively, apply them in changing situations to solve the problems, learn rapidly on the basis of acquired experience, and identify situations in which their expertise may be applied. The intelligence of such children and young people is exceptional“.
The most important feature of a gifted child appears to be exceptional intelligence. However, despite defining giftedness, and the efforts and activities of both government and nongovernmental (NGOs) organizations’ such as The Education Centre for the Gifted (www.guc.lt), there is no best system for identifying gifted children in Lithuania.
Obviously, without clear guidelines from the government, teachers are left to respond to the needs and interests of gifted children according their own individual understanding of giftedness, which is often based on their personal and teaching experience of gifted children (Wong, 2015).
School administration, psychologists, and parents all play important roles in gifted education. However, teachers are one of the most significant influencers on the educational development of gifted students. Thus, a closer examination of how teachers understand giftedness is needed (Moon T. R., Brighton C. M., 2008; Lasig, 2009; Preckel et al. 2015).
One of the important components in creating a system for gifted education is teachers' understanding of the phenomenon of giftedness.
First of all, teachers need to understand the primary features of giftedness. Research shows that teachers’ subjective perceptions and expectations directly influence how they interact with students and how they evaluate (notice) student achievement, developmental potential, or social skills (Laine et al 2016).
Teacher awareness and understanding of giftedness has practical implications because their perceptions have direct consequences. Thus, if teachers' perceptions of giftedness differ from empirical findings, their interventions are less effective (Baudson T. G., Preckel F., 2016).
Therefore, it is important to understand teachers‘ attitudes and level of experience and knowledge regarding giftedness. Studies regarding teachers’ understanding of giftedness and the education of gifted children have been done in Finland (Laine et al 2016), Australia (Lasig, 2009), Greece (Lee-Hammond, 2006), Germany (Baudson T. G., Preckel F., 2016). However, to date there has been no research done in Lithuania to understand their teachers' perceptions of giftedness. In this study, the authors examine teachers perceptions of gifted traits, and their experience working with gifted children.
Primary research objectives include to:
- Understand how teachers in Lithuania understand/perceive children’s abilities?
- Explore what experience teachers in Lithuania have working with gifted children?
- Determine if there are statistically significant differences in perceptions and/or experience by teachers’ age, school location (a big city, a smaller city, a village), teaching level (1-4 grades, 5-8 grades, 9-12 grades).
Respondents Profile The research was conducted during the 2017-2018 school year. During that time there were 1 125 general education schools in Lithuania which were attended by 3 261 school aged children. A total of 500 teachers, representing 45 schools in Lithuania, participated in a written survey. Ninety-four percent (94.0%) of respondents are women, and 6.0% are men. The average age of participants is 46.0 years (SD = 14.9 years) and the mean length of pedagogical work experience – 22.6 years (SD = 10.0 years). Approximately thirty-seven percent (36.6%) of respondents reported their school is in a big city, 38.4% in a smaller city, and 25.0% in a village. Twenty-one percent (21.0%) of respondents teach grades 1-4, 38.4% – grades 5-8 and others – grades 9-12. Teachers working in grades 5-12 teach one or two different subjects. All of the survey participants have a higher education. Respondent experience include: 9.6% – “Teacher,” 46.6% – “Superior Teacher,” 40.8% – “Teacher Methodist”, 3.0% – “Teacher Expert”. Research Methodology Study data was collected through written responses to a survey which included: 1. Questionnaire about gifted students' traits (4 categories, 40 items). There were presented 4 categories describing gifted students’ skills: Intellectual ability (10 items), Artistic skills (10 items), Social-emotional skills (10 items), Creative abilities (10 items). The items were compiled into a questionnaire in random order and were answered by the participants in a Likert-type scale format (from 1 = not true at all to 5 = perfectly true). When analyzing the data, the mean values of all the categories’ items were calculated, obtained the range and the mean of values for each category. 2. Questions regarding experience working with gifted children. Five questions with response choices provided explored three areas of respondents’ experiences in gifted education including: application of gifted children's education programs in their school; work experience with gifted students (is the work purposeful; is the work during and/or after school); preparation and willingness to work with gifted children. 3. Respondent Demographics. Participants were asked to provide basic demographic information including: age, sex, location, teaching level, subject(s) taught, professional qualifications, years in profession. Data from both questionnaires were analyzed and compared against all these demographic categories. When evaluating the statistical significance of the response category differences, Chi square criterion was applied (statistical significance level of 0.05). Below are just the most important, statistically significant results.
Teachers most relate children’s talents with Intellectual abilities category (value range [4.08-4.50], average 4.27). Creative abilities ( [3.78-4.27], 3.70), Socio-emotional skills (v [3.15-3.98], 3.63) and Artistic skills ( [3.22-3.97], 3.57) are notably less associated with respondents’ concept of a gifted child. Big cities’ teachers, especially who working in grades 9-12 are focused most on intellectual abilities of gifted children. Teachers, who works in grades 1-4 and village location schools are focused to creativity abilities. One third of teachers did not answer questions about their work experience with gifted children and 10% said they do not give any special attention to gifted children. Only 6.0 % teachers said a Lithuanian developed gifted children education program is used; 30.0% said school program is used; others work according to their own program. The average time teacher, who have worked with gifted students, is 12.2 years: 46.1% of them have worked in this area for 1-10 years, 23.0% – for 11-20 years, 8.0% or less – for over 20 years. One third of teachers reported doing work with gifted children only during classes, 25.6% only outside of school, 11.6% both – during and outside of school. The least of attention is given to gifted teaching in grades 1-4. In grade 5-12 work with gifted students is more done during class. The number of respondents who felt they were interested and qualified to do this work is 16.4% in grades 1-4, 27.0% in grades 5-8 and 40.8% in grades 9-12. Reflecting on the results, there is a significant gap between primary and secondary school teachers, and between rural and other types of teachers in the area of education, indicating the need for reflection and refinement of a gifted children’s recognition and education system at a national level.
1.Baudson T. G., Preckel F. (2016). Teachers’ Conceptions of Gifted and Average-Ability Students on Achievement-Relevant Dimensions. Gifted Child Quarterly, (60)3, 212–225 doi:10.1177/0016986216647115. 2.Laine, S., Kuusisto, E., & Tirri, K. (2016). Finnish teachers’ conceptions of giftedness. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 39(2), 151−167 DOI: 10.1177/0162353216640936. 3.Lassig, C. J. (2009). Teachers' attitudes towards the gifted : the importance of professional development and school culture. Australasian Journal of Gifted Education, 18(2), 32–42. 4.Leavitt M. (2017). Your passport to Gifted Education. Cham, Switzerland : Springer International Publishing Switzerland. 5.Lee-Hammond (2006). Teachers’ Conceptions of Gifted and Talented Young Children. High Ability Studies, 2(2),183-196 DOI: 10.1080/1359813990100205. 6.Moon T. R., Brighton C. M. (2008). Primary Teachers’ Conceptions of Giftedness. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 31 (4), 447–480. 7.Preckel F., Baudson T. G., Krolak-Schwerdt S., Glock S. (2015). Gifted and Maladjusted? Implicit Attitudes and Automatic Associations Related to Gifted Children. American Educational Research Journal, XX (X), 1–25 DOI: 10.3102/0002831215596413. 8.Projects about The Education of Gifted and Talented // The Education Center for the Gifted at http://guc.lt/index.php/en/projects/. 9.Wong, M. (2015). Social Construction of giftedness: What might that mean for early childhood teachers’ practice? APEX: The New Zealand Journal of Gifted Education, 19(1), Retrieved from https://www.giftedchildren.org.nz/apex/vol-19-no-1/.
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