04 SES 05 C, Intelligence, Talents And Inclusion: Expanding The Conversation
The definition of inclusive education promoted internationally (e.g. UNESCO, 2020) shifts the attention to the system and its evolution – in structural, organizational, and didactic terms – to respond effectively to the differences of all pupils. At the same time, it also includes a clear reference to vulnerable students or groups that, for multiple and varied reasons, could be at risk of underachievement or marginalization. The process of implementation is described as a whole system approach, committed to the removal of barriers to learning and participation (Ainscow, 2020). At the class level, it entails adaptations of curriculum, instruction, and assessment, according to individual abilities, interests, and needs of all students, within the framework of Universal Design (Mitchell, 2015). These suggestions seem to be in contrast with a category-based approach, which tends to focus on individual deficits and specific interventions, rather than on systemic flaws and whole class planning and instruction.
The current state of implementation suggests not only the survival of categories but even a proliferation of deficit categories (Tomlinson, 2012). Categories are subjects of ongoing discussion at the academic level as, on the one hand, they allow the identification of needs, access to additional resources, and planning of effective interventions but, on the other hand, they are context-specific and culturally determined, could be highly stigmatizing and be used to discriminate against minorities or pupils with socio-economic disadvantages (Tomlinson, 2017).
Nevertheless, not all categories are associated with deficits. In some countries, under different labels, the school systems also identify high learning potential, giftedness, talent, high achievement, or ability. Some authors are very critical of these categories, associating them to assumed common standards in ability and intelligence, which tend to separate those who excel from those who have difficulties or are low achievers and reproduce inequalities (Tomlinson, 2017). Other authors (e.g. Hughes, 2019) consider the possible coexistence of advancement and inclusive teaching strategies, thanks to the application of the principles of differentiated instruction and universal design for learning.
The field of giftedness is controversial within definitions, terminology and theoretical constructs due to the endless research on the empirical validity of intelligence, creativity, and talent – which are components of giftedness (Cramond, 2004). Historically, far from an inclusive approach, this field of research was developed in an exclusive and labeling context of research, in which students were defined as “superior” without any empirical support. However, the development of multidimensional models of giftedness (Gagnè; 2009; Renzulli, 1986; Tannenbaum, 1983) led to a comprehensive framework that gradually took the distance from those positions. Recently, Borland (2005) endorsed a “Paradigm shift” to move the focus from the “special categorization” way of dichotomizing students population in gifted and non-gifted, to the real educational issues in order to meet the needs of all students avoiding any label. This could be interpreted as a concrete possibility for the gifted field to overcome at the didactical and educational policy level, for instance, the widespread pull-out gifted programs.
The concept of inclusion is often solely employed as a synonym of placement of students with disabilities in the general education system or specific attention to their needs (Nilholm & Göransson, 2017). Due to this misinterpretation, a few studies and reviews of research were conducted to investigate the impact of the inclusive approach for gifted students. Therefore, there is the need to have a representative portrayal of the research conducted on this topic to know what has been already investigated and what is still undiscovered.
To respond to the need for information about gifted inclusion, we chose to perform a systematic review that is still ongoing. A systematic review is a literature review whose main aim is to synthesize the research findings on a specific topic through a rigorous, transparent, and replicable procedure (Cooper, Hedges, & Valentine, 2009). The aim is to integrate primary studies that investigated the effects of gifted inclusion in regular schools, in terms of achievement, participation, experience, social skills, and psychological aspects (i.e. attitudes and self-concept). The following research questions guided the review process: ● What are the learning outcomes of gifted students in inclusive contexts? ● What are the social, psychological, and personal outcomes of gifted students in inclusive contexts? ● What are the gifted students’ experiences and attitudes on inclusion? Inclusion criteria Study design. Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-method designs. Participants. Students identified as gifted in K-12 inclusive schools or classes. Setting. Inclusive contexts, defined as schools or classes that do not select or separate students on the basis of individual characteristics (e.g. achievement, SEN, disabilities). Outcomes. At least one type of outcome related to learning, social inclusion, and participation, personal aspects (e.g. motivation), behaviours and experience of gifted students; Information sources. Different informants on the outcomes considered, such as teachers, peers, gifted students themselves, parents, or relevant stakeholders. Language: English. Search and selection procedure Relevant works were searched electronically through bibliographic databases, journal indexes, internet search engines in November 2020. General and educational databases were searched (e.g. SCOPUS, ERIC, PsycINFO) using a combination of keywords (e.g. “gifted”, “talent”, “inclusion”, “regular school”, “achievement”, “attitude”). Additional searches were conducted using Google Scholar looking at the first 150 hits and international journals on giftedness and inclusion were screened, such as Gifted and Talented International, Gifted Child Quarterly, International Journal of Inclusive Education. Studies located through the searches were screened by one of the authors (title and abstract) using Active learning for Systematic Reviews (ASReview, https://asreview.nl), a software developed at Utrecht University that uses interactive machine learning to support the screening process of a systematic review. After the screening, the retained studies are independently reviewed in full text by two authors. This phase is still ongoing. Relevant information from the included studies will be coded based on a data extraction form developed a priori.
The screening of the studies located through the database search in November 2020 is completed and full-text review is currently in progress. A total of 9,538 studies were initially located. After removing duplicates (n = 1,133), 8,405 studies were screened on the basis of title and abstract. Of them, 147 studies were retained for full-text review and 8258 studies were excluded because they clearly did not meet the criteria. The findings of this review will be used to map and pinpoint the most relevant issues related to gifted inclusion. The categorization into thematic macro-areas will be used to analyze both the inclusion framework and the educational context of each research. The categories outlined will be useful to determine school grades, subjects, objectives of the interventions, and inclusive strategies implemented. The gifted education practices (enrichment, differentiated instruction, etc.) could be adequate for all students with proper adaptations. One of the most urgent issues to discuss is the application of those strategies specific to the gifted in an inclusive context. Furthermore, it is central to study the inclusiveness potential of those common (traditional) educational strategies, such as cluster grouping or peer tutoring, for gifted students. The results of this systematic review may be a guide for teachers, researchers, and policymakers who want to figure out the pedagogic and didactic implications of inclusive educational practices for the gifted. The overall aim is to open a dialogue concerning the inclusion of the gifted students between those disciplines of research – still focused on that centuries-old research for the definitions of giftedness – and the educational policy, in order to better understand what could be done in the future for talented students.
Ainscow, M. (2020). Inclusion and equity in education: making sense of global challenges, Prospects. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11125-020-09506-w Cooper, H., Hedges, L. V., & Valentine, J. C. (Eds.). (2019). The handbook of research synthesis and meta-analysis. Russell Sage Foundation. Cramond, B. (2004). Can We, Should We, Need We Agree on a Definition of Giftedness? Roeper Review: A Journal on Gifted Education, 27(1), 15–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/02783190409554282 Gagné, F. (2009). Building gifts into talents: Detailed overview of the DMGT 2.0. In B. MacFarlane & T. Stambaugh, (Eds.), Leading change in gifted education (pp. 61-80). Waco: Prufrock Press. Hughes, C.E. (2019). “UDL for Advancement: Unblocking the Traffic Jam”, in W.W. Murawski, K.L. Scott, Eds., What really works with Universal Design for Learning (pp. 189-205). Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin. Mitchell, D. (2015). Inclusive Education is a multi-faceted concept, CEPS Journal, 5(1), 9-30. Nilholm, C., & Göransson, K. (2017), What is meant by inclusion? An analysis of European and North American journal articles with high impact, European Journal of Special Need Education, 32(3), 437-451. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2017.1295638 Renzulli, J. (1986). The three ring conceptions of giftedness: a developmental model for creative productivity. In R. J. Sternberg & J. E. Davidson (Eds.), Conceptions of giftedness (2nd Ed., pp.217-245). Boston, MA: Cambridge University Press- Tannenbaum, A. (1983). Gifted children. New York: Macmillan. Tomlinson, S. (2012). The irresistible rise of the SEN industry, Oxford Review of Education, 38 (3), 267-286. Doi: 10.1080/03054985.2012.692055 Tomlinson, S. (2017). A sociology of Special and Inclusive Education. Exploring the manufacture of inability. Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge. UNESCO (2020). Inclusion and education: all means all. Global education monitoring report. Paris: UNESCO.
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