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Teachers’ Perspectives on Teaching Mathematics to Gifted/Talented Students
AdvisorWIEST, LYNDA R
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The purpose of this study was to investigate the perspectives of gifted/talented teachers on perceived characteristics of mathematical giftedness and talent, as well as what current instructional strategies are being used with mathematically gifted and talented students in the general education classroom. The following research questions were addressed: 1) What student characteristics do K-12 teachers identify as possible indicators of mathematical giftedness/talent? 2) How are K-12 students identified as being gifted/talented in mathematics? 3) What instructional approaches do K-12 teachers suggest to support the learning of mathematically gifted/talented students?In order to answer these questions, a survey instrument was developed based on an extensive review of the professional literature. The online survey was administered to teachers of gifted /talented students across the United States. Responses from 114 teachers who participated in the survey were analyzed. The quantitative analysis consisted of descriptive and inferential statistics using Chi Square test of independence and Fisher Exact test. Participants' written comments that accompanied the survey instruments, as well as their responses to open-ended questions, constituted the qualitative piece of the study. These qualitative data were analyzed using content analysis.The most significant conclusion of this study is that teachers do often recognize mathematically gifted and talented students within their classrooms and know that differentiation is needed for these students. However, teachers have difficulty providing the best possible instruction for these students because they feel that they face a number of obstacles. The obstacles include large class size, lack of training, lack of help in the classroom, and lack of time to plan. The study reveals that, in the opinion of teachers, little differentiation occurs consistently for gifted and talented students. In order to more effectively meet the needs of gifted and talented students in the general education classroom, survey participants felt that a collaborative effort will be required from administrators and teachers to provide appropriate staff development about differentiated instruction.