Date of Award

1999

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Lesley Newhouse-Maiden

Abstract

What are the attitudes of university teachers towards giftedness, gifted and talented students and special provision for the gifted? The present study explored the attitudes towards gifted and talented students by two cohorts of university teachers. Both cohorts, one from 1996 and the other from 1997, were third year, secondary Bachelor of Arts in Education students, both participating in a university module related to catering for the high ability student in the regular classroom. The 1997 cohort's attitudes were measured before and after the module. Subsequently, some willing participants from the 1997 cohort were followed through to ascertain whether their attitude has changed now that they are practicing teachers in high school classrooms in 1998. Each cohort's attitudes were assessed on a series of attitudinal items related to gifted education using a 5-point Likert scale (5-strongly agree to 1-strongly disagree) using the Gagne and Nadeau (1991) attitudinal questionnaire. Additional demographic information complemented the findings. The present study had particular implications in the short term, identifying that university teachers had preconceived ideas about the gifted and one cohort's attitudes adversely changed after participating in the tertiary module. That university teachers have these attitudes prior to graduating has implications for the provision of gifted students in schools: are the needs of the gifted really being met if teachers have ambivalent to negative attitudes towards them? However, practising teachers who had previously participated in the tertiary module improved in their attitudes towards the gifted in the medium term. In addition, the researcher was able to determine factors towards, and the overall effectiveness of, the tertiary module that affected attitudes towards gifted and talented students and their special needs by using both qualitative and quantitative measures. Despite extensive reviews that teachers need to be trained in gifted education to adequately meet the needs of their gifted students in their classrooms, this study reports the need for more quality and more effective training at the tertiary level This study also suggests the need for significant further research as there are limited studies in measuring attitudes towards the gifted by university teachers.

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