Year

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

The growing demand for specialised education of gifted students in Saudi Arabia has highlighted the need for specialist teachers of gifted students. Thus, there is an increasing need to know and understand the qualities of effective teachers of gifted students and their role in educating gifted students. While a reasonable body of literature has been written on this topic, little research has been conducted in Saudi Arabia. The primary purpose of this quantitative study was to investigate effective teaching practices for gifted students in secondary schools in Saudi Arabia. In the first phase of this study, the investigator asked 351 male and female teachers of gifted students to complete four surveys assessing their attitudes towards gifted students as well as practices and strategies they used to teach these students. In the second phase, the investigator asked 429 gifted male and female secondary school students to determine the preferred characteristics of a good, effective, and ineffective teacher respectively. The results of the first phase of the study indicated that most teachers have positive attitudes towards gifted students as well as towards the role of the family and parents in improving gifted learning. Some teachers’ responses to basic gifted education issues appeared contradictory and confusing, such as the advantage of using differentiation and grouping, gifted students’ independence from the teacher, and providing tasks and special activities for the gifted in the regular classroom. Teachers were more likely to use practices and strategies relevant to Resources when teaching gifted and average students, while they were less likely to utilise practices and strategies related to Instructional and individual activities. There was little difference in the application of Challenging curriculum strategies. Grouping was used more frequently for gifted students than for average students. The demographic results indicated that female teachers had more positive attitudes and applied various practices and strategies more consistently compared to male teachers. Teachers with Master’s degrees and full-time teachers were more consistent at applying strategies and practices with gifted students. The results of the second phase indicated that gifted students at the secondary stage in Saudi Arabia preferred the personal characteristics rather than the intellectual characteristics of their teachers. Gifted students value teachers who are interested in them, dialogue, and appreciate students’ work. They believed that effective and good teachers use diverse teaching methods, diversify activities, manage the classroom efficiently, and do not strictly follow the regular curriculum. No statistically significant differences were found between gifted students’ responses attributable to the gender and grade level variables. The results of the study provide evidence that effective practices with gifted students require knowledge and skills gained from specific training, as gifted students demand more emotional support, attention, effective teaching, activities and non-traditional curriculum in their classrooms.

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