Year

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

School of Education

Abstract

After 17 years of providing gifted education, the Saudi Government and private institutions in Saudi Arabia began to look closely at services and programs for gifted students. A considerable body of literature in gifted education considered the quality of teachers’ classroom practices in regular classrooms. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to investigate the knowledge, beliefs, and competencies that characterise teachers’ classroom practices with gifted students in regular classrooms in Saudi Arabia.

The study used multiple data sources, including quantitative data collected via the Classroom Practices Questionnaire (CPQ) (Archambault, Dobyans, Slavin, & Westberg, 1993) from 351 male and female teachers of gifted students in Saudi school, follow up qualitative data collected via semi-structured interviews with ten of the teacher supervisors and two exemplary teachers of gifted students. Quantitative results showed that development of writing skills, acceleration, modifying the curriculum, developing reading skills and grouping were less frequently used with gifted and average students, while the use of discussion and questioning was used frequently with gifted and average students. For all six categories included in the questionnaire, the means of the application of classroom practices were higher for gifted students than for average students.

The results of demographic data showed no statistically significant differences between the responses of the teachers regarding their classroom practices with gifted students according to their years of teaching, highest degree earned, employment status, or grade level currently teaching. The demographic data also showed that female teachers and teachers who participated in a workshop or seminar on questioning and discussion were more likely to implement this classroom practice with their gifted students compare to male teachers and teachers without training. The qualitative results revealed that the majority of the teachers in Saudi regular classrooms are not applying adequate, effective classroom practices for gifted students. The results indicated a lack of special planning for the gifted, unavailability of enrichment, inconsistent and irregular grouping practices, complete lack of acceleration strategies, inability of teachers to modify the regular curriculum and use advanced methods and instruction strategies.

The interviews with exemplary teachers showed they had made some successful attempts to instruct their gifted students in the regular classroom, especially by adding specific tasks and activities for gifted students in their weekly plan, providing home enrichment activities, and using computers and scientific films. These teachers also indicated that they have used individualised teaching and asked gifted students about their interests.

In conclusion, the quantitative and qualitative findings of current study give a general impression that the knowledge, beliefs, and classroom practices of teachers of gifted students in Saudi classrooms are not particularly effective and successful in meeting the needs of gifted students in regular classrooms. Moreover, the results of the current study and previous studies reaffirms the importance of reconsidering the training programs for in-service and pre-service teachers of gifted students as well as re-evaluating and reformulating selection criteria of teachers of gifted students in Saudi schools.

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