Exploring educators’ and parents’ perceptions of policy, provisions, and practice to guide policy development and reform for gifted and talented science education in NSW

Jawerth, Kelly-Anne (2021) Exploring educators’ and parents’ perceptions of policy, provisions, and practice to guide policy development and reform for gifted and talented science education in NSW. [Thesis (PhD/Research)]

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Abstract

The purpose of this study was to explore educators’ and parents’ perceptions of provisions, practice, and current policies to guide policy development and reform for gifted and talented science education in NSW. Specifically, it sought the perceptions of Expert Educators, Teachers, and Parents regarding the appropriateness of the NSW Department of Education (NSW DoE) Gifted & Talented (G &T) policy and investigated the status quo in schools.

Gagné’s model for G & T education has been referred to in Australia for the past 10-15 years, with all states claiming to use his model to inform their policies. However, no policy presents a rationale for using this model or for the selection of this model over others. Additionally, students in NSW who have outstanding potential to contribute to Australia’s intellectual capital have been left behind in terms of policy with no updates since 2004. Although there is a new High Performing and Gifted Education policy (HPGE), for implementation in 2021, it is not vastly different. There is no evidence that components of a policy reform cycle were employed, nor is there evidence of an evaluation. This study finds that the current policy is not widely implemented, nor does the current policy use Gagné’s model or definitions correctly.

It was demonstrated that there is a lack of confidence in policy for gifted education, and general education. First-hand data provided evidence that most educators are not aware of Gagné’s models as used in the NSW DoE G & T policy, nor do they use his definitions to define G & T students. Policy is not deemed useful by NSW educators, but instead perceived only as an element of compliance. Additionally, educators do not have a clear understanding about what is provided for gifted education in relation to resourcing and information, nor are there consistent pedagogical approaches employed. Instead, teachers use their own, or the students’ initiative, to create isolated and intermittent educational opportunities. This is partially due to the misconception that gifted students will succeed without help, and the belief that student selected and directed strategies are exemplary. It is also because gifted education is not a priority for science educators. They are time poor, focussed on minimum standards, and are pressured to meet the needs of those who have learning difficulties, are learners with English as an additional language or dialect (EALD), or learners from low socio-economic status SES backgrounds.

The state of gifted education is NSW is disorganised, disjointed, low priority, and confusing for those who work in education. There is limited structured support and there is conflicting information provided by leading government educational institutions, particularly when defining the gifted population. Clear directives and resources for students who are underperforming, or for those who have unique learning needs, are missing from gifted education policy in NSW. Additionally, educators are acutely aware that selection methods for gifted classes are incorrectly based on performance only, not potential. Despite this awareness the practice continues.

Recommendations include creating a national G & T policy, with funding provided by the federal and the state governments. Clear procedures, strategies, identification tools, and professional development for educators must accompany the policy. In addition, a consensus must be reached about the definitions of the terms gifted, talented, and twice exceptional students for Australia. This study provides preliminary information regarding the trait combinations unique to gifted science students that may be of benefit to a science specific G & T sub-policy.

Overall, this research has shown that Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT) is an appropriate talent development model to use to establish a working G & T Australian education policy. However, there must be provision for gifted student identification, and interventions for students who are not ready to participate in the activities or respond to Gagné’s catalysts. Additionally, his model must be used correctly, and in its entirety, or evidence produced to justify why individual components are selected while others ignored.


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Item Type: Thesis (PhD/Research)
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - Faculty of Business, Education, Law and Arts - School of Education (1 Jul 2019 -)
Supervisors: Trimmer, Karen; Slater; Eileen
Date Deposited: 28 Sep 2021 06:38
Last Modified: 20 Jul 2022 22:05
Uncontrolled Keywords: education, gifted, talented, policy, science
Fields of Research (2008): 16 Studies in Human Society > 1605 Policy and Administration > 160506 Education Policy
Fields of Research (2020): 39 EDUCATION > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy > 390201 Education policy
Identification Number or DOI: doi:10.26192/7j0t-6p06
URI: http://eprints.usq.edu.au/id/eprint/43712

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