Regular Classroom Teachers that Differentiate Instruction for Gifted Students: Two Case Studies

Dodd, Patricia Ulrich , Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Tomlinson, Carol, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Callahan, Carolyn, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Ball, Donald, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia
Comfort, Ronald, Curry School of Education, University of Virginia

Recent economic, political, and social pressures have impacted upon the way many localities identify and serve the needs of gifted students. Increasingly, there is a trend toward meeting the needs of the gifted in the regular classroom rather than pulling them out for special services.

Recent studies indicate that regular classroom teachers do not adequately meet the needs of gifted students (Archambault, 1993; Tomlinson, Tomchin, and Callahan, 1994; Westberg, 1993). However, some teachers are recognized for their ability to address the needs of the gifted in their classrooms. The purpose of this study is to investigate two regular classroom teachers who have received recognition for meeting the needs of gifted students in their classrooms. By studying their behavior, the researcher hopes to provide insights into how and why these teachers have learned to differentiate instruction for the gifted while also addressing the needs of a heterogeneous group of students.

A case study approach comprised of participant observation, narrative inquiry, and a series of in-depth interviews is used to understand how these teachers interpret and practice the art of differentiating instruction. The roles of biography, experience, training, attitudes, personal motivation, and professional growth are some of the areas that will be explored as the narrative unfolds. Each case study culminates with a personal narrative of the teacher. According to the guidelines of narrative inquiry, the narrative is complete when both researcher and participant agree that it accurately portrays the teacher and her craft.

The final chapters of this dissertation include a cross-case analysis and the conclusions of the study. These chapters link the teachers' narratives back to the literature on differentiation, reflect on the use of narrative inquiry as a research method, and provide insights into the ways researchers, administrators, supervisors, and teachers may work together to improve the art and practice of differentiating curriculum for gifted learners in the regular classroom.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
political , economic , social atmosphere , federal mandate
All rights reserved (no additional license for public reuse)
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