Teaching Gifted Learners: Mapping Opportunities in ELA Pre-Service Training

Hock, Michelle, Curriculum and Instruction - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Moon, Tonya, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

Educator preparation programs (EPPs) are responsible for preparing pre-service teachers (PSTs) to meet the needs of diverse learners, including those who are gifted or advanced. To ensure that all P-12 students have equitable learning opportunities, PSTs must be prepared to differentiate their teaching to address the learning needs of gifted populations upon exiting their EPP. However, the existing literature remains inconclusive about the optimum ways in which EPPs should cultivate PSTs’ capacities to teach gifted students, perhaps because the efficacy of curricular and instructional experiences is dependent upon the specific contexts of individual EPPs. In Mid-Atlantic University’s (MAU) secondary ELA post-graduate Master of Teaching program (PGMT), the ways in which PSTs were prepared to meet the needs of gifted learners was unknown. However, the program needed to ensure that its PSTs developed the ability to work with gifted learners in order to satisfy accreditation and licensure requirements. Therefore, I conducted a qualitative case study aimed at better understanding what transpired in the PGMT program in terms of preparing PSTs to meet gifted learners’ needs. Findings suggested that (1) the program developed a foundation for teaching PSTs about all students’ learning needs, (2) gifted students’ needs were infrequently addressed in coursework, (3) numerous barriers influenced the program’s ability to address giftedness, (4) PSTs struggled to plan for and implement instruction that was responsive to gifted learners’ needs, and (5) PSTs employed one-size-fits-all teaching methods despite showing awareness of learner variance.

EDD (Doctor of Education)
pre-service teachers, educator preparation programs, gifted
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