Characterization of challenging tasks intended for gifted students and what is needed for teachers to provide them
Examensarbete för masterexamen
Learning and leadership (MPLOL), MSc
Enrichment tasks are often used to stimulate gifted students in school, who most of the time receive too little challenge in their classrooms. These challenging tasks could possibly encourage students to show gifted behavior. To investigate if this is the case, a framework was constructed to determine what stimulates gifted behavior, to analyze if challenging tasks successfully stimulate gifted behavior. In addition, it is known that the reason students often do not receive enough challenge in school is due to teachers not having sufficient time to spare. Therefore, the needs of teachers are also investigated in relation to supporting gifted students. Both perspectives are investigated through semi-structured interviews with upper secondary school teachers in Sweden, all of which had tested at least one challenging task in their classroom prior to the interview. Content analysis was used to analyze these interviews, and was performed twice: Once to analyze if the tasks stimulate gifted behavior, and once to analyze the needs of teachers. It was found that challenging tasks can stimulate gifted behavior, and all tested tasks do so in different ways, however they do not always stimulate all aspects of gifted behavior at the same time. Teachers confirm that they are short on time, and therefore wish for ways to quickly find tasks that are appropriate for these students. The most important thing was being able to find them based on course and subject area. In addition, teachers value student hints being coupled together with the tasks, as well as clear proposed solutions. Lastly, it may be important to have a variety of difficulties of tasks to be able to meet the needs of different students, such as underperforming and high achieving gifted students.
giftedness, enrichment, mathematics, tasks