Date of Award

5-2012

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Education

Major Professor

Thomas N. Turner

Committee Members

Sherry M. Bell, Colleen P. Gilrane, Dulcie L. Peccolo

Abstract

Two hundred and eighty-one teachers participated in an online survey which investigated the relationship between teacher background and the use of student characteristics as indicators of giftedness. Teachers’ global perceptions of giftedness as they related to background characteristics were also examined.

Nine teacher characteristics were examined and included: educational background, years of teaching experience, gifted education preparation, SES of origin, perceived similarities to students, diversity in classrooms, school locale, Title 1 school status, and percentage of students eligible for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program.

A factor analysis was conducted and a four factor solution was derived. The resulting dimensions were: Textbook Indicators, Nonconforming, Teacher Pleasing, and Incongruent characteristics. The mean ratings suggested that teachers were more likely to use Textbook Indicators and Teacher Pleasing characteristics as indicators of giftedness.

Gifted education preparation was found to positively correlate to the Nonconforming dimension. Teachers with gifted education training were more likely to use nonconforming characteristics as indicators of giftedness. Years of experience was positively correlated with Nonconforming and Teacher Pleasing dimensions. That is, with more years of experience, teachers were more likely to use Nonconforming and Teacher Pleasing characteristics as indicators of giftedness. Diversity was negatively correlated with the Textbook Indicators. Teachers with less diverse classrooms were more likely to use Textbook Indicators.

The percentage of students qualifying for the federal free or reduced-price lunch program was positively correlated with “Giftedness manifests itself differently in different socioeconomic groups.” “Boys are more likely to show their giftedness through activities that tap spatial ability” was positively correlated to the Nonconforming dimension, and to a lesser degree, the Teacher Pleasing dimension. “Girls are more likely to show their giftedness through activities that tap verbal ability” was positively correlated to the Teacher Pleasing dimension.

Teachers are encouraged to recognize a wider spectrum of behaviors and characteristics in order to make more inclusive referrals. Teachers should be aware of how culture can influence manifestations of giftedness. Recommendations include professional development that features gifted education training and multicultural education as related to identification of the gifted.

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