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ONDERZOEKEND LEREN & (HOOG)BEGAAFDHEID: Ondersteuning van (hoog)begaafde leerlingen bij het observeren en het interpreteren van data

Ham, Sylvia van der (2013) ONDERZOEKEND LEREN & (HOOG)BEGAAFDHEID: Ondersteuning van (hoog)begaafde leerlingen bij het observeren en het interpreteren van data.

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Abstract:Real and meaningful personal development requires that education is sufficiently challenging for all learners. In Dutch primary education, some attention is paid to the challenging of gifted children, but these efforts can and should be extended. The term ‘gifted children’ refers to young learners who possess a combination of high intelligence, a high level of creativity and a strong task motivation. Inquiry learning, a method of science education in which learners assume the role of a scientist, can be an appropriate didactical approach for these children. At the heart of this approach lies the coordination of theory and evidence which relies heavily on the processes of observation and data interpretation. As even adults experience difficulty in theory-evidence coordination, it could be an appropriate activity for gifted children on condition that they are supported in ways that fit their capabilities. One of these capabilities is (a presumed talent for) a well-developed ability of critical thinking. Two research questions guided this study: “What is the effect of process support for critical thinking on the observations and interpretations by gifted children?”, and “Is this effect different from the effect on average-ability children?”. Additionally, this study investigated how all children, regardless of their cognitive capacities, perceived the difficulty and attractiveness of an inquiry learning assignment. These questions were investigated using a 2  2 factorial design with children’s cognitive capacities (either average or gifted) and the availability of additional support for critical thinking (either present or absent) as independent variables. The study was conducted with 68 seventh and eighth graders from four different primary schools. Half of these children (n = 34) were classified as ‘gifted’ in that they had above-average scores in mathematics and Dutch language, and were placed in a so-called ‘plusklas’ based on careful evaluation by their school. This operational definition differs slightly from the previous one for practical reasons as it extends the population to the top 20% of the children in primary education. Prior to the study, the teachers assessed the critical thinking skills of their children on a five-item rating scale. During the study, all children worked for one hour on an inquiry learning assignment about ‘falling objects’. Their investigations were guided by a worksheet that contained instructions and open and closed questions. One version of the worksheet offered additional process support in the form of hints that were meant to stimulate children’s critical thinking ability; the other version did not contain this support. When children had completed their inquiry they answered some questions about the difficulty and attractiveness of the assignment. Results showed that gifted children possessed more critical thinking skills than average-ability children. However, the process support for critical thinking during observation and interpretation had no significant effect; it even had an adverse effect on quality of the children’s conclusions. Gifted children perceived the assignment as significantly more difficult than average-ability children, presumably because they increased task complexity by engaging in extensive experimentation. They nevertheless enjoyed the assignment significantly more than average-ability children, probably because they liked discovering new knowledge by themselves. Difficulty and attractiveness ratings did not depend on the availability of the additional support for critical thinking.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:81 education, teaching
Programme:Educational Science and Technology MSc (60023)
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