An exploration of elementary level classroom teachers' perceptions of giftedness


Gifted children -- Education (Elementary), Teachers of gifted children


Recognizing the important role that classroom teachers play in the referral of students for possible gifted education in many U. S. schools, this study questioned elementary classroom teachers in grades K through 5 to learn about their perceptions of what "giftedness" is. Teachers responded to two questionnaires to define both their general and their specific perceptions of giftedness. Early in the school year the teachers chose from a list of twenty recognized giftedness traits the four that best defined the term for them In the spring, after the same teachers had referred specific students for testing for the gifted program, they selected the four most prominent gifted traits shown by each referred student. Results showed a teacher efficiency rate of 43.4%, equal to or above that of previous research. Among the four traits teachers most often selected as the ones indicating either general or specific giftedness to them, three were identical. Teacher years of experience, grade level taught by the teacher, and the presence or absence of gifted classes at the teacher's school did not significantly affect teacher perceptions of important traits. Student gender was a significant variable in selection of traits. The #1 trait for boys was advanced logic and problem solving ability; for girls it was advanced reading and/or writing ability. School socioeconomic level was also a significant variable. Teachers judged advanced logic and problem solving ability more important for the high or middle SES student than for the low SES student, whether they considered traits of giftedness in general or specific children. Student race/ethnicity was a significant factor also. Racial and ethnic minorities were referred and, generally, passed the screening in such relatively small numbers that the data did not lend themselves to further analysis. Teachers demonstrated consistency and efficiency in gifted identification. It was recommended that this school system address issues of possible gender and SES bias that might be influencing teachers' perceptions and that the system consider a method other than an IQ score as the final qualifying instrument for entry into the program for gifted students.


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Graduation Date





Hopkins, Martha H.


Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


College of Education





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Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)




Dissertations, Academic -- Education; Education -- Dissertations, Academic

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