The purpose of this qualitative multi-person case study is to explore the perceptions of parents of gifted children regarding the problems being faced by them in providing them with the education that they deserve.
Research design and set-up
The research method for the study is a qualitative multi-person case study. Qualitative research allows an in-depth study of participants in their everyday settings. Researchers attempt to make sense, based on the importance that individuals place on their own experiences (Merriam, 2009). Qualitative research has a foundation based on empirical inquiry through the collection of live experiences in a natural setting: the results rely on the process as much as on the data. Researchers determine themes and patterns from multiple sources of data, including primary source documents, interviews, and observations. The data generated from words and transferred in an understandable manner is vital (Neuman, 2003). Using the delineated results, qualitative research provides a complex understanding of a problem (Creswell, 2007).
Quantitative research was not appropriate for the study. The research questions were of a broad nature and the data collected were non-numerical (Creswell, 2007). Quantitative research is a method designed to study larger groups and has limits as to the number of factors studied (Neuman, 2003). Quantitative researchers ask narrow questions and obtain measurable information on variables (Creswell, 2008). In contrast, the present research study has broad questions intended to understand participants’ experiences.
Social issues concerning the gifted children
Issues due to indifferent development
Gifted children can understand the basic concepts of life but are unable to relate emotionally to such concepts. Though gifted children might be intellectually capable of doing certain complicated tasks, their asynchronous body development can prove to be a hindrance. Their intellectual level might allow them to discuss complex global issues with elders but during the conversation, due to unexpected mood swings, they might start behaving like a child.
Issues due to their superior oral and reasoning aptitude
One of the less appreciated traits of gifted children is that they can be very confrontational and/or scheming. Even though it is a good thing to provide logical explanations, children should behave like children. This particular trait is considered to be undisciplined/misbehavior by society. Such children have the habit of outwitting their elders. Elders include parents and teachers. Due to their higher level of intelligence, gifted children prefer to make friends with children elder to them.
Issues due to their diligence and emotional compassions
When children are diligent, they have apprehensions of disappointments due to failure. Owing to such apprehensions, they might not want to attempt anything. Gifted children are usually shy because they are afraid of new surroundings and situations. Such children might need comprehensive details of functions to be performed and this might not be liked by some people within the society. As a result, the children become shy. They tend to take comments personally and this might affect their approach.
Steps and reasons for concern
The main intention of schools is to provide quality education to their students. But such intentions should include consideration for the population of gifted students. Schools have a moral obligation of providing befitting education standards to gifted students. National Association for Gifted Children’s report suggests that “about 5 to 7 percent of children are gifted. In the Rochester Community Schools, this would be up to 1,000 students” (Raymond, 2011).
The world is progressing at a fast pace and so is the standard of education. Schools ought to provide the latest information and resources so that the students can have up-to-date knowledge of events. All children don’t have the same caliber to grasp things. So there has to be a system where students are differentiated based on their caliber and appropriate education should be provided.
It is not an easy task to identify gifted children but the critical nature of the problem overshadows the involved difficulties. It is better to consider children to be gifted and prove that they are not gifted rather than to consider them to be not gifted (Why should we identify gifted children?, 1999, para. 1). The prime concern for identifying gifted children is to provide the appropriate education. Children who are highly capable should be given appropriate education. It is believed that gifted children perform based on their caliber.
It has been observed that generally, educational institutions have a normal curriculum which results in boredom for gifted children. Such gifted children need higher standards in education that match their skills and abilities. Moreover, gifted children expect appreciation so that they are encouraged to perform better in the field of their interest. But unfortunately, the reality is somewhat different from all such things. Queries of gifted children are usually unanswered and since such children are very sensitive, they start feeling isolated.
It is important that the gifted children should have the company of children who are at par with their caliber. Does it mean that gifted children cannot have friends (because normal children cannot match their intelligence)? The truth is that children with high intelligence are a minority group. On average, in a class, “68% of children will fall into the average ability range (IQ between 85 and 115), 14% into the below-average (IQ 70 to 85) and 14% in the above-average range (IQ 115 to 130)” (Why should we identify gifted children?, 1999, para. 6). Children with very high IQ constitute only 2% of the total strength. The following figure depicts the intelligence level of children:
Considering all the above points, it becomes imperative to conduct educational research on the topic of gifted children’s education and the problems being faced by their parents. The educational institutions should formulate their policies keeping into consideration the developments around the globe. Parents should pay heed to the comments of their children’s teachers. Expectations of both the teachers and the parents should be mutually understood. It should not be assumed that the teachers know everything and parents should not leave everything up to the teachers. The parents are also responsible for their children’s education and as such, they should also be involved in their studies.
Several research questions can be formulated on the topic but a generalized research question might be:
What are the barriers (about education) that parents of gifted children have to encounter?
A report claims that the gifted children are, “the most neglected minority in American education” (Colangelo & Dettmann, 1983, p. 20). Parents of such children fear that their children might not get an appropriate education. Their concern is true because most of the schools have a curriculum that is based on the capabilities of average students. Such a situation will create apprehensions in the minds of gifted children’s parents.
There are various “gifted programs” meant for special children. Parents of mentally retarded children have no option other than to take their children to such programs. But parents of gifted children hesitate to take their children to such programs. The parents have the discretion of taking their gifted children to such programs.
The researcher believes that parents of gifted children have to face certain problems as far as their education is concerned. There are other challenges as well but since the research is about the education of gifted children, the discussion will be limited to that area only. The researcher’s opinion is not a subjective consideration because the literature in this field also suggests a similar opinion. The issue is genuine and that’s the reason that organizations like Davidson Institute and National Association for Gifted Children are engaged in incessant endeavors to help the gifted children acquire appropriate education.
But being subjective can result in a biased result. While researching gifted children, the average children are completely sidelined. It is quite possible that there are several problems faced by the average students and their parents. But since the gifted children are a minority group, their case is highlighted. But as far as this research is concerned, neglecting the average children will not affect its outcome.
The following table depicts the instruments used for data collection:
|Data collection instrument||Description|
|Documentation||The initial sources of data collection for the study were a teacher and parent postings on the wiki page. Teachers and parents of gifted students participated in the wiki page for four weeks. Monitoring participant postings revealed frequency and types of posts. Analysis of the postings uncovered common themes among participants, enabling coding and comparison of commonalities. Participants also wrote weekly reflections describing their experiences using the wiki for collaboration and learning. These reflections were research-generated documents.|
|Interview||To increase validity, a pilot study took place before the first interview. Two participants from the study previewed each of the interview questions. The pilot study participants made recommendations for clarity and purpose. Results of the pilot study shaped the final interview questions and added to the triangulation of data.|
|Instrumentation||Instruments used in qualitative research include interviews and observations. These tools provide researchers with a method for collecting data for later analysis for themes. The multi-person case study relied on interviews, teacher and parent reflections, and teacher and parent participation. The instrumentation piece of the study stemmed from the interviews with participating teachers and parents of gifted students.|
The initial sources of data collection for the study were teacher postings on the wiki page. According to Yin (2008), a review of documents is important in almost every case study. Merriam (2009) placed electronic sources, such as the wiki page, in the same category as paper documents. The documentation of data from the wiki was constant and accurate (Creswell, 2008; Yin, 2008) and served to augment the interview and teacher reflection evidence for the study (Yin, 2008).
Teachers and parents of gifted students participated in the wiki page for four weeks. Monitoring participant postings revealed frequency and types of posts. Analysis of the postings uncovered common themes among participants, enabling coding and comparison of commonalities. Participants also wrote weekly reflections describing their experiences using the wiki for collaboration and learning. These reflections were research-generated documents (Merriam, 2009). The expectation was that all parents and teachers would write a minimum of one reflection weekly, either typed or handwritten, about his or her thoughts and feelings on the collaboration and learning process using the wiki pages. Participants learned of this expectation during the initial information meeting.
Colangelo, N., & Dettmann, D. (1983). A review of research on parents and families of gifted children. The Council for Exceptional Children, 50(1), 20-27.
Creswell, J. W. (2007). Qualitative inquiry and research design: Choosing among five approaches (2nd Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
Creswell, J. W. (2008). Educational research: Planning, conducting, and evaluating quantitative and qualitative research (3rd Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice-Hall.
Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.
Neuman, W. L. (2003). Social research methods (5th Ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.
Raymond, J. (2011). Why is gifted education necessary? Web.
Yin, R. (2008). Case study research: Design and methods (4th Ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.