Twice Exceptional Students


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  • Study undertaken as a part of an advanced course in qualitative research methods – three researchers… 2 in Gifted Education/Educational Leadership & 1 Counselor/Counselor Education Topics were suggested for the class from various professors & this topic particularly spoke to our group – we choose to focus on exploration the perceptions of high school teachers concerning this group because we felt that 2e learners at this level are most challenged by more complex material & greater academic demands & thus felt that HS teacher are particularly important to these students’ success. **Acknowledge that 2e can also refer to students with other combinations of exceptionalities as well – giftedness, learning disabilities, physical disabilities, mental health issues, etc.
  • Teachers are expected to plan & execute effective learning opportunities for all students, providing differentiated services to students both with academic strengths as well as learning weaknesses… 2e learners often do well in school until the reach a point at which their personal compensation strategies do not give them enough support to maintain academic success (Silverman, 2005)
  • Brief examination of the literature provides information about the needs of 2e learners, but little about teacher perceptions… Definition of terms, current research, need to construct an understanding of teachers’ perceptions… our study
  • IDEA – the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act … including conditions such as perceptual disabilities, brain injury, minimal brain dysfunction, dyslexia and developmental aphasia
  • ** Baum, Olenchak & Owen, 2004; Brody & Mills, 1997; Reis, McGuire, & Neu, 2000; Shaywitz et al., 2001
  • Each interviewer contacted a high school teacher and then made further contacts based upon their recommendations – Patton (2002) describes this technique of purposeful sampling as one that is particularly useful when “rapid reconnaissance” is needed….
  • Interviewed off school grounds
  • Since this study was apart of an advanced qualitative course… specifically spelled out how we addressed these item in our paper, this is available if you are interested, but will skim over in consideration of time so we can get to the findings… Intended audience – teachers and student teachers, students themselves… and ourselves…
  • Audience members share what they had written down….
  • More in-depth examination available, start with the primary themes…
  • More in-depth examination available, start with the primary themes…
  • Striking commonalities and some interesting differences…
  • Participants shared numerous frustrations in their experiences w/2e students – some as the direct result of interacting with students, others from interactions with colleagues. Nearly all expresses a strong degree of frustration with the local educational systems.
  • Two types of teacher frustrations:A perceived degree of competence, or lack thereof, in addressing the needs of this special populationResulting from interactions with colleagues
  • Many mentioned, including…
  • Just a few…
  • Twice Exceptional Students

    1. 1. Twice Exceptional Students: Who are They and What do we Know?Carrie Lynn Bailey - Georgia Southern University – April 2011 Please take an Index card and jot down a brief definition of “twice exceptional”and/or a few thoughts about these students…
    2. 2. Twice Exceptional• Students who are gifted and also have learning disabilities, or “twice exceptional” (2e) learners, are an often overlooked and misunderstood group.• Not all teachers have training in gifted education, nor do they all understand the complexities of learning disabilities.
    3. 3. Twice Exceptional – Focus of Inquiry –• 2e learners - compensation strategies may be effective until a point…• Eventually may become overwhelmed and do not have in place the supports to address these challenges
    4. 4. Twice Exceptional – Focus of Inquiry –• How do high school teachers perceive the challenges of this population?• What do they think about students who show great promise yet struggle at the same time?• Do they understand their students‟ difficulties and offer guidance or are they lacking in awareness and knowledge of how to work with such students?
    5. 5. Twice Exceptional – Focus of Inquiry –• Current research offers much regarding teachers‟ perception of students who are gifted… (e.g. Campbell & Verna, 1998; Copenhaver & McIntyre, 1992; Greene, 2003; Lee, 1999; Swanson, 2006)• … and of teachers‟ perceptions of students with learning disabilities (e.g. Bearn & Smith, 1998; Cardell & Parmar, 1988; Center & Wascom, 1986; Lyon, 1980)• However – a significant need for research on teachers‟ perceptions of those students who fit into both of these realms (Baum, 1984; Brody & Mills, 1997; Baum, Olenchak, & Owen, 2004)
    6. 6. Twice Exceptional – Definition of Terms –• Giftedness: – Various approaches to defining this term, but generally considered to be intelligence, achievement, and potential that are unusually when compared to one‟s peers (Van Tassel-Baska, 2003)• Learning Disabilities: – Defined by IDEA as, “a disorder in one or more of the basic psychological processes involved in understanding or in using language, spoke or written, that may manifest itself in an imperfect ability to listen, think, speak, read, write, spell, or to do mathematical calculations…”
    7. 7. Twice Exceptional – Definition of Terms –• Twice exceptional students: – Various definitions in the literature… – Wallach describes such students as having “extraordinary abilities and unusual deficits” (in Silverman, 2005, p.2) – Gifted researchers also often refer to the asynchronous development evident in many gifted learners – where development is advanced in one area but delayed in another (Silverman, 2005; Piechowski, 2006; Gardner, 1993)
    8. 8. Twice Exceptional - Research• Challenges – Many references to negative descriptions of each of these populations… – Social-emotional implications for 2e learners often become more pronounce in adolescence – Frustrations include the idea that “they could not make their brain, body, or both do what they wanted it to do…” (Brody & Mills, 1997, p. 403)
    9. 9. Twice Exceptional – Research• Hopeful and Positive Aspects – 2e students may develop habits and skills to compensate for their weaknesses & may transform frustrations into positive action on their own behalf – May possess unusual persistence, humility & strong personal interests (Reis, McGuire & Neu, 2000) – Some suggest that giftedness is enhanced by learning disabilities in areas such as creativity (Davis, 1994; West, 1991)
    10. 10. Twice Exceptional – Research• Perceptions of Others – Much of the literature suggests that problems for such students are often rooted in the students‟ behavior and other‟s reactions to that behavior (**) – Teachers, parents, and peers may find such students difficult to tolerate or understand – Missteps and misunderstandings of special and gifted education teachers may include a focus on remedial interventions instead of compensatory strategies that may be more effective in meeting the learning needs of such students (Silverman, 2005; Davis & Rimm, 1998; Lyon, 2001)
    11. 11. Twice Exceptional – Students’ Reflections –• Many 2e students have fairly negative feelings about the usefulness of their early school experiences (Silverman, 2005)• In one study, “all of the participants recalled negative and, in many cases, painful memories… Teachers accused them of being lazy because of the intersection of their abilities and disabilities” (Reis, McGuire, & Neu, 2000, p.128)
    12. 12. Twice Exceptional – Teachers’ Perceptions –• Beckley (1998) recommends that teachers assist 2e students in understanding their weaknesses so that any barriers to the development of their exceptional talents can be addressed realistically.• But – little to no information on how teachers perceive 2e students who do not always act as teachers might expect talented students to act…• Thus, this study was conceptualized as seeking to bring to light teachers‟ perceptions about 2e students as aligned with Glesne‟s (2006) description of the constructivist task.
    13. 13. Twice Exceptional – Study Paradigm –• Constructionist Paradigm – “the collective generation of meaning” (Patton, 2002, p. 97)• Constructivist Perspective (Schwandt, 2002) – concerned with the way teachers build their understandings of 2e students, not the actual reality of their experiences
    14. 14. Twice Exceptional – Research Strategy –• Phenomenological – Seeking to capture “the lived experiences of a small number of people” (Rossman & Rallis, 2003, p.97)• Capture the perceptions of teacher through interviews and explanations of teacher-selected metaphorical objects that they chose to represent their sense of 2e students…
    15. 15. Twice Exceptional – Participants –• Nine content area high school teachers – Three general education teachers – Three special education teachers – Three gifted education teachers• Selected via networking and snowball strategy based upon our needs to complete the study within the semester
    16. 16. Twice Exceptional– Data Generation & Collection –• Interview ~ hour in length with each participant• Interview Guide used to structure and open interview – touched on several selected issues related to teachers‟ beliefs, attitudes, and feelings about 2e students• Member checking (Schwandt, 2001)• Material Culture – asked to bring object representing her or her perceptions of 2e students (Patton, 2002)
    17. 17. Twice Exceptional – Data Analysis –• Open, axial coding & selective coding• Unit of analysis – discrete idea• Incorporated the teacher‟s reflections on their selected objects into the interviews and analysis
    18. 18. Twice Exceptional– Trustworthiness & Authenticity – • Series of member checks & peer de-briefing so that interpretations followed logically from the data • Triangulation of data, methods, and multiple analysts • Rich & thick descriptions generated • Careful record keeping, reflexive journaling, audit trail, etc. • Authenticity a central goal/attended to throughout… – Ontological - unstructured interviews – Educational - goal not to teach but greater awareness often results from focus on topic
    19. 19. – your thoughts...
    20. 20. Twice Exceptional– Overview of Research Results – • Major Themes: – How teachers discovered 2e students in their classes – What they discovered about 2e students – What they did to meet the needs of 2e students – Frustrations they experienced related to their work with 2e students
    21. 21. Twice Exceptional– Overview of Research Results – • Sub-themes: – Teachers professional knowledge and understanding of giftedness, learning disabilities, and twice- exceptionality – Recognition of the unique needs of each student – Discoveries about students including students‟ strengths, compensation strategies, weaknesses, and the hidden quality of their twice-exceptionality – How their own responses were tied to their educational philosophy and personal style in building rapport and working with students – Frustrations related to working with individual students, parents and within their particular school districts
    22. 22. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis –How Does the Teacher Discover Who is Twice Exceptional?• Lack of information about 2e students as learners in the classroom – Not officially recognized/identified – Discovered in context of classroom, discussions w/parents or previous teachers – Wide range of understanding or what it means to be gifted, have a learning disability or 2e – Desire to know more about student needs
    23. 23. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis –How Does the Teacher Discover Who is Twice Exceptional? – Little training/professional development regarding the needs/characteristics of 2e students – Concern about labels, misunderstandings, inappropriate accommodations • “I‟ve encountered students who have been labeled as having a learning disability or as having ADHD, when they may in fact be gifted, bored or just otherwise aren‟t having their learning needs met…”
    24. 24. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis –How Does the Teacher Discover Who is Twice Exceptional?• Recognition of the unique needs & learning styles of each individual – Strategy employed by teachers across disciplines & school districts is one of treating each students as an individual, seeking to understand each students‟ unique strengths and weaknesses and the implications these may have on their learning within the classroom • “…I feel that it is important to deal with the students and figure out the way that seems to work best for them to learn…” • “… I try to observe each student one by one and best meet their needs…”
    25. 25. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Discover about 2e Students?• Difficulty understanding students – Teachers described having difficulty understanding how a student can be „so gifted‟ in one area and struggle so much in another – Teachers found 2e students to be very different from other students – tying the „differentness‟ to their high intelligence more that to their disability/ies
    26. 26. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Discover about 2e Students?• Why attend to deficits? – Three of the teachers strongly emphasized building on students‟ strengths and questioned putting much focus on the students‟ disabilities • “Even though he has a disability, you don‟t look at the disability… You try to find out what his strengths are. You already identified his weaknesses [thus the focus now needs to be on supporting, developing and encouraging their strength areas].”
    27. 27. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Discover about 2e Students?• 2e as a plus in the classroom – Teachers spoke explicitly about how interesting it is to have a 2e students in class, noting that such students often ask good questions and raise unusual, high level points that the teachers had not considered. – Feel that other students benefits from having 2e students as classmates as they may bring in different perspectives and foci.
    28. 28. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Discover about 2e Students?• School problems of 2e students – Issues mentioned related to this sub-theme included poor work habits, lack of and/or struggle with organizational skills, and problems with writing. – A few mentioned that they felt 2e students were often „very high energy‟ and this is difficult to manage in the classroom, stating students need to „tone it down‟ and try to „assimilate.‟
    29. 29. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Discover about 2e Students?• Compensation strategies – Spoke to the use of strengths to make up for weaknesses , skills teachers felt were developed early on and will continue to serve the students into adulthood – A few mentioned the role of parents in assisting students with this process along with a lack of this focus from the school system
    30. 30. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Do in Meeting the Needs of the Twice Exceptional Student?• Educational philosophy & beliefs – Expressed a willingness to create strategies to serve their students, citing a wide range of interventions including pushing them to higher levels that will „capture and keep their interest.‟ • “… being a teacher who cares” • “… reach students where they are” – An appreciation for students as individuals and the need to make accommodations and modification based on that individuality – Sense of responsibility in assisting students in reaching their potential and a belief in self
    31. 31. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Do in Meeting the Needs of the Twice Exceptional Student?• Specific instructional strategies employed – Nearly all participants indicated specific strategies in trying to meet the needs of 2e students • Holistic – „strategies base on student need‟ • Matching strategies/teaching styles to learning styles • One-on-one tutoring, small groups, personalized assignments/projects, open-ended and high-level questions, challenge, concept maps, extra time and facilitating participation are just a few identified…
    32. 32. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Does the Teacher Do in Meeting the Needs of the Twice Exceptional Student?• Collaboration – Most referred to collaboration with a special education teacher, although a few mentioned the role of parents as well as encouraging students to collaborate with each other – Discussion of resource periods, IEPs, other teachers and consulting with the special education teachers in adapting teaching styles to meet student needs
    33. 33. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Frustrations Does the Teacher Experience in Working with Twice Exceptional Students?• Student frustrations – Ranged from underachievement, lack of higher-level thinking, to intentional attempts to hide giftedness • “How can they be so gifted in one area and then struggle?‟ • Frustration with students who “camouflaged themselves to appear as if they are not gifted…” – Mention of a „lack of fit‟ for 2e students with the school day and/or school requirements
    34. 34. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Frustrations Does the Teacher Experience in Working with Twice Exceptional Students?• Parent frustrations – Teachers mentions frustrations with parents from both ends of the spectrum… • “parent who refused to allow their suspected 2e child to be tested” • Suggestion that some students are classified as having a disability because of “parents‟ concerns [that are unfounded]” – One teacher expressed a great deal of frustration in dealing with parents suggesting they “are not a good source of information, have unrealistic expectations of teachers, and are enabling their 2e children.”
    35. 35. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Frustrations Does the Teacher Experience in Working with Twice Exceptional Students?• Teacher frustrations – Some questioned their effectiveness in working with 2e students, and/or a lack of training in working with such students • “I wish I could help them grow more” – Some felt struggles with other teachers • “Often times the special ed. teachers, to me, add frustration [and won‟t allow students to take more advanced courses].” • Felt many teachers focus on weaknesses rather than strengths or the disability rather than gifts
    36. 36. Twice Exceptional – Cross-Case Analysis – What Frustrations Does the Teacher Experience in Working with Twice Exceptional Students?• Educational System frustrations – Labeling of students, lack of proper identification/misidentification of student needs, the structure of special education services, lack of services for gifted and 2e students, need for more professional development/more highly qualified teachers • “… labeled to make our books look good…” • Difference between learning disability and boredom/behavioral problems • “… the emphasis on testing is out of sync with the realities for these students…”
    37. 37. Twice Exceptional– Discussion & Commentary –• Much of what teachers shared is echoed in the research findings including the challenge increasing diversity of learning needs represents for the planning and delivery of instruction (Hodgkinson, 2007)• Consistent with the research on students‟ social and emotional growth (Reis, McGuire, & Neu, 2000; Silverman, 2005)• One‟s description of 2e students was a striking metaphor for the Brody & Mill‟s (1997) description of 2e students as invisible within the school system• Teachers whose philosophies of education were more inclusive seemed to be more open to modifying instruction based upon student need
    38. 38. Twice Exceptional– Discussion & Commentary –• Teachers expressed a need for more professional development in serving these students – but also a need to be supported in the meeting of students needs within their classrooms• Many criticized special education departments (including the special education teachers) across a variety of areas – thus this area certainly warrants further attention
    39. 39. Twice Exceptional– Discussion & Commentary –• In summation – Teachers showed varying levels of understanding of twice exceptionality, with the special educators seeming to have the most difficulty working with 2e students… this is a definite area requiring attention from teacher educators, principals, and school administrations – Their testimonies suggest that further research and effective dissemination of strategies and materials to teachers may be a fruitful next step in better meeting the needs of twice exceptional students
    40. 40. Twice Exceptional– Questions/Thoughts? –
    41. 41. Resources• The National Institute for Twice-Exceptionality (NITE) •• 2e: Twice-Exceptional Newsletter •• Twice Gifted •• Teaching Strategies for Twice-Exceptional Students • ction=Exceptionality_Area1&template=/CM/ m&ContentFileID=1355