Influence of curriculum characteristics on empowerment of talented secondary science students


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Paper presentation for the 2009 ESERA conference in Istanbul, by Ton van der Valk

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Influence of curriculum characteristics on empowerment of talented secondary science students

  1. 1. Influence of curriculum characteristics on empowerment of talented secondary science students Ton van der Valk (FIsme) In cooperation with Hetty Grunefeld, Quintijn Sissingh Meijer and Albert Pilot (IVLOS Institute of Education) E-mail to [email_address]
  2. 2. Outline <ul><li>The research issue </li></ul><ul><li>Theoretical framework </li></ul><ul><li>The context: Junior College Utrecht </li></ul><ul><li>Research methods </li></ul><ul><li>Results: Learner Empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>Influence of curriculum </li></ul><ul><li>Interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Discussion </li></ul><ul><li>Conclusions and recommendations </li></ul>
  3. 3. The research issue <ul><li>Talented secondary students should be empowered by science education </li></ul><ul><li>Regular education does not offer them enough challenge </li></ul><ul><li>So, adaptation of education to this group </li></ul><ul><li>Which curriculum characteristics contribute to the empowerment of talented secondary science students? </li></ul>
  4. 4. Theoretical framework: empowerment <ul><li>Empowerment: students feel challenged and competent to accomplish their tasks and feel their effort really matters </li></ul><ul><li>Three components: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Meaningful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Competent </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>(Frymier et al. 1996; Thomas and Velthouse 1990) </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. Theoretical framework: curriculum characteristics <ul><li>Talent curriculum characteristics: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>School culture valuing differences between students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Teaching approach geared to talented students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Talented students meet and cooperate in doing learning tasks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Compact curriculum; accelerated pace </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enrichment topics beyond syllabuses </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Open assignments and investigation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Heller e.a. (2002) Internat. Handbook of Giftedness an Talent </li></ul></ul>
  6. 6. The context: Junior College Utrecht <ul><li>Utrecht University + 26 partner schools </li></ul><ul><li>2 years of ‘enriched’ science education </li></ul><ul><li>50 grade-11 and 50 grade-12 students </li></ul><ul><li>Maths, physics, chemistry, biology, NLT </li></ul><ul><li>Lessons on Monday and Tuesday </li></ul><ul><li>4 cohorts (160 st.) have passed national examinations </li></ul><ul><li>>80% opt for science study in university </li></ul>
  7. 7. JCU curriculum characteristics <ul><li>JCU atmosphere </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- student participation; social activities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Approach by teachers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Tuned to interests and capacities of students </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Talent meets talent </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Students share passion for science/ maths </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Accelerated pace </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Syllabuses done in 60% of time </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enriched programme </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Subject matter beyond syllabuses </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Research oriented </li></ul><ul><ul><li>- Assignments like pre-thesis and JCU-thesis </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Align with talent curriculum characteristics </li></ul>
  8. 8. Research methods <ul><li>Learner empowerment measure </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital questionnaire (26 items; alpha .86) based on Frymier e.a. 1996 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>focused JCU, not on home schools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Questionnaire appeared reliable </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Effect of curriculum characteristics </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Digital questionnaire relating 3 dimensions to 6 characteristics (18 items) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Interpretation with qualitative data </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Q: (dis)advantages in participating in JCU? </li></ul></ul>
  9. 9. Research group and response <ul><li>49 grade-11 JCU-students </li></ul><ul><li>48 grade-12 JCU-students </li></ul><ul><li>Digital questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Response 75 (77%): 44 boys; 31 girls </li></ul><ul><li>Open questionnaires </li></ul><ul><li>Response 100% </li></ul>
  10. 10. Results 1 <ul><li>Mean scores ± s.d. </li></ul><ul><li>empowerment 3.85 ± .40 </li></ul><ul><li>competence 3.91 ± .62 </li></ul><ul><li>meaningfulness 3.88 ± .51 </li></ul><ul><li>impact 3.70 ± .51 </li></ul><ul><li>No significant differences between groups except competence: girls< boys </li></ul><ul><li>No significant differences in marks between boys and girls </li></ul><ul><li> JCU students feel empowered on all 3 dimensions </li></ul><ul><li> girls less empowered on Competence, but not less competent </li></ul>
  11. 11. Results 2 <ul><li>Mean effect of all 6 characteristics on empowerment: 3.71 </li></ul><ul><li>Meaningful 3.90* </li></ul><ul><li>Competence 3.73 </li></ul><ul><li>Impact 3.50* </li></ul>
  12. 12. Effect of characteristic on empowerment <ul><li>Accelerated curriculum (3.46 + .60) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Students acknowledge and appreciate acceleration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But to some students the pace is too high (in particular maths; physics): </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Talent meets talent (3.60 + .66) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>+ Students appreciate meeting talented peers </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>But to some it results in too high expectations </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Negative influence on Competence indicate why these characteristics contribute relatively little to empowerment </li></ul>
  13. 13. Effect of characteristic on empowerment - 2 <ul><li>Research oriented (3.68 + .69) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Highlights are research activities: thesis and CERN excursion </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students ask for more research activities </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Teaching approach (3.70 + .54) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Students appreciate discussions in lessons </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>suggest more freedom for making choices </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Enrichment (3.77 + .54) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Much appreciated </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>To some: focus too much on maths/phys; to others: on life sciences </li></ul></ul><ul><li>These charact. add to empowerment, but the Impact dimension can be reinforced </li></ul><ul><li> Even a selected group of gifted students needs differentiated curriculum </li></ul>
  14. 14. Effect of characteristics on empowerment - 3 <ul><li>JCU atmosphere (4.05 + .63) </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Student like the social climate in and out classes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Students experience freedom, challenge, respect for their contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Students feel empowered by the JCU setting as a whole </li></ul>
  15. 15. Conclusions <ul><li>Education that meets the ‘talent curriculum characteristics’ result in empowered learners </li></ul><ul><li>All ‘talent characteristics’ contribute to learner empowerment </li></ul><ul><ul><li>The most to Meaningful </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The least to Impact </li></ul></ul><ul><li>School culture / atmosphere is the most important </li></ul><ul><li>Accelerated pace and Talents meet talents can turn out ambiguous </li></ul><ul><li>‘ Differentiated curriculum’ is missing in ‘talent curriculum characteristics’ </li></ul>
  16. 16. Recommendations <ul><li>To empowerment research </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow development of empowerment </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comparison of groups </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To science education for talented students </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Apply talent curriculum characteristics </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Different tasks to different students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Discuss (dis)advantages of acceleration </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>many opportunities for investigations / student contributions </li></ul></ul><ul><li>To regular science education </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Pay attention to a stimulating atmosphere </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Enrichment for talented students </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Resulting in ‘products’ that can be shown </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Pay equal attention to all students </li></ul></ul>