Educating Gifted Students in the Regular Classroom: Efficacy, Attitudes, and Differentiation of Instruction
Author's abstract: The purpose of this quantitative study was to determine which variable, teacher self-efficacy or teachers' attitudes toward gifted students, better explains teachers' willingness to differentiate instruction for gifted students. Survey data from 341 third through eighth grade teachers were analyzed using multiple regression. Teachers' attitudes toward gifted students were measured using the Survey of Practices with Students of Varying Needs (short version). The Teachers' Sense of Efficacy Scale was used to measure teacher self-efficacy. The outcome variable, teachers' willingness to differentiate instruction for gifted students, was measured by an instrument adapted by the researcher from an instrument developed by Heacox (2002), the Survey of Instructional Practices. Years of teaching experience was also used as control variable. Stepwise regression revealed that a total of 20% of the variance of the dependent variable can be explained by the combined effect of the two predictor variables and the control variable. The largest contribution to explaining the variance in differentiation practices for gifted students is contained within teacher efficacy with the second largest contribution being teacher attitudes. This research indicated that teacher self-efficacy is a better predictor than teachers' attitudes toward gifted students when trying to predict teachers' willingness to differentiate instruction for gifted students being taught in the regular classroom. While this study found statistically significant results for both of the internal factors studied, efficacy and attitude, as predictors of teachers' willingness to differentiate instruction for gifted students, it explains only a small part of teacher's willingness to differentiate instruction for gifted students in the regular classroom. The researcher recommends that future researchers employ the use of surveys that ask respondents to rate a list of both internal and external factors believed to influence differentiation for gifted students on how much they believe each factor influences their decisions to differentiate instruction. This method might produce a broader view of what teachers believe to be obstacles to differentiation.
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