Designing Instruction for Future Gifted Science Teachers

Designing Instruction for Future Gifted Science Teachers

Judith Bazler (Monmouth University, USA), Letitia Graybill (Monmouth University, USA) and Meta Van Sickle (College of Charleston, USA)
Copyright: © 2015 |Pages: 18
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6489-0.ch016

Abstract

Honors programs are designed to provide talented students the opportunity to excel with a group of peers having a similar level of ability, motivation, and prior academic achievement. A problem that results is Honors Programs and education programs rarely interface, and thus, current models do not optimally serve the gifted adult who will become a science teacher. Gifted students are not easily identified in the science methods class. Notices about involvement from Honors Programs are often not forwarded to people in teacher education programs. Such lack of information means that science methods instructors must identify the students without benefit of Honors Program insight. This chapter discusses identification and curriculum for gifted adults.
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Setting The Stage

There are many factors that potentially influence the motivational trajectories of university among gifted students. The challenge, however, lies in the identification of the gifted among a selection of students who have met university entrance requirements on the undergraduate level and that have degrees granted by accredited colleges and universities especially if the education program is not informed about the honors designation of the teacher candidate. Consequently, science methods and other education faculty must learn to identify and then differentiate instruction for this population. So some key questions are, how do we challenge the gifted among an already select group of teacher education candidates? What differentiation of teaching methods needs to occur, and what products should the instructor expect from the gifted and talented teacher education candidate? These questions must be answered because the general characteristics that all future teachers hold is a desire for autonomy, a desire to study a topic in depth and the ability to be creative with lesson planning and classroom implementation, and projects that motivate future teachers and include integrated curricula and activities in either solo or group work that also meet the social needs of the gifted student.

Gifted students exhibit one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Intense devotion to personal interests.

  • Independence.

  • Boredom when not engaged in the activity presented.

  • Ability to see to the root of problems.

  • Tendency be a maverick and a rapid learner.

  • Ability to anticipate outcomes.

  • Capable of abstract thinking and learning skills.

  • Have talent in creative or leadership abilities.

Gifted students who enroll as adults in science methods classes may possess these characteristics. These students actively accept the responsibilities of the requirements, work independently to produce excellent materials and are not afraid to challenge the professor when opinions and techniques differ.

Gifted adult students may be viewed as driven with perfectionist tendencies aiming at high standards. They can also be overly sensitive and perhaps exhibit odd or intimidating behaviors and are prone to question authority. Psychologists who work with gifted adults find them to be independent, original, curious and open to changes. Thus, it becomes the task of the science educator to work with these gifted students so that they become excellent science teachers who are capable of utilizing these same characteristics when they become teachers. Gifted students who want to become science teachers can be challenging to work with but the products that they generate are noteworthy both in terms of content and form.

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Organization Background

Gifted individuals are defined as people with outstanding talent who perform or show the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment when compared with others of their age, experience, or environment.

All of the students that enroll in graduate and undergraduate teacher preparation programs have been successful in achieving the level of education prescribed by their career goals. The graduate students have all received baccalaureate degrees from accredited undergraduate institutions and the undergraduate students have reached the third year of their teacher preparation programs. They are not typically able to accept that the educational practices that they have endured in their content major prior to taking teacher education courses may not constitute best teaching practice. We, as science educators, are challenged by these students because:

  • We want to provide the best preparation for future teachers of future children.

  • We understand and accept a need for accountability for ourselves as well as for our students.

  • We want to make our courses challenging as well as useful.

  • We want to model the type of teaching that has shown success with gifted children and adults.

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