Inclusion of Gifted Students – possible or not? Paper
Author(s): Jutta Moehringer, (Technical University of Munich, Germany)
Ability grouping in special classes has been shown to have strong effects for the academic achievement of high ability and gifted students (Goldring, 1990; Schneider et al, 2012; Brulles et al, 2010). However, the grouping of high-ability and gifted students has also been critically dis-cussed. Being labeled as gifted can cause negative effects on the psychosocial development of the students, because those students feel sometimes isolated (Freeman, 1983, 2006; Hertzog, 2003; Gross, 2004; Eddles-Hirsch et al, 2012).
This study investigates firstly, if students of special classes feel integrated in the year group of regular class students and secondly, which factors promote or impede the integration of those students.
The study-design is that of two interview studies with students, who are part of a special pro-gram. The students were taught in a special class but had also some of the lessons together with students of regular classes. In the first study, guideline-based interviews with 11 students of the first student group in that special program were conducted, in the second study, 14 stu-dents of the third student group two years later.
The interviews were analysed through qualitative content analysis (Mayring, 2010) on basis of Reiser’s (1984) theory of integrative processes. The used coding system focused on processes on four levels: on the intra-psychic, the interactional, the institutional and the social level.
Results showed that there are students who feel integrated and those who do not. In both cases reasons could be identified on all levels. Main reasons for being integrated seem to be the number of lessons together with students of regular classes and the sensitive dealing of teachers with the students.
The results support the conclusion that success and failure of integration processes depend on two main preconditions: open and unprejudiced attitude of teachers towards programs for gifted students and institutional framework conditions that allow contacts between different student groups easily.