Self-Determination Theory: A Link Between Challenging Education and Optimal Learning Environments to Motivate Gifted Students. Paper
Greet de Boer
Author(s): Greet C De Boer (University of Groningen, the Netherlands), Marie-Christine J. L. Opdenakker, (GION, University of Groningen, the Netherlands), Alexander E. M. G. Minnaert, (University of Groningen, the Netherlands)
Despite all efforts of schools and teachers to better align their curriculum and teaching to the needs of gifted students, educational practice shows that gifted students are not engaged with learning in school. Recommendations for challenging education for gifted and talented students are usually characterized by differentiation in learning contents and learning paths, like offering enrichment tasks or acceleration. In addition literature shows many recommendations for teacher characteristics and competencies for educating gifted students, like offering challenging tasks, stimulating higher order thinking etc. And, although research stress the importance of students’ perception of their learning environment, there seems to be less attention for the effects of the learning environments teachers create in their classes in relation to challenge and motivate gifted students.
Fostering environmental motivation is an important key issue in the Self-Determination Theory (SDT) (Opdenakker & Minnaert, 2011)). According to this theory students should remain motivated for school and engage in school task when the learning environment support the fulfillment of their needs to feel autonomous, competent and related. In this presentation we discuss the results of an evaluation study on Dutch schools with a Gifted Profile (N=25) concerning teacher characteristics and competencies for teaching gifted students in relation to the SDT (DeBoer, Brakke & Minnaert, 2013). Chan’s (2001, 2011) questionnaire of teacher characteristics and competencies, based on Feldhusen (1977), was administered on teachers (n=280), students (n=227) and parents (n=320) in the Netherlands. Based on factor analysis we found a striking similarity between those characteristics and competencies and the key issues in the SDT. Implications for policy and teacher education will be discussed.