Macquarie University
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Leading differentiated learning for the gifted

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posted on 2022-03-28, 19:53 authored by Manoj Chandra Handa
The purpose of the study was to investigate teachers’, principals’, and students’ attitudes towards giftedness and their perceptions of differentiated practices for gifted learners. Differentiation for the gifted is critical to meet their unique learning needs. To date, however, no research has investigated the phenomenon of differentiated learning for the gifted through the combined perspectives of teachers, principals, and gifted students. Undertaking research through the perspectives of key stakeholders is important because school-wide differentiation requires a shared, collective approach at systems level. The present study addresses these concerns by analysing teachers’ perceptions of giftedness and their own teaching practices for gifted learners; by comparing these perceptions with those of students and principals; and by asking principals about their leadership actions for school-wide differentiation. Participants included 867 teachers, 120 principals, and 802 students from government schools in Sydney, Australia. A mixed-method approach was used. Online questionnaires were administered to assess teachers’, principals’, andstudents’ perceptions of differentiated practices. Next, student-teacher interviews, codesigned by Years 5-12 gifted student “co-researchers” (n = 38), were conducted to investigate teachers’ (n = 32) pedagogical strategies. Finally, case studies with four principals, nominated for their exemplary leadership, were used to develop a deeper understanding of effective school-wide approaches to gifted education at the leadership level. Results revealed that teachers’ positive attitudes towards gifted learners and their self-reported use of pedagogical approaches for the gifted were significantly higher for teachers who worked with gifted learners, held qualifications or positions of responsibility, and engaged in professional learning in educating the gifted. In contrast, years of general teaching experience had significantly less influence on teachers’ attitudes towards gifted learners and their pedagogical approaches for the gifted. More experienced teachers, however, were found to be more supportive of the provision of acceleration than less experienced teachers. Significant differences were also found between students’ and teachers’ perceptions of differentiated pedagogical strategies, classroom engagement, and the qualities of an effective teacher; and between principals’ and teachers’ perceptions of differentiated practices for educating the gifted. Finally, findings from the case studies revealed that exemplary principals aim to continually enhance their understanding of differentiated learning for gifted students, to build the collective capacity of teachers for educating the gifted, and to enable gifted students’ voices for enhancing teaching and increasing student engagement. Taken together, the study’s findings indicated the need for ongoing professional learning of principals and teachers in gifted education, and greater student voice to transform learning and teaching and foster school reform. The findings also highlighted the need for stronger pedagogical congruence between principals and teachers for unified approaches to leading and educating the gifted. To achieve this strong congruence, specific leadership actions for school-wide differentiation are discussed.


Table of Contents

Abstract -- Declaration -- Acknowledgements -- Chapter 1. Introduction -- Chapter 2. Conceptualising learner-centred differentiated learning -- Chapter 3 Teachers' attitudes and perceptions -- Chapter 4. Gifted students' voices, perceptions and perspectives -- Chapter 5. Principals' perceptions, understanding, and leadership actions for differentiated learning of the gifted -- Chapter 6. Method -- Chapter 7. Results: teachers' attitudes and perceptions -- Chapter 8. Results: gifted students' perceptions and perspectives -- Chapter 9. Results: Principals' perceptions, understanding, and self-reported leadership actions for differentiated learning of the gifted -- Chapter 10. Discussion -- Chapter 11. Conclusion -- References -- Appendix A. Ethics Approval -- Appendix B. Teachers survey -- Appendix C. Scree plot of the three factors solution for teachers' attitudes to and perceptions of the giftedness and education of the gifted -- Appendix D. Standardised coefficients for CFA model of teachers' attitudes to and perceptions of giftedness and the education of the gifted -- Appendix F. Scree plot of the three factors solution for teachers' perceptions of differentiated pedagogical strategies for educating the gifted -- Appendix G. Principal survey -- Appendix H. student survey -- Appendix I. Supplememtary students-teacher interview questions -- Appendix J. Principals interview questions -- Appendix K. Teachers' attitudes to and perceptions of gifitedness and gifted learners according to mean value of responses -- Appendix L. Teachers' perceptions of differentiated pedagogical strategies -- Appendix M. Percentile scores for Principals' and Teachers' perceptions of differentiated Pedagogical strategies -- Appendix N. Northern Sydney Region 2012-2014 plan.


Theoretical thesis. Bibliography: pages 282-345

Awarding Institution

Macquarie University

Degree Type

Thesis PhD


PhD, Macquarie University, Faculty of Human Sciences, School of Education

Department, Centre or School

School of Education

Year of Award


Principal Supervisor

Penny Van Bergen


Copyright Manoj Chandra Handa 2016. Copyright disclaimer:




New South Wales


1 online resource (379 pages)

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