Using Assessment and Feedback
Teachers dealing with gifted and talented students are always faced with the challenge of keeping such students challenged in class in the learning process. Due to their above-average academic prowess, the gifted and talented students tend to get bored to death in class because they already know most of the course content being taught in class (Woodring, 2012). Therefore, there is a need for the teacher to adopt a strategy that ensures the continuous academic progress of these students without forcing them to tag along with the less gifted students in the class (Woodring, 2012).
Performance assessment is an alternative way of conducting evaluation in class. It is a deviation from the normal way of evaluation where students are required to choose an answer from an already prepared list (Woodring, 2012). Performance assessment helps the teacher to get a clear depiction of the actual abilities of the students in terms of what they already know and what they can apply from the course content. Performance assessment involves the students being asked to perform a task. These tasks include experiments, answering open ended questions, extended tasks that take long hours and doing working out mathematical problems (Skline, 2012). In this case, no single answer is correct hence the students are required to be actively involved in a thought process after which the quality of their work can reflect the level of talent (Fountain, 2013).
In order to achieve the desired outcome, the performance assessment measures must be tailored alongside certain requirements (Gamble, 2008). First, it must involve the students in a creative task rather than a selection based task. Secondly, it must be linked to a standard observation measure to evaluate the ability of the student to practically apply what is learnt in class in real life situations (Woodring, 2012). Lastly, it must involve the student in a progressive path of learning with increasing levels of complexity along the course.By the end of the performance assessment the student should have acquired flexible knowledge of the course content, operational problem solving ability, team work skills and self-sourced motivation (Heacox, 2002).
Performance assessment can be done in two steps; pre-assessment and post-assessment. Pre-assessment is the initial step and it is intended to find out what content the student already knows. It is done before the teacher introduces a certain topic as an advance strategy to identify the students who need advance tutoring (Gamble, 2008). It is a blueprint to help the teacher to formulate differentiated instruction content to ensure that the talented students do not have to tag along the other less talented students (Skline, 2012). Following the pre-assessment, the course content is tailored to meet the students’ abilities and talents. This is known as differentiated instruction (Woodring, 2012).
Differentiated instruction is an effective learning tool that involves the modelling of the course material based on the individual abilities of different students (Fountain, 2013). Students with the similar academic abilities are grouped in the same group. They are then given the relevant material at that level of talent. When they have established mastery of the course material at that level, they are then introduced to advanced material (Skline, 2012).Differentiated instruction aids in dealing with talented and gifted students so that they do not become bored and underachieve (Heacox, 2002). This ability to take care of all students’ needs forms the core strength of this strategy. However this strategy is time intensive because more students require more attention than others hence it is more tasking to the teacher. However, the advantages overshadow these limitations (Gamble, 2008).
Additional advantages of differentiated instruction are that it helps the teacher to evade schooling the students on the content they already know (Woodring, 2012). Secondly, students displaying slow uptake of the course content can move freely to other groups with individuals of the same academic prowess. Also, differentiated instruction inspires creativity among the students. In addition to this, it acts as a source of motivation to unmotivated learners because they do not feel left behind in class lessons (Fountain, 2013). Also, differentiated instruction places the ownership of the learning process in the hands of the student. In this way, it stirs motivation from within the student such that they take their own initiative in the learning process (Gamble, 2008).
The second step in performance assessment is post-assessment. This step involves determining the content that the student has acquired after the session of differentiated instruction. This content is known as the product of a lesson (Gamble, 2008). Therefore, post-assessment is used as a feedback strategy to gauge the success of the differentiated instruction measures. The data from the pre-assessment stage is useful in this stage (Woodring, 2012). By comparing the data from the pre-assessment stage with the data from the post-assessment stage, the teacher can easily determine whether the intended objectives have been realized (Heacox, 2002).
Post-assessment can be done by the use of specially formulated open-ended questions, evaluating experimental results, rubrics and the use of diverse presentations of the same assessment test (Skline, 2012). The feedback from differentiated instruction is in turn used by the teacher to determine how effective the differentiated instruction intervention is. The feedback from a class can also be used to tailor the differentiated instructions for the next class. This feedback can be used by the teachers as an indicator of what needs to be changed in the current differential instruction model (Fountain, 2013).
Fountain, H. (2013). Differentiated instruction in art. worchester: Davis publications.
Gamble, R. E. (2008). REACH: a framework for differentiating classroom instruction. preventing school failure, 2(52), 31-48.
Heacox, D. (2002). Differentiating instruction in the regular classroom. Minneapolis: Free Spirit Publishing Inc.
Skline. (2012). Differentiating Instruction for Gifted Students in the Reglar Classroom. Retrieved july 12, 2014, from A Bright Hub Education Web site: http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-gifted-students/64953-differentiated-instruction-to-reach-gifted-learners-in-the-mainstream-classroom
Woodring, J. (2012, February 11). Using Pre-assessments and Differentiated Instruction for Gifted Students . Retrieved July 12, 2014, from A John Woodring Class Writtings Website: http://www.jnwinclass.blogspot.nl/2012/02/Using-Pre-assessments-and-Differentiated-Instruction-for-Gifted-Students.html