Developing a framework for gifted education in Lebanon

2017-02-24T01:51:02Z (GMT) by Antoun, Maya
This thesis explores Lebanese teachers’ perceptions and educational provision for gifted children in Lebanese primary schools. After conducting a comprehensive review of literature relating to existing research in gifted education and empirical work on teaching gifted children, the dearth of research in this area within Lebanon became apparent, and the current study was designed to fill this gap. The study investigates primary school teachers’ perceptions of the nature and needs of gifted students and their ability to implement specialised approaches for these students. Two hundred and eighty one Lebanese primary teachers provided information regarding their attitudes and beliefs about the characteristics of gifted students and their associated teaching practices. The results of the current study provide new insights into how giftedness and talent development are perceived and responded to within the Lebanese educational context. These understandings helped inform the development of a culturally appropriate conceptual framework, derived from Gagné’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent. It addresses how the broader socio-economic cultural context within Lebanon appears to have influenced teachers’ perceptions and practices and the choices made in terms of gifted provision in classrooms. A mixed methods approach utilising case study methodology was used to gather quantitative and qualitative data from public and private teachers in both English-medium and French-medium schools in North, Mount Lebanon and Beirut (the capital) governorates of Lebanon. The quantitative component of the study involved a self-devised survey including a section from a previously validated and widely used instrument (Gagné & Nadeau, 1985) on the characteristics of gifted students and gifted provision, which was completed by 281 teachers. The qualitative component focused on 12 of the survey participants and involved individual semi-structured interviews and classroom observations with each of these teacher participants. Gagné’s (2003) model of talent development served as the primary conceptual framework for this study, and proved useful in illustrating the multiple and complex areas of influence – both catalysts and barriers – that are present in the talent development process for gifted students in Lebanon. The findings indicated that the majority of teachers generally held positive perceptions toward gifted students and their education. However, there was also an acknowledgement of reservations amongst primary school teacher participants in relation to offering special services for the gifted within the regular classroom, particularly where ability grouping and acceleration options were concerned. Yet both of these options are promoted in the literature as particularly beneficial for gifted students. Despite these reservations, participants considered the gifted to be a valuable resource for Lebanese society and perceived that they were reasonably well catered for within the Lebanese school system. The analysis illustrated that there was an overall lack of awareness by teacher participants of practices that have been identified in international research, as appropriate and effective for identifying and providing for gifted students. The findings of this study revealed a focus by teachers on students’ academic achievement, rather than the broader conceptualisations of giftedness and talent development, which now underpin most definitions of this construct, particularly in the Western world Overall, it would seem likely that Lebanese teachers’ perceptions of giftedness and educational provision for the gifted are impacted by the culture and context in which they work and live. By specifically addressing this topic, this study makes a distinct contribution to the current literature both in relation to understanding teachers’ perceptions and discovering how they are responding to the educational needs of their gifted students. This will be of particular interest to schools, practitioners and to policy makers. A major contribution of this thesis is a set of recommendations for a new Lebanese framework for gifted primary school programs. The framework aims to provide guidance for teachers so that they can more appropriately provide for highly able/gifted students within regular classrooms.