Why should open-ended investigations be used for gifted and talented students?

An extract from ‘Independent Research
and the Science and Technology K-6 Syllabus’, NSW Department of Education &Training, 2007

Independent research projects or open-ended investigations can provide gifted students with the opportunity to pursue an area of interest to a depth that matches their level of ability. Many highly gifted children develop “transfer components” – the skills required for generalizing concepts from one context to another – to a high degree (Gross, 1998). Open-ended investigations allow gifted students to make these connections and to draw on their greater skill base.

The choice of activity depends on the learning outcome to be achieved. The degree of openness depends on the amount of teacher input into determining the topic, choosing equipment and directing the investigation. Independent research projects or open-ended investigations are designed to be student-centred but can be flexible in this regard.

Open-ended investigations are beneficial for all students but are
particularly suited to meeting the needs of gifted and talented students. They
allow gifted students to move beyond the core curriculum and give them
opportunities to:

· be involved in long term-projects where they can develop goal setting and organisational strategies

· pursue an area of passion and develop their own initiative

· develop problem-solving skills and their creativity

· view science and technology from different perspectives.

Students should be assessed for the degree of assistance they require. This is a dynamic process with teacher and student entering into a dialogue about the course of the project. Students should be involved in the choice of
topic in an area of interest as this encourages motivation and persistence in the face of obstacles (Hackling, 1998).

 

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