I declare that the content of this dissertation is my original work and has not been presented to any other institution for an award of a qualification.
I also maintain that whenever any secondary material was consulted, relevant guidelines for quotations and citations have been followed.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURESLIST OF TABLESLIST OF ACRONYMS AND ABBREVIATIONSACKNOWLEDGEMENTI thank my advisors for their constant moral support as well as their contribution towards establishing this dissertation.
I am also grateful for the support I have received from my family and friends in the course of my career.
CHAPTER 1.0: INTRODUCTION
Education in the United Arabs Emirates has evolved considerably from the ages when students were instructed in the same way using the same arithmetic, writing and reading. Efficacy and differentiation is commonly used in education with noticeable increase on the utilization of these concepts, but they remain elusive in too many cases. It is estimated that about 38% of gifted education in UAE occur in primary, middle secondary and vocational schools (Program, 2004). Educationists have become concerned about why students who are not gifted do not receive optimum education in a normal classroom, placing more emphasis on subgroups of students who underperform in the main population. There has been no focus on students who perform above the normal critical threshold. Willard-Holt (2003) encourage that differentiation strategies need to be employed to meet gifted students needs in a regular classroom. As a conscious decision of teachers new instruction practices implementation is deemed essential, making it easy to understand the factors explaining reasons new strategies may be implemented while at the same time other people implement instructional strategies used before new methods became widespread. Past studies have pointed out diverse factors, which influence decision of teachers whether or not new strategies should be implemented such as the manner in which new strategies should be presented the moment it is introduced in training, the implementation cost based on the effort and time of the teacher and correspondence with the existing practices of teaching (Ponder and Doyle, 1977). Sparks, 1988 suggested factors that affect the decision making process of teachers; the difficulty of utilizing the practice and the innovation perceived importance. This research assessed teacher efficacy as a factor that impact the willingness of teachers in differentiating instruction content, process and product of gifted students in a regular classroom. Though this topic has been investigated in the past, it may be pertinent the investigated topics are related to the changing educational climate brought by the students recognized as gifted receiving services in a classroom. To gain insights on human factors, which influence teachers to differentiate instruction for students for students who are gifted, school administrators need to promote differentiated instruction and design staff development programs. A differentiated teacher need to plan the instructions founded on students but not on pre-planned fixed curriculum. Teachers need to understand that students are not the same and differ in many perspectives to allow them design and prepare curriculums based on the interests of students and the ability to use diverse channels of offering the lessons with diverse difficulty. Acknowledging the significance of differentiated instruction in diverse classrooms in UAE, the present study aimed to investigate the efficacy and differentiation of instruction for gifted students in a regular classroom in UAE.
The implementation of the Child protection Act has focused essentially on teaching strictly in the area of expertise by teachers, standards, accountability of teachers, and closing the gaps in within the population (special education students, low socioeconomic populations, minority students). There is a concern for students not able to meet the minimal learning expectations with little concern on students who excel past the minimal threshold in UAE. There has been no incentive and inspiration for students who have attained or exceeded proficiency.
The Child protection Act and Differentiation
To discuss student education at any level, it would be careless not to mention the effects of The Child Protection Act and the Federal Law No. 29/2006 on the Rights of Students having Special Needs, and the general rules and principles of special education programs. Van Tassel-Baska and Stambaugh (2005) states that due to a push for accountability, teachers are pressured to increase the scores of students and meet the needs of classrooms that ever reflects the increasing diversity. The challenges that prevent the provision of appropriate instructions influence gifted students. There may be a number of challenges that are associated with gifted students; for instance, lack of mandate by the government to provide service support for gifted students and negative attitudes by teachers focused on gifted students. Research has indicated that few differentiation strategies are provided in regular classrooms. The lack of differentiated instruction in UAE is further complicated because there is no monitoring of teachers systematically, especially when working with gifted students. More research provides that there is little differentiation being offered t gifted students, a pattern that has remained unchanged for over a decade in UAE despite efforts of personal development.
Gifted Students in Regular Classroom
Approximately 32% in primary and students and middle secondary and 35% of vocational gifted students receive their education in regular classroom. Renault, 2002 describe that students who are gifted are able to succeed in regular classrooms as long as teachers are specialized in teaching gifted students or the students are able to access specialists who provide assistance either in classroom r at their residence. Renault further warned that without the services of specialist in teaching students who are gifted in regular classrooms, they always become a smoke screen that bright students get more work and extra assignment based on didactic and traditional learning models. Gifted students may seriously be under served without specialized learning models and personnel. Students who are gifted are commonly taught using the same standards in teaching all other students in regular classrooms (Willard-Holt, 2003). Willard-Holt further claim that the standard in UAE does not challenge gifted students. The performance and motivation of gifted students reduces after prolonged exposure to a curriculum that is not challenging enough. This scenario is a concern as schools look to trim the budgets, for example, cutting special services like gifted. A number of differentiation strategies need to be employed so as to meet the needs of gifted students, for example; multilevel learning stations, tiered assignments, product choices, flexible grouping and curriculum compacting.
Impediments to Differentiation
According to VanTassel-Baska and Stambaugh (2005), there are a number of impediments to educating gifted students in UAE. In Ineffective teaching in UAE is attributed to lack of knowledge on the subject matter. The situation may be improving duet to the call of the Federal Law No. 29/2006 on the Rights of Students having Special Needs for teachers to be highly qualified. Another area of concern is teachers having limited management kills in the classroom. The development of teachers on differentiation need to include training in management skills in classroom. As long as students who are gifted are not offered similar basic information, they may not be able to perform assessments of the state. Earlier studies in UAE have indicated that teachers against special provision for gifted students are not against special provisions guaranteed to students having athletes and sports ability. Such negative characteristics undermine effective differentiation and professional development efforts. Carrington and Bailey, 2005 carried out a study in the states of Dubai, Sharjah and Ajman and provided that gifted students were least preferred by their teachers compared to other groups of students. Teachers have also cited the problem in planning time, lack of utilizing and finding resources and lack of support from administration for differentiating practices. However, much impediments is seen in the lack of training among practicing and pre-training teachers. Measuring the needs for development of teachers with gifted students in differentiation instructions is essential when there is a high teacher turnover because differentiation strategies that can be used by a beginning teacher in education carrier.
Irrespective of geographical regions in UAE, minor modifications can be made for primary, middle secondary and vocational graders in regular classrooms. Teachers spend their instructional time to prepare for state mandated tests that may have a negative effect on differentiation for gifted students. Both experienced and pre-service teachers having high efficacy are more likely to experiment with teaching methods and teaching materials more that teachers who are less efficacious. Self-efficacy in a teacher scenario is referred to as the belief that teachers are able to impact the achievement of a student even in situations that challenge and unmotivated students (Tschannen-Moran & Hoy, 2001).The beliefs of self-efficacy are important to behavioral change (Henson, 2001) thus teachers having high efficacy levels look to change behaviors.
Research has found that experience and pre-service teachers having high levels of efficacy experiment more with teaching methods and materials more than teachers with low levels of efficacy. Self-efficacy is referred to as teachers belief of having the capability of impacting achievement of students in challenged and unmotivated situations. Implementing instructional innovations need doth significant and minor changes in instructions including different instructional strategies and new curriculum. The changes that are essential in maintaining and implementing mastery learning needs minimal transformation in instructional procedures utilized by teachers. Henson (2001) has shown that teachers with high level of efficacy experiment more with teaching methods and teaching materials. However, there is no evidence depicting the claims generalize gifted students teachers using different differentiation strategies. The study by Westberg and Daoust (2003) however indicate that teachers having passed through staff development show no increase in the use of differentiated strategies for gifted students. Thus, idea of one-size-fits-all instruction has been criticized by researchers in UAE and a number of studies has proved the efficacy of different strategies of differentiation on achievement of gifted students. However, a number of teachers in UAE use traditional teaching methods with a little or no in-cooperation of differentiation instructions in regular classrooms. Since some teachers use traditional teaching methods and have negative attitude towards gifted students, this may endanger effective strategies of differentiation and prevent professional development efforts. This impact teachers efficacy in providi...
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