Unwrapping Giftedness: How Mothers of Elementary School-aged Children Assessed as Intellectually Gifted Make Meaning of the Gifted Construct and Participate in Educational Decision Making

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Title: Unwrapping Giftedness: How Mothers of Elementary School-aged Children Assessed as Intellectually Gifted Make Meaning of the Gifted Construct and Participate in Educational Decision Making
Authors: Orders, Shari A.
Date: 2012
Abstract: This qualitative study was designed to explore the experiences and perceptions of a group of mothers whose elementary school-aged children met the criteria for intellectual giftedness in an Ontario school board. Guided by Beach and Mitchell’s image theory and Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory, the study sought to identify (a) the meanings mothers ascribed to the concept of giftedness, (b) their experiences of the assessment, identification and placement process, and (c) the factors deemed important to educational decision making. A postpositivist orientation and rigorous qualitative research methods were employed. Data were collected in two phases: an internet-based survey comprised of demographic items and open ended questions, followed by in-depth interviews with five purposefully selected participants. Resultant data from 45 surveys and 15 interviews were coded and organized according to the survey questions and central elements of the theoretical framework. Eight research findings revealed that the experience of mothering gifted children was complex, challenging, emotional, and at times, isolating. Many mothers struggled with the concept of giftedness and how it pertained to their children. As mothers navigated the assessment, identification and placement process, the lack of accessible, timely, and consistent information from the school board posed a considerable barrier, prompting many to reach out to other parents of gifted children for information and support. Factors deemed important to decision making about educational placement included maternal perceptions related to the various options, child specific and practical considerations, and the attainability of specialized gifted programming. Educational decision making was identified as the most difficult aspect of the maternal experience. Given that the study participants were unusually well educated and well resourced, the findings were particularly revealing. The study findings add to a small but growing body of research that furthers our understanding of image theory in real life decision making. In addition, the findings give voice to the experience of mothering children identified as gifted, thus making a valuable and original contribution to the literature.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/22705
http://dx.doi.org/10.20381/ruor-5589
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -
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