Is It Appropriate To Use Gifted Students as Role Models Only?

MYTH – Gifted students serving as role models raise student achievement for all learners.

Hmm, let’s think about this one for a moment.

This myth defies common sense, as well as the research in the field. Most adults and children feel more comfortable with their “equals”, or in this case intellectual peers than with others who demonstrate stronger abilities than they do. I mean, would you feel comfortable playing golf with a professional golf player when you only play occasionally?  I think not.

Classrooms are similar.  Average students typically prefer to take risks with intellectually similar peers, as opposed to the children who seem to have no problem understanding the material.  Likewise, most gifted students are more comfortable with intellectual peers when it comes to performing in the classroom setting.

Research studies that look at the impact of ability grouping indicated increases in achievement for all groups when they were grouped according to ability.  It is important to note, that grouping is flexible and can vary from activity to activity, or subject to subject – as opposed to tracking which implies a single track for all students based on a very narrow definition of potential (Gentry & Owen, 1999; Neihart, 2007). The research not only indicates positive academic outcomes, but positive social outcomes for our gifted kids, something that is truly in our kids best interest.

What are your thoughts on this?       

3 thoughts on “Is It Appropriate To Use Gifted Students as Role Models Only?

  1. “This myth defies common sense, as well as the research in the field. Most adults and children feel more comfortable with their “equals”, or in this case intellectual peers than with others who demonstrate stronger abilities than they do. ”

    One of the things my parents did consistently during my childhood was to compare me to “so-and-so” and ask me why I could not achieve on the level that they were on and I hated it. Such are the trials and tribulations of being the first born I suppose.

    Good post.

    DS

  2. laurie

    My daughter was constantly put in to project groups with kids who had low motivation and didn’t work well in groups because the teacher thought she would be a good influence. That didn’t work and she finally asked the teacher to look at the record, recognize that fact, and move her to a group which was motivated to succeed. A 12-year-old gifted student should not be used as a classroom management tool.

  3. The only problem I have is the actual implementation of the flexibility caveat. Let’s say you group students into 4 groups for math. Theoretically, the top group should move the fastest through the material; the bottom group the slowest. But, let’s say you misidentified the levels for some of the students. It is easy to move the kids down a level, but much harder to move students up. The proverbial “gaps” are much more likely to come into play. While the student has been in group B, group A has moved through more material. Perhaps s/he would have been fine in group A at the beginning of the grouping, but the longer you wait to move him/her up, the more material that has to be made up. If you contend that this material can be made up fairly quickly, the logical conclusion is that the top group could have moved faster.

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