In the context of political and cultural educational change, this research
examined how a professional development programme in gifted education was effective in changing the perceptions and practices of Lithuanian teachers to utilise more comprehensive criteria for the identification of gifted children. The research addressed two main research questions:
(1) How have the perceptions of giftedness changed for Lithuanian
teachers following a professional development programme in gifted
education at Kaunas Technological University?
(2) How did the teachers at a Lithuanian basic school who attended the
professional development implement a gifted student identification
procedure at their school?
The objective of the professional development programme was for Lithuanian teachers to collaborate on a definition and list of characteristics of giftedness in order to design a gifted student identification process. Qualitative evidence for perceptions of giftedness, gathered from pre-and post-surveys, interviews and questionnaires, indicated that these Lithuanian teachers changed their thinking
about giftedness and the identification of gifted learners. Mind Mapping was used to illustrate these conceptual and thematic changes. NVivo was then employed to validate the findings, analyse and code the data. Ninety one percent of Lithuanian teachers changed their thinking about giftedness after the professional development programme.
The second study used Fullan’s Four Stage Model of Educational Change to analyse the change process at a case study school. The case study school teachers who attended the professional development implemented a gifted student identification process. Qualitative methodologies involved observations, discussions, interviews, and study of written records and documentation. Journaling, audio and videotaping were used to record information. The case study school screening committee identified 26% of pupils as ‘gifted’ from parent-, teacher-, peer-, and self-nomination. Teachers said that they felt empowered to differentiate the curriculum for gifted pupils at their school. This research presents one of the first North American perspectives on gifted education in post-Soviet Lithuania.
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