Classroom Mixtures for the Gifted- Homogeneous or Heterogeneous?
John H. Holloway in his article, “Grouping Gifted Students”, looks at research to the question of whether or not gifted students can receive effective instruction in the regular classroom. He wants to know if researchers agree with Lisa Benson, a classroom teacher, who says no. Her reasoning is the gifted students become frustrated especially if they have a high degree of creativity and resources are not available in the regular classroom.
Holloway first looks at the question from the homogeneous versus heterogeneous grouping perspective. From this perspective two researchers, Renuzulli and Mesler, found that the regular (heterogeneous) classroom could serve the gifted students. Renuzulli suggested that teachers would need special training or access to specialists. The four other researches cited found homogenous grouping was better for gifted students. Burns and Mason found this was true because “the higher ability classes received better instruction or had higher ability teachers and benefited from high-ability classmates” (p.89). In another research, Rogers concluded that gifted students need some form of ability grouping to broaden and extend their curriculum. Shields found that homogeneous grouping had a positive effect on the attitudes of the gifted and how they felt about themselves as learners and the school experience. The study by Gentry, Rizza, and Owen expressed concern that there was little differentiation for the gifted students in the heterogeneous classroom.
The research of mixed-ability group options was next looked at by Holloway. Tomlinson’s research says the gifted can receive effective instruction in a differentiated classroom. However, she also sites modifications to be made for the gifted learner such as “more advanced reading or research material, calling on them think at a deeper level of complexity, and asking them to use more advanced skills.” (p. 90) Even after these modifications her research suggested that schools would still need to provide a variety of services and learning options. Lloyd suggested the grouping in a multi-age classroom had positive effects on the gifted students because teachers were more likely to look at the student as an individual
Holloway then cites at an interview of Sternberg in which Sternberg says there are other things to consider in the education of the gifted. First look at the various types of gifts students may have. Second, giftedness should be looked at as a process instead of a state. Third, look past the backgrounds of students.
Holloway ends with a summarization that both homogeneous and mixed ability classrooms can work. It is up to each school to decide what is best for the gifted students in their student body.
While reading this article I, too, was curious on whether researchers agreed with Lisa Benson. My first question was, however, what was the author’s definition of a regular classroom? In...