Date of Conferral
Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)
Gifted middle school students may not always be provided with a differentiated curriculum that ensures their academic progression in inclusive educational settings. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine teachers' perspectives on differentiation for gifted students in the general education classroom. The conceptual framework for the study was anchored by the theories of Gardner, who recognized that students learn in different ways, and Vygotsky, who determined that students learn best at their level of learning or zone of proximal development. The research questions focused on teachers' perspectives about teaching the gifted students in the general classroom environment and how they were implementing differentiation for their gifted students. Participants included 7 general education teachers from a single middle school who taught students with mixed abilities. Data collection consisted of interviews with each teacher and a single observation in each teacher's classroom. Inductive analysis aided in the coding process. Open and axial coding were used to create labels and concepts, color coding for organization of the data, member checking for accuracy, triangulation, and peer review for validity. The results of the study indicated that teachers were willing to teach mixed-ability students in 1 classroom, but most teachers believed that gifted students should be taught in special gifted classes. Although teachers believed that differentiation was important, they were not implementing differentiation in their classrooms for gifted students. Social change implications include a deeper understanding by teachers and administration of the necessity for challenging and differentiated instruction. Recommendations are made for improvements in accommodations, appropriate strategies, and differentiated curriculum for middle school gifted students.