Young Americans must be equipped, both individually and collectively, with the 21st century skills, critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity, in order to thrive in the global landscape which lies before them. Little political or economic capital is devoted to maximizing academic opportunities for gifted secondary learners. Limiting opportunities for children and youth with the potential for performing at remarkably high levels of accomplishment, deprives them of their right to an appropriate education and wastes a national resource. Recognizing that limited capital often circumscribes schools in their ability to provide special programs, the researcher proffers debate, a course within the standard curriculum, as an avenue to providing gifted secondary learners with depth, breadth and complexity while accelerating the development of critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
The threefold purpose of the study was to a) establish debate as a viable platform for providing the depth, breadth, and complexity needed by gifted secondary learners while developing critical thinking; b) examine the self-reported attitudes, principles and practices of AP-trained teachers, those most likely to have gifted students, related to 21st century skills, particularly critical thinking, the needs of gifted learners, and debate’s ability to meet those needs, and; c) examine the effects of 6 independent variables, area of AP training, school size, community size and the presence or absence of three salient factors, teacher training in gifted education, debate in the school and special programs in the school for gifted learners upon teacher attitudes.
Results. A long history of empirical study confirms debate’s efficacy at developing the 21st century skills, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Survey results for a sample of 202 AP teachers indicated greatest importance is allocated to challenge and critical thinking and least importance to standardized testing. Area of AP training had no significant effect on AP teachers’ strong agreement that disruptions and too much test emphasis act as impediments to the development of critical thinking. There are significant differences between AP training groups in critical thinking development and assessment methods, communication, collaboration, and belief in the efficacy of debate. School and community size did not act as factors. Teacher self-reporting on the presence or absence of debate in their schools, the presence or absence of special programs for gifted learners in their schools, and their own special training in gifted education was substantially different from data available from the State Department of Education and from the chairman of the state chapter of the National Speech and Debate Association, therefore, no conclusions regarding the effects of those three independent variables could be drawn.
|Advisor:||Robinson, Ann E., Hughes, Gail D.|
|Commitee:||Giese, Jon M., Lowery, Kendra, Pearson, Carolyn L.|
|School:||University of Arkansas at Little Rock|
|School Location:||United States -- Arkansas|
|Source:||DAI-A 78/04(E), Dissertation Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Gifted Education, School administration, Secondary education|
|Keywords:||Advanced placement, Critical thinking, Debate|
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