Effect of students' behavioral characteristics on teachers' referral decisions in gifted education
Research shows that biases exist in regard to teacher nominations for gifted programs in the areas of student gender, ethnicity, and SES. On the other hand, there is a lack of research regarding behavioral characteristics of the student and the impact of those characteristics on teacher nominations to a gifted program. Additionally, there is a paucity of research that has examined the collective impact of behavioral characteristics of the student in conjunction with other student attributes such as gender, ethnicity, SES, and teacher nominations to gifted programs. For purposes of this study, the behavioral characteristics discussed were positive and negative gifted characteristics found in the literature. This was a quantitative research study using survey research where participants were asked to read and respond to a case vignette. Participants were 633 elementary education teachers from two mid-size school districts in the Southeastern United States. Each participant was randomly assigned one of 16 case vignettes. Eight of the vignettes depicted a student displaying positive gifted characteristics, while the other eight depicted a student displaying negative gifted characteristics. The other student characteristics of gender, ethnicity, and SES were interchangeable among the 16 vignettes. The results of this study show that the student's behavior does play a significant role in the teacher's nomination decision for the gifted program. Results indicated students displaying positive gifted characteristics were three times more likely to be nominated to a gifted program than a student exhibiting negative gifted characteristics. When stratified by various student characteristics (i.e. gender, ethnicity, and SES), teacher nominations were significantly associated with student behavior, with students exhibiting positive gifted characteristics more likely to be nominated than those displaying negative gifted characteristics.