Clearing Skies is a Queensland based support organisation for gifted students. Support is provided in person or online through the provision of counselling, resources, seminars and groups. There are multiple offerings for students, teachers and parents.
VTAC is the organisation that coordinates the applications for Victorian university or TAFE entry. There are specific dates that your students must comply with and there is a cost to do so. It is almost impossible to be accepted into university by any other method. It is important that your student and yourself read the site well as there are a lot of considerations and variations in the process.
This is a very clever tool which provides an over-view of all courses available in Victoria at university or TAFE. The links within the generated list enables you to find information about specific places and courses. It details private course providers as well.
The page includes a link to prerequisite and course explorer and to a page on interstate and IB subjects meeting Victorian prerequisites.
This is the site for the 2022 University Open Days. I will replace this link as the 2023 days start to be advertised.
It is important to check out several universities as a young student. The first time is to collect the free goodies and any information you like the look of. The second visit is to begin to focus in on the faculty and universities you are interested in. Talk to lectures if you feel confident and listen to current students. The third visit is to make a bee-line the to attend the talk on the courses and universities you are very interested in. Look at times on specific websites to coordinate your visits. Ask specific questions and find out what the code for the degree or course is so this can be written on the application form for VTAC. Enjoy the process and be brave.
SEAS Special Entry Access Scheme. This is a notification to the university you have applied to that there has been “difficult circumstances” during the student’s school career. It can include short- or long-term impact and requires supporting document for the claim to be valid. The greater the difficulty potentially the greater the adjustment to the ATAR outcome. It is worthwhile for all twice-exceptional students to put in an application for consideration. Applications can be for multiple categories.
There are some short youtube clips that are worth watching:
This is Deakin University's explanation of the Special entry access scheme for 2023. Be aware other universities will also offer this in other years we just like the way that Deakin University has explained the process here.
They also have an access scheme for performers and athletes. Look for similar in other universities.
We're not recommending the school but the document that they have put together. It succinctly explains the process and reasoning behind the early entry scheme. Twice-exceptionality can be a reason that you would be offered a place at university early.
This is another early entry system, Latrobe university explains early entry and the potential benefits of gaining your Duke of Edinburgh Award or being a St. Johns cadet.
Most universities have schemes like this so use this knowledge to explore other options.
There are multiple pathways through the final years of school and into further education. VCAA has provided downloadable information of the new alternative pathways in senior school in Victoria. Very relevant information to students who are wondering what to do in years 11 + 12
VCAA provides a list of VET subjects that can be taken and are scored. These will add to the eventual ATAR score received.
Please ensure that you check with your school to ensure you are registered for a course that is relevant, attainable and provides exactly the outcomes you think it does.
This is a useful means of beginning courses in year 10 that will enhance your outcome in year 12.
This website contains a series of webinars that Dr Michael Carr-Gregg recorded in 2020. These are useful for those approaching year 12 in the future though some areas of the website are specific to his sponsors there is enough of interest here.
You may also want to look at his study tips
This site is sponsored by Deakin University and well worth investigating, there is even a ATAR calculator provided. Aimed at parents but could be useful to students too.
This website has a useful set of stress management strategies designed for students. It provides a focus upon diet, sleep and exercise which some students may find condescending, even though they are useful.
VCAA Special Provision aims to provide students in defined circumstances with the opportunity to participate in and complete their secondary level studies.
Some students find it motivating to use the ATAR calculator as they move through year 11 and 12. There are multiple ATAR calculators available. Adding results from assessments, tests, assignments during the unit 3+4 studies may predict the ATAR achievable.
Monash Scholars is a prestigious program for high achieving secondary school students based in Victoria. The program is offered by Monash University to give high potential students a unique head start into university life. It provides opportunities for personal and academic development, as well as, giving students the knowledge, skills and confidence to make the right study choices. It also enables them to expand their network of like-minded peers.
The Kwong Lee Dow Young Scholars Program is an academic enrichment program designed to support high achieving Victorian Year 11 and Year 12, and select secondary students living close to the New South Wales and South Australian borders.
Scholars get the opportunity to experience university life and take part in a range of academic and personal development events and activities to help you achieve your best.
When you finish your secondary studies, you could also be offered a guaranteed place in an undergraduate degree, financial assistance to move to Melbourne, and an overseas scholarship during your studies.
VAGTC supports gifted students in Victoria through providing teacher and parent professional development through statewide online seminars. Unfortunately their website appears out of date, for more recent information check out their facebook page.
This website provides access to a wide range of podcasts which are conversations with experts, academics, teachers and people with lived experience of neurodiversity. As you listen your way through the content you will open yourself to a world of others who are experiencing journeys just like yours, and you will find that there is a community of people who understand and live similar challenges to yours.
The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) is an independent statutory authority with a vision to inspire improvement in the learning of all young Australians through world-class curriculum, assessment and reporting.This is where you find out about NAPLAN and other curriculum recommendations for schools. This will give you the understanding of what your school could be teaching your gifted child.
The Australian Curriculum sets the expectations for what all young Australians should be taught, regardless of their background or where they live.
There is a comprehensive provision of links, when available, to state and territory resources for gifted education in all three sectors of schooling.
Unfortunately the site is still referencing the Melbourne Declaration as opposed to the Alice Spring's Declaration. The Alice Springs (Mparntwe) Education Declaration https://www.education.gov.au/alice-springs-mparntwe-education-declaration is the current, 2022, document revising the educational goals for Australian students.
This website was managed for many years by our dear friend and colleague Jo Freitag. This website was where she has stored numerous articles and details of the projects that she undertook during her career of supporting gifted but especially twice-exceptional students. It is no longer updated but it still provides a valuable and eclectic view of where twice-exceptional education has come from in Australia.
This website is a gold mine of up-to-date information for anyone seeking a policy, a support group, a school etc for gifted education. It is also very regularly updated.
For example the following page looks at gifted programs, system support, associations, support groups, schools and universities which are proactive in gifted education for all Australian states & territories. This page links to multiple resources available within Australia.
New or updated information is highlighted with a yellow sticky note
References a few overseas organisations
The page below is useful for psychologists, teachers and parents who are wanting to understand the education theory jargon that may be used in relation to educating the gifted and twice-exceptional child.
This page brilliantly covers major theorists and their ideas of human development and learning. Information includes biographies, information, further sources and an increasing number of videos.
Within the website are many links to learning and teaching styles available for educators, researchers and parents.
This is the leading organisation for gifted education in Austrailia. It is a the umbrella body for the gifted and talented associations across the Austrlian states and territories.
It actively influences government policy and media representation of gifted and twice-exceptional eduction in Australia
The Gifted Support Network is a well established Melbourne based parent support group. The group is parent run and offers a range of social activities for parents and children which range from informal coffee mornings, kids activity days and speaker events.
To find out more go to:
The vast majority of students comprehend the education system and efficiently learn what is taught, in the manner it is taught. The student, who is able to conform, gains much from the school system; society is geared to accept the exiting student as a worthwhile member. Their behaviour, characteristics and success have become the expected norm for educated people.
Never-the-less there are a percentage of students who fall outside the norm. Many well-intentioned school staff still view such a student as the one who must change, adapt or leave. The result can become that difference is viewed as pathology and deemed to require treatment and modification by specialised experts (Baker 2018, Anwyk 2008). The powerful members within any environment use language (Bruner 1990, Lambie & Milsom 2010) to require change in the lesser members. In this life view a person is deemed to have become the pathological label applied by a professional; “He’s schizophrenic” He’s a psychopath”. The individual becomes a stereotypical explanation of the behaviour rather than an individual with a current mental health problem. This perception in turn restricts and reduces the individual’s chances of change or control in their life. He comes to view himself as flawed. This interpretation becomes the dominant narrative of the person’s life, “I’m depressed”, “I’m gifted”, “I’m dyslexic”, “I’m naughty”. The person is seen and sees himself as the problem as opposed to a concept created by people and social institutions around them (Lambie & Milsom 2010, Gibson & Kendall 2010). Instead, if the therapist or support person in conversation deconstructs this narrative, this ‘thin story’ of self, and builds an alternative story which views the difference as a positive strength, dramatic changes can occur. For example, by curiously wondering as part of the conversation (Lambie & Milsom 2010), “Is there ever a time when Dyslexia has helped you do a task?”. The dyslexia can become a superpower which generates and supports enhanced skills and abilities that are usable in the right circumstances as opposed to making an individual who fails because she can’t read or write well (Eide & Eide 2011, Gilmore &Boulton-Lewis 2009, Von Károlyi & Winner 2004).
Narrative Therapy is a relatively new form of counselling, yet one that reaches back into human history. It is dependent upon story telling. Oral stories are one of the methods humans have always used in order to come to terms with life and all its complexities. Using the same oral practises, in the 1990s Michael White and David Epston (Anwyk 2008, Morgan 2000) absorbed the modifications occurring in family therapy to increase the role of personal values and skills into the process of counselling. The resulting focus upon the hearing of the person’s own future story and the insistence that ‘the person is not the problem, the problem is the problem,’ has created a therapy that reverberates well with twice-exceptional and gifted students.
The therapy which can be formal or informal, is dependent upon a person being open and willing to actively listen to anything the young person shares and to recognise that the individual is the expert in their own lives (Volker 1999). Nobody else knows the person as well as they know themselves. Their personal values, ideas and ethics may be underdeveloped and difficult to explain but never-the-less elaboration and thickening of their beliefs is happening within all people. Any story is observed by a therapist using the narrative technique as a series of events, which are linked in sequence across time, according to a plot or manner of making sense of the events. The meaning attributed to the experiences influences the personal narrative. Humans constantly tell stories about themselves. For example, the student who refrains from hitting another or breaking something, will consider themselves as a “good person” as they gain positive responses and approval from others. This story becomes real and thicker as evidence is added by positive experiences and responses from significant others. Contrast the student with limited emotional control who is chastised, criticised or blamed by others who creates a different narrative. Their story is thickened too but the internal narrative is “I can’t control myself”, “I’m bad”, “People don’t like me”. The dominant narrative of the self for this student becomes one of worthlessness and resulting low self-esteem (Ronksley-Pavia & Townend 2017). This becomes the believed reality for that student; I am the problem. Subsequently, incidents that reinforce the story will be privileged over others that may be in contrast, as experiences become selected to endorse the student’s self-view.
The line in Figure 1 represents the dominant story with each X being an event that has occurred in the period being referenced. In order to have a narrative of “I’m bad” the student has to exclude the occasions that challenge that dominant belief. Narrative therapy turns the focus upon the alternate Xs and highlights the challenges to the story that have occurred. It seeks to find evidence for alternative glimmers of brightness which can be developed. Unless the assumptions are re-storied the dominant story will continue to influence behaviours, beliefs and reactions. The problem will become the person.
Gifted students in Australia may come to counselling as their differences mean they are falling outside the norm required by teachers. The young person is becoming a problem that needs fixing in order to conform to the school system. Giftedness in Australia is usually recognised via psychological intelligence testing or sometimes by outstanding performances, for example in music or sport. Through-out recent Australian history, young people with gifts in sport have been recognised, nurtured, placed in focused training programs and are cossetted from an early age. Being gifted in sport is acceptable in Australia. However, many other gifted young people are invisible as their gifts may not show up in academic tasks or be valued by society in someone so young. Students notice that they struggle with a standardised curriculum and schooling system which often fails to nurture their gifts and come to believe they are faulty. The Australian education system uses a model of giftedness which, in theory, responds to young people in the top 10% of any ranking of intellectual, creative, social or physical ability (Merrotsy 2017, Henderson 2018, Matters 2007, Kronborg 2018). Talent is subsequently considered to be the skill to achieve at a level in the top 10% in any area of human performance. It is assumed that talent emerges from innate giftedness via a complex progression of external opportunities, internal characteristics, chance and teaching (Gagné 2003, 2012). Currently this model has not developed into an identification policy despite many federal governments reviews suggesting that this be done (Australian government 2014, Commonwealth of Australia 2001, Education and Training Committee 2012, Gonski 2018, Southwick 2013). This lack of policy across Australia leaves many young people unable to access the supports they need. It is understood that many gifted students require an alternative path through the regular curriculum (Reis & Renzulli 2010, 1988) in order to develop their gifts and talents. Their personal struggle in the classroom becomes one where they cease to notice any other gifted peers, instead viewing themselves as failing in an environment others appear to manage easily. The student perceives their boredom, frustration or incomprehension of tasks and requirements to be something that is wrong with them. Others in the class seem content and managing the requirements, so it must be me that is wrong. Within a twice-exceptional student, who carries gifts and disability, this can become even more pronounced as they achieve in some areas and fail miserably in others (Olenchak 2009). The result often in them becoming very adept at only reporting the negative narrative (Ronksley-Pavia 2016).
Narrative Therapy using externalising of the problem and emotions by creating a persona for the problem or making the problem a noun is a fundamental tool for such a student. The student who introduces themselves as: “I’m Aimy, I’m dyslexic” has a very firm self-narrative which is likely to influence every interaction with schoolwork and teachers. Dyslexia is an ability that allows students to flourish when positively incorporated into academic subjects that are modified to access their strengths of pattern making, storytelling, visual spatial intelligence and empathy. Retelling the narrative as: “I am Aimy and I live with dyslexia” provides scope to influence the problem with the strengths of the student.
This type of conversation can occur whenever one individual has the knowledge of the externalising used regularly in narrative therapy conversations. Bringing the problem to the outside as a drawing or description of an entity enables a student to converse with the problem. The intense emotions can be examined and contained when they become personified. (Fraser 2003). In younger children this is particularly helpful as they readily accept the idea of talking with a stuffed toy or puppet. Older children prefer an image or likeness of an alien, monster, devil or even a character from fiction; Death Eaters, Cybermen, Loki or The Joker. The therapist is not to create a version of the problem, instead they should playfully wonder how the problem looks, feels and behaves. The problem is then interviewed to discover the influence it has on the young person (Lambie & Milsom 2010).
“How has Dyslexia effected your relationship with your friends?”
“Is there ever a time when Dyslexia has helped you do a task?”
Using Narrative Therapy to externalise the problem creates a means of dealing with the effects upon the young person. The consequence of the problem is then studied and managed in a way that makes the young person the supervisor of the problem. Gently and carefully advocacy skills are taught, self-efficacy is boosted, ownership is accentuated and self-esteem is raised. Only then, is the child ready to begin the process of managing the education system and releasing the belief that being different always equates to being a failure.
Australian government. (2014).Review of the Australian Curriculum. Retrieved 18/9/21 from https://docs.education.gov.au/documents/review-australian-curriculum-final-report
Anwyk, R., (2008). Narrative house: a metaphor for narrative therapy: tribute to Michael White. IFE PsyclzologIA 16.2. Retrieved 19/9/21 from https://www.ajol.info/index.php/ifep/article/view/23815
Baker, G.A., (2018). Gifted adolescent wellbeing: an Australian case study. Submitted in fulfilment of the requirement of the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. Queensland University of Technology 2018
Bruner, J. (1990). Acts of meaning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Commonwealth of Australia (2001).The Education of Gifted and Talented Children. Retrieved 18/9/21 fromhttps://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Education_Employment_and_Workplace_Relations/Completed_inquiries/1999-02/gifted/report/contents
Education and Training Committee. (2012). Inquiry into the education of gifted and talented students. Parliamentary paper No.108 Session 2010–2012. Retrieved from https://www.parliament.vic.gov.au/images/stories/committees/etc/Past_Inquiries/EGTS_Inquiry/Final_Report/Gifted_and_Talented_Final_Report.pdf
Eide, B. & Eide, F. (2011). The dyslexic advantage: Unlocking the hidden potential of the dyslexic brain. UK. Hay House.
Fraser, D.F.G., (2003). From the playful to the profound: What metaphors tell us about gifted children. Roeper Review; Summer 2003; 25, 4; 180
Gagne, F. (2003). Transforming gifts into talents: The DMGT as a developmental theory.In N. Colangelo & G.A. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education (3rd ed.). Boston: Allyn and Bacon
Gagné, F. (2012). Françoys Gagne's Twilight Seminar Presentation.[DVD]On March 26th 2012, Françoys Gagne presented a twilight seminar at Xavier college on behalf of the VAGTC. Retrieved from http://www.vagtc.asn.au/purchase-dvd-francoys-gagnes-twilight-seminar-presentation 25/09/13
Gibson, S. & Kendall, L., (2010) Stories from school: dyslexia and learners’ voices on factors impacting on achievement. Support for Learning
Gilmore, L. & Boulton-Lewis, G.M. (2009) “Just try harder and you will shine”: a study of 20 lazy children. Australian Journal of Guidance and Counselling, 19(2), 95-103.
Gonski, D. (2018). Through Growth to Achievement Report of the Review to Achieve Educational Excellence in Australian Schools. Retrieved 18/9/21 fromhttps://docs.education.gov.au/documents/through-growth-achievement-report-review-achieve-educational-excellence-australian-0
Henderson, L. C., (2018). Reflecting on the DMGT in the Australian context. The Australasian Journal of Gifted Education. 27 (1).
Kronborg, L. (2018). Gifted education in Australia and New Zealand. In S. I. Pfeiffer, E. Shaunessy-Dedrick, & M. Foley-Nicpon (Eds.), APA handbooks in psychology. APA handbook of giftedness and talent (p. 85–96). American Psychological Association. https://doi.org/10.1037/0000038-006
Lambie, G.W. & Milsom, A., (2010) A Narrative approach to supporting students diagnosed with dearning Disabilities. Journal of Counseling and Development : JCD; Spring 2010; 88, 2
Matters, P. N., (2007). Renzulli revisited: a practical application of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model in Australian contexts. Australasian Journal of Gifted Education. 16(2) 44-47.
Merrotsy, P., (2017). Gagne's differentiated model of giftedness and talent in Australian education. Australasian Journal of Gifted Education. 26(2) 29-42
Morgan, A., (2019) What is narrative therapy?: An easy-to-read introduction. Retrieved 18/9/21 from http://narrativetherapyworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/what-is-narrative-thrapy-alice-morgan.pdf
Olenchak, F. R. (2009). Effects of talents unlimited counseling on gifted/learning disabled students. Gifted Education Intonational 25, pp 144-164
Reis, S.M. & Renzulli, J.S. (2010). The Schoolwide enrichment model: A Focus on student strengths and interests. In Renzulli, Gubbins, McMillen, Eckert, Little & Hava Vidergor, Systems & Models for Developing Programs for the Gifted and Talented. Prufrock Press.
Renzulli, J. (1988). A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships—Developing the Gifts and Talents of All Students. Retrieved fromhttps://gifted.uconn.edu/schoolwide-enrichment-model/rising_tide/
Ronksley-Pavia, M., (2016). The lived experiences of twice exceptional children: Narrative perceptions of disability and giftedness. Thesis (PhD Doctorate). School of Education and Professional Studies. Retrieved 18/9/21 from http://hdl.handle.net/10072/367172
Ronksley-Pavia, M. & Townend, G. (2017). Listening and responding to twice exceptional students: Voices from within. TalentEd, 29, 32–57.
Southwick, D. (2013). Schools: gifted and talented students. Retrieved from http://www.davidsouthwick.com.au/articles/schools--gifted-and-talented-students.html
Volker, T., (1999). David and the Family Bane, Journal of Family Psychotherapy, 10:1, 15-24,
Von Károlyi, C. & Winner, E. (2004). Dyslexia and Visual Spatial Talents: Are they connected? In T.M.Newman & J.R. Sternberg, (Eds.). Students with both gifts and learning disabilities: Identification, assessment, and outcomes (Neuropsychology and Cognition, Volume 25) New York: Kluwer Academic/Plenum Publishers.
I think there is a piece of paper in my brain that I am writing everything down on so I don't have to use a physical piece or a digital piece.....
Welcome to twice-exceptional, a podcast about ability and disability and how education can support both.
Catherine Kirby met with Tom Craven in an episode of From all sides to discuss the effect COVID-19 has had on twice exceptional children and the opportunities for extending the reach and providing high quality and calibre engagement moving forward.
According to Ronksley-Pavia (2020), in any given classroom today there will be at least two students who could be identified as Twice-Exceptional. Twice exceptionalism in learners can be defined as
Students who demonstrate the potential for high achievement or creative productivity in one or more domains such as math, science, technology, the social arts, the visual, spatial, or performing arts or other areas of human productivity AND who manifest one or more disabilities as defined by federal or state eligibility criteria. These disabilities include specific learning disabilities; speech and language disorders; emotional/behavioural disorders; physical disabilities; Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD); or other health impairments, such as Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) (Reis, Baum & Burke, 2014. p. 220).
While the above definition is widely accepted and used internationally, research indicates that many twice exceptional students are able to utilise their giftedness to counterbalance their areas of disability (Davis & Rimm, 2004; Krochak & Ryan, 2007). This phenomenon known as “masking” has led to many twice exceptional students being incorrectly identified or not identified at all (Haines et al., 2020).
Other complex issues related to twice-exceptional learners include the recent theoretical development revealing that twice-exceptional learners are considered to be most at risk of educational disengagement (Haines et al., 2020). While the nature of this disengagement has many layers. Reis, Baum & Burke (2014) suggest that a key aspect of this consideration lies in the complex nature of identifying a student as twice exceptional. To compound the problem, recent studies reveal that teachers across the profession feel underprepared to teach students who digress from the “mainstream” (Ronksley-Pavia, 2020). The combination of undereducated teachers and twice exceptional students who are masking their true abilities suggest that neither party is benefitting from the current situation.
Twice exceptionalism is still a relatively emerging term in academic literature and across the teaching profession, it is not surprising to find that the research on the topic is limited compared to other, similar areas of study such as gifted and inclusive education. Most of the literature surrounding twice exceptional students is found to be coming from the United States of America and the United Kingdom (UK). It should be noted that finding quality literature about the topic that had been written by Australian researchers for this study proved difficult.
While there is a lack of literature pertaining to twice-exceptional students coming from Australia, there is a growing community of parents and several educators that wish to see changes to the Australian education system (Wang & Neihart, 2015). The community argues that the main issue is the lack of recognition for twice exceptional students within both state and federal legislation (Marshall, 2020). Currently the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA, 2019) recognises that about 10% of students are gifted and talented as defined by Françoys Gagné’s Differentiated Gifted and Talented model (DGTM) (GEERIC, 2004) however, ACARA does not officially recognise the term twice exceptional anywhere in the curriculum.
As a direct result of the government's negligence to recognise these learners, the teacher's knowledge of twice exceptional students remains limited. Research has shown that Australian teachers are not being taught about twice exceptional students while completing their initial teacher education training and practising teachers are not being given the opportunity to focus their professional development on the topics as it is not a recognised term within the Australian education legislation. [WSS1] This indicates that twice exceptional students are disadvantaged in the current education climate of Australia. Therefore, this study aims to uncover teachers' understanding of twice exceptional students by understanding how teachers perceive twice exceptional students, this study will aim to develop an understanding of how this knowledge will influence teachers’ teaching practice.
This study seeks to answer the following research question:
What are teachers' perceptions of twice-exceptional students and how does it shape their teaching practices?
Analysis of literature relating to teachers’ perceptions of twice exceptional students and the effect these perceptions have on their teaching practises reveals three recurring themes that have shaped the writing of this paper. These themes are teachers’ perceptions of gifted education; teachers’ perceptions of inclusive education; learning strategies for twice exceptional students.
Perceptions of gifted education
Several studies suggest that when a child is labelled gifted the next step that follows for that child is being put into a gifted education program (Ronksley-Pavia, n.d.). Within the wide education academic community, discussing best practices in gifted education is common. Foley-Nicpon et al, (2013) suggest after surveying over 300 educators across the USA that teacher’s knowledge of gifted students’ presentations is vast, and they further surmise based on their survey that the majority of teachers will work with a large number of gifted students across their careers. However, recent studies have also shown that while teachers may be familiar with gifted students and can accommodate and modify the curriculum to a certain extent, teachers are not necessarily equipped with the tools they need to extend these students to their full potential (Bannister-Tyrrell et al., 2018). Foley-Nicpon et al, (2013) suggests that unless schools have specifically engineered gifted education programs, gifted students will not be extended in a mainstream class due to the lack of specific training that teachers receive. Further to this, studies show that while some schools in Australia have adopted “streamed” programs and extension is available to gifted students, many teachers still feel unprepared to teach students despite specialist training (Bannister-Tyrrell et al., 2018). These results indicate that future studies should focus on researching strategies that support teachers educating gifted learners; these findings are supported by Foley-Nicpon et al, (2013) suggestions for future areas of research.
While reviewing the literature, an unanticipated finding was that international studies show a substantial number of teachers either subconsciously or consciously feel negatively about gifted students (Geake & Gross, 2008). According to Geake & Gross (2008) teachers were found to struggle with the concept of young children having similar if not higher intellect than the teacher themselves and thus not appreciate the opportunity to further educate the children in various aspects of their learning. This finding is directly contrary to previous studies which have suggested that teachers enjoy working with gifted learners (Foley-Nicpon et al., 2013). While studies show that consistent professional development had a positive effect on teachers attitudes towards gifted students (Geake & Gross, 2008), the inconsistency in these findings suggest that future research around the topic of gifted education would benefit from exploring in depth how teachers’ perception of gifted and academically diverse learners directly affect their teaching practices.
Perceptions of inclusive education
A great deal of previous research into inclusive education has focused on how teachers can effectively educate students with disabilities in a mainstream educational context (Curcic, 2009). Several studies show that experienced teachers, who for the purpose of this study were defined as teachers having five or more years of experience, believe that one of the most important parts of inclusive education is building a relationship with the students (Berry, 2011; Curcic, 2009). Berry’s (2011) studies however suggest that while relationships are important within the classroom, a core skill for inclusive educators is knowing how to modify and adapt materials to suit the needs of a diverse classroom. While it is hard to pinpoint exactly what different initial teacher education courses teach about inclusion through an international lens, a recent study in Australia was able to audit university courses offering studies on inclusive education (Stephenson et al., 2012). Stephenson et al. (2012) were able to establish that most courses included in the study included one inclusive education unit. However, the research suggested that these units were only included as a direct result of changes to the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (APST) (Stephenson et al., 2012). The implication of this is that while initial teacher education training may inform student teachers about the policy, pedagogy, and professional obligations regarding inclusive education, there seems to be little room left to explore the practicality of inclusive teaching (Stephenson et al., 2012). Furthermore, Curcic (2009) suggests that the issue of lacking practical skills lies in the lack of an internationally shared definition and standardised model of inclusion. The implication here is that until more research has been done on what practical inclusive strategies are most effective for the learners needs and how teachers can implement these the “practical and conceptual confusions [will] continue" (Berry, 2011, p. 628).
Learning strategies for twice exceptional learners
Currently there is a relatively small body of literature that is concerned with what learning strategies are beneficial for twice exceptional learners. A study done by Willard-Holt et al. (2013) explored the lived experiences of twice exceptional students and surveyed what learning strategies these students found most beneficial during their education. The result of this study indicated that twice exceptional students found it most important to have choices in their learning and to be able to be flexible in what they learnt, when (Willard-Holt et al., 2013). Further to this, the results of the study indicated that twice exceptional learners found learning from industry experts more beneficial than learning in the standard classroom (Willard-Holt et al., 2013). This view is supported by Amran & Majid (2019) who found that twice exceptional students benefit from effective intervention that utilises the individual's unique strengths and supports their needs.
The research shows that the interventions that worked the best with twice exceptional students were those that were strength based or talent based (Amran & Majid, 2019). Amran & Majid (2019) study highlights the importance of considering twice exceptional students' needs from a holistic point of view rather than just targeting their giftedness or their disability. Studies have shown that while there is no “one” approach that will fit all twice exceptional students, it is paramount that twice exceptional students get the support they need as many students report feeling disengaged, unsupported, and like no teacher understands them (Willard-Holt et al., 2013). It is important to bear in mind that the participants of both Willard-Holt et al. (2013) and Amran & Majid (2019) studies reported having stable home environments with adults that were able to support them in their needs. This indicates that the results reported in the studies should not be considered indicative of all twice exceptional students’ thoughts on effective learning strategies. Students with unstable home environments and lacking adult support may favour more structured learning strategies and teacher support as school may be the only place, they can receive this.
When conducting a literature review it is important to consider and review the various research methods that the researchers used to collect and analyse their data. As different research methods have their strengths and limitations, this affects the validity and reliability of the results presented (Kervin et al., 2016). The articles reviewed above have both commonalities and differences in their research methods. A commonality of the articles reviewed is that most of them use empirical research to conduct their studies meaning that they have used evidence obtained through observation and/or scientific data collection methods to arrive at their conclusions (Kervin et al., 2016). Within the research methods of each paper, a key difference that was identified was the nature of the data collection which saw some studies using quantitative methods while others used qualitative methods.
Foley-Nicpon et al. (2013) and Geake & Gross (2008) studies both fall under the quantitative research methods as both studies utilised survey instruments as well as collected and analysed the data gained from the survey (Kervin et al., 2016). Further similarities can be seen in these studies when looking at the number of participants. Both studies surveyed around 300 participants, which is considered to be a small-scale study as the results cannot be generalised without further research being undertaken (Kervin et al., 2016). Herein lies a big limitation of conducting small quantitative research studies. As there is a limited number of participants this often means that the analysis of the data is just surface level and cannot be analysed deeply for statistically significant findings (Kervin et al., 2016). This limitation is noted in both studies' conclusions with the suggestion that further research on the topic is advisable (Foley-Nicpon et al., 2013; Geake & Gross, 2008).
Further studies that utilised a quantitative research methods approach were Bannister-Tyrrell et al. (2018), Stephenson et al. (2012) and Amran & Majid (2019). As outlined in their papers the three above studies utilised a Boolean method approach to establish their initial search area when finding research, before conducting their study (Kervin et al., 2016). The benefit of this method is that it refines your search of the database and researchers are left with useful and appropriate papers to assess for their study (Kervin et al., 2016).
While the above papers are using a quantitative research approach to their studies, Willard-Holt et al. (2013), Curcic (2009) and Berry (2011) utilise a qualitative research method to conduct their studies. While each paper has chosen a different qualitative data collection approach with Berry (2011) conducting a case-study, Curcic (2009) conducting a meta-synthesis and Willard-Holt et al. (2013) using interviews, each study is concerned with analysing textual data gained from their collections (Kervin et al., 2016). Willard-Holt et als. (2013) study is of particular interest to this literature review as it utilised an exploratory sequential mixed method research design which could be utilised in future research done by the researcher of this paper. A particular benefit of this design is that the initial qualitative data collected informs the designing of the quantitative collection method (Kervin et al., 2016).
CONCLUSION & IMPLICATIONS FOR PRESENT STUDY
After reviewing the literature, the present study can conclude that no study to date has examined teachers’ perceptions of twice exceptional students and how these perceptions directly impact their teaching. This conclusion proves that the present studies research question has identified a gap in the literature and therefore holds merit to be researched. Within the present study, based on the analysis of the literature and the research methods reviewed, this research project will use a mixed method approach as outlined by Willard-Holt et al. (2013). Due to the time constraints of this research project, the present study will be a small-scale study. The qualitative data will be collected by interviewing a teacher and their responses will outline the quantitative data to be collected. However, based on the above literature, a survey instrument is the researcher’s preliminary choice of data collection instruments based on the ease of use and ease of interpretation of data (Kervin et al., 2016).
When planning for the present study there are significant considerations that will need to be made. As interviews can be particularly tricky to navigate for both the interviewer and the interviewee, it will be incredibly important to pick an interview technique as outlined by Kervin et al. (2016). This will ensure that the data collected from the interviews can be deemed as quality data and therefore used in the data analysis. Furthermore, it is important that the present study ensures validity and reliability for the research project by using measured and evaluated questions (Kervin et al., 2016). As with any research undertaken, arguably the most important part of the study is to ensure that ethical considerations are being made at every step of the research project (Kervin et al., 2016). The present study will ensure that informed consent is gained by all participants choosing to partake and that anonymity and confidentiality is always maintained throughout the research project (Kervin et al., 2016).
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA). (2021). Planning for student diversity. https://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/resources/student-diversity/planning-for-student-diversity/
Amran, H. A., & Majid, R. A. (2019). Learning Strategies for Twice-Exceptional Students. International Journal of Special Education, 33(4), 954–976. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1219411
Bannister-Tyrrell, M., Mavropoulou, S., Jones, M., Bailey, J., & O’Donnell-Ostini, A. (2018). Initial teacher preparation for teaching students with exceptionalities: Pre-service teachers’ knowledge and perceived competence. Australian Journal of Teacher Education (Online). https://search.informit.org/doi/abs/10.3316/ielapa.689599024301444
Berry, R. A. W. (2011). Voices of experience: General education teachers on teaching students with disabilities. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 15(6), 627–648. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110903278035
Curcic, S. (2009). Inclusion in PK‐12: An international perspective. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 13(5), 517–538. https://doi.org/10.1080/13603110801899585
Foley-Nicpon, M., Assouline, S. G., & Colangelo, N. (2013). Twice-Exceptional Learners: Who Needs to Know What? Gifted Child Quarterly, 57(3), 169–180. https://doi.org/10.1177/0016986213490021
Geake, J. G., & Gross, M. U. M. (2008). Teachers’ Negative Affect Toward Academically Gifted Students: An Evolutionary Psychological Study. Gifted Child Quarterly, 52(3), 217–231. https://doi.org/10.1177/0016986208319704
Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC) (2004). Gifted and talented education professional development package for teachers. https://docs.education.gov.au/system/files/doc/pdf/gifted_talented_education_module1_early_childhood.pdf
Haines, M.-A., Cornish, L., & Bannister-Tyrrell, M. (2020). Might this student be twice-exceptional?: A preliminary assessment tool for primary-school teachers. Australasian Journal of Gifted Education. https://doi.org/10.21505/ajge.2020.0003
Kervin, L., Vialle, W., Howard, S., Herrington, J., & Okely, T. (2016). Research for Educators (2nd ed.). Cengage Learning Australia.
Marshall, D. (2020, May 11). Rates of twice-exceptional children higher than previously thought. Griffith News. https://news.griffith.edu.au/2020/11/05/rates-of-twice-exceptional-children-higher-than-previously-thought/
Reis, S. M., Baum, S. M., & Burke, E. (2014). An Operational Definition of Twice-Exceptional Learners: Implications and Applications. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(3), 217–230. https://doi.org/10.1177/0016986214534976
Ronksley-Pavia, M. (n.d.). Twice-exceptionality in Australia: Prevalence estimates. 13.
Rowan, L., & Townend, G. (2016). Early career teachers’ beliefs about their preparedness to teach: Implications for the professional development of teachers working with gifted and twice-exceptional students. Cogent Education, 3(1), 1242458-. https://doi.org/10.1080/2331186X.2016.1242458
Stephenson, J., O’Neill, S., & Carter, M. (2012). Teaching Students with Disabilities: A Web-based Examination of Preparation of Preservice Primary School Teachers. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 37(5). https://doi.org/10.14221/ajte.2012v37n5.5
Wang, C. W., & Neihart, M. (2015). Academic Self-Concept and Academic Self-Efficacy: Self-Beliefs Enable Academic Achievement of Twice-Exceptional Students. Roeper Review, 37(2), 63–73. https://doi.org/10.1080/02783193.2015.1008660
Willard-Holt, C., Weber, J., Morrison, K. L., & Horgan, J. (2013). Twice-Exceptional Learners’ Perspectives on Effective Learning Strategies. Gifted Child Quarterly, 57(4), 247–262. https://doi.org/10.1177/0016986213501076
Aimy has some fantastic ideas on developing relationships with young people who may find being at school so difficult... You need to be a little bit vulnerable, have clear boundaries but if you are prepared to give something of yourself you will get something back from the young person.
An education podcast by ANZUK.
Writing, the act of expressing myself using words on a page, is one of the hardest things I ever do. It can trigger fear and anxiety.
Writing = stress.
Yet I enjoy the creativity of writing.
In order to manage something that used to result in a complete flight/freeze response I have learnt to play with it. I now start any writing task as early as possible from the deadline, I allow myself to focus in and wallow in the process. I view it as a creative habit I indulge in. Crafting a piece of writing now sits alongside the complex counted cross-stitch embroideries I complete. The colours, stitches, mix in a specific way at specific places on the material in order to produce a work that others can recognise, enjoy and occasionally, marvel at. With the help of the computer I write patches of ‘colour’ and ideas onto a page to create something others can also see.
It hasn’t always been so. My inabilities were a source of tears, procrastination and distress as I sought ways to make the ideas come out of my head. I viewed everything I wrote as negative and worthless. I once wrote a piece on the effect of red lines on my work as being like wounds on my child that I had created and grown. The level of anxiety was horrific and created distress for me and those around me.
The changes have come about by developing skills and harnessing the computer’s abilities. I used journal writing by hand and was able to write and spell as I needed and to not have it judged. Then through setting myself very tight time periods when I would force myself to sit at the computer and write even if I felt it was of no depth or relevant, I learnt to go with the flow. I also value the cathartic vomiting of everything onto a page, subsequent cutting and pasting works really well.
The anxiety has dissipated, but take away my computer and you will have the blubbering mess back again!
Review of an Australian 2e program
It is not possible to find an identified 2e program in Australia. There are classes within schools that provide gifted education and there are disabled education facilities but 2e is an almost non-existent concept in Australia. Instead, I have reviewed a program that is being offered in approximately 40 out of the 9,503 schools (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018) in Australia that unintentionally provides an environment and program for students who could qualify for a 2e identification.
The program developed from a dramatic, out-of-the-box change that was made to schooling by Elliot Washor and Dennis Littky on Rhode Island, USA in 1996 (Littky & Grabelle 2004). Big Picture Learning(Big Picture n.d.) was designed to provide relevant, individualised education paths for disengaged students. It has subsequently been implemented in Australia, UK, Canada, New Zealand, Italy Israel, India and China. Big Picture Education Australia was established in 2006.
Big Picture Education Australia (BPEA) is not designed or advertised as a 2e favourable experience. Instead it is a world-wide alternative to ‘chalk and talk’ schooling that, in a few Australian schools, has been able to begin to provide the curriculum and experiences that 2e students require. It is conceived as an entwined, active process of extension, support, enrichment, real audience, mentorship, internship, co-operative entrepreneurial learning. There is no school wide set timetable, progression points or restrictions placed upon the student. The exact qualities a good strong 2e curriculum requires.
Only two schools in Victoria operate the BPEA system; Croydon Community School and Bundoora Secondary College. Croydon Community School caters for significantly disengaged students aged 12-18 years-old and provides a fresh alternative pathway towards work and a positive life course. Whereas Bundoora Secondary College (BSC) is again for senior students, 12-18 years-old, but those who are involved in the ‘normal’ Victorian Government Education pathway. It is a government funded state school, but it facilitates the Big Picture learning within the curriculum. It genuinely appears to use the best from the state curriculum and combines it with individualised learning and discovery. BSC provides a 2e friendly schooling environment. Their website message is strong and straight forward; “Our job is not to prepare our students for SOMETHING.....our job is to activate our students to prepare themselves for ANYTHING.”
Unfortunately, both schools, but especially BSC, are only authorised to enrol students who live within their designated zone. Entry to the school is via individual application and is automatic if the student lives in the zone. Enrolment from outside the zone may be accepted if the principal has the capacity within the school to accommodate the student or as in the case of Croydon Community School, the parent can pay for a place. This influences the range of students who are enrolled and will deny a place to many students who could benefit from the program.
BSC instigated the Big Picture Learning in 2018 and has been influenced by the work and actions of Peter Hutton at Templestowe College and Hutton Consulting (Hutton 2019). Peter and I often talk and he is supportive of my own plans for a 2e school in Melbourne. He has become a passionate advocate for rewriting the curriculum to represent the needs of all current Australian students.His views, and the Big Picture learning program, are a considerable challenge to school administrators, politicians, parents, teachers and students but are slowly influencing government actions. Change is occurring for neurodivergent students. In Oct 2019 the Victorian Government in announced that:
“Almost 50,000 pupils from grades 5 to 8 will be signed up to intensive online and face-to-face lessons, under the $60 million Student Excellence Program ----with a teacher at every government school to be trained to run the classes.” (Ilanbey & Carey 2019)
This will change the learning for some students but unfortunately any student can only receive this program for 10 weeks starting in September 2020. After that hopefully the trained teacher and the students will claim more provisions and attention from the school budget. As yet there is no mention of a state funded program for the whole of the student’s school life and very few are able to access the BPEA system. The total number of students attending BPEA schools in Victoria is currently 485 (ACARA n.d.).
Staff and government departments are becoming increasingly positive about the potential opportunities for use of the program. BPEA can and will provide a long term alternative to the growing number of young adults who leave formal schooling and fail to achieve work of any type (O’Connell, Milligan & Bentley 2019, Hayes, Down, Talbot & Choules 2013). The movement away from a single score given at the end of schooling, towards hands on work-based skills is increasing, as industry and other areas confront the changing environment of work. No longer is it that a degree automatically leads to a career.
Teachers find this focus upon “one student at a time”, with the chance to sit with a student in an advisory role as opposed to an instructional role, to be exciting and challenging. Moving away from having to know all the answers to being a knowledge seeker alongside the student can improve everyone’s productivity and creativity (Alger 2016). The learning plan, developed as a means of identifying strengths and passions, is so relevant to gifted and 2e students (LLEAP Dialogue Series (No.3) 2014, Baum 2008). Aimy, who co-runs this program at Croydon Community School, finds this interaction with students who have been put on the ‘scrap heap’ of education to be the most positive aspect. This positiveness is confirmed in section 5.4 of the research into teachers' experiences of BPEA (Hayes, Down, Talbot & Choules 2013) but also the teachers reported “It’s bloody hard in here..”(p48).“I’ve had to re-think my whole teaching practice” (p47).
BPEA teachers learn on the job. There are two workshops available at the moment, but both are in Western Australia which means they are inaccessible to many teachers. Instead there are three online courses costing $550 each which provide a certificate of professional development (BPEA n.d.). The main method of learning and support appears to be self-driven and involve reaching out to peers who are also within the program. I have not found any independent texts or research undertaken on Big Picture Learning. Instead it currently seems to be only people within the system who report on themselves and the schools supported by BPEA
2e students need a curriculum that is adjusted to them as individuals. Big Picture Learning has this adjustment as an essential central point and it drives all the learning and teaching. Bundoora Secondary College principal, Anesti Anestis again and again emphasises ‘student-centred learning’, the ‘personalised … pathways’, ‘development of the whole person’ as being critical to their philosophy.
Within their version of the program, students are not grouped according to age, instead being organised vertically to achieve learning at their ‘point of interest’. This gives access to a varied, challenging curriculum which can be adapted up or down according to the student’s strengths. A learning plan is established between the student, their parents, a PAL (Pathways and Learning) leader and the Head of House to ensure the student completes their own goals but also the Victorian Curriculum as expected. It is anticipated that students will become ‘creative, compassionate and caring global citizens’ rather than merely schoolhouse gifted (Kaufman J., Kaufman S.B., Beghetto, Burgess, Persson n.d., Sternberg & Kaufman 2018). The learning plan includes possible access to first year university subjects, whilst still at school.
The intention at BSC is to develop 21st century skills which allow the students to master further education and or work. The staff and curriculum cultivate breadth and depth of all the subjects which are required by the Victorian Education Department. Learning covers the key points but also allows for a flourishing of interests and passions (Foley-Nicpon, Assouline & Fosenburg 2015). The model of assessment is designed to only focuses upon the need to “empower our students to understand the skills, dispositions and kinds of knowledge they need for the future” (BSC handbook).
BSC, in providing the BPEA is able to offer many considerable advantages. There are intergral steps that need to be achieved. Many of which would fulfil the principles in standard specific gifted or 2e programs and provisions (Baum, Schader & Owen 2017, Baum, Schader & Hébert 2014, Kaufman 2013, Reis & Renzulli 2010). For example, listed in the curriculum handbook, the Big Picture pathway through the school curriculum asks the reader to consider eight points:
Saying yes to these points undoubtedly could lead into Renzulli’s SEM (Reis & Renzulli 2010). The outcome would then likely provide “creative-productive giftedness” (Renzulli 2014, p543) to a student who becomes a “firsthand inquirer” (Renzulli 2014, p543).
The potential for strength-based talent development (Reis & Renzulli n.d., Renzulli 1988, Victorian State Government 2014, Baum Schader & Hébert 2014, Gagné 2012, Gentry & Neu 1998) using the Big Picture model is probably underestimated. It automatically provides an opportunity to access the most fundamental learning supports for gifted and 2e students.If extension, enrichment, differentiation are provided, who are the students that take hold of the chance and use it to develop their own learning and knowledge – the very students who may, in another environment, hide or fail to be given the chance to shine.
Bundoora Secondary College https://www.bundoorasc.vic.edu.au
Croydon Community School https://www.croydoncs.vic.edu.au
Templestowe College https://tc.vic.edu.au
Alger, Amanda Leigh, "The Big Picture School Model: Understanding the Student Experience" (2016). Dissertations - ALL. 509. Retrieved from https://surface.syr.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1509&context=etd
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Baum, S., Schader, R.M. & Hébert,T.P. (2014). Through a Different Lens: Reflecting on a Strengths-Based, Talent-Focused Approach for Twice-Exceptional Learners. Gifted Child Quarterly 2014 58: 311
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Hayes, D., Down, B., Talbot, D., & Choules, C., (2013). Big Picture Education Australia: Experiences of students, parents/carers & teachers (Research Report). Sydney. Faculty of Education and Social Work, University of Sydney.
Hutton, P. (2019). Hutton Consulting. Retrieved from https://hutton.education/school-innovation/
Ilanbey, S., Carey, A., (2019). New $60m package unveiled for Victoria's brightest students. The Age. Oct 24 2019. Retrieved from https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/new-60m-package-unveiled-for-victoria-s-brightest-students-20191024-p533pe.html
Kaufman, S.B. (2013). Ungifted: Intelligence redefined. Basic Books: Philadelphia.
Kaufman J., Kaufman S.B., Beghetto, R.A., Burgess, S.A., Persson, R.S., (n.d.). Creative giftedness: beginnings, developments, and future promises. Retrieved from https://scottbarrykaufman.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Kaufman-Kaufman-Beghetto-Kaufman-Persson-2009.pdf
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Littky, D. & Grabelle, S. (2004). The Big Picture: Education is everyone’s business. ASCD. Alexandria, USA.
O’Connell, M., Milligan, S.K. and Bentley, T. (2019) Beyond ATAR: a proposal for change. Koshland Innovation Fund, Melbourne, Victoria
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Reis, S.M. & Renzulli, J (n.d.). Promoting Creativity in Talented Adolescents. Retrieved from https://gifted.uconn.edu/schoolwide-enrichment-model/promoting_creativity_talented_adolescents/
Renzulli, L. (2014). The Schoolwide Enrichment Model: A Comprehensive Plan for the Development of Talents and Giftedness. Revista Educação Especial.27(50) 539-562
Renzulli, J. (1988). A Rising Tide Lifts All Ships—Developing the Gifts and Talents of All Students. Retrieved from https://gifted.uconn.edu/schoolwide-enrichment-model/rising_tide/
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