Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Inquiry based learning of current research topics and identification of gifted students

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
5.01.03  Social sciences  Educational studies  Special didactics 

Code Science Field
S272  Social sciences  Teacher education 

Code Science Field
5.03  Social Sciences  Educational sciences 
gifted students, science education, inquiry based learning
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (13)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  05974  PhD Mojca Čepič  Educational studies  Head  2017 - 2020  820 
2.  30982  PhD Saša Dolenc (Ziherl)  Physics  Researcher  2017 - 2020  119 
3.  20448  PhD Vesna Ferk Savec  Educational studies  Researcher  2017 - 2020  417 
4.  38866  Špela Hrast  Educational studies  Technical associate  2017 - 2020  52 
5.  13260  Barbara Japelj Pavešič  Educational studies  Researcher  2017 - 2020  209 
6.  15380  PhD Mojca Juriševič  Psychology  Researcher  2017 - 2020  735 
7.  35653  Mira Metljak  Educational studies  Technical associate  2017 - 2020  56 
8.  29708  PhD Jerneja Pavlin  Educational studies  Researcher  2017 - 2020  352 
9.  33126  PhD Maja Pečar  Educational studies  Researcher  2017 - 2020  55 
10.  36390  Maja Poklinek Čančula  Educational studies  Junior researcher  2017 - 2020 
11.  30977  PhD Klaudija Šterman Ivančič  Educational studies  Researcher  2017 - 2020  147 
12.  23553  PhD Gregor Torkar  Educational studies  Researcher  2017 - 2020  579 
13.  23750  PhD Janez Vogrinc  Educational studies  Researcher  2017 - 2020  429 
Organisations (2)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  0553  Educational Research Institute  Ljubljana  5051614000  6,966 
2.  0588  University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Education  Ljubljana  1627082  30,724 
It is generally accepted that giftedness and high intellectual ability are equally dispersed over all segments of society. Individuals with different intellectual or social backgrounds, however, do not have equal opportunities to develop their potentials. Gifted individuals from deprivileged background are often not identified, because standard tests used for identification of giftedness have a higher sensitivity for detection of students with good intellectual skills as reading, writing and drawing and math skills. Those skills are often underdeveloped in students from deprivileged background. The analysis of data from international TIMSS and PISA studies will provide an information on the extension of this problem in Slovenia and in other countries. We shall focus on cognitively more demanding tasks that do not rely on knowledge, but on inferences, formation of explanations and on planning their verification. We will analyse solutions provided by students from groups with different social and intellectual backgrounds. We will develop inquiry based learning units of new topics in science. For such content, we expect the absence of students' preliminary experience and information. Hence the experiences of students from different social backgrounds will be equally nonexistent. In fact, intellectual skills are not a prerequisite for the practical work in inquiry based learning, but we can nevertheless identify inferring, explaining and planning the verification of explanations. Furthermore, units will be specifically designed for incorporation into regular school curricula as illustrations of specific subject topics. The developed set of educational units will be used for investigation of students’ approaches to inquiry based learning. The analysis will show how the approaches of gifted students differ from approaches of other students. On the basis of these observed differences, the criteria for identification of giftedness will be established. The protocol for observation will be developed and tested by multiple case study for each unit respectively. In the next step, teachers practitioners will be included into the research. They will get acquainted with the units and protocols during the workshop organized for this purpose. Afterwards, teachers-practitioners will, together with researchers, test the units in the classroom. During these testings, researchers will focus on identification of students from deprivileged background. As a result, protocols will be tested in the learning environment with respect to feasibility, reliability and sensitivity. The verification will be followed by multiple case study with students from deprivileged background identified during the classroom protocol testing. Criteria will be further adapted for those students if necessary. The final project result will be an instrument for identification of gifted students based on a set of protocols specified for inquiry based learning units of new topics in science. The main advantage of this instrument is students’ inexperience in the topics and lessened influence of pre-developed intellectual skills on giftedness identification criteria such as inferring, explaining and testing explanations. This is why the instrument will be equally sensitive for detection of gifted students from all social and intellectual background and will therefore allow for identification of students from deprivileged background as well. Based on the analysis of data of TIMMS and PISA studies and the multiple case studies conducted in this project, we will formulate an additional instrument for testing in a written form that will include tasks similar to those from inquiry based learning units, combined with a few questions related to students’ backgrounds. This instrument will be suggested for inclusion in international studies, which would allow for estimation of the proportion of potentially gifted students from deprivileged backgrounds on the international scale.
Significance for science
The explicit project result is only one: The instrument for identification of gifted individuals through inquiry based learning of science, sensible for identification of gifted individuals from deprivileged backgrounds, because the proposed learning approach is not based on preliminary experiences and knowledge. The instrument will provide the solution for the problem known for decades: How to identify gifted students from deprivileged background, as standard tests are not always appropriate for their identification. The approach is novel and innovative, because it is based on the expertise from three relatively unconnected fields: fundamental research in science, science education research and psychology of giftedness. Special added value of the proposed new approach is absence of preliminary experience. As the approach is based on methodology of introduction of new research results in science education. Therefore, students from different backgrounds begin the inquiry based learning process with very similar initial conditions. The combination of experts from various fields, such as fundamental research in science, science education research and psychology of giftedness, is necessary for achieving the goal. It is difficult to set up such an interdisciplinary team in circumstances where experts in one field are concentrated at research institutes or specialized faculties. The leading organization, the Faculty of education, University of Ljubljana, provides an ideal milieu for the proposed project, since experts from all the above disciplines regularly meet and participate in various programs aimed at teachers and other professionals in education. Additional expertise comes from the Educational Research Institute (ERI), where team members focus on investigation and research related to higher cognitive levels of knowledge. Furthermore, research introducing new topics in science into education is relatively rare. With introduction of topics on liquid crystals, hydrogels, optical properties of anisotropic materials and conoscopy, the project group has done a pioneering work in this field. The proposed project will provide evidences on gifted and other students’ approaches to inquiry based learning in science, focusing on the approaches to topics that are entirely new to students and in which they cannot rely on their previous experience. A systematic research in this field does not exist yet. Moreover, identification of indicators in data provided by international assessments of knowledge, a detailed analysis of achievements on cognitively more demanding tasks of students from various backgrounds, and the development of the instrument to be included in these assessments is also original.
Significance for the country
The results of this project and the application of the new instrument for identification of gifted students from deprivileged background have a long term impact. Furthermore, many results of the project will be directly applicable in education. The developed inquiry based learning units of new topics in science will be appropriate for direct use in immediate learning environment, since they will illustrate curricular topics. The units will be systematically developed to cover the full intellectual range of students, from average students that will be able approach to inquiry-based problems with some support from the teachers, to gifted students, who will be able to focus on open-end problems, adapting the pace and depth of research to their own liking. Different units will be appropriate for different levels of education. Teachers who do not intend to use the units for identification of gifted students, will be able to use them for motivating students, since the inquiry based learning of science increases the motivation of students towards science education, and for offering challenges to already recognized gifted students. It is generally known that science subjects are the least appreciated of all curricular subjects, are considered irrelevant and uninteresting. We believe that units developed within this project will have a positive impact on students’ values regarding science. In addition, the instrument for identification of gifted students, especially students from deprivileged background, will be available for use at the end of the project. The instrument could be included directly in the regular curricular topics in science. Since the unit-specific protocols for identification of gifted students will be available, a conscious teacher will be able to identify the potentially gifted students, irrespectively of students' backgrounds, and direct them for further treatment and/or offer additional support for the development of the students' potentials. Even more, identification of students' potentials would influence the occupational guidance and profiling provided by a school counsellor and would increase the chances of the continuation of education for students from deprivileged background. Finally, a specially adapted form of the instrument will be available at the end of the project, designed for integration into international assessment studies that will allow for direct assessment of specific achievements of gifted students across all segments of the society. The project team sincerely hopes to persuade the international society working on assessment tests to include the proposed instrument.
Most important scientific results Interim report, final report
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Interim report, final report
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