Pedagogical approaches: a study of gifted readers in the primary classroom in Guangzhou, China and East Ayrshire, Scotland

Zhang, Tingzhao (2019) Pedagogical approaches: a study of gifted readers in the primary classroom in Guangzhou, China and East Ayrshire, Scotland. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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This thesis explores how teachers conceptualise and teach gifted readers in the primary school classroom in China and Scotland. Gifted readers are a group of children who can demonstrate advanced and high abilities in reading, and appropriate reading materials and differentiated instructions should be provided to support their development. However, there is a paucity of literature in relation to current schools’ provision for gifted readers in the socio-cultural contexts of China and Scotland.

The qualitative study, which was embedded in a constructivist paradigm, was located in primary schools in Guangzhou, China and East Ayrshire, Scotland. It involved the use of a semi-structured questionnaire to provide a snapshot of Chinese and Scottish teachers’ conceptualisations of and teaching practices for gifted readers. The main research method – the semi-structured interview - was used to explore teachers’ and literacy coordinators’ (including head teachers, deputy head teachers and principal teachers) in-depth and diversified perspectives relating to the teaching of gifted readers in China and Scotland. Thematic analysis was mainly used to analyse the interview data. The data collected were examined in order to explore the socio-cultural influence on teachers’ perceptions on and practices with gifted readers.

This thesis contributes to the understanding of general gifted education but also gifted education regarding the subject of reading in two different socio-cultural contexts. The findings suggested that both Chinese and Scottish teachers perceived that gifted readers were proficient readers that could demonstrate higher reading ability than their similar-aged peers. Many teachers tended to believe that a literacy-rich family environment nurtured gifted reading ability. A difference emerged between Chinese and Scottish teachers in terms of how they perceived the role of school education for gifted readers. While Scottish teachers thought that gifted readers could be nurtured by school education, Chinese teachers viewed primary education as providing basic education rather than providing additional education for children who might require this. It was also found that Scottish teachers had more flexibility and autonomy to select a wide range of texts for their gifted readers, yet they had limited time so this limited their practices. In the classroom in China, to a large extent, the use of literacy textbooks prescribed what should be taught, and it appeared that Chinese teachers had less autonomy to tailor their teaching to suit the needs of gifted readers. The study showed that Scottish teachers adopted more pedagogical strategies such as differentiation and a focus on higher order thinking to develop gifted readers. However, Chinese teachers’ teaching for gifted readers was constrained by intense exams, a centralised education system, heavy workload and insufficient professional support. The empirical data demonstrated that a lack of educational resources and highly centralised education system could potentially impede the development of gifted learners. It was also found that the social activity of teaching for gifted children was deeply embedded in the two particular sociocultural contexts of the study.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: gifted readers, pedagogy, culture.
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Education
Supervisor's Name: Sutherland, Dr. Margaret and Dickson, Dr. Beth
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Ms Tingzhao Zhang
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-73022
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2019 14:52
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2022 07:35
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.73022

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