Enrichment Curriculum: Essential for Mathematically Gifted Students

By McAllister, Brooke Anne; Plourde, Lee A. | Education, Fall 2008 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Enrichment Curriculum: Essential for Mathematically Gifted Students

McAllister, Brooke Anne, Plourde, Lee A., Education



Mathematically gifted students learn differently from other age group peers. They require curriculum to be differentiated to meet their specific needs (Johnson, 2006). When these gifted students are not presented with learning experiences that are appropriate for their abilities, they lose motivation and in time can lose interest in school. Brain research suggests that the brain will not maintain its level of development if students are not challenged (Stepanek, 1999). Challenge is a very important component of effective curriculum and instruction. Research of the gifted brain shows that stimulation of students' interests and abilities through an appropriate level of challenge is required for learning to take place. If mathematically gifted children are given content or tasks that are too easy, which is very common in a mixed-ability classroom, they may not become engaged in the activity and consequently will not be learning. "Brain research provides a physical explanation for students' failure to learn. When tasks are not sufficiently challenging, the brain does not release enough of the chemicals needed for learning: dopamine, noradrenalin, serotonin, and other neurochemicals" (Stepanek, 1999, p. 9).

The No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Legislation, a renewal of the Elementary and Secondary Act of 1965, was passed by the Bush administration in 2001. This legislation requires that all students be proficient in reading and math by 2014. High stakes standardized tests are used to measure student performance in any school receiving Title I funding. Schools failing to meet the state's Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) are identified as "needing improvement" and are sanctioned with an array of consequences including a loss of funding. Mathematically gifted students tend to master the standards early and are ready to move onto more challenging work, interestingly, there are no penalties for schools failing to meet the needs of those students performing above or far exceeding the standard. As a result, funding and resources that had been allocated toward gifted programs are being reallocated toward reading initiatives to help struggling students gain proficiency (Golden, 2003). NCLB is sacrificing the education of the mathematically gifted students who have the potential of becoming the future biomedical, astro-physics, or aerospace researchers, engineers or other leaders in math and science (Goodkin, 2005).

Statement of the Problem

Miller defines mathematical talent as "an unusually high ability to understand mathematical ideas and to reason mathematically, rather than just a high ability to do arithmetic computations or get top grades in mathematics" (Miller, 1990, p. 1). When looking to identify mathematically gifted students, many teachers focus on those students who make the best grades and can compute math facts quickly and efficiently. These students may indeed be gifted, but there is more to mathematics than computations (Miller, 1990). Mathematically gifted students "take their understanding of the formulas and numbers and extend them to everyday situations. These students can see that math is more abstract than concrete and although these abstractions would confuse the normal student, they are able to generate solutions and obtain a fitting answer" (Giftedness: Overview, 2006, p. 1).

Mathematically gifted students learn differently and need a differentiated curriculum in order to succeed in a regular classroom. If mathematically gifted students are required to work on grade-level curriculum at the same pace as other grade level students, if they are not challenged and guided, they can become bored, frustrated and can eventually become underachievers (Characteristics of Highly Able Math Student, 2006). When a school adopts a curriculum, it typically comes with only one textbook for all students at each grade level. These books are aimed at average abilities within that grade level, and many times at the lowest reading level.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Enrichment Curriculum: Essential for Mathematically Gifted Students


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?