Project AVG

Evaluation of a Gifted Education Program: Effects of ability grouping of gifted students in special gifted classes in secondary schools in Rhineland-Palatinate

The Chair of Giftedness Research and Education acts as scientific supervisor of a gifted education program for secondary schools currently offered at four grammar schools (‚Gymnasien’) in Rhineland-Palatinate. In addition to regular classes, each of the schools taking part in the program offers a special gifted class to foster the development of gifted students.

One of our scientific goals is the investigation of the so-called „Big-Fish-Little-Pond“ effect (BFLPE). For the gifted classes, we assume that part of those students who were high achievers prior to their integration into the gifted classes will subsequently turn into average achievers within the context of their new classes. For many students, this „big fish“-„little fish“ transition has detrimental effects on academic self-concept. (Academic self-concept refers to statements such as „I’m gifted at maths.“) Since academic self-concept is a crucial factor in such diverse outcomes as scholastic achievement, learning behavior, course selection, career aspirations and vocational choices, the BFLPE is of great practical importance.

Interestingly, several studies have shown that, on the other hand, full-time ability grouping can improve motivation and attitude towards school and learning in gifted students. These issues will also be addressed in the context of the project. In general, little is known about the long-term outcomes of full-time ability grouping of gifted students. Therefore, besides the study of the BFLPE and related changes, the project aims at documenting developmental changes in order to help improve and optimize gifted education and to offer starting points for school development.

Results from grades 5-8

For the first results (grades 5-8) please follow this link to the official project report 2013. This report covers the data collected between 2005 and 2013.

Research Associate: Markus Feuchter, M.Sc.
Duration: since 2005
Funding: Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Culture of Rhineland-Palatinate

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Project CoCheck

Communication and Promotion of Professional Competencies in Bachelor and Master Studies

The CoCheck project focus on the self-perception of one's own professional competencies. On one hand, this includes the assessment of one's own abilities, the so-called ability self-concept. On the other hand, it includes the assessment of one's own possibilities and prospects of success in mastering a specific professional task, the so-called professional self-efficacy expectation. Numerous studies clearly show the high importance of a positive self-efficacy expectation and a high ability self-concept for motivation to learn, success in studies, dropping out of studies, and successful career progression (e.g., Robbins, Allen, Casillas, Peterson & Le, 2006).

1. Improving communication: The new bachelor's and master's degree programs (BAMA) are characterized by abstract curricular module plans that focus on structural specifications from accrediting agencies rather than language that reflects concrete tasks of the professional field. These breaks between university education and the labor market cause numerous irritations for students. BAMA programs are also new territory for the labor market - especially the bachelor's degrees. The CoCheck project links content of abstract curricula with concrete professional competencies. In this way, it facilitates internal communication in teaching as well as external communication with prospective students and the labor market.

2. Promotion of professional competencies: Also building on professional competency descriptions, measurement tools as well as interventions are developed to help students build a clear and communicable self-image of their own professional competencies. Specifically, students should gain an awareness of (1) what professional tasks await them, (2) which ones they can already master or build up through targeted course selection, (3) in which areas they should deepen their knowledge, and (4) how they communicate their own competencies in the labor market.

The primary target group of the project are students. In addition, prospective students and lecturers as well as employers and trainers will be involved.

Projektleitung: zusammen mit Prof. Dr. Thomas Ellwart, Uni Trier
Wissenschaftliche/r Mitarbeiter/in: Henrike Peiffer, M.Sc.
Laufzeit: ab Mai 2015
Finanzielle Förderung: Nikolaus Koch Stiftung, Trier

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Project Discovery Day

Fostering Primary School Teachers’ Abilities to Identify Gifted Students

„Discovery Day,“ a project established by the Rhineland-Palatinate government, aims at fostering gifted primary school children. The sub-project „Identification of Gifted Children,“ which is associated with the Discovery Day, is coordinated by Tanja Gabriele Baudson, Department of Giftedness Research and Education, as part of her Ph.D. thesis. „Identification of Gifted Children“ focuses on enhancing primary school teachers’ abilities to properly make out the gifted children in their classes.

Intellectually gifted children are anything but a homogeneous group: Therefore, each child may exhibit an individual profile (e.g. verbal or mathematical giftedness) by which it differs from other gifted children. This represents a true challenge to those teachers in charge of nominating children for gifted education programs.

In order to support teachers in the identification process, the present project will develop diagnostic materials for two core subjects:  mathematics and German. This comprises, for instance, diagnostic tasks, subject-related checklists, information texts or questionnaires for self-reflection. The material will be developed in an interdisciplinary collaboration between psychologists and primary school teachers. 

Research Associate: Dr. Tanja Gabriele Baudson, Dipl.-Psych., M. A.
Duration: 2007 - 2010
Funding: Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Culture of Rhineland-Palatinate 

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Project KLIKK®

Development and Evaluation of a Training for Gifted Children's Parents

KLIKK® is the German acronym for "Communicative and Solution-Oriented Strategies for Interacting with Clever Children". KLIKK® is a parent training which addresses the needs of parents with gifted children in particular; its contents are based on an assessment of the special needs and requirements of the target group. The training is offered as an advanced training of communication  strategies along with solution-oriented elements, and thus fosters  more satisfying family interactions between the persons involved.  Training contents target motivation and stress management in particular. The effectiveness of the training has been documented in a recent Ph.D thesis submitted by psychologist Dietrich Arnold. By now, the training material has been published as a book. KLIKK® is financially supported by the Karg Foundation.

Research Associate: Dr. Dietrich Arnold
Duration: 2005 - 2010
Funding: Karg-Stiftung für Hochbegabtenförderung

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Project LOTUS

Development and Evaluation 

The project goal is to develop and evaluate a program focusing on the social and emotional aspects of giftedness. Using a group discussion-based approach, its aim is to support and promote the personality development of gifted youth. Identity formation and personal values linked to it as well as coping with one's own or others' achievement expectations have proven to be crucial aspects of counseling gifted youth. For instance, in developing their identity and value systems, which involves self-awareness and personal initiative, integrating giftedness into one's self-concept may be an issue: What does it mean to be gifted? Which opportunities and responsibilities result from being gifted? What are the sources of my self-esteem?

The project goals are: (1) to develop the program, based on theoretical and empirical findings; (2) to evaluate the program, using both formative and summative evaluation strategies; and (3) to prepare a manual for the distribution of this program to practitioners dealing with gifted youth.

Research Associate: Dr. Tanja Gabriele Baudson, Dipl.-Psych., M. A.
Duration: 2011–2014
Funding: Karg-Stiftung für Hochbegabtenförderung

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Project PULSS (Phase I)

Concomitant Scientific Evaluation of Selected Secondary Schools with Special Gifted Education Branches in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg

PISA and other student assessment studies have lead to a stronger focus on the long-term development of students' competencies and on education at junior high school level. Longitudinal studies (which encompass not only the development of students' achievement, but also further influential aspects as well as recent developments of the German Secondary School system, e.g. segregational approaches) have become necessary. Grouping children of above-average intelligence in special classes is one of these relatively recent segregational approaches.

The present research project, conducted on behalf of the Bavarian and Baden-Württembergian Ministries of Education, aims at the scientific evaluation of eight such secondary schools – four in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg each. Over the past years, these grammar schools, besides their regular classes, have implemented special branches for students of above-average intelligence. As the present study examines these special classes as well as two regular classes per school alike, a comparative evaluation of segregative and integrative concepts to foster the gifted is therefore possible.

From 2008/2009 on, students from grade five will be examined in different areas until they reach grade seven. A particular focus is on scholastic achievement and variables influencing achievement, such as attitude to work, learning and achievement motivation, self-concept of one's own abilities, etc. In addition, information will be gathered on didactic methods and curricular contents. This view will be completed by data on parents' and teachers' perspectives.

From 2009/2010 on, a second cohort will be included in order to determine whether the results from the first cohort can be replicated. The second cohort will also be examined in the above-mentioned areas from grade five on.

Research Associate: Dipl.-Psych. Katharina Vogl
Cooperation Partner: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider, Dr. Eva Stumpf, Dipl.-Psych. Monika Motschenbacher, Dipl.-Psych. Christina Weiss (University of Würzburg); Prof. Dr. Albert Ziegler, Dipl.-Psych. Bettina Mader (University of Ulm)
Duration: 2008 - 2012
Funding: Ministries of Education and the Arts in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, Karg-Stiftung für Hochbegabtenförderung

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Projekt PULSS (Phase II)

Follow-up study of the concomitant Scientific Evaluation of Selected Secondary Schools with Special Gifted Education Branches in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg

PULSS II was the follow-up study of our research project PULSS I. The main focus of this study was to examine the development of students’ learning and performance in grade 10. With this study and the results from PULSS I it was possible to observe the development of students’ learning and performance from the 5th to the 10th grade level.

Cooperation Partners: Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Schneider, Dr. Eva Stumpf, Dipl.-Psych. Monika Motschenbacher, B. Sc. Maja Gnegel, B. Sc. January Lenhart (University of Würzburg)
Duration: 2014 - 2015
Funding: Ministries of Education in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg, Karg Stiftung für Hochbegabtenförderung


For results please follow this link to the official final project report. This report was written with the assistance of Dipl.-Psych. Katharina Vogl (University of Trier), Dipl.-Psych. Monika Motschenbacher, Dipl.-Psych. Christina Weiss (both University of Würzburg) as well as Dipl.-Psych. Bettina Mader (University of Ulm).

The results of PULSS I have also been summarized in Karg Hefte 07.

For the results of PULSS II please follow this link to the official final project report. This report was written with the assistance of Dipl.-Psych. Maja Gnegel, Dipl.-Psych. January Lenhart, Dipl.-Psych. Monika Motschenbacher, Dipl.-Psych. Anja Rosch and Dipl.-Psych. Maria White.

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Project THINK

Project THINK

Intelligence in Primary School Children

Usually, intelligence is conceived of as "maximum behavior", as measured, for instance, by IQ tests. Findings on cognitive development (e.g., Baudson & Preckel, 2013) have shown that the so-called fluid intelligence in particular (comprising aspects such as logical reasoning which, in turn, represents a crucial prerequisite for learning; Schweizer & Koch, 2002) can be considered a valid index of general cognitive ability in primary school children. Cognitive speed is another dimension of intelligence; its role for cognitive ability in primary school children overall and for learning in particular has not yet been clarified.

Besides "intelligenz as maximum behavior", intelligence has been conceived of as "typical behavior", which is rather an aspect of personality instead of achievement. This aspect has also been termed "Need for cognition" (or cognitive motivation) and desscribes a person's individual inclination to occupy him- or herself with cognitively demanding issues (Cacioppo, Petty, & Kao, 1984). Persons scoring high on Need for Cognition enjoy thinking.

These constructs are measured by newly developed assessment instruments: the reasoning test THINK (Test for (highly) intelligent kids; Baudson & Preckel, 2013), scales on Clerical Speed (Wilhelm, in prep.) and a Need for Cognition scale for primary school children (Preckel & Strobel, in prep.). This project will examine the relationship between the three constructs fluid intelligence, cognitive speed, and need for cognition based on research questions such as "How does the structure of intelligence develop im primary school children?" or "What are the structural differences of gifted versus average ability students' intelligence?"

Research Associate: Dipl.-Psych. Rachel Wollschläger

Duration: July 2012–June 2016

Funding: Hogrefe Verlag, Göttingen

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