Munro, J K. (2015). Scenario problem solving: A measure of the quality of gifted students’ thinking. The Australasian Journal of Gifted Education,24(1), 23-29. Australia: Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented.
Teachers continue to face the challenge of identifying efficaciously gifted students' learning capacity in its multiple forms. While most educators acknowledge its multidimensional characteristics, the protocols used to identify it are frequently evaluated as unnecessarily restrictive. This study investigates an assessment tool that could potentially assist in responding to this challenge - the use of scenario problem solving tasks. These tasks present solvers with a scenario of a real world situation that has an embedded problem. A cohort of 357 third to sixth graders completed various conventional tasks used to identify verbal and nonverbal gifted students' learning capacity. As well they solved a scenario problem. The gifted students achieved higher problem solving scores than their non-gifted peers. The extent of gifted students' learning capacity influenced their outcomes; those gifted in both the verbal and nonverbal domains achieved the highest problem solving scores. As well, their solutions showed evidence of more elaborated and differentiated conceptual knowledge and a higher level of inferential, divergent thinking. They are consistent with gifted students' learning being characterized as intuitive theory formation, drawing on the ability to engage in analogistic thinking. The problem-solving tasks were shown to have moderate concurrent validity. The implications for the use of scenario problem solving in the future as a tool for identifying multiple forms of gifted students' learning capacity are discussed.
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