Challenging Students with High Abilities in Inclusive Math and Science Classrooms

Suzanne Freedberg, Fordham University


The purpose of this mixed methods, qualitative and quantitative study was to explore how math and science teachers perceived and supported the learning of students with high abilities in inclusive, urban, general education classrooms. Drawing on the literature on self-regulated learning (SRL), the study explored: (1) teachers’ perceptions of students with high abilities, (2) teachers’ support of these students in the classroom, including usage of SRL-supportive strategies, and (3) considerations and tensions between math and science standards/curricular goals and implementation of SRL. Findings suggest that teachers perceived some of such learners to be naturally independent and reflective, but others to be unlikely to naturally engage in SRL practices, perhaps due to their ability to succeed in school without putting forth their full effort. Teachers reported experiencing some level of tension or complexity when striving to meet these students’ needs, citing time-related tensions (e.g., limited class time; the complexity of pacing required course material), curriculum-related tensions (e.g., ensuring required curriculum is taught; setting learning goals associated with the curriculum), and assessment-related tensions (e.g., assessment markers not demonstrating the depth of students’ knowledge or the growth of learning; internal and external pressure). Findings point to the need for further professional development opportunities targeting differentiating instruction for students with high abilities, as well as changes in classroom structure and curriculum at a higher, public policy level.

Subject Area

Gifted Education|Curriculum development|Science education|Mathematics education

Recommended Citation

Freedberg, Suzanne, "Challenging Students with High Abilities in Inclusive Math and Science Classrooms" (2021). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI28415086.