ERIC Number: EJ1051983
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2015-Mar
What Were Willie and Xavier Thinking? A Reflection on James Gallagher's Research on Student-Teacher Interaction
Gallagher, Shelagh A.; Courtright, Richard D.; Robinson, Linda P.
Journal for the Education of the Gifted, v38 n1 p44-50 Mar 2015
James Gallagher is known for framing the broad ideas that drive the field of gifted education; he defined policy, described ideal educational infrastructure, and identified "acceleration," "enrichment," "novelty," and "sophistication" as core attributes of content differentiation (J. J. Gallagher, 1985). What most people do not realize is that he spent his early career engaged in research far removed from policy, scrutinizing transcripts of classroom conversations to determine the cognitive levels of teacher questions and student answers. Gallagher's early research is a natural consequence of his background. As a child, he gained firsthand experience with inquiry-based curriculum at the innovative Falk Laboratory School at the University of Pittsburgh. Biology was his undergraduate major. In graduate school, he turned to clinical child psychology, where he cultivated an appreciation for the power of questions. The clinician turned to research during the curriculum innovation zeitgeist that followed Sputnik--an era also noted for fine-grained research into classroom discourse. Gallagher understood that scholars contributed more than content knowledge to Biological Sciences Curriculum Study (BSCS); they also brought their appreciation for the significant ideas, intriguing problems, and important questions that make biology interesting. Gallagher voiced concern about the over-reliance on large-scale multi-classroom assessments and pre-post research protocols to determine the efficacy of curricula such as BSCS. He contrasted this practice with research in medicine, pointing out that it is nearly impossible to control "dose" of curriculum from one classroom to the next as though it were a new medication. This article provides a timely reminder that delivery of complex curriculum is dependent upon ongoing professional development in combination with teacher supports during implementation. Without both, there is no guarantee of either fidelity in a single classroom or continuity among classrooms. Gallagher would want classroom discussion skills to be included as fundamental training for every teacher of gifted students. The authors conclude, Gallagher would also want teachers prepared to self-assess their questioning patterns using a structured system that includes categories for higher order thinking. Far from seeking to limit teachers' creativity, he understood that the best artists analyze their craft, and that the result of the analysis is greater artistry.
Descriptors: Teacher Student Relationship, Educational Research, Reflection, Biological Sciences, Class Activities, Classroom Environment, Educational Philosophy, Educational Development, Educational Practices, Profiles, Recognition (Achievement)
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