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The Value of Research Skills Development for Gifted Students

Research skills are not just used in a laboratory or to complete a college term paper. While these may be the first things we think of, research, at its core, is about being inquisitive, understanding the why, and learning to see and approach problems from all angles and through different lenses. For gifted, talented, and creative learners, these skills are fundamental for success in the classroom, but also in life as they navigate new challenges and new ideas. Here at SIG, we look to provide our students with the tools necessary to develop and hone their research skills in all of our programs. 

Research skills are at the forefront of our programs this year and our Director of Academics, Caroline Daniel, had some interesting insight to share with us this month. Check out our recent Q&A session with her below!

Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts about the value of research skills development, Caroline, especially for our gifted, talented, and creative learners!

Let's jump right in - why do you think it's important for gifted students to learn, experience, and conduct research?

Caroline: Of course, thank you for wanting to know more about this critical piece of student development!

We often believe that advanced-level research and investigations are reserved for high school and college students. However, for gifted and advanced learners this trajectory can be limiting.  Gifted and advanced learners should participate in secondary inquiries that lead them to in-depth studies that address social and global issues, so they become leaders of innovative thought and transformative knowledge for the world around. Not only does the opportunity for research put them at the helm of innovation, but it helps them develop leadership and scholarship as active citizens.

For gifted students to grow consistently within their areas of passion, they must have opportunities to understand the landscape of the industries related to their interests. It’s important that they build background around opportunities for innovation, problems and issues that are barriers to growth, how various experts in industries or fields respond, and explore multidisciplinary trends and patterns that impact their interests.

Opportunities for advanced-level research allows them to gain a 360 view of interests they enjoy, and it challenges them to become experts. We want gifted students and advanced learners to be equipped with knowledge and become leaders in the field. When they develop their research skills, apply research methods, and practice 21st century skills, they will be set up for success with any career and post-secondary educational path they choose. 

We know that research skills development is at the forefront of the SIG programs this year - how will SIG academic courses actually cultivate research skills in summer 2022?

Caroline: Research skills development have always been part of SIG Programs, but we are very excited to nurture and develop research skills and methods this summer through an intentional focus within our SIG courses in 2022 for our elementary, middle, and high school programs. This year, students will have a dedicated hour each day within each enrolled course to build and develop key research skills that will lead them to develop an abbreviated research proposal, understand the differences between quantitative and qualitative research methods, and select issues or problems that are currently unanswered in fields appropriate to the range of their course studies.

Students will focus on various research skills such understanding multiple perspectives, reliability of data sources, analysis and synthesis of collected data, design and drafts of prototypes, effective communication, and steps to creating professional products.

Students’ research experiences throughout the program will lead them into a final presentation of their culminating product that offers insight into their research journey and proposal of novel solutions for a targeted audience. These research goals will vary based on various types of courses in science, technology, mathematics, engineering, arts, humanities, and fitness disciplines.

What are some challenges gifted students face as they grow in research skills?

CarolineAs gifted students build foundational skills in research, some challenges they can face are the struggles towards task commitment, self-regulation, the ability to problem-solve when they hit a roadblock, and the perseverance toward professional products.

Sometimes in traditional educational settings, gifted students are sent to their laptops or computers to “research” a topic of interest without much guidance or appropriately equipped with organizational tools or research skills. These practices often lead gifted students to believe that research is a fast-food service of answers from Google.

However, research for gifted students needs to challenge them into a tiered process that begins with inquiry, cultivates their questioning, and encourages them into the process of creating professional products based on qualitative or quantitative methods. It is a process and skills-set that is developed overtime and the commitment and endurance the process demands can often become the struggle for gifted learners. However, with the appropriate guidance and encouragement, students can grow extensively in their interest and celebrate their contributions!

How can SIG students move into experiences that motivate research paths?

Caroline: That's a great question - research starts with a question or inquiry related to an interest or passion. The more questions gifted students ask, the more they will begin to seek out relevant sources for answers and move into opportunities that allow them to test, experiment, build prototypes, and explore their creativity. In addition to asking the right questions, it’s important that gifted students engage and interact with professionals or experts in the field. Bringing your child to work to talk to professionals in your field or provide opportunities for them to network and interview professionals with questions are all starting points to building research pathways.

What are the goals that 2022 SIG academic courses as it relates to the development of research skills? 

Caroline: SIG courses in 2022 are reimagined! They not only provide more time for students to learn course objectives, work on hands-on/minds-on activities, engage in differentiation based on their readiness, but they also help students pursue their personal interests through the development of research skills.

Our goal for SIG courses is for students to gain new knowledge and apply it in creative and innovative ways. The dedicated time towards their culminating products each day offer that space for students to flex and grow in their development of research skills, inquiry-based learning, and investigative experiences. We want students to leave SIG courses knowing they have the confidence and the tools to contribute to solutions for the world they live in.

So exciting! We can't wait to see this in action on campus and in person with students this summer. Thank you so much Caroline, and we can't wait to see your topic for April.

Caroline: Thank you so much, and it will be a good one. We'll be talking about tips and traps for virtual learning to help our gifted learners in our online courses this summer!


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