Graefe, Amy Karol
Robinson, Jason David
College of Education and Behavioral Sciences; School of Special Education
University of Northern Colorado
Type of Resources
Place of Publication
University of Northern Colorado
The issue of biases associated with labeling students as gifted or as having a disability presents a significant challenge to educational professionals with regard to identification and the provision of services. In the presence of labels indicating giftedness, disability, and twice exceptionality, research consistently demonstrated biases on the part of parents, teachers, and even other students. These biases could prevent students from receiving the services they need to achieve their fullest potential (Bianco & Leech, 2010). The current study systematically replicated a study by Bianco and Leech (2010) and examined the influence of disability labels on teachers’ decisions to refer students to gifted programming. Further, this study investigated whether there were any differences in teachers’ responses based on the type of teaching certificate they held (i.e., gifted education, special education, general education). Three groups of in-service teachers (85 general, 59 special, and 43 gifted education teachers) from the Western region of Saudi Arabia participated in the study. A cross-sectional survey methodology was employed. Teachers were randomly assigned to one of three survey conditions that consisted of a vignette that described a student with both giftedness and high potential traits, differing only with respect to one of three labeling conditions (no label, learning disability [LD], autism spectrum disorder [ASD]). Multinomial logistic regression was used to assess the influence of teacher type and the labeling condition on the teachers’ ratings. Responses to an open-ended question that asked teachers to provide a reason for their referral decisions were analyzed qualitatively. The quantitative analysis showed neither teacher type nor the presence or absence of a disability label had a significant influence on the overall ratings, which was in sharp contrast to Bianco and Leech’s (2010) results. The interaction of the two variables was also nonsignificant. Most of the participants (94%) chose to agree or strongly agree with a referral. However, of the few nonreferrals, most were for students with ASD. Three themes emerged from the qualitative analysis of the teachers’ rationales including (a) the student shows gifted traits, (b) the student’s skills could be cultivated with support, and (c) the student does not fit the definition for giftedness. Findings from this study provided insights into the issues of labeling students and the status of twice-exceptionality in Saudi Arabia. The results indicated limited, negative bias among different types of teachers with respect to students with disabilities. Also, the participants in this study showed a strong orientation toward supporting the growth and development of the student in all three vignette conditions. However, it remained clear that Saudi Arabia would still greatly benefit from establishing a clear policy on twice-exceptionality and providing training programs to educators with respect to defining, identifying, and educating students with giftedness and disabilities.
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