The academic and social implications of virtual learning environments for gifted high school students with an autism spectrum disorder
Lorna Elizabeth Bryant, University of Arkansas at Little Rock, United States
University of Arkansas at Little Rock . Awarded
In public schools today, students who are identified as individuals with gifts and talents are generally confronted with education that is not fitted to their learning needs and self-regulatory potentials (Colangelo, Assouline, & Gross, 2004). The mismatch between needs and services is particularly true of those students who, in addition to their giftedness, are faced with the challenges of a developmental disability such as autism or Asperger's Syndrome. In the face of such challenges to appropriate services for twice-exceptional students, a new approach to public education is attracting an increasing amount of attention. The term twice-exceptional was coined by James J. Gallagher to denote students who are both gifted and have a disability. A growing body of research indicates that online learning is effective in meeting the unique needs of these students.
This study gathered information from students with gifts and talents with an Autism Spectrum Disorder who are enrolled in a full-time Virtual Learning Environment (VLE). The study utilized in-depth interviews with three to four each of students and parents. The data collected was analyzed using a Grounded Theory approach. The purpose of the study was to examine the participants' reasons for enrolling in a virtual high school, to assess the extent to which students, their parents, and teachers feel the virtual learning environment accommodates each child's particular academic, behavioral and social needs, and to determine whether the participants perceive VLEs as capable of fostering acceptance and socialization among gifted autistic students.
Bryant, L.E. The academic and social implications of virtual learning environments for gifted high school students with an autism spectrum disorder. Ph.D. thesis, University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
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