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A Progressive Pedagogy for Online Learning with High-Ability Secondary School Students: A Case Study


Gifted Child Quarterly Volume 54, Number 3, ISSN 0016-9862


This article describes a case study of a group of ten 14-year-old students who engaged with an online extended-learning project as an extracurricular activity for about 6 months. The students were physically located in Australia, Malaysia, and the United Kingdom. The facilitation and online learning made use of a progressive pedagogy that moved from structured, whole group online participation to a more individual, open approach to learning. The study investigated students' motivation to participate in the online learning and explored the nature of the interactions in an online learning environment. The findings show that students interacted differently online, depending on the task at hand. Seven of the 10 students completed the final task of creating learning products. The implications of the study for online learning with high-ability school students are discussed. Putting the Research to Use: This research demonstrates that online support for high ability students is both possible and practical. Implementing this approach requires a structured approach to move the students progressively to more open-ended enquiry. This incremental approach reduces the extent of student drop-out and increases task completion when compared to more challenging open-ended tasks. Teachers or schools seeking to provide this kind of support to overcome geographic isolation of high ability students need to (a) plan carefully for the structured engagement with topics and with other students (b) remain closely involved in the initial stages of engagement and (c) only gradually remove their scaffolding as students demonstrate capacity to sustain independent interactions. Having a public purpose for the activity is also important. (Contains 4 tables, 2 figures, and 2 notes.)


Ng, W. & Nicholas, H. (2010). A Progressive Pedagogy for Online Learning with High-Ability Secondary School Students: A Case Study. Gifted Child Quarterly, 54(3), 239-251. Retrieved January 24, 2022 from .

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