School Counselors' Knowledge, Perceptions, and Involvement Concerning Gifted and Talented Students
Carlson, Nancy Naomi
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The purpose of this study was to explore school counselors' knowledge and perceptions of gifted and talented students, and to investigate whether these variables influenced their involvement with such students. The following questions were examined: 1) What are the multiple dimensions underlying school counselors' knowledge and perceptions of, and involvement with gifted and talented students? 2) What is the relationship between school counselors' knowledge of gifted and talented students and their involvement with such students? 3) What is the relationship between school counselors' perceptions of gifted and talented students and their involvement with such students? 4) Do school counselors' knowledge, perceptions, and involvement concerning gifted and talented students differ significantly across demographic variables? In order to answer these questions, a survey instrument was developed based on an extensive review of the professional literature. Of the approximately 650 surveys mailed to names randomly selected from the American School Counselor Association's membership, 320 were returned and usable ( a 48.9% return rate). Using principal components analysis with varimax rotation, two dimensions were identified underlying the construct of knowledge, nine dimensions were identified underlying the construct of perspectives, and three dimensions were identified underlying the construct of involvement, one of which was "advocacy." Results indicated that general GT knowledge seemed to predict all three dimensions of school counselors' reported involvement with gifted and talented students, and that identification knowledge significantly predicted advocacy. Limited predictive value of perceptions for involvement was found. Other findings indicated the following statistically significant differences: 1) more experienced counselors reported more knowledge of and involvement with gifted and talented students than those with less experience; 2) high school counselors tended to report less involvement than middle school or elementary school counselors; 3) counselors who worked in schools with over 50% of the students receiving free or reduced lunch reported less involvement than did counselors working in schools with a lower percentage of students receiving free and reduced lunch, and 4) counselors working in schools with a GT program and/ or a GT specialist reported more knowledge and involvement than counselors working without such a program or specialist. This study has training and practice implications for school counselors.