How Do Teachers Meet the Academic Needs of High-Ability Students in Science?

  • Jenny HorsleyEmail author
  • Azra Moeed
Living reference work entry
Part of the Springer International Handbooks of Education book series (SIHE)


Eminent scientist and passionate orator Sir Paul Callaghan aspired for New Zealand to concentrate on cutting-edge science and technological innovation. Underpinning this vision is a need to nurture and develop talented science students and to retain them in higher science studies. However, retaining students in science study is proving challenging. Therefore, identifying how teachers can sustain students’ interests in science—particularly students of high-academic ability—is a topic requiring further investigation. An overview of international initiatives in science education for those with high-academic ability is provided in this chapter, in addition to reporting New Zealand research involving 4 teachers and 53 high-ability students from each teacher’s science class. Findings revealed that while these high-ability students identified motivating and exciting learning experiences in their science classes, their learning was limited to science content knowledge and some procedural knowledge and skills and not on understanding how scientific knowledge is created and how science works. Importantly, given the emphasis on gifted students requiring an understanding of the philosophy of the ‘nature’ of science, these students provided no evidence of a nuanced understanding of the nature of science, that is, how science works. The example study identifies high-ability students’ perceptions of what teachers say and do that motivate them in science classes. Similarly, identifying what teachers perceive they do to support their high-ability science students will benefit not only students but also other teachers and communities that aspire to foster students capable of performing in cutting-edge science and innovation.


Science High ability High-academic ability Gifted and talented Nature of science (NoS) 


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Victoria University of WellingtonWellingtonNew Zealand

Section editors and affiliations

  • James J. Watters
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of EducationQueensland University of TechnologyBrisbaneAustralia

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