Experiences of successful gifted and talented immigrant students in an International Baccalaureate Programme
Ecke, Laura Jean Bailey
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This case study explores the background and experiences of gifted and talented immigrant students who were successful in an International Baccalaureate Programme. Immigrant students often have the potential for bilingualism and high achievement. They face barriers to advanced educational opportunities when educators view them from a deficit perspective based on language, poverty, or lack of cultural capital. If educators view immigrant students through a proficiency lens that illuminates their potential strengths and provide access to and support for advanced high school programs, immigrant students have increased opportunities for high achievement. The purpose of this study is to better understand the background and experiences of gifted and talented immigrant students within an International Baccalaureate Programme and to consider implications for educators so they can better address their strengths and needs. Research questions that pertain to this overall focus included: How do gifted and talented immigrant students who participated in the IB Programme describe their experiences? What were the cultural and contextual aspects of the students' experiences? What elements of the IB Programme addressed the strengths and needs of gifted and talented immigrant students? Research methods included three semi-structured interviews of immigrant students, a teacher focus group discussion, and a document analysis. The data was analyzed and presented in a detailed description of the context of the IB Programme and in three immigrant student narratives. Cross-case analysis yielded intersecting themes about the immigrant students’ experiences: the importance of native language development; the need to learn English and a sense of shame about not knowing English; the impact of parent sacrifice; the inability of immigrant parents to be involved in school; the significance of peer and teacher relationships, and the power of work ethic and motivation. Implications for educators include preparation, support, and access for immigrant students to advanced high school programs; creating opportunities for students to develop their native language; and structuring enrichment, teambuilding, and advisement experiences to involve parents and support immigrant students.