Classroom Interaction between Gifted International Students: A Case Study
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This is a qualitative explorative research about classroom interaction between gifted international students. The research is placed within the context of student-teacher interaction at a Liberal Arts & Sciences (LAS) program at University College Utrecht. This international institution was established in 1997. Currently, there are four different universities like University College Utrecht in The Netherlands. This study is part of a larger research framework called the ‘Sirius Project’ which strives to stimulate excellence in Bachelor programs of the University of Utrecht. This research is focused on investigating the learning environment of UCU and how excellence and students’ cultural diversity play a role in the learning process. The object of research is classroom interaction. Discourse analysis is used to distinguish the institutional discourse patterns of classroom interactions at UCU. Exceptional usage of institutional action patterns are identified and explained in the light of students’ above average abilities. The researcher uses Renzulli’s (1979) three-ring conception of ‘giftedness’ to explain the identified elements of excellence. The researcher also aims to identify in which situations cultural differences are apparent. Thus, how is the cultural diversity of UCU’s students expressed during classroom interaction? Ten Thije’s (2006) theory of perspectivizing and discourse tactics such as thematizing and unthematizing racism (Koole & ten Thije 1994, 2000) are used to explain the cultural elements in interaction. The findings show that excellence in classroom interaction is expressed in two ways; creativity and task-commitment. In addition, the students of UCU clearly take control over the institutional action patterns thereby changing the patterns entirely. Accordingly, the learning process is enriched by satisfying the students’ individual goals (Ziel) while preserving the social purpose (Zweck) of classroom interaction; to transfer and acquire knowledge. The students continue their learning process even though the action patterns are transformed. This extraordinary phenomenon can be considered another sign of excellence. Such cases rarely co-occur with explicit expressions of cultural diversity. Only one instance showed that the usage of perspectivizing triggered the expression of excellence in interaction. It is the ultimate goal to reproduce such conditions in the future and thereby enhance UCU’s learning environment.