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Arkansas State University

How to Foster Creative Problem-Solving in Gifted and Talented Students

Gifted and talented students might have an easier time understanding academic subjects, but these students still face their own set of challenges in the classroom. As high performers, they face heightened expectations, and when they do encounter a difficult situation, they can be prone to impatience or perfectionist tendencies.

Gifted and talented students often encounter social challenges such as trouble making friends, identity issues and even bullying. Teaching these students to problem-solve such issues on their own is a critical lesson, and a Master of Science in Education (MSE) degree with a major in Gifted, Talented, and Creative (GTC) from Arkansas State University arms educators with the necessary tools and knowledge to help students learn creative approaches and solutions for any situation.

Project-Based Learning

Projects outside of routine assignments can be a way to encourage alternative types of expressions and ideas. Many gifted students do not need to be lectured to or re-learn topics that they already understand. Instead, a project can be a way to harness that existing knowledge and channel it toward a different kind of challenge. This can be a great way to further the students’ existing understanding. These projects can also offer an alternative outlet for students who learn differently and showcase their creativity or understanding of a subject or topic.

Computational-Thinking Lesson Plans

Computational thinking identifies a troubleshooting style of problem-solving that many people employ every day, often unconsciously. Originally coined in the computer science field, the process of computational thinking ​​”focuses on efficient data analysis, identification of solutions, persistence, solution implementation, and algorithmic thinking,” according to the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC). It’s a way to combine different types of information to brainstorm wholesale solutions. NAGC suggests that the skills developed from computational thinking are applicable to any field, despite its origins in STEM fields.

In practice, computational-thinking lesson plans can also be quite simple. Data collection could be as easy as keeping track of daily weather conditions, with data analysis taking place when students are asked to create graphs or map out the weather and identify patterns. When students create directions, such as a cooking recipe, they can grasp the idea of algorithms and procedures. These kinds of active learning exercises help develop creative problem-solving as well as social-emotional skills like patience and communication.

Small Group Work

Even among gifted and talented students, no two learning styles are the same. As the Davidson Institute points out, “strategies that work for one group of gifted students won’t necessarily work for all gifted students.” Small group work can be a way to accommodate these differing styles by grouping together students who learn in similar manners. This can help create a more functional group dynamic.

Small groups also benefit gifted students by allowing them to work with peers of similar competency levels. Davidson Institute writes that asking gifted students to help tutor struggling students is a common mistake when teaching gifted students, as it creates a difficult interpersonal dynamic for both individuals. Smaller groups with other skilled peers can help gifted students remain challenged and engaged.

Creative Learning

One of the simplest ways to think about creative learning is taking an open-minded approach to how we think about expression and evaluation in the classroom. Creativity manifests itself in myriad ways, so it’s important to allow for those avenues. As the American Psychological Association notes in its education blog, modern experts think of creativity as a set of attributes “that anyone is capable of: tolerating ambiguity, redefining old problems, finding new problems to solve, taking sensible risks, and following an inner passion.”

This way of thinking about creativity helps us understand its value on a wider spectrum. Creativity is not a fixed trait; therefore, it manifests itself in many different ways on many different avenues. Teachers have options for promoting creative attitudes: They can offer chances for unrestricted creative journaling, foster an environment where creative risk-taking is accepted and encourage autonomy. Helping students understand when overly creative approaches are not necessary is an important counterbalance to creative expression as well.

Social Learning (Discussion)

Discussing ideas with teachers and peers is a crucial way for gifted students to understand what they’ve learned in context. It’s also an important method of social development, the chance to share ideas with others and learn from them. The conversations and questions can challenge children’s views and develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of a subject.

Learn more about Arkansas State University’s MSE in Gifted, Talented, and Creative online program.

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