Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Oasis Enrichment Models in Gifted Education

Some nations are seeking to develop their brightest and most talented for a stronger tomorrow.  Evaluating successful and unsuccessful gifted education programs help decision makers understand what works and what doesn’t work in progressive programs. Research by Aljughaiman & Ayoub (2013) evaluated an Oasis Enrichment Model in Saudi Arabia to determine whether or not it produced successes in fostering greater talent.

An Oasis Enrichment Model rests on three premises in gifted development. It seeks to enhance their cognitive, emotional, and social needs to create higher performing students. To determine success they conducted a meta-analysis of 35 other programs. It helped compare, summarize, and correct findings to determine better estimates of variable relationships.

There are many different types of enrichment programs that include excelled classes, full schools, pull-out programs, weekend programs, afternoon programs, boarding schools, summer camps and enhance in-class programs. Each has their benefit. Primarily nations pick a particular program based upon their national philosophies and available resources. In-class enrichment is cheaper but boarding school options may be more impactful in the social aspects. Each has their own merits.

Those who enter such programs were evaluated for intensities and abilities. Such individuals were deemed as more likely to excel in one or more fields of study. They may have inherited innate skills, cognitive advancements, personal and social traits, cultural knowledge, and experiential abilities to learn from experience. At a basic level these abilities include memory, exploratory behavior, creating meaning, planning long-term, inference, imagination, idea development, problem solving, decision-making, leadership, logic, and higher forms of energy.

The goal of any enrichment program is to enhance and embolden. It is to teach gifted students the ability to be masters of their own fate and excel in areas that interest them and can have the greatest benefit for society. They need an uncritical environment that allows them to ask questions, explore their environment, and delve deeply into concepts without the pressures of others.  It can take considerable time and effort to create appropriate mental pathways to higher performance. 

Oasis Enrichment Programs rest on three major concepts that include 1.) Research and Thinking Skills, 2.) Academic Content, and 3.) Affective Traits.  The programs select a main topic of interest to the student and then use that as an umbrella for other learning. They use the three stages of Exploration, Perfection and Creativity. Exploration consumes 15% of their time, Perfection another 60%, and Creativity 25%. Students learn to explore, perfect their abilities and then create new knowledge. 

The results found that such programs do enhance student’s ability to think critically, scientifically and freely. One of the advantages of the program is that students pick their own interests and this fits within their higher levels of independence. If the teacher picks the topic, a number of students begin to underperform.  The other important aspect is to ensure that the students are in an uncritical environment that allows them to choose their own path without forced adherence to the teacher’s wishes. 

Comment: The success of gifted programs are based in their ability to socialize with others who have a gifted nature and hold similar interests. Likewise, the students like to control their own learning and this creates higher levels of motivation. Teachers are used as support in this learning process and provide curriculum that enhances the student’s abilities without forcing them down an improper path. If the student feels they are in a critical environment they will simply demotivate and develop apathy toward the educational process. 

Aljughairman, A. & Ayoub, A. (2013). Evaluating the effects of oasis enrichment model on gifted education: a meta-analysis study. Talent Development & Excellence, 5 (1)

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