School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Rebecca Harrison


visual spatial intelligence, visual spatial ability, STEM, gifted curricula, visual spatial skills, visual spatial activities




Elementary gifted students with spatial strengths are often overlooked, under identified, and underserved in elementary school. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to identify how visual spatial training can be implemented in the elementary gifted curricula and how the teachers of the gifted program can be supported in their efforts to develop visual spatial activities for the elementary gifted classroom in a large, urban school district in South Carolina. There are approximately 35 teachers of the district’s elementary gifted program. This program services those students in grades 3, 4, and 5 who qualified based on state-mandated criteria. The participants came from this group of teachers and were selected based on willingness to participate. This study sought to answer the questions: what are the perceptions of best practices of elementary gifted teachers with teaching and using visual spatial activities in the gifted classroom, and how can the district’s elementary gifted program support and further equip gifted elementary teachers to enrich the spatial ability of students in the gifted program? The conceptual framework guiding this study was the theory of mindset (Dweck, 2006) with influences of Albert Bandura’s theory of self-efficacy (1977). Dweck’s mindset theory provided the theoretical framework as it relates to the perceptions and beliefs that teachers and students have about learning and intelligence. Through the use of a self-efficacy survey, individual interviews, and physical artifacts, data was collected and analyzed, and themes in teachers’ perceptions of best practices for teaching visual spatial activities were identified.

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