Anies Al-Hroub in the article â€œDeveloping Assessment Profiles for Mathematically Gifted Children with Learning Difficulties at Three Schools in Cambridgeshire, Englandâ€ makes a solid attempt at suggesting suitable ways to identify mathematically gifted children with learning difficulties. The main concern of the study was to observe whether a multidimensional assessment is effective in identifying mathematically talented children. The research attempted to investigate the use of specific multiple measures to identify mathematically gifted children, understand whether there is a special academic behavior displayed by such children, and find out the relationship between the mathematical abilities and learning difficulties of the students.
The author is rather logical in presenting his study. The conceptual approach and assumptions of the research are explained at the very beginning of the article, followed by a detailed description of such operational concepts as mathematically gifted children and children with learning difficulties. Therefore, the argument flows logically from one step to the other.
The present qualitative study was conducted on the basis of three primary schools in Cambridgeshire, UK. The case study method was chosen and there were a total of five case studies with participants ranging from the age of 9 to the age of almost 12 years old. In order to identify both mathematical giftedness and learning difficulties six different techniques were used. They included documentary evidence where the researcher obtained general information like medical history, scores in different tests, etc.; teacher and parent interviews with teachers focusing specifically on the classroom performance of the student and parents focusing more on social or psychological issues, among others; the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children to identify the intellectual ability; the Dyslexia Screening Test; the Neale Analysis of Reading Ability; and Dynamic Assessment (DA): The mathematics achievement
test, which is designed to determine the ability of the learner to respond to intervention.
The findings of the study suggest that the multidimensional approach is more effective for identifying mathematically gifted children with learning difficulties. Some of the findings concur with the previously existing research while others are slightly different. For instance, there was a considerable discrepancy between verbal and performance IQ in most cases that, according to the author, may be a reliable indicator of such gifted children. However, a smaller discrepancy of about 11 points, as suggested by the previous research, may be not enough for identifying coexisting mathematical giftedness and learning difficulties. Also, The interviews and background information gathered allowed parents and teachers to understand the students more. This suggests that the teachers will be able to tackle the learning needs of such students better and the parents will be more aware of their child’s needs as well.
Data presented in the article provokes a lot of thoughts and raises even more questions for further research. As the author acknowledges, there are limitations to the study, for example the fact that there were only five individual cases investigated and that the increased number of participants can shift the obtained results in any direction. However, this is still a good starting point on the way to better understanding students who are talented in math but have certain learning difficulties. The issues of validity, reliability, and ethics are addressed throughout the study as the different stages of it are described. The case studies are presented in the body of the article, enabling the readers to make conclusions based on the material given. The results of quantitative tests are also included.
All aspects combined, the study deserves a fair amount of attention from researchers, teachers, and parents who face a similar problem with learners. The research can be replicated in different setting to test whether the same results would be gathered.Â