educationsciencesConcept PaperEnrichment and Gifted Education Pedagogy to Develop Talents,Gifts, and Creative ProductivitySally M. Reis * , Sara Jane Renzulli and Joseph S. RenzulliDepartment of Educational Psychology, Neag School of Education, University of Connecticut,Storrs, CT 06269, USA; [email protected] (S.J.R.); [email protected] (J.S.R.)* Correspondence: [email protected]: Providing challenging and engaging learning opportunities is one way to motivate studentsto learn. In this article, we discuss the contributions of the gifted education field to the developmentof enrichment pedagogy and identify several different types of these engaging instructional strategies,including interest-based learning pedagogy, differentiation and curriculum compacting, project-basedlearning, open-ended choice, and the application of creative productivity to students learning. Weidentify this specialized pedagogy and give examples of how these exciting pedagogical strategiescan be implemented in classrooms and by enrichment specialists and school counselors, both foracademically talented and for all students. We conclude with a brief overview of research thatdemonstrates longitudinal benefits for students who are exposed to this type of teaching, suggestingpositive outcomes. Keywords: interdisciplinary teaching; enrichment pedagogy; differentiation; curriculum compacting;schoolwide enrichment model-reading; SEM-RCitation: Reis, S.M.; Renzulli, S.J.;Renzulli, J.S. Enrichment and GiftedEducation Pedagogy to DevelopTalents, Gifts, and Creative1. IntroductionProductivity. Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 615.Many different enrichment theories have been proposed, developed, and some havebeen studied in the field of gifted education and enrichment during the last few decades.Our own theoretical work on the development of the Schoolwide Enrichment Model(SEM) [1–3] and its broad implementation across the globe, is testimony to the fact thatgifted education has served a true laboratory for the enrichment innovations that havesubsequently become mainstays of talent development opportunities . This movementhas been fueled in part by frustrations over the types of teaching that has been in thepast and is currently being asked of teachers in many classrooms across the world. Toooften we have heard numerous testimonials from creative teachers about administrativeinsistence on scripted lessons, the need to teach the same lesson on the same day in the sameformat to every student in a grade level across the district, and diminished opportunitiesto teach creatively, accompanied by a loss of creative opportunities for talent developmentand enrichment.In this article, we discuss various forms of enrichment pedagogy, including strategiesfor increasing student effort, enjoyment, and performance, and for integrating a range ofadvanced-level learning experiences and thinking skills into all curricular areas. Enrichment pedagogy enable students to experience advanced-level learning, critical and creativethinking and problem solving, and the motivation to pursue rigorous and rewarding work.Although an in-depth discussion of specific enrichment models is beyond the scope of thisarticle, a comprehensive overview of systems and models in gifted education is availablein a volume of that name .Enrichment and enrichment pedagogy theories relating to gifted education generallyfall into two broad categories. The first is enrichment experiences constructed around theinterests and talents of children, such as those we recommend in the SEM, and the second,theories in which enrichment is selected by teachers or curricular opportunities that arehttps://doi.org/10.3390/educsci11100615Academic Editors: Dorothy Sisk andJames AlbrightReceived: 2 September 2021Accepted: 29 September 2021Published: 8 October 2021Publisher’s Note: MDPI stays neutralwith regard to jurisdictional claims inpublished maps and institutional affiliations.Copyright: 2021 by the authors.Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.This article is an open access articledistributed under the terms andconditions of the Creative CommonsAttribution (CC BY) license c. Sci. 2021, 11, 615. .mdpi.com/journal/education
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 6152 of 9selected for their appropriate content and curriculum for enrichment. Enrichment theoriesusually are interest-based; integrate advanced content, processes, and products; includebroad interdisciplinary themes; foster effective independent and autonomous learning;provide compacted, individualized and differentiated curriculum and instruction; developinvestigative creative problem solving abilities and creativity; and integrate the tools of thepracticing professionals in the development of products.As early as 1985, we advocated the use of and extension of some types of enrichmentpedagogy for the talent development of all students. The seeds of this idea were cultivatedin Renzulli’s Enrichment Triad Model  with three types of enrichment, which serve asthe pedagogical core of our SEM approach [1–3]. This model is often used as a themefor magnet schools, or as a whole school enrichment approach for schools that use themodel for all students. It is also implemented as a program for gifted and academicallytalented students and has even been suggested as a social and emotional and counselingintervention . The knowledge gained and research conducted on this approach overfour decades demonstrates that the SEM is widely implemented as an enrichment programused with academically gifted and talented students and a magnet theme school for allstudents using talent development experiences . The SEM provides enriched learningexperiences and higher learning standards for all children through three goals; developingtalents in all children, providing a broad range of advanced-level enrichment experiencesfor all students, and follow-up advanced learning for children based on interests and strongmotivation to pursue a topic of special interest. The enrichment pedagogy included inour SEM pedagogy has resulted in increased engagement, higher achievement in multipleforms (both in standardized achievement tests and more important, in creative productivity)and the use of enjoyable and challenging learning experiences constructed around students’interests, learning styles, and product styles .2. Enrichment PedagogyWe define pedagogy as methods used by teachers to instruct and teach childrenand enrichment pedagogy as the teaching methods that respond to students’ academicstrengths and interests. Enrichment pedagogy refers to enriched, strength based instructional approaches that teachers use to engage learners. For over four decades, we haveadvocated the use of a systematic strength-based, talent-focused pedagogy based on acquired knowledge of students’ academic strengths, learning preferences, interests, andtalents. In our Schoolwide Enrichment Model, we specify the need to both identify anddevelop students’ talents, strengths, and interests to provide opportunities for enrichmentand talent development. In fact, our focus has been on what we call the concept of ORE,that is providing Resources, and Encouragement in areas of student interest, that willcontribute to the development of their future areas of expertise, talents, or interests. Theseopportunities should be provided both within and outside of the curriculum to developstudents’ advanced abilities and interests.Enrichment pedagogy is embedded within the Enrichment Triad Model , thepedagogical core of the SEM. The Triad includes two categories of general enrichment(Types I and II), which we recommend for all students, and a third category (Type III), amore advanced type of enrichment that is appropriate for students, with academic talents,as well as advanced abilities and interests and task commitment. These three types ofenrichment are introduced briefly here for context and application of enrichment pedagogy.Type I Enrichment consists of general exploratory experiences that expose young peopleto new interests and potential areas of follow-up. Type II Enrichment consists of trainingactivities in the following six categories: Cognitive Thinking Skills, Character DevelopmentSkills, Learning How-To-Learn Skills, Using Advanced Research and Reference Skills,Written, Oral, and Communication Skills, and Meta-Cognitive Technology Skills. Type IIIEnrichment includes individual and small group investigations of real problems; and it iswith this type of enrichment pedagogy that we have seen the most innovative and creativeexamples of talent development.
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 6153 of 9We define some enrichment pedagogy strategies briefly in Table 1 below and inthe sections that follow, illustrate how these types of pedagogies can be applied in bothclassrooms and enrichment programs.Table 1. Enrichment Pedagogy Strategies.Enrichment Pedagogy StrategyDescriptionStrength-based Learning OpportunitiesUsing knowledge of students’ academic strengths, learning preferences,interests, and talents to systematically create learning opportunitiesfocusing on talent development opportunities to develop their talents,gifts, interests, and strengthsCritical/Creative Thinking and Problem SolvingProviding opportunities to use critical and creative thinking andproblem solving (ability to interpret information critically and make ajudgement, and using open-ended thinking resulting in multiple ideasand solutions)Identification and Development of Interests (such as using InterestDevelopment Centers)Purposeful methods used to identify and develop student interests inclass, such as using interest assessment instruments and interestdevelopment centers in the classroom.Independent and Small Group Projects, Studies, and Explorations(Opportunities for Creative Productivity)Enable the development of creative-productive gifted behaviors thatenable students to work on problems and areas of study that havepersonal relevance to them. Work on these studies can often be used forsolving problems and making a difference in society, either byindividual or groups of students.Open-ended and Choice Assignments and Other Choice EnrichmentProvide open-ended and choice in assignments, including homeworkand class assignments. Additionally, offering choices for enrichmentlearning, such as in enrichment clusters selected by students, in whichthe production of a product or service occurs.Differentiated Instruction (Curriculum Compacting) Targeted toStudent NeedsMake instructional and curricular modifications and differentiatedinstruction to ensure that instruction and content are more challengingand advanced, as needed.Integrating Depth and ComplexityInfuse the curriculum with depth and promoting in students a desire forcomplexities beyond the requirements of the standard curriculum tostimulate student inquiry or questioning and/or student responsesEmbracing Affective Differences and Support for Social EmotionalNeeds and DevelopmentUse pedagogy that addresses the multifaceted characteristics of diversegroups of students, also focusing on their social and emotional needs,and ways of supporting their social and affective growth throughacademic engagement and strength-based pedagogyIn the sections below, we describe some of the ways that teachers can integrate someor a combination of the gifted education pedagogy strategies suggested in Table I intoteaching and instructional strategies that work. Examples include strategies that can beimplemented either in one content area, such as reading, as well as in multiple contentareas and across grade levels.3. Curriculum CompactingTo maximize instructional time, enrichment pedagogy also incorporates rigor intothe differentiated and compacted curriculum to eliminate work that students have already mastered. Compacting is one differentiation strategy used to document which workwithin content areas has been compacted and alternative work that has been substituted.Compacting can include content acceleration for students who can cover regular curriculum material faster, as well as accelerated content necessary for an advanced project oradditional depth or complexity in content. In this way, compacting is compatible with acceleration best-practices and models . Curriculum Compacting integrates several of thepedagogy strategies outlined in Table 1. For example, it is a strategy focusing on students’curricular strengths and interests, and also focuses on increasing depth and complexity. Itenables students to pursue these interests and encourages involvement and completionof Type III enrichment studies. In addition, it exposes students to advanced thinkingand problem-solving skills and strategies, as well as ways of embracing greater challenge.When teachers compact curriculum, they also provide affective support for more advanced
Educ. Sci. 2021, 11, 6154 of 9work and help to reduce the likelihood of underachievement through the substitution ofmore engaging work leading to social and emotional support for advanced students.Curriculum compacting is one of the most well-researched and practiced methods ofdifferentiation . It is traditionally offered and provided to all eligible above averagestudents. Compacting enables classroom teachers to modify the regular curriculum byeliminating portions of previously mastered content when students demonstrate contentstrengths in a particular area (s). Research on compacting has demonstrated that academically talented students can have up to 50–75% of their regular curriculum eliminated orstreamlined to avoid repetition of previously mastered work while guaranteeing masteryand simultaneously substituting more appropriately challenging activities [11,12]. Researchshows a huge range of reading achievement and fluency across both heterogeneous, aswell as homogeneous classrooms . Fir