Learning Something New Matters

Wallace Research Symposium on Talent Development

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Learning Something New MattersDel Siegle, Ashley Carpenter, Susan Dulong Langley, Kenneth J. Wright, Kelly Kearney, and Sarah D. Newton

Monday, May 20, 2024, 1:45 – 3:15 pm, Lawrence D. McHugh Hall, Room MCHU 201

Renzulli proposed three E’s for successful academic achievement. He suggested that enjoyment leads to engagement, which further results in enthusiasm for learning and ultimately higher achievement. Student engagement has become a focal point in efforts to enhance teaching and learning, and a large body of research shows strong correlations between student involvement and positive outcomes of student success. We surveyed fourth-grade students in four classes across three Florida public elementary schools in a large urban district. Throughout the year, we asked the students to rate their perceived engagement, challenge, interest, and new content in math class for the week. Students who reported high math ability indicated math challenge was very easy. Not surprisingly, interest in math was strongly related to enjoyment of math (r=.511) as well as engagement in math (r=.534). In addition to being related to interest in math, perceived engagement was also related to new math content learned (r=.385). The statistically significant positive relationship between student engagement and exposure to new math concepts highlights the importance of adjusting math content to cater to the specific learning needs of gifted students. Teachers should also create math learning environments that foster both engagement and interest, as these factors are interconnected.