KIRCA-DEMIRBAGA, KUBRA (2021) A study on the character development and education of gifted pupils using a critical realist approach. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.
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Author-imposed embargo until 15 March 2025.
This study offers an in-depth exploration of how teachers who work with gifted pupils in Turkey think about the character development and character education of gifted pupils. Considering the contextual conditions and relationships in which the study was conducted, helps to make sense more specifically and deeply, of the challenges and needs faced in character education of gifted pupils, and presents realistic and functional suggestions for policy and practice. It derives its theoretical foundation from critical realism, unusual in this field, to outline a stratified ontology for uncovering unobvious causal mechanisms. This study therefore offers explanations about the character development and character education of gifted pupils that are based on how causal mechanisms operating at a deeper level of reality (the domain of the real) by interacting with contextual conditions and relationships that may exist independently of what teachers say – or what we see, know, or believe – about the domains of the actual and empirical. To identify those causal mechanisms within the overarching framework of critical realism, the three-stage critical realist methodology of identification of demi-regularities, abduction, and retroduction, is employed.
In the stage of identification of demi-regularities, 10 focus group interviews – the main driver of the study – were conducted with 48 teachers who work with gifted pupils in science and art centers (SACs) in Turkey. The data of focus group interviews were analysed through identifying demi-regularities – which is analogous to thematic coding – within the overarching framework of critical realism. Then, the thematic categories – or demi-regularities – were transformed into a survey. This survey was actualized online with 105 teachers who work in the SACs but did not participate in the focus group interviews. The statistical analysis of the survey data was made through both descriptive analysis, to see the distribution of the teachers’ responses, and correlation analysis, to see the relationship between the demi-regularities. In the stage of abduction, these demi-regularities are re-described using theoretical concepts. That is, by accepting the demi-regularities inferred from the accumulation of the teachers’ experiences, beliefs, etc. related to phenomena, description must go beyond previously perceptions and conceptions in order to generate theoretical propositions in relation to possible causal mechanisms that lead to teachers’ existing views. In the stage of retroduction – a critical realist analysis relies on this stage – the causal mechanisms that could lead to the demi-regularities about the teachers’ views that are found by examining the powers and liabilities of macro, meso, and micro-level entities that enable the causal mechanisms to be realised in the contextual conditions and relationships that surround the data.
Through this assessment, integration of innate self into social context was found to be the causal mechanism (at the real layer) shaping teachers’ views (at the empirical layer) regarding the description of character; the labelling ideology that ignores character development while focusing on the preservation of high potential was found to be the causal mechanism shaping teachers’ views regarding the character development of gifted pupils; and the desire to transform individual potential into societal gain was found to be the causal mechanism shaping teachers’ views regarding character education of gifted pupils. The challenges and needs faced in actualizing character education of gifted pupils were identified in teacher training at the micro-level, family training at the meso-level, and policy and practices at the macro-level. Addressing these challenges and needs, the causal mechanisms identified, helped to uncover a number of realistic and functional implications for policy and practice by considering contextuality, relationality, and causality and digging deeper in the social context of the research area. Therefore, identifying causal mechanisms in a critical realist framework is useful, both in terms of providing an explanation of what drives beliefs and actions in contextually specific ways, and in providing effective avenues for intervening in policy and practice.
|Item Type:||Thesis (Doctoral)|
|Award:||Doctor of Philosophy|
|Keywords:||gifted education, character development, character education, critical realism|
|Faculty and Department:||Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Education, School of|
|Copyright:||Copyright of this thesis is held by the author|
|Deposited On:||16 Mar 2022 08:21|