The effectiveness of schema activation strategies in three gifted middle school students: A case study

Nancy Helen Holland, Tennessee State University


This case study examined the effectiveness of thematic organizers and concept maps as schema activation strategies for gifted middle school students. Three gifted students who attended Bellevue Middle School were selected to participate in the study. Guided interviews were conducted with the subjects, their teachers, and principal. Questionnaires were sent to the students' parents to ascertain their thoughts on their children's education. ^ Four after-school sessions were conducted with the students. In the first after-school session, students were taught how to construct a hierarchical concept map. In the second after-school session, students were given a thematic organizer based on a text passage from their social studies book. They read the thematic organizer, then the text, and then indicated agreement/disagreement with statements at the end of the thematic organizer. After discussing their reactions to these statements, students created a concept map, which they discussed and then revised. In the third session, students received a second thematic organizer based on a text passage that was consecutive to the text passage used in the previous session. The procedure in the third session was the same as the previous session. In the fourth session, students formulated research questions on a topic of interest to guide an internet search. Using the questions as a guide, the students created an open-ended concept map which contained links but had empty nodes. These maps were revised after the students had searched the internet for the topic they chose. ^ When the after-school sessions were completed, students were interviewed to ascertain their thoughts on the usefulness of concept maps and thematic organizers. Each student indicated that using the concept maps and thematic organizers together was effective in learning new information. An analysis of tapes from the after-school sessions substantiated students' statements. In discussing the statements from the thematic organizers, students related ideas from different perspectives. Each concept map students created became more complex indicating that students saw an increasing number of relationships between concepts. The findings of this study indicated that concept maps and thematic organizers aided gifted students in incorporating new information into their existing schema by prompting them to view new information from different perspectives and helping them to see increased connections in new knowledge. ^

Subject Area

Education, Special|Psychology, Cognitive|Education, Curriculum and Instruction

Recommended Citation

Nancy Helen Holland, "The effectiveness of schema activation strategies in three gifted middle school students: A case study" (1999). ETD Collection for Tennessee State University. Paper AAI9943850.