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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An evaluation of some aspects of an enrichment program for selected grade seven gifted children : productive thinking Bishop, Carole

Abstract

Effects of the Chilliwack Enrichment Program which included the Productive Thinking Program (Covington, Crutchfield, and Davies, 1966), were investigated through an ex post facto study of certain divergent thinking abilities as assessed by the Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking. Two other areas of interest were studied: the effects of the Productive Thinking Program on problem solving ability, and on reading achievement. The study was conducted with 42 grade seven students who had been identified as the gifted and/or talented prior to the treatment program. Two groups were formed from this pool of students by school district administrators before investigations by the present author. The experimental group remained an intact group throughput a four year Enrichment Program. The control group was composed of all other students not selected to the program. Formal training on the Productive Thinking Program was completed during the first and second years of the Enrichment Program. As groups were not formed from random assignment, pretest comparisons of Lorge-Thorndike IQ and Torrance Battery Scores were made. It was concluded that while the groups in question did not differ in terms of IQ and Torrance scores, substantial differences in family occupations as a result of geographical location resulted in non-equivalent socio-economic status between the two groups. The Torrance Tests of Creative Thinking (Torrance, 1966a) were used to measure divergent thinking ability as defined by Torrance's (1966b) concepts of fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration. Problem solving ability was assessed by means of three well-known Maier (1945) problems; namely, the Prisoner problem, the Horse Trader problem, and the Two String problem. Reading achievement was assessed through the Stanford Reading Achievement Test, Advanced Form J. An analysis of variance was employed to assess pre to post test effects on Torrance Battery performances. Significant differences were observed in favour of the experimental group for the subtask variables of verbal fluency, verbal flexibility, figural fluency, figural flexibility, and figural originality. However, weaknesses in the experimental design severely limited the extent to which the Productive Thinking Program could be deemed to be solely responsible for influencing divergent thinking scores. The Productive Thinking Program was introduced during the first two years of the four year Enrichment Program. Accordingly, it was concluded that the evidence provided by the data could not be construed as an indication that the Productive Thinking Program was successful in affecting the divergent thinking scores. Multiway frequency tables were employed to determine the effects of the Productive Thinking Program on problem solving ability. The result indicated groups to be comparable although generally unsuccessful on all three Maier problems. Suspicion of a floor effect reduced the likelihood of determining whether or not problem solution was related to training in the Productive Thinking Program. Further, Maier's (1945) notion of a reproductive/productive distinction was not substantiated for the problems employed by this study, indicating that the Maier problems may have been insufficient criteria for the purposes of the present investigation. While group differences were not observed for reading achievement, insufficient data on reading achievement prior to the Enrichment Program as well as differing group SES prevented determination of the effects of the program on reading achievement. Three weaknesses in the present study were identified: namely, lack of random assignment resulting in non-equivalent groups, lack of experimenter control over the treatment program, and concern over the validity and reliability of the Torrance Battery. As a result of the findings of the present study, it was suggested that further research be directed toward the development of measures serving to identify special abilities in children that are more independent in content than the present indices. The development of such measures would be useful in clarifying the types of behaviours that programs such as the Productive Thinking Program expect to influence.

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