Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)

Degree Granting Department

Curriculum and Instruction

Major Professor

Glenn G. Smith, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Danielle Dennis, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Jeffrey Kromrey, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Elizabeth Shaunessy-Dedrick, Ph.D.


instructional technology, reading, gifted, design experiment


The high stakes on standardized testing in the United States of America’s education system pressures teachers to ensure every child meets minimum standards. Teachers report this pressure motivates them to focus the majority of their time on struggling students. Combined with lack of training and resources, intellectually gifted students may remain under-challenged in a regular elementary classroom. To address the problem, the researcher continued the development of an online instructional environment, which teachers may use to extend and enrich the regular language arts curriculum for intellectually gifted students. The researcher conducted a formative design experiment “to create a viable theory-driven intervention for achieving a pedagogical goal” (Reinking & Bradley, 2008, p. 12). The pedagogical goal is to develop an appropriately differentiated instructional tool for intellectually gifted third graders, which classroom teachers can easily incorporate into their literacy instruction. The purposes of this iterative design experiment are (1) to develop an instructional intervention aligned with current theory and practice; (2) to test, modify, and retest the intervention in a regular classroom while simultaneously measuring its effectiveness in achieving the literacy objectives and pedagogical goals to determine whether the intervention works; and (3) to describe the reactions of teachers and their third grade gifted students to answer why and in what context the intervention works. In iteration one, experts reviewed the intervention. Three areas of moderate concern guiding modifications at this stage were level of difficulty, engagement/enjoyability, and support in achieving objectives. Evaluations of the pre-/post-test indicated the questions were a good fit to the objectives. Matched halves were well-matched, readable, and only one minor concern of bias. There was not a statistically significant (p=0.1438) difference between the pre-test (m=19.5, s=5.44) and post-test scores (m=21.1, s=6.082) in iteration 2 with only 10 completers. These results, along with student and teacher questionnaires, guided modifications. In iteration 3 with 16 completers, there was a statistically significant difference (p=0.0026) between the pre- and post-test. The qualitative and quantitative data analyses revealed a positive affective response by both students and teachers. Particular features need further development to improve the effectiveness on achieving mastery of the skills. In conducting the study, the researcher faced a number of obstacles. This document also reports those challenges in an effort to advise researchers who wish to conduct formative design experiments within public school classrooms.