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High Ability Studies

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Gifted and general high school

students perceptions of learning and
motivational constructs in Korea and
the United States
a a
Yoojung Chae & Marcia Gentry
Department of Educational Studies, College of Education,
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN, USA

Available online: 27 Jul 2011

To cite this article: Yoojung Chae & Marcia Gentry (2011): Gifted and general high school students
perceptions of learning and motivational constructs in Korea and the United States, High Ability
Studies, 22:1, 103-118

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High Ability StudiesAquatic Insects
Vol. 22, No. 1, June 2011, 103118

Gifted and general high school students perceptions of learning

and motivational constructs in Korea and the United States
Yoojung Chae** and Marcia Gentry*

Department of Educational Studies, College of Education, Purdue University,

West Lafayette, IN, USA
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This study examined differences between Korean and US gifted and general stu-
dents perceptions constructs related to motivation and learning, using the Stu-
dent Perceptions of Classroom Quality (SPOCQ) instrument. SPOCQ assesses
students perceptions of appeal, challenge, choice, meaningfulness, and aca-
demic self-efcacy. Measurement equality between the original SPOCQ and its
Korean translation was investigated using multi-group conrmatory factor analy-
ses. The sample included 882 10th and 11th grade high school students (221
Korean gifted and 220 Korean general students, 221 US gifted and 220 US gen-
eral students). MCFA results showed that the original and translated SPOCQ
measure the same constructs and that partial invariance existed across the sam-
ples from each country. Multivariate analysis of variance was used to examine
differences between gifted and general students, and between Korean and US
students, revealing that differences existed between gifted and general students
and between Korean and US students.
Keywords: student perceptions; classroom quality; Students Perceptions of
Classroom Quality (SPOCQ); cross-cultural study

The important effects of appeal, challenge, choice, meaningfulness, and self-efcacy,
on student learning and intrinsic motivation have been extensively researched, and
positive relationships have been found among them (e.g., Ames, 1992; Lutz, Guthrie,
& Davis, 2006; Marcou & Philippou, 2005; Schiefele & Csikszentmihalyi, 1995;
Sobral, 1995; Turner et al., 1998; Young, 2005). Although these are different con-
cepts, they affect each other (Gentry & Owen, 2004). For example, when a task has
appropriate challenges, students may think it is appealing, or when students nd
meaning in the content they learn, their choices are inuenced. When teachers focus
on meaningful aspects of learning and design reasonably challenging tasks they can
help students learn with intrinsic interest and attribute success to effort (Ames, 1992).
Evaluating classes from the students view is important since the perspectives
and preferences of students and their teachers can differ (Gentry, Rizza, & Owen,
2002). By considering students perceptions, teachers and school administrators

*Corresponding author. Email: mgentry@purdue.edu

**Now at KAIST Global Institute for Talented Education, Daejeon, South Korea.

ISSN 1359-8139 print/ISSN 1469-834X online

2011 European Council for High Ability
DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2011.577275
104 Y. Chae and M. Gentry

may improve classroom qualities and satisfy students learning needs, which can
positively affect motivation and achievement. The instrument, Student Perception of
Classroom Quality (SPOCQ) (Gentry & Owen, 2004) was designed to evaluate sec-
ondary students perceptions of constructs in their classrooms that are related to
learning and motivation. The SPOCQ was selected for this study because it mea-
sures how students perceive their class experiences on the constructs of appeal,
challenge, choice, meaningfulness, and academic self-efcacy. Although many stud-
ies have demonstrated that these ve constructs are related to motivation and learn-
ing outcomes, there have been few studies in which these related constructs have
been assessed collectively.
Research has been conducted to examine how gifted and general students per-
ceive their classrooms, with mixed of perceptions between gifted and general stu-
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dent groups. For example, Gentry, Gable, and Springer (2000) demonstrated that
gifted and general students had similar views concerning their class activities;
whereas, Gentry and Owen (2004) found statistically signicantly greater SPOCQ
means on challenge and meaningfulness, favoring the gifted group. Gentry, Gable,
and Rizza (2002) found that as grade levels increased, indications of interest, enjoy-
ment, and choice decreased. Differences also existed between students in advanced
and general classes. Students in advanced, AP, or honors classes had signicantly
higher scores on the subscales of challenge and meaningfulness than did students in
general classes (Gentry & Owen, 2004).
People in Korean society are concerned about the public educational system,
which does not structure or provide classes based on student interests and talents,
nor does it encourage students to achieve to their potential. Rather, education in
Korea concentrates on improving student test scores, resulting in a severely compet-
itive atmosphere and bullying in schools (Kim, 2003; Lee, 2004). Korean general
high school analysis reports by the Korean Education Development Institute (KEDI)
(Kim, Namgung, & Kim, 2006) revealed student perceptions toward their schools
with regard to intrinsic/extrinsic motivation, interest, level of difculty, and instruc-
tional strategies. Students perceived they were not provided with sufcient opportu-
nities to learn independently in class, and they did not learn with interest or
experience appropriately challenging tasks considerate of their ability levels. In this
report, Kim et al. demonstrated that, in Korea, general high school teachers need to
improve the quality of instruction by attending to student interest, challenge, and
choice and by providing opportunities to encourage students to learn in ways that
develop intrinsic motivation.
However, studies about Korean gifted students perceptions of their classes
showed somewhat different results from the ndings of Kim et al. (2006).
According to Park (2005), regarding class difculty, the Korea Science Academy
(KSA) students believed they received adequately challenging instruction but
wanted more challenging experiences and more choices in the classes. And, Park
and Seo (2005) conducted interviews with the KSA students and found that rst
year students, who follow a curriculum that provides all students with the same
classes and includes required coursework, perceived their classes somewhat nega-
tively. However, second year students (who have more options) perceived them-
selves as having more choices, challenges, and interests, which may affect their
motivation and learning.
The increasing demand for global communication among researchers calls for
cross-cultural research studies that depict culturally different human behaviors and
High Ability Studies 105

recognize individualism in cognitive and social development (Basic Behavioral

Science Task Force, 1996; Hambleton & de Jong, 2003). Specically, cross-
national comparative studies of student perceptions can provide valuable informa-
tion about culture-specic educational environments and the learning needs they
encompass. Common needs between cultures may be identied, but positive
aspects of classrooms from a particular country may be analyzed and adapted to
improve educational environments in a comparative country. According to Van de
Vijver and Hambleton (1996), examination of measurement equivalence is essen-
tial and required for investigating differences across cultures since instrument non-
equivalence may cause inaccurate interpretation (Geisinger, 1994; Hambleton &
Patsula, 1998). Therefore, when conducting cross-cultural research studies,
researchers need to conrm instrument invariance prior to investigating differences
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across cultures.
In Korea, the emphasis on gifted education has increased in recent years (Cho
& Oh, 1998; Lee, 2005). The government passed the Gifted Education Law in
2002, and as a result, schools and public and private institutes for gifted students
have been established to provide appropriately challenging lessons for high ability
students. Cross-cultural study could help both countries educators to re-think and
improve educational environments by comparing between cultures and adapting
positive aspects from the cultures to address educational needs. Therefore, in this
study, American and Korean gifted and general high school students perceptions
toward their class activities were investigated, using the SPOCQ (Gentry & Owen,
2004) and SPOCQ-K (Chae & Gentry, 2007) instruments.

Research questions
The following research questions guided this study:

1. Do the original and translated Korean versions of the SPOCQ have equiva-
lent constructs?
2. Are there differences in perceptions of classroom quality between gifted high
school students and general high school students in Korea and in the US?

Methods and procedures

Korean student sample
Samples of gifted and general students in Korea were selected by purposively
choosing two gifted high schools and three general schools, considering the
regions and characteristics of the schools. Specically, 221 Korean students in
Grades 10 and 11 from two gifted high schools participated in this study: 128
students from a foreign language high school and 93 students from a science
academy (SA). These foreign language and science academy high schools enroll
students who score academically in top 2% of students nationally. This gifted
Korean sample consisted of 77% boys. Additionally, 220 general students were
randomly drawn from a previous research sample (Chae & Gentry, 2007) that
included 713 students from three general high schools in two cities. The general
Korean sample included 34% girls.
106 Y. Chae and M. Gentry

US student sample
Permission was obtained to use the US data from the SPOCQ validation study
(Gentry & Owen, 2004). For this study, a random sample was drawn from the tenth
and eleventh grade students to match the Korean sample size with 220 gifted and
221 general students, 51% of the gifted sample and 46% of the general sample were
girls. This sample consisted of various ethnic groups: European American (69%),
African American (10%), Latino/a American (6%), Asian American (6%), Native
American (1%), and Other (7%).

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Student Perceptions of Classroom Quality (SPOCQ)

Gentry and Owen (2004) developed the SPOCQ instrument using a sample of
7,411 students in grades 7 to 12 in rural, urban, and suburban middle schools (n =
12) and high schools (n = 14) in seven states and one foreign country. SPOCQ con-
sists of 34 items that measure ve factors (i.e., appeal, challenge, choice, meaning-
fulness, academic self-efcacy) using a ve-point Likert response scale. Gentry and
Owen reported RMSEA of 0.051 and CFI of 0.997, with factor loadings ranging
from .71 to .90, internal consistency estimates ranging from .81 to .85, and correla-
tions among the subscales ranging from .56 to .73.

Student Perceptions of Classroom Quality- Korean Version (SPOCQ-K)

Chae and Gentry (2007) conducted a cross-cultural validity study on the SPOCQ,
in which they eliminated two items from the challenge subscale in order to provide
better model t for the Korean data they collected (n = 713). Thus, the SPOCQ-K
has only 32 items, but measures the same subscales as the original SPOCQ. They
also found the SPOCQ-K has adequate model t of the data (CFI = 0.94, RMSEA
= 0.086, NFI = 0.93) with alpha reliability estimates of the data on the ve sub-
scales ranging from .75 to .85, and intercorrelations among the factors ranging from
.33 to .78. For the current study, responses from gifted Korean students were used
to complete a MCFA to further investigate the usefulness of the SPOCQ with gifted
students and for cross-cultural comparisons.

Data collection
School administrators from two magnet high schools for gifted students agreed to
allow students in their schools to participate in this study. One school enrolls stu-
dents gifted in foreign languages and the other students identied as gifted in sci-
ence. Contact persons at each site explained the objectives of the study and helped
recruit students to participate, then distributed the IRB-approved consent forms to
parents/guardians and assent forms to students.
The SPOCQ-K surveys were distributed to the two schools with the standard-
ized administration instructions, which explained that surveys would be anonymous;
how to answer the demographic items and survey questions; and which class to
consider when responding. The contact person also informed the students that
SPOCQ-K items do not have correct answers to encourage students to complete the
High Ability Studies 107

form honestly and not to feel pressure to search for correct answers. Students used
about 15 minutes to answer the 32-item SPOCQ-K. Contact persons collected the
completed surveys and mailed them to the researchers, who then entered and ana-
lyzed the data.

Data analyses and results

Research Question 1: Do the original SPOCQ and the SPOCQ-K have equal
Prior to addressing this research question, data were screened for missing values
using SPSS. Multiple imputation for randomly missing data was conducted using
LISREL following the suggestion of Schafer and Graham (2002). To examine the
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factor equivalence between Korean and American groups, multi-sample conrma-

tory factor analysis (MCFA) method was employed to compare each groups covari-
ance matrices. To judge equality, invariance of factor loadings (pattern coefcients)
and error variances were checked using CFA. To examine invariance between
groups, rst it was conrmed whether each model had consistency, reviewing each
group model t indices, and the ve-factor baseline model was established for test-
ing Korean and US samples. In these analyses, the two items on challenge factor
deleted in the SPOCQ-K validation study were also excluded from the US data
(Chae & Gentry, 2007).

Cross-cultural equivalence check

Internal consistency reliability estimates
Internal consistency reliability coefcients were calculated using SPSS 16.0. The
alpha reliability coefcients for the SPOCQ-K ranged from .79 to .86. The alpha
reliability coefcients from the US data similarly ranged from .77 to .85 According
to Gable and Wolf (1993), both language versions of SPOCQ have good internal
consistency estimates.

Construct validity with CFA

Using Lisrel 8.8, conrmatory factor analyses (CFA) were conducted to investigate
how well the ve-factor, 32-item model t the Korean and US data (seven items in
appeal, ve items in challenge, seven items in choice, ve items in meaningfulness,
eight items in academic self-efcacy). Results showed that the ve-factor model
with 32 items had an acceptable t to both data (see Table 1). Although the w2 sta-
tistic was statistically signicant, other t indices were also considered because sta-
tistical signicance may result from a large sample size (Bentler & Bonnett, 1980).
CFI (Bentler, 1990) and NNFI (Bentler & Bonnet, 1980) values were greater than
.90 as recommended by researchers (Hu & Bentler, 1999), representing an adequate

Table 1. Goodness of t statistics.

Korean group (n = 441) 2065.38 (p < .001), df = 454 .091 .94 .94
US group (n = 440) 2566.03 (p < .001), df = 454 .011 .93 .93
108 Y. Chae and M. Gentry

model t. All of the factor loadings were greater than .40 for both the Korean and
US groups (see Table 2). Intercorrelations among the factors ranged from .41 to .79
for Korean data and from .59 to .89 for US data and are depicted in Table 3.

Multi-group conrmatory factor analysis (MCFA)

Prior to multi-group invariance analyses, a baseline model for factor loading invari-
ance (Model 1) was established based on the ndings from the previous CFA on
each group. The baseline model (Model 1) was a ve-factor model comprising
appeal, challenge, choice, meaningfulness, and academic self-efcacy. Results
showed that the ve-factor model t was acceptable across groups (w2 =
4629.9151, df = 908, p < .001, RMSEA = .099, NNFI = .94, CFI = .93).
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Model 2 was set to examine factor-loading invariance across the two groups,
which constrained all variables equally on factor structure and factor loadings across
both groups. The chi-square difference test between Model 1 and Model 2 indicated
that factor loadings (pattern coefcients) were not invariant across groups
(w2difference (27) = 167.064, p < .001). Therefore, to identify the variables that
affected non-invariance across groups, each factor loading (lambda parameter) of
the 32 variables was examined independently (Byrne, 1998; Maller & French,
2004). All variables in the challenge subscale showed invariance. However, two
items in the appeal subscale, two items in the choice subscale, one item in the
meaningfulness subscale, and two items in the academic self-efcacy subscale were
not invariant. These non-invariant items are shown in Table 4. Although perfect
invariance did not exist between Korean and US versions of the SPOCQ, the same
constructs and partial invariance on factor loadings allow for meaningful interpreta-
tion of the results (Byrne, Shavelson, & Muthen, 1989; Kim, 2008) so we examined
the data for differences between cultures and abilities (see Chae, 2009, for results
of additional invariance testing).

Research Question 2: Differences between gifted and general and US and Korean
students perceptions?
To investigate Research Question 2, rst descriptive statistics such as means and
standard deviations of the ve subscales were calculated using SPSS 16.0. Then, a 2
 2 Multivariate Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) and Discriminant Function Anal-
ysis (DFA) were used. Because of the high intercorrelations among the factors in the
present and previous studies (Gentry & Chae, 2007; Gentry & Owen, 2004) MANO-
VA was selected to protect against inated Type 1 error (Tabachnick & Fidell, 1996).
Main effects and interaction effects of the independent variables (i.e., nationality and
giftedness) and ve dependent variables (appeal, challenge, choice, meaningfulness,
and academic self-efcacy) were analyzed at an .05 alpha level. Following the
MANOVA, DFA was used to determine which dependent variables best discrimi-
nated between the groups (Ruhl-Smith, Shen, & Cooley, 1999). Effect sizes were
examined to interpret statistically signicant ndings for practical meaning.

Descriptive statistics
When examining means by gifted status and country (Table 5) Korean gifted and
general students had the highest means on challenge (3.47 and 3.27, respectively)
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Table 2. Factor loadings (pattern coefcients).

Factor Item Loading
Appeal 3 I nd the contents of my class interesting. .70 .80
9 The assigned reading material for my class is interesting. .78 .70
19 The material covered in my textbook is interesting. .64 .70
20 The textbook provides examples of how the material relates to society and daily living. .48 .47
25 I look forward to learning new things in this class. .68 .83
26 I nd the reading material for my class a pleasure to read. .83 .69
30 I like going to my class each day. .68 .77
Challenge 4 I nd my class time instruction appropriately challenges my intellectual abilities. .76 .72
8 I nd my class assignments a good challenge. .79 .77
11 I learn best when I am challenged. .55 .44
15 This class content is an appropriate challenge for me. .84 .80
18 I like the challenge of the projects in this class. .43 .67
Choice 1 I am given choices regarding how to show the teacher what I have learned. .59 .64
5 My teacher lets me choose the resources I use for projects. .69 .47
6 When there are different ways to show what I have learned, I can usually pick a good way. .65 .77
12 I am given lots of choices in my class. .74 .48
16 I feel responsible for my learning because I am allowed to make choices in my class. .74 .69
17 The teacher uses a variety of instructional techniques that make this class enjoyable. .65 .75
22 I am encouraged to pursue subjects that interest me in my class. .74 .68
Meaning 7 The teacher applies the lessons to practical experiences. .73 .71
10 My teacher makes connections between the course material and society. .83 .76
13 In my class my teacher relates current issues to the material we are learning. .78 .77
24 In my class I explore real issues that affect the world around me. .71 .77
28 I can relate the material discussed in my class to my daily life. .56 .74
Self eff. 2 I am good at helping other kids understand concepts. .62 .41
14 I am good at connecting material from this class with the real world. .53 .68
21 I am good at answering questions in this class. .66 .64
High Ability Studies

23 It is pretty easy for me to earn good grades. .66 .45

27 Im good at taking tests in this class. .68 .40
(Continued on next page)
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Table 2 (Continued)

Factor Item Loading

29 I can easily understand reading assignments for this class. .72 .56
31 I can usually discover interesting things to learn about in this class. .64 .80
32 I can express my opinions clearly in this class. .64 .64

Notes. APP = appeal, CHA = challenge, CHO = choice, MEA = meaningfulness, SE = self-efcacy, K = Korean students, U = US students.
Y. Chae and M. Gentry
High Ability Studies 111

Table 3. Intercorrelations among the factors on the Korean and English SPOCQ.
APP 1.00 .79 .76 .67 .76 APP 1.00 .72 .86 .68 .89
CHA 1.00 .58 .41 .70 CHA 1.00 .79 .59 .66
CHO 1.00 .55 .66 CHO 1.00 .78 .82
MEA 1.00 .48 MEA 1.00 .82
SE 1.00 SE 1.00
Notes. APP = appeal, CHA = challenge, CHO = choice, MEA = meaningfulness, SE = self-efcacy.
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Table 4. Non-invariant variables for factor loading.

Factor Variables
Appeal 2 The assigned reading material for my class is interesting.
Appeal 6 I nd the reading material for my class a pleasure to read.
Choice 2 My teacher lets me choose the resources I use for projects.
Choice 4 I am given lots of choices in my class.
Meaning 5 I can relate the material discussed in my class to my daily life.
Self- 2 I am good at connecting material from this class with the real
efcacy world.
Self- 7 I can express my opinions clearly in this class.

Notes. APP = appeal, CHA = challenge, CHO = choice, MEA = meaningfulness, SE = self-efcacy.

and the lowest means on choice (2.88 and 2.50, respectively). US gifted students
had the highest mean on challenge (3.73) and the lowest mean on appeal (3.20);
whereas, the US general students had the highest mean on meaningfulness (3.55)
and the lowest mean on appeal (3.07). Tables 5 and 6 show Korean and US gifted
and general students means and standard deviations on the subscales of SPOCQ
and SPOCQ-K.

Table 5. Means and standard deviation of gifted and general students in both countries.
Korean gifted Korean general US gifted US general
students students students students
(n = 221) (n = 220) (n = 221) (n = 220)
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
APP 3.37 0.83 3.23 0.74 3.20 0.74 3.07 0.82
CHA 3.47 0.77 3.27 0.70 3.73 0.62 3.38 0.74
CHO 2.88 0.90 2.50 0.66 3.57 0.60 3.51 0.66
MEA 3.04 0.88 2.95 0.80 3.50 0.77 3.55 0.79
EFF 3.27 0.73 2.95 0.61 3.57 0.74 3.53 0.67

Notes. APP = appeal, CHA = challenge, CHO = choice, MEA = meaningfulness, EFF = academic self-
112 Y. Chae and M. Gentry

Table 6. Means and standard deviation by giftedness and nationality.

General Korean
Gifted students students students US students
(n = 441) (n = 440) (n = 441) (n = 440)
Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD Mean SD
Appeal 3.29 0.79 3.16 0.74 3.30 0.79 3.14 0.79
Challenge 3.60 0.71 3.32 0.89 3.37 0.74 3.56 0.70
Choice 3.22 0.84 3.00 0.83 2.69 0.81 3.54 0.63
Meaning 3.31 0.85 3.25 0.85 3.00 0.84 3.56 0.77
Self-efcacy 3.37 0.69 3.24 0.70 3.11 0.69 3.50 0.65

Notes. APP = appeal, CHA = challenge, CHO = choice, MEA = meaningfulness, EFF = academic self-
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Statistically signicant main effects for giftedness (Wilks k = .952, F5,873 = 8.884,
p < .0001, partial g2 = .048) existed with a medium effect size. The effect sizes
indicated that 4.8% of the total SPOCQ score variation was accounted by the main
effect for giftedness. There was an interaction effect with a medium effect size (Wil-
ks k = .936, F5,873 = 11.989, p <.0001, partial g2 = .064). The results of the DFA
regarding the gifted and general groups showed that the two groups were statisti-
cally signicantly separated (Wilks k = .956, w2 = 39.484, df = 5, p < .001). The
canonical correlation of .210, indicated that that 4.41% of the variation in the con-
struct can be explained by giftedness. The variables contributing to group differ-
ences were examined by calculating standardized discriminant function coefcients
and structure coefcients. The standardized discriminant function coefcients for 5
factors were as follows: challenge (.959), meaningfulness ( .483), choice (.482),
appeal ( .197) and academic self-efcacy ( .005). The results showed that the
challenge factor made high contribution and the meaningfulness and choice factors
made moderately high contribution to discriminate between gifted and general
groups, according to Marcoulides (1997) suggestion that absolute values greater
than .7 can be considered as high or signicant contributions, and values larger than
.3 can be considered as moderately high contributions.

Statistically signicant main effects for nationality (Wilks k = .520, F5,873 =
161.124, p <.0001, partial g2 = .48) existed with a large effect size, with 48% of
the total SPOCQ score variation explained by the main effect for nationality. DFA
analyses between Korean and US groups yielded a statistically signicant result,
which demonstrated signicant separation between Korean and US student groups
(Wilks k = .530, w2 = 557.079, df = 5, p < .001) with a large effect size (Rc =
.686), with 47.1% of the variance explained by nationality (Rc2 = 0.471). The ve
variables standardized canonical discriminant function coefcients in descending
order were as follows: appeal ( 1.170), choice (1.044), meaningfulness (.365), aca-
demic self-efcacy (.296), and challenge ( .057). Appeal was the strongest variable
that discriminated nationality, followed by choice and meaningfulness, all greater
than .3 in an absolute value (Marcoulides, 1997).
High Ability Studies 113

In this investigation of instrumentation and student perceptions of their education
we sought to understand cultural differences and similarities and differences
between gifted and general students concerning how they view the presence of
appeal, challenge, choice, meaningfulness, and academic self-efcacy in their class-
rooms in he United States and in Korea. Results are not meant for generalization,
but rather as informative as educators consider how to meet the learning needs of
their students and as researcher consider how to assess those needs and related
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Results from CFA and MCFA indicated that the SPOCQ and SPOCQ-K had ade-
quate t across both groups with ve factors and 32 items and partial invariance
with 25 out of 32 items factor loadings invariant across groups. The challenge fac-
tor showed invariance on all ve items, but the other four factors contained one or
two non-invariant items (see Table 4).
The possibilities for interpreting the non-invariance across groups on the seven
SPOCQ items include different cultures, different language systems, and translation
errors (Geisinger, 1994; Hambleton & Kanjee, 1993). First, in terms of cultural dif-
ferences, the different classroom environment needs to be considered. Teachers in
Korea must teach based on the national curriculum, and most schools rely on text-
books that are designed under this national curriculum. Korean students might not
have considered other reading materials, focusing only on the required textbooks
when they responded to the two Appeal questions; whereas, American students may
have considered a wider variety of reading materials. Therefore, the non-invariant
items on the appeal subscale might have resulted from entirely different conceptions
of reading materials between Korean and American students in different classroom
environments. Non-invariance on the item, My teacher lets me choose the
resources I use for projects (choice) can also be understood as a cultural difference.
Some Korean students asked What is a project? instead of answering the survey
question, and others wrote that they did not have opportunities to conduct projects
in class. Although the question asked about choice during a project, some Korean
students had not even experienced projects in class; which may have resulted in
non-invariance on this choice item.
Second, non-invariance may be related to the different language systems
between Korea and the US The English and Korean languages are very different in
sentence structure. For example, for Korean students, the item, I am good at con-
necting material from this class with the real world (academic self-efcacy) was
translated into the word order, I, this class, from, material, the real world, with,
connecting, at, am good. This item referred to academic self-efcacy; so, the part
am good at plays an important role in the sentence. However, in the SPOCQ-K,
the important part was moved to the last position in the sentence when it was trans-
lated. The possibility exists that Korean students may not emphasize the same
words in the sentence as American students because of different word orders. Simi-
larly, the sentence, My teacher lets me choose the resources I use for projects
(choice) was translated as, My teacher, (me), project, for, use, the resources,
choose, let in different order. For this item, the word let was translated as allow;
114 Y. Chae and M. Gentry

therefore, students may focus either on the concept of My teacher. . . allows, or on

the resources for projects.
Third, non-equivalence may result from inadequate translation. Since some sen-
tences became unnatural speech when translated into the passive voice, the transla-
tors chose to change passive voice to active voice in some sentences. For example,
the sentence I am given lots of choices in my class (choice) was translated as My
teacher gives me lots of choices in the class. In this example, the focus may be on
my teacher instead of choices. Further, the item I nd the reading material for
my class a pleasure to read was translated into The material in my class is inter-
esting to read because the direct translation of the verb nd would lead to differ-
ent meaning in the Korean language. Although translators considered the important
meanings in each sentence and tried to stress the words based on Geisingers
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(1994) suggestion to demonstrate the importance of cultural and linguistic consider-

ations, the translation may cause non-equivalence between Korean and US items. In
sum, the SPOCQ-K instrument had the same ve factor constructs as the original
SPOCQ; however, factor loadings and error variances across groups indicated that
only partial invariance existed. Although the perfect invariance did not occur, the
same construct and partial invariance between Korean and US versions of SPOCQ
provided evidence that the comparison across groups can be understood in a mean-
ingful way.

Giftedness and nationality

About 5% of the variance was explained by giftedness and about 50% of the vari-
ance was explained by nationality. The difference in giftedness was accounted for
by challenge, meaningfulness, and choice with gifted students rating their classes
higher than general students across all three variables, and Korean students rating
these variables lower than their US counterparts (gifted and general). The difference
in nationality was accounted for by appeal, choice, and meaningfulness with US
students rating their classes higher on choice and meaningfulness and lower on
appeal than their Korean counterparts. Though they found their classes more appeal-
ing than did US students, Korean students reported low levels of choice and mean-
ing when compared to their US peers. Self-efcacy made no contributions to
explaining giftedness or nationality, perhaps because it is less inuenced by class-
room activities and more of a within-person variable than the other constructs.
Providing challenges during instruction is essential for encouraging students
learning. In the current study, general students reported that they perceived less
challenge than did their gifted peers, supporting ndings of Gallagher and Harradine
(1997) who demonstrated that students in academically gifted classes found these
classes challenging. However, the generally low SPOCQ mean scores may indicate
that all students including gifted students require more challenges. Since many stud-
ies have demonstrated that appropriate levels of challenge motivates and encourages
students learning (Bandura & Schunk, 1981; Lutz, Guthrie, & Davis, 2006; Simons
& Klein, 2007; Turner et al., 1998), educators should ensure that students are pro-
vided with sufcient challenge in class.
The meaningfulness and choice subscales were moderate predictors for gifted
group membership and for nationality. Gifted students perceived more connections
than general students between their class and the real world with more freedom in
learning, supporting the ndings of Gentry and Owen (2004). However, gifted
High Ability Studies 115

students in this study perceived more choice compared to general students, a nd-
ing differing from those of Gentry and Owen who reported no such differences.
Since the US sample is a subset of the Gentry and Owen total sample, the differ-
ences in this study may be attributable to the Korean students. US students also
rated their classes higher than did Korean students on both meaningfulness and
choice, which may reect the differences in how students in these cultures are
taught, with US teachers offering more choices and addressing content meaning
more often than Korean teachers.
The result of low mean scores on the choice and meaningfulness subscales sup-
ported ndings of Kim et al. (2006), who indicated that students did not experience
enough student-centered learning in language arts, mathematics, and science. In
other words, Korean students did not perceive that they were given opportunities to
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decide what and how to learn during class. The low scores on the Choice factor
may be due to the large number of students per class and to the national curricu-
lum. In 2006 the average class size was 33.7 (Kim et al.), and teachers may have
difculty providing appropriate options and services for such a large number of stu-
dents. Another possibility may be that the Korean culture is inuenced by Confu-
cianism (Sung, 2001). For example, students are taught to respect adults and follow
the directions. So, they may not have considered asking for choices in class. Many
studies have demonstrated that providing freedom to choose content and ways to
learn and connecting lessons to real world topics encouraged students motivation
and learning (Camahalan, 2006; Cordova & Lepper, 1996; Flink, Boggiano, &
Barrett, 1990; Young, 2005). Therefore, Korean educators need to consider design-
ing classes in which students are offered more choices and the opportunity to make
meaningful connections to the world around them.
Korean students perceived their classroom as more Appealing than did US stu-
dents, but neither had high means on this construct. Korean and US groups had
mean scores of about 3.30 and 3.14 out of 5 points. The result of this study sup-
ported the ndings of Kim et al. (2006) that Korean general high school students
did not show satisfaction with their classes regarding interest in lessons, averaging
2.85 out of 5 points on the instrument developed by Korean Education Develop-
ment Institute. Both Korean and US students might benet if their teachers made
learning more appealing to them.
Providing students with choices and appropriate level of challenge in class may
increase students learning motivation and interest and may help build higher aca-
demic self-efcacy. Therefore, supporting students to be independent learners would
encourage them to learn with joy, which would result in higher motivation to
achieve and ownership in learning.

This study has several limitations. First, the US student sample was collected in
2001; then a subset was randomly selected for this study; whereas the Korean stu-
dent samples were collected in 2006 and 2008, which may raise issues of incompa-
rability. Second, the US subset selected for this study contained 69% European
American students, which is not representative of current US ethnic demographics.
Third, the characteristics of US gifted and Korean gifted students were not homoge-
neous. The US gifted group included students in honors classes, AP classes, and
from a Magnet school; whereas, the Korean gifted students included identied
116 Y. Chae and M. Gentry

gifted students who ranged in the top 2% of academic achievement. Because the
Korean students came from only ve schools, neither the gifted nor the general stu-
dents were representative of Korean students, nationally, so generalizability is lim-
ited. To conrm the results from this study, more gifted schools from various
regions should be included and perceptions of gifted students who are not in special
schools should be assessed. Finally, the SPOCQ was only partially invariant, so
results must be interpreted with caution. More work is needed to develop cross-cul-
tural instruments that will yield valid and reliable data.

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