Special Needs and Talents in Science Learning
Every learner in science is unique, with diverse abilities. Teachers as well as educational researchers have long recognized and used that understanding to varying degrees in their teaching and research. Learners in science who differ substantially in their performances from typical learner performances (physical, cognitive, or behavioral dimensions) and who need additional services and supports are the focus of this chapter. Those learners who exceed typical performances are described as possessing special talents; those learners who do not achieve at the typical level are identified as having special needs. Both of these groups of learners require additional educational, social, or medical services to support them in learning and performing science. Professionals in the field of special education use the comprehensive term “exceptional learners” to refer to learners with learning and/or behavioral problems, learners with physical or sensory impairments, and learners who are intellectually gifted or have a special talent (Hardman, Drew, & Egan, 2002; Heward, 2000). We continue use of that nomenclature to refer collectively to learners in science with special needs and talents.