Developing Science Curriculum for Gifted Learners in South Korea

Hae-Ae Seo

Background of Curriculum Development in Gifted Education in Korea

Curriculum for the gifted learners in Korea is supposed to be differently designed and implemented depending on different gifted educational institutions under the guidance of individual provincial offices of education.1 General guidelines and directions for curriculum development of gifted education have been prepared at national level and recommended for gifted educational institutions to implement at regional level. The guidelines were mainly developed by NRCGTE, KEDI[1] [2] and distributed amongst 16 provincial offices of education. Korea established a Law of Gifted Education in 2000 and the first national plan for promotion of gifted education began in 2003 and continued for 5 years until 2007 and the second plan followed between 2008 and 2012. Currently, Korea has implemented its third plan, which is from 2013 to 2017. During the first national plan, a general guideline for developing curriculum for gifted education was developed by KEDI (Seo, Park, & Park, 2004) and distributed nationwide. Although the general guidelines for curriculum development were not mandatory, individual provincial offices of education adopted them to a certain extent for evaluation of gifted educational institutions.

The national guidelines for developing gifted education curriculum in 2004 mainly emphasised organisation and implementation of curriculum, First, curriculum of gifted education should be integrated and enriched, The guidelines presented advised that gifted education teachers should organise content as core concepts and/ or themes integrated and enriched across subject matters, Second, curriculum should be individualised and differentiated, Various learning materials were provided for satisfying students’ interests, Each student was encouraged to perform tasks at his/her own pace, Third, content should be selected to enhance creativity and higher order thinking ability, Content should be differentiated and challenging students’ abilities, Students explore similar themes but are allowed to use diverse approaches, Fourth, content should include the values of leadership and integrity, Above all, the guidelines presented effective ways of choosing what teachers teach and how teachers teach gifted learners,

Each provincial office of education prefers to implement national level policy directions with their guideline publications, Most gifted education policies at individual provincial offices of education adopt the national guidelines for curriculum development and apply them as criteria for the evaluation of gifted educational institutions, For example, the Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education evaluates the gifted educational institutions every 2 years, and their evaluation criteria include three sections: (1) input (four subsections of programme planning, human resources, facilities and administrative and financial support system), (2) process (student screening process, curriculum, instruction and community participation) and (3) output (student products, student attitudes and behaviours, students and parents’ satisfaction, student record and development report management), Under the section of curriculum, there are several criteria to evaluate how curriculum is organised and implemented (see Table 1),

For gifted education curricula to meet the criteria outlined in Table 1, especially in terms of ensuring that curriculum is integrated and content is selected based on its capacity to foster deeper thinking and creativity, gifted programme educators would have to utilise a concept-focused approach to teaching and learning, The literature on concept-based learning point out that using concepts to drive instruction requires an emphasis on dialogic teaching, meaning making and interpretation and helping learners find relevance by making connections between the concepts espoused by the discipline and experiences in the real world, However, in practice, teachers and gifted programme coordinators may feel that they need to show that their students have achieved these criteria through their lesson products and assessments, Much of the time in the lessons therefore may go into ensuring that students focus on their products, In this sense, they may lose sight of the processes that help children focus on their conceptual understanding during the lessons,

Table 1 Evaluation criteria of curriculum implementation at gifted educational institutions



Organisation of curriculum


Curriculum is organised with core concepts and principles, and the concepts can be applied across different subject matters and implemented in each subject matter

Curriculum is organised with various topics and themes across different subject matters in consideration with students’ interests and concerns

Curriculum is organised with integrated themes, and the themes can be applied across subject matters so that classes can be unified, if needed


Various diagnostic assessment methods are systematically conducted in order to collect students’ learning styles, prior knowledge levels, interests, etc., at the beginning of the semester

Within a gifted group, any student who displays higher levels of knowledge and skills than others is provided with additional learning materials and activities as differentiated and individualised curriculum

During classroom teaching, any student who finishes tasks earlier than others is provided with further enriched tasks as differentiated and individualised curriculum

Any student who displays better understanding of content and advanced knowledge is allowed to begin individual projects

During classroom teaching, any small group which displays better understanding of content and advanced knowledge is provided with further enriched tasks as differentiated and individualised curriculum

Content of curriculum

Creativity and higher order thinking ability

Activities with differentiated content are provided according to students’ thinking ability

Advanced level tasks are provided to challenge students’ creativity

Advanced learners are provided with differentiated learning materials

Various approaches which allow students to produce different products under the same theme

Character and leadership

In the lesson content, it is clearly stated that there are high expectations of nurturing students’ integrity and leadership

In overall curriculum, students are able to fully nurture their integrity and leadership

During individual/small group projects, teachers instruct students about how researchers conduct research with integrity and responsibility and serve as role models

During small group projects, teachers instruct students to take turns to play different roles as well as being the group leader

During presentation and discussion, teachers instruct students how presenters, presiders and discussants keep manners and attitudes

Note. The 2012 Self-evaluation Manual of Gifted Educational Institutions under the Busan Metropolitan City Office of Education (BMCOE)

  • [1] There are 16 provincial offices of education in Korea and each office has an autonomous governing system, while the Ministry of Education provides education policy directions and promotespolicy implementations through administrative and financial support and evaluation systems.
  • [2] NRCGTE is a National Research Center for Gifted and Talented Education and is a sub- researchunit of Korean Education Development Institute (KEDI). KEDI was founded in 1972 as a government commissioned NGO institution and serves as a leading institution in educational policyresearch and planning, guiding the national agenda in formulating a unique education system contributing to Korea’s dynamic growth. H.-A. Seo (*) Science Gifted Education Center, Pusan National University, Busan, South Koreae-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it © Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017 L.S. Tan et al. (eds.), Curriculum for High Ability Learners, EducationInnovation Series, DOI 10.1007/978-981-10-2697-3_7
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