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How are questions that students ask in high level mathematics classes linked to general giftedness?

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This paper presents a part of a larger study, in which we asked “How are learning and teaching of mathematics at high level linked to students’ general giftedness?” We consider asking questions, especially student-generated questions, as indicators of quality of instructional interactions. In the part of the study presented in this paper, we explore instructional interactions in two high-school classes for mathematically promising students with specific focus on questions that students ask. The first class included generally gifted students (IQ ≥130) who were motivated to study mathematics at a high level (hereafter, a gifted class), and the second class included students characterized by high motivation regardless of their IQs (hereafter, motivation class). We analysed questions asked by the students during algebra and geometry lessons. Two types of questions are considered: elaboration and clarification. We found that students in a gifted class mostly asked elaboration questions, whereas students in a motivation class mostly asked clarification questions. We connect the revealed inclination to ask elaboration questions with intellectual curiosity that characterizes generally gifted students. Accordingly, we suggest that in classes of students who are motivated to study mathematics at high level, students who are generally gifted may create mathematical discourse of higher quality. We also argue that the identified differences in students’ questions observed in classes of different types are not only student-dependent (i.e. depend on the students’ levels of general giftedness) but can also be teacher-related and content-related.

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  1. Gifted classes in regular Israeli secondary schools operate in the framework of a special program of the Ministry of Education (see

  2. Motivation classes, such as the one that took part in our study, operate in Israel within different projects. The class that took part in our study operated under the auspices of the MOFET project. MOFET is an Israeli public association that provides methodological and pedagogical support to regular schools interested in attracting and nurturing STEM-oriented students (see for project details).


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Correspondence to Roza Leikin.

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Leikin, R., Koichu, B., Berman, A. et al. How are questions that students ask in high level mathematics classes linked to general giftedness?. ZDM Mathematics Education 49, 65–80 (2017).

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