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Gifted and Talented Education

Identification of Students from Culturally Diverse Backgrounds: Coolabah Dynamic Assessment Model (CDAM)

This paper was written by Angela Chessman, Manager, Gifted and Talented Unit to fulfil the requirements for the administration of the Coolabah Dynamic Assessment Model (CDAM). The CDAM training was provided by Dr Graham Chaffey for the Aboriginal Education and Training Directorate, NSW Department of Education and Training.

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State of NSW, Department of Education and Training, Curriculum K-12 Directorate, 2006 Copies of this document may be made for use in connection with DET activities on the condition that copies of the material shall be made without alteration and must retain acknowledgement of the copyright. Any enquiries about alterations, or about reproduction for other purposes including commercial purposes, should be directed to Curriculum K-12 Directorate on (02) 9886 7743 in the first instance.

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Introduction

It is of grave concern that students who are socially disadvantaged or Aboriginal are under-represented in gifted educational programs (Baldwin, 2004). This paper discusses the factors associated with failure to recognise giftedness through traditional methods of identification, in particular the use of one-off standardised tests and teacher nomination. The research-based evidence for the use of dynamic assessment approaches to reveal the hidden potential of culturally diverse students is discussed. The New South Wales (NSW) Government aims to identify gifted and talented students and to maximise their learning outcomes in all public schools. The Policy and implementation strategies for the education of gifted and talented students (revised 2004), stipulates that `gifted and talented students are found in all communities regardless of their ethnic, cultural or socio-economic backgrounds. The gifted population includes students who are underachieving and who have disabilities. It is imperative that school communities develop effective, equitable and defensible identification programs that avoid cultural bias and provide developmentally appropriate programs for gifted and talented students' (Department of Education and Training, 2004). The revised NSW gifted educational policy comprises eight policy statements and is available at

https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/policies/curriculum/schools/gats/PD20 040051.shtml

The policy statements most relevant to this paper are 6.1, 6.2 and 6.4. They are: 6.1 School communities have a responsibility to identify their gifted and talented students. This policy statement stipulates that the identification process must: · · · · · · · · · · be school-wide use multiple criteria be inclusive be dynamic and continuous be culturally fair ensure that all domains of giftedness and talent are identified recognise degrees of giftedness and talent be organised and linked to differentiation allow for early identification and identification at all stages enable input from the full range of stakeholders. 3

© State of New South Wales through the NSW Department of Education and Training, 2006

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Specialised approaches may be needed to recognise talent in some groups, including underachievers, socio-economically disadvantaged students and students from culturally diverse backgrounds. 6.2 School communities have a responsibility to foster collaborative home-school partnerships to support gifted and talented students. This policy statement acknowledges that parents, caregivers and community members have an important part to play in providing information about students to prevent underachievement and support students in their education. Schools need to provide avenues of communication between home and school. Sensitivity should also be shown to the ways in which some communities relate to school, notably Aboriginal communities. 6.4 Teachers, with support, have a responsibility to identify the gifted and talented students in their classes. This policy statement acknowledges the role that teachers play in identifying gifted and talented students. Methods of identification include: · · · · · evaluation of student responses to a range of classroom activities nomination by parent/caregiver, peer, self and teacher IQ tests and other culturally appropriate measures of ability behavioural checklists academic grades.

For students who identify as Aboriginal, these policy statements need to be considered with sensitivity and care when developing identification programs.

Historical perspective

Aboriginal students often have not achieved well in the school system. The recent Aboriginal Education Review in NSW (Department of Education and Training and NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc., 2004) found that social, cultural, economic, environmental and health factors contribute to Aboriginal students' alienation from mainstream society and to underachievement in school. Research conducted for the review found higher absenteeism, lower retention rates and lower literacy outcomes for Aboriginal students than for the general student population. Long-term social disadvantage has had a major impact on the Aboriginal community's experience of school. As noted in the review: "for many Aboriginal parents, their own negative experience of school resulted in low levels of attainment and negative attitudes towards

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formal education. Parents' attitudes to education and the value of school are critical factors linked to successful outcomes. For those Aboriginal parents with low levels of literacy and numeracy, school may be yet another confronting and overwhelming place, one to be avoided." (Department of Education and Training and NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc., 2004, p. 56). The crucial issue for cultural diversity and learning, identified in American research, is the relationship between minority and mainstream cultures (Ogbu, 1992). Some minority cultures do well in school despite language and cultural differences. The school performance of culturally diverse students is influenced by complex social, economic, historical and cultural factors. Schools often unwittingly contribute to problems through subtle and not-sosubtle polices and practices such as biased testing and curriculum offerings. The curriculum, it is suggested, needs to be based on a deep understanding of cultural diversity and different cultural groups' perspectives or frames of reference. The causes of learning and performance difficulties for culturally diverse groups need to be investigated and understood (Ogbu, 1992). The differential success of minority cultures has been related to a classification of minority groups. Ogbu (1992) defined the following three categories: 1. autonomous ­ groups with few members (e.g. Mormons) 2. immigrant or voluntary ­ groups of people who have voluntarily moved to a country for economic well-being, better opportunities and/or greater political freedom (e.g. British, Italian, Vietnamese immigrants in Australia) 3. castelike or involuntary ­ groups of people who have been brought into a society against their will through slavery, conquest or colonisation (e.g. African Americans and Aboriginal people in Australia). Voluntary minorities (category 2) have primary cultural differences from those of their adopted society, which existed before immigration and persist while the immigrants adopt new ways to ensure success in school and work. However, people with involuntary minority status (category 3) not only have primary cultural differences but tend to develop secondary differences after contact with the dominant group, in order to cope with subordination. These minorities develop cognitive, communication, interaction and learning styles in contrast to those of the dominant group ­ behaviours that protect the culture, identity, security and self-worth of the minority group under subordination (Ogbu, 1992). Consequently, the lack of school achievement in involuntary minorities does not simply relate to language differences or differing social perspectives but to the involuntary minority's fundamental opposition to the mainstream culture. Pressures from within the minority group discourage involuntary minority students from adopting attitudes and behaviours that enhance school learning because these are considered inappropriate. The social cost of developing or

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adopting mainstream characteristics can be the loss of peer affiliation or rejection by one's people (Ogbu, 1992). This is the backdrop to the cycle of disadvantage and poor school achievement outcomes for Aboriginal students. The crucial question is how educational achievement in Aboriginal students can be supported while at the same time maintaining and developing Aboriginal culture and identity. Ogbu (1992) referred to this as developing a strategy for `accommodation' rather than `assimilation'. A key determinant in enabling this kind of strategic success is the role that community can play in supporting Aboriginal student achievement.

Differentiated model of giftedness and talent

The issues of how giftedness, talent and underachievement are defined are central to the effective identification of gifted and talented students. The revised NSW policy is based on the definitions of giftedness and talent devised by Françoys Gagné (2003). Gagné proposed a distinction between giftedness and talent that is both natural and grounded in research on human abilities (Gross, 1993). Giftedness corresponds to potential that is distinctly above average in one or more domains of ability: intellectual, creative, socioaffective and sensorimotor or physical. Talent refers to human performance that is distinctly above average in one or more fields. Students may be gifted in one or more domains of ability and these abilities may combine to produce one or more specific talents (Gagné, 2003). Both intra-personal and environmental catalysts and impediments may either facilitate or hinder the translation of gifts into talents (Table 1). The revised policy recommends that school communities be sensitive to these factors and the mediating effects of systematic training and practice.

Table 1: intra-personal and environmental factors

Intra-personal motivation self-management self-esteem self-efficacy poor health and disability learning difficulties language proficiency Environmental socio-economic background beliefs about giftedness and talent inter-personal relationships events teacher expectations teaching practices learning activities

(Department of Education and Training, 2004) If students are not working to potential in school they are underachieving. Underachievement has been defined as: "a discrepancy between the child's school performance and some index of his of her actual ability, such as intelligence, achievement, or creativity scores or observational data." (Davis & Rimm, 2004, p.306) The causes of underachievement are complex and involve many intrapersonal or environmental factors. For example, some students may deliberately underachieve for peer acceptance ­ the forced-choice dilemma ­ or to avoid appearing different (Gross, 1989). Some students experience a forced-choice dilemma because they may be rejected by their peers and

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community if they pursue individual achievement (Gross, 1989). Chaffey and Bailey (2003) distinguished between an underachiever and an invisible underachiever. They observed that some students consistently under-perform in the classroom and also do not reveal their aptitude or potential on common identification tools (Whitmore, 1980). They defined invisible underachievers as: "individuals whose assessed potential, as indicated by commonly used identification methods, is less than their actual potential and who also underperform in the classroom." (Chaffey and Bailey, 2003, p. 125)

Identification of gifted students from culturally diverse populations

Why are students from culturally diverse backgrounds often underrepresented in gifted educational programs? Although IQ tests and other standardised measures of ability are considered to be generally valid and reliable, they do not necessarily identify intellectual potential in culturally diverse populations (Davis and Rimm, 2004). In addition, poor performance by some students from disadvantaged and culturally diverse backgrounds has been attributed to social-emotional issues and inefficient cognition rather than a lack of ability (Tzuriel & Feuerstein, 1992; Chaffey & Bailey, 2003). Identification is also confounded when teachers lack the necessary tools and understanding (Davis & Rimm, 2004). Teachers tend to select high achievers who are well behaved rather than students who are non-conforming or unruly (Commonwealth of Australia, 2001), but effective teachers of the gifted are able to interpret both negative and positive behaviour and make appropriate responses. Professional development is crucial in this regard (Croft, 2003).

Social-emotional factors

There are many reasons why students underachieve or do not perform to potential on standardised tests of ability or achievement. They include: · · · · · lack of trust in the teacher or school counsellor fear of success (Gross, 1989; Lovaglia, Lucas, Houser, Thye & Markovsky, 1998;) fear of failure (Steele, 1997) stress lack of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1977).

The role of self-efficacy has not been fully appreciated. Self-efficacy is "an individual's judgements of his or her capabilities to perform given actions" (Schunk, 1991). It affects students' choices of activities and the effort and persistence they are prepared to devote to them (Bandura, 1977). Some students with low self-efficacy are likely to be impulsive and lack attention to detail (Schunk, 1991). Achieving mastery at particular tasks is influential in developing self-efficacy as is vicarious experience. Observing others similar to

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oneself achieve task mastery can impact on performance (Schunk, 1991). Persuasive feedback that is encouraging and appropriate also has a role in the development of self-efficacy. Self-efficacy is influential in directing a student's behaviour only if the student possesses the skills, positive outcome expectancies and values that lead to accomplishment. Opportunities for mastery learning and particular types of feedback can therefore enhance self-efficacy. Attributional feedback enables students to see that effort, application and persistence result in success. Performance feedback provides reinforcement for behaviours that are associated with engagement.

Cognitive factors

Factors that relate to thinking or cognition and the regulation of one's thinking also influence identification: students who can understand and control their thinking are more likely to be achievers. This crucial component of effective learning is called metacognition (Schraw & Graham, 1997). There are two types of metacognition: metacognitive knowledge and metacognitive control. Metacognitive knowledge includes self knowledge about skills and abilities, how to implement strategies and understanding about when and why to use learning procedures. Metacognitive control includes the planning that occurs before learning, monitoring strategy use and evaluation of performance after a learning experience. The two types of metacognition are interrelated and each affects the other (Schraw & Graham, 1997). Metacognition enables students to monitor and regulate their cognitive performance. Gifted students tend to be more flexible in their approach to problem solving and may benefit more than other students from scaffolded instruction intended to improve self-regulation (Schraw & Graham, 1997). Research has also shown that gifted students benefit more from strategy instruction than other students (Peck & Borkowski, 1983) and transfer newly learned skills more readily than non-gifted students (Scruggs, Mastropieri, Jorgensen & Monson, 1986). Training in metacognitive skills should be differentiated for gifted and talented students because there is evidence that their development is accelerated in this area compared with non-gifted students (Schraw & Graham, 1997). Training in metacognition is likely to help students plan and monitor their learning more effectively, which can compensate for a lack of content knowledge (Schraw & Graham, 1997).

Dynamic assessment

Dynamic assessment in contrast to one-off testing occurs over a period of time and is not confined to one event. It typically follows the pre-test -- intervention -- post-test format. In dynamic assessment a situation is offered to the student and the examiner facilitates the development of the student's cognitive skills (Lidz, 1997). The aim of dynamic assessment is to produce long-term cognitive change. Dynamic assessment is useful in identifying gifted and talented students because it: focuses on learning ability more than knowledge, can overcome

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deficiencies in using traditional tests with disadvantaged students, and can provide information about what to teach them (Bolig & Day, 1993). Dynamic testing is a subset of dynamic assessment that seeks only to determine the ability to learn and incorporates only a short intervention phase. The pre-test phase of dynamic testing gives a baseline of cognitive aptitude. This is followed by the intervention, which is designed to address the issues affecting the manifestation of learning potential. The post-test which follows the intervention can provide a better indication of learning potential because particular issues or barriers to the expression of a student's potential have been addressed.

What are the theoretical underpinnings of dynamic testing?

The dynamic assessment approach is based on the notion of the "zone of proximal development (ZPD)" originally constructed by Vygotsky (1978). This notion views intelligence developmentally rather than as a static entity. Therefore the ZPD is the difference between the student's actual level of development and that level of performance that can be attained in collaboration with an adult (Lidz, 1997; Chaffey & Bailey, 2003). It is hypothesised that a student is able to imitate a cognitive strategy only if the potential exists within the student. "The ZPD concept refers to the idea that a child has some fully matured processes that are evident when the child is assessed by traditional means, as well as emergent processes that can become evident when the child interacts with a more knowledgeable partner. The ZPD is the difference between the child's level of performance when functioning independently and the child's level of performance when functioning in collaboration with a more knowledgeable partner. This can also be viewed as a definition of "potential". (Lidz, 1991, p.7) The dynamic assessor instructs students on how to perform certain tasks, providing mediated assistance on how to master them, and then measures their progress in learning to solve similar problems (Kirchenbaum, 1998). In other words, dynamic assessment goes beyond the cognitive measure of the one-off standardised test that is the general tool of trade for teachers and school counsellors.

Coolabah dynamic assessment model

A recent study by Chaffey and Bailey (2003) tested an approach to the identification of culturally diverse students that incorporated the DMGT and an appreciation of Aboriginal culture. They investigated whether dynamic testing could be used effectively to identify gifted Aboriginal students. Their Coolabah testing method was administered to 79 Aboriginal students in Years 3 to 5 attending a variety of schools in rural New South Wales. The purpose of the method is to optimise cognitive performance to identify gifted students including underachievers. The Ravens Progressive Standard Matrices (RPSM) is the tool used in this method to measure the students' potential to learn. The RSPM is a culture-fair instrument that consists of puzzles that do

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not require literacy or numeracy skills and are motivating to students. Salient features of this study were as follows: · · · · · All Aboriginal students at the participating schools were invited to take part in the testing program. Aboriginal community members were given information about the project and invited to contribute ideas about how best to conduct it. The notion of testing was downplayed with emphasis instead being placed on the entertaining nature of the puzzles and the program. 90% of the students participated in the testing program. Students usually participated in the testing regime in groups of four.

The experimental design used an intervention group and a control group. All students did a pre-test on Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices (RSPM), and the two groups were matched on RSPM scores. The intervention group received a metacognitive intervention while the control group underwent a placebo intervention that resembled that provided to the intervention group. A week after the intervention phase the RSPM was readministered to both groups in the post-test phase. A far post-test was administered six weeks after the post-test to investigate the stability of the post-test gains. Two major strategies were used to optimise the performance of the intervention group, comprising social-emotional and metacognitive factors. To address the social-emotional factors that impact on student performance, an ice-breaker was incorporated into the testing process for both groups. It was provided to the students after the pre-test and involved both the dynamic tester who oversaw the testing regime and a trusted member of the Aboriginal community. The icebreaker can take different forms but generally includes games and opportunities for bonding with the examiner to establish trust and break down psychological barriers. The social-emotional process described links with the metacognitive part of the intervention as the dynamic tester worked with the students to scaffold their learning optimally. A set of 24 items that make up the major cognitive processes of the RSPM was presented to students in this phase in a similar way to the pre-test items. This enabled students to become familiar with the format of the test. The development of students' self efficacy is crucial to the success of the process. Student self-efficacy during the intervention was developed by: - - - - grading the difficulty of the analogue items from easy to hard supporting students to reach the correct solutions through continuous scaffolding providing attributional and performance feedback praising students in a considered way.

Vicarious learning was an important influence on student behaviour during the Intervention phase. As the dynamic assessor scaffolded student learning, students modelled their behaviour on the successful behaviour of other

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students and the significant adult. This aspect of the mediation also assisted in optimising student performance. Following the Intervention phase students sat for the RSPM again and comparisons were made between the pre and post-test scores. Any student who achieved at the 85th percentile band on any of the pre-, post- or far posttest measures was considered to be in the gifted group. The pre-test scores for all subjects were generally negatively skewed, although some students did achieve performances in the gifted range. The post-test scores were normally distributed, indicating that for some students the dynamic testing procedure led to significant improvements in cognitive performance. The efficacy of the dynamic testing method was evident from comparisons between the intervention and control groups: significant differences in post-test scores supported the conclusion that the metacognitive strategy was responsible for the cognitive growth, as both groups received the social-emotional intervention (Chaffey & Bailey, 2003). Chaffey and Bailey (2003) concluded that these results were consistent with the concepts of "ZPD" as defined by Vygotsky (1978) and "cognitive modifiability" as discussed by Tzuriel and Feuerstein (1992). The purpose of the intervention is not to teach the test but to develop strategies that students can use to engage in problem solving. At no stage of the testing regime are students provided with the answers to the puzzles. The results show that only some students have the ability to take advantage of the training experiences to reach performances in the gifted range of behaviour. Far post-test results revealed relative stability of cognitive change evident in the post-test scores. The Coolabah Dynamic Testing procedure has demonstrated that at pre-test some students can be categorised as invisible underachievers. This means that the RSPM, although considered to be a culturally fair test, is not necessarily valid when used as a one-off screening tool. When used in the dynamic testing format it has demonstrated the potential to find a more accurate measure of students' ability to learn. Static and dynamic assessment processes are complementary. The goal of static assessment is to obtain a highly reliable, quantitative measure of ability, whereas the goal of dynamic assessment is more qualitative and involves the development of effective problem-solving skills and strategies. The CDAM is a research-based, valid and reliable method for identifying Aboriginal students and their learning potential. However, gifted students who are identified through the CDAM will need particular kinds of support and instruction to maximise their learning outcomes. The involvement of Aboriginal community members who openly value and support education as well as providing positive role models is imperative to overcome some of the possible negative social pressures that may impact on Aboriginal students. Teachers need a greater understanding of Aboriginal culture to provide learning experiences that are meaningful for students. A focus on what to do once culturally diverse students are identified is clearly

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required. A more definitive model of educational provision needs to be developed that outlines the role of scaffolded instruction and appropriate pedagogy in maximising achievement outcomes in all domains of the DMGT. Teacher professional development is critical to address Aboriginal underachievement. An important aspect of the research of Chaffey and Bailey (2003) is that some students rated by teachers as average in ability and achievement were identified as gifted. When this was communicated to teachers, their expectations were raised. This in itself is a powerful catalyst to improve student performance. The challenge is to address all of the catalysts and impediments in the DMGT that impact on Aboriginal success at school to ensure equality of opportunity for all students.

References

Baldwin, A. Y. (2004). Introduction to culturally diverse and underserved populations. In S. M. Reis & A. Y. Baldwin (Eds.), Essential readings in gifted education: Culturally diverse and underserved populations of gifted students. CA: Corwin Press. Bandura, A. (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a unifying theory of behavioural change. Psychological Review, 84 (2), 191-215. Bolig, E. E. & Day, J. D. (1993). Dynamic assessment and giftedness: The promise of assessing training responsiveness. Roeper Review, 16 (2), 110-113. Chaffey, G. W. & Bailey, S. B. (2003). The use of dynamic testing to reveal high academic potential and underachievement in a culturally different population. Gifted Education International. 18, 124-138. Commonwealth of Australia. (2001). Senate Employment, Workplace Relations, Small Business and Education References Committee: The education of gifted children. Canberra: Australian Government Publishing Service. Croft, L. (2003). Teachers of the gifted: Gifted teachers. In N. Colangelo & G. A. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of Gifted Education (3rd ed., pp. 558-571). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Davis, G. & Rimm, S. (2004). Education of the gifted and talented (5th ed.). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Department of Education and Training (2004). Policy and implementation strategies for the education of gifted and talented students (revised 2004). Sydney. Department of Education and Training and NSW Aboriginal Education Consultative Group Inc. (2004). The report of the review of Aboriginal education. Sydney: NSW Department of Education and Training.

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Gagné, F. (2003). Transforming gifts into talents: The DMGT as a developmental theory. In N. Colangelo & G. A. Davis (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education (3rd ed. pp. 60-74). Boston: Allyn & Bacon. Gross, M. U. M. (1993). Exceptionally gifted children. London: Routledge. Gross, M. U. M. (1989). The pursuit of excellence or the search for intimacy? The forced choice dilemma of gifted youth. Roeper Review, 11(4),189194. Kirschenbaum, R. J. (1998). Dynamic assessment and its use with underserved gifted and talented populations. Gifted Child Quarterly, 42 (3), 140-147. Lidz, C. S. (1991). Practitioner's guide to dynamic assessment. New York: Guildford. Lidz, C. S. (1997). Dynamic assessment approaches. In D. S. Flanagan, J. L. Genshaft & P. L. Harrison (Eds), Contemporary intellectual assessment (pp. 281-296). New York: The Guilford Press. Lovaglia, Michael J., Jeffrey W. Lucas, Jeffrey Houser, Shane Thye, and Barry Markovsky. "Status Processes and Mental Ability Test Scores." AmericanJournal of Sociology, 104(1), 195-228. Ogbu, J.U. Understanding cultural diversity and learning. Educational Researcher, 21 (8), 5 -14. Peck, V., & Borkowski, J. G. (1983). The emergence of strategic behavior and metamemory in gifted children. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Detroit. Schunk, D. H. (1991). Self-efficacy and academic motivation. Educational Psychologist, 26 (3), 207-231. Scruggs, T. E., Mastropieri, M. A., Jorgensen, C. & Monson, J. (1986). Effective mnemomic strategies for gifted learners. Journal of Education for the Gifted, 9 (2), 105-121. Schraw, G. & Graham, T. (1997). Helping gifted students develop metacognitive awareness. Roeper Review, 20, 4-8. Steele, C. (1997). A threat in the air: How stereotypes shape intellectual identity and performance. In J. L. Eberhardt & S. T. Fiske (Eds.), Confronting racism: The problem and the response (pp. 202-233). CA: Sage.

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Tzuriel, D. & Feuerstein, R. (1992). Dynamic assessment for prescriptive teaching. In C. Haywood and D. Tzuriel (Eds.). Interactive assessment. New York: Springer. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society: The development of higher psychological process. In M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner E. Souberman, Eds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University. Whitmore, J. R. (1980). Giftedness, conflict and underachievement. Boston: Allyn & Bacon.

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