What is “enrichment”?
“Enrichment” in the educational sense of the term refers to extracurricular and supplemental learning experiences — often of a challenging, self-directed, and/or immersive nature. Common themes among many national and local enrichment programs include:
the opportunity to apply skill, knowledge, and creativity to a self-selected area of study
the development of products or samples of work that require prolonged research and study
the use of extensive planning, organization, time management, and decision-making skills
Of the many theories and models for learning enrichment, one of the most notable is the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, a research-supported model designed for K-12 students. Inspired by the use of instructional methods and practices associated with gifted and talented programs, SEM aims to provide all students, regardless of ability, with highly engaging and challenging learning opportunities.
The SEM is highly flexible and includes 3 major components which are typical of enrichment models and theories:
The Total Talent Portfolio: Students engage in a number of activities and produce samples of work that reflect their particular interests, rather than their deficits. Through the production of these samples, students develop self-awareness and become attuned to their strengths as learners, as opposed to deficits. Gardner’s multiple intelligence theory (linguistic, logical-mathematical, spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, naturalist) may come into play here.
Curriculum Modification: The results of the “Total Talent Portfolio” are incorporated into student curriculum. Students may have special time set aside to explore their interests or may replace previously mastered material with enrichment material. This kind of modification may incorporate elements of mastery-based learning, a teaching method which allows students to progress through course material based on their proficiency rather than seat time.
Enrichment Learning and Teaching Principles: The model is based on principles which assert that each student is unique and has the potential to enjoy his/her learning by engaging in the active construction of meaning. These principles bear some resemblance to constructivism, which holds that knowledge is contextual, that it comes from synthesis, application, and evaluation, as opposed to mere factual intake and memorization, and that each student, however young or inexperienced, approaches learning with a “schema” based on their own experiences to date.