Giftedness: Literature Review Term Paper

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Giftedness: Literature Review


The issue of giftedness and the problematics of identifying and dealing with the gifted child in the educational environment is one that has raised concern and even contention in academic circles. The question of giftedness is also strongly related to the ongoing debate and research about human Intelligence. Some critics state that in contemporary research "... giftedness and gifted education have somehow managed to escape comparable critical analysis" (Margolin, 1994, p. xiii). One of the reasons given for this lack of focus is the dominance of studies on deviance and social problems in education, which has led to the relegation of the question of giftedness to the periphery of modern educational and sociological discourse. This has resulted in a situation where"... gifted education has been studied mostly by insiders with a stake in seeing gifted education continue: gifted child educators themselves..." (Margolin, 1994, p. xiii).

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This in turn raises questions about bias and objectivity in research in this area. While there is a large amount of debate and even disagreement about the definition, meaning, assessment and methods related to giftedness, there is also a large degree of consensus and agreement on various aspects. For Instance, "Educators in the field essentially agree on the importance of parents and family in the positive education and social development of gifted children..." (Colangelo and Dettmann, 1983) There are many other areas in which the rather extensive research tends to coincide rather then deviate. This paper will attempt to present on overview of the most relevant and contemporaneous issues and topics that are being debated in this field.

2. Purpose of project

Term Paper on Giftedness: Literature Review Giftedness the Issue of Assignment

The central purpose of this project is to explore the phenomenon of giftedness in terms of contemporary research and theory. To this end a comprehensive overview of the literature is provided, with the focus on contemporary aspects of research and discourse. There are a wide range of theoretical concerns and often divergent views about giftedness, and this study intends to discuss and present the most important views on the subject. The project is also concerned with the explication of the problematics of identification and assessment that form such an important part of the study of the gifted child and individual.

3. Discussion and reviews

There is a certain amount of contention about the definition of giftedness in the literature. A common definition, or rather perception, of the term giftedness is as follows: "Giftedness is that precious endowment of potentially outstanding abilities which allows a person to interact with the environment with remarkably high levels of achievement and creativity." (Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?) This rather effusive definition is an indicator of the problematics of defining giftedness. There are many contentious areas in relation to the understanding and assessment of giftedness in education. A more reasoned and comprehensive view of the meaning of giftedness was provided by Former U.S. Commissioner of Education Sidney P. Marland, Jr., who stated in his August 1971 report to Congress;

Gifted and talented children are those identified by professionally qualified persons who by virtue of outstanding abilities are capable of high performance. These are children who require differentiated educational programs and/or services beyond those normally provided by the regular school program in order to realize their contribution to self and society. (Marland, 1972).

The above expands on the understanding of giftedness in terms of two important points: the importance of the qualified and professional identification of the gifted child and their differentiation in terms of specific educational requirements. The same report continued to define giftedness in terms of ability in the following categories: specific academic aptitude; creative or productive thinking; leadership ability; visual or performing arts and psychomotor ability. (Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?)

As noted in the introduction, much of the contention in the literature about the term giftedness exists in the assertion that the term is a construct of educationists and other authorities, rather than a discovered quality per se. This is an important view as it brings to bear various sociological and educational biases that may exist in the understanding and definition of the gifted child. "... giftedness, especially in children and adolescents in the schools, is something we as a field have constructed or invented through our writing and talking, not something that we have discovered. (Borland, 1997, p. 7) Borland (1997) goes on to expand on this aspect.

To state that a construct is socially constructed is to state that it gains its meaning, even its existence, from people's interactions, especially their discourse. Concepts and constructs that are socially constructed thus acquire their properties and their influence through the give and take of social interaction, not through the slow accretion of empirical facts about a preexisting entity, at least not exclusively. (Borland, 1997, p. 7)

This article is useful in terms of contemporary theory and definitions of giftedness, as it explores the assumption that giftedness is a construct that has changed over time. In other words, the understanding of giftedness has been constructed differently in different time periods and social and cultural environments; in essence this refers to the relativity of the concept of giftedness. Borland notes that"...the construct of giftedness has undergone significant changes in recent times." (Borland, 1997, p. 13) He also refers to modern educationists and theorists of intelligence such as Gardner and his Theory of Multiple Intelligences. This revolutionary view of intelligence contradicts the hierarchical view and the privileging of certain "intelligences" over others.

Gardner's theory "...reflects his view that there are seven distinct intelligences of equal importance despite their unequal treatment in school curricula and traditional concepts of giftedness, has spawned programs in which educators attempt to identify giftedness in each of the putative intelligences." (Borland, 1997, p. 13) This is an important contribution the literature on giftedness as it implies that that there is no one set definition of giftedness bur rather that it must be defined within each sphere of intelligence. Therefore this suggests that in theoretical terms "The logical practical consequences of the application of NU theory in gifted education would include the need to use different procedures to identify giftedness in each of the seven intelligences and to develop separate curricula differentiated for each type of giftedness." (Borland, 1997, p. 13)

Another view that sheds more light on the definition and understanding of giftedness is suggested by Porter (2005). In line with the above comments, Porter explains that the hierarchical view of the giftedness is no longer seen as a tenable estimation and assessment of the term gifted. "In the past, there was a hierarchical view of giftedness and talent which upheld that giftedness referred to academic skills while talent referred to nonacademic abilities -- for example, in the fine arts. But this hierarchy cannot stand up to scrutiny..." (Porter, 2005, p. 4) This extends the view of giftedness and does not relegate the application of this term only to academic achievements. "...artistic expression is as central to the artist's personhood as academic achievement is to the intellectual. It is hoped that both will be a means for self-fulfillment, so one talent simply cannot be of less value than the other." (Porter, 2005, p. 4) From this perspective giftedness is defined as "...exceptional innate ability" and the potential to excel. (Porter, 2005, p. 4)

Definitions of giftedness are related to various theoretical paradigms that attempt to understand and explain this educational and developmental aspect. One view is that giftedness is a form of mental self-management. (Sternberg and Wagner 1982) This theory sees the key to intellectual giftedness as residing in the insight and skills that include three main processes in mental management. These are; adapting to environments, selecting new environments, and shaping environments. (Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?) in term of this theory the gifted individual is adept at "...separating relevant from irrelevant information... combining isolated pieces of information into a unified whole, and... relating newly acquired information to information acquired in the past." (Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?) This view sees giftedness in terms of problem solving abilities, as well as in the ability to process and integrate information creatively.

Another view put forward by Joseph Renzulli (1986) states that giftedness and gifted behavior depend largely on the interaction among three basic clusters of human traits: above-average general and/or specific abilities, high levels of task commitment (motivation), and high levels of creativity. (Renzulli's Enrichment Triad) According to Renzulli, "...gifted and talented children are those who possess or are capable of developing this composite of traits and applying them to any potentially valuable area of human performance." (Giftedness and the Gifted: What's it All About?)

Theories about gifted individuals are often divided into two general categories in the literature: the conjunctive and disjunctive views of giftedness. The latter refers to the multitrait conception of giftedness as advocated by Borland (1989) and others. The disjunctive theoretic stance is related to the United States Office of Education (U.S.O.E.) and MI or… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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"Giftedness: Literature Review."  April 9, 2007.  Accessed October 21, 2020.