Definition of the problem
Angie Karan said “Every single person is gifted…It is inherent in every single person, in each and every one of us”. By definition, students who are talented and gifted are statistically rare and, as many argue, unique human resources. Gifted and talented students show excellent intellectual abilities or promise and achieve outstanding results (Adelson, aet al., 2012). These individuals are also very creative, innovative as well as driven individuals who are great minds. Since about the start of the twentieth century, the notion of gift is connected with high intelligence as well as excellent performance. The gift authorities acknowledged serious restrictions on the use of one IQ to identify gifted people in the late 1900’s and the very first quarter of a century of the new millennium (Ambrose, & Machek, 2015).
In order to provide adequate education support and therefore inclusion, identifying gifted children and young people, also called students of high levels or talented students, is a major issue (Assouline, aet al., 2010). The early identification of these children is often a matter for the family and school, which justifies that the evaluation strategies that support such an identification should receive particular attention. For many years there’s been considerable discussion on the gifted students’ identification in gifted education. There are more quotes in the literature on this subject than any in the field. Moreover, it remains one of the most frequently mentioned programme development issues in the administration of programmes and services to gifted children by school district staff and central government coordinators (Calero, aet al. 2010).
This paper analyses the misconceptions of talented and gifted students. It has four main sections. The first section assesses the misunderstanding of the issue with the practise and theories of gifted education. Second section discusses how misunderstandings might influence teaching, schools and policymaking in the government. The third section, on the other hand, proposes strategy for dealing with the misunderstandings while summarising the analysis at the end of the paper under the conclusion section.
Evaluation of the Misconception
Children and adolescents with outstanding ability can accomplish remarkably excellent productivity or exemplify potential in comparison with other peoples of their ages, their experience as well as environment (Cross, & Frazier, 2010). These children and young people are likely to achieve higher performance, extraordinary leadership capacity in their intellectual, innovative and artistic fields or of outstanding educational capacity. They require services or activities that are usually not provided by schools. There are excellent talents throughout all aspects of human effort and children and teens from across all diverse cultures (Dingle-Swanson, 2016).
One of its main misconceptions is that the gifted students are often considered to be identical to the talented students. Two terms, both gifted and talented, are normally used to describe people with great natural skills. However, these two terms have particular meanings in the context of education (Fleith, 2010). While both words refers to pupils with one or more skills that are significantly older than their age and experience, gifted are especially skilled in academic topics like science , mathematics and language, while talented pupils refer to art , music, designing, etc. This is the major difference between talented and gifted, which is unfortunately not taken into account when identifying the gifted students (Gagne, 2010).
In the NSW Gifted Identification procedures also the above main concept isn’t addressed. They classify, for example, a student who easily and successfully learns to understand new concepts and has excellent memory and superior interpersonal skills is termed as gifted and talented student. Unfortunately it is difficult to distinguish between talented and gifted students with NSW Gifted Identification process (Fleith, 2010). Similarly, one of the important model which highlights the misconception related to the two terms is the Gagné’s DMGT Model.
Gagné’s framework suggests to distinguish strikingly between two important topics in the field of gifted education. Giftedness means possession and application of superior natural abilities (so-called abilities or gifts) that are untrained as well as expressed instantaneously in at least a field where a person would be among at least the top 10% of the person’s ages. On the other hand, talent means an outstanding mastery (or skills) and knowledge that develops in at least one area of life for someone who appears to work or works for at least 10% of the person’s age (Gagne, 2010).
Another critical problem in the identification of gifted students is ignorance of the criteria used to assess gifted people. As described in the section above, the primary tool used to identify gifted people is based mainly on IQ tests since the beginning of the 20th century. Nevertheless, the gifted authorities recognised significant shortcomings in the first decade of the 21st century only if the IQ test were used to identify gifted students. The authorities advocated a narrower approach of several parameters which became more systematic and more diagnostically defensible (Ambrose, & Machek, 2015).
In general, the meaning and development of gifted students has changed considerably over the last two decades, in particular in technical literature. However, all too much and as was found in school systems today, gifted ability is often seen to be defined mostly by an IQ test. Educators originally defined gifted or talented individuals in a narrower way, taking only achievement and/or intelligence buildings into account – thus increasing the likelihood of non-academic young people being excluded (Jung, 2014). But over the past two decades, skills relating to leadership, creativity and the arts have been extended to include the definitions that identify the gifted people. But the term gifted is removed from a series of existing meanings of a more historical, cognitive and skill growth perspective during the identification process of gifted students (Lemons, 2011).
The literature suggests that the techniques of identifying gifted students are primarily based on specific grades of standardised IQ tests. For example, if a student achieves an intelligence score of 120, 125 or 130, he or she will usually be eligible as gifted. On the other hand, a graduate who does not get a pre-defined IQ-test scoring is often deemed “not gifted” or not qualifying for gifted programmes and services. However, there is a comprehensive research literature to affirm the value of IQ scores that forecast academic success, job performance and other significant life outcomes. Therefore, many educators and policymakers tend to find that an IQ score provides the criteria to identify gifted students (Little, aet al., 2014). On the other hand, in the gifted sector, there is a rising agreement that promotes numerous and complementary methods to recognise gifted people. Nevertheless, new and alternate recognition methods have been slowly implemented in the Gifted Sector around the school districts (Mudrak, 2011).
How Misconception could Influence Teaching Practice, School and Government Policies?
Students have various levels of skill. Different needs and potential come with these different levels. Schools need to be fair to offer opportunities for students. However, fairness does not mean giving all students exactly the same educational opportunities. Indeed, Fairness offers all students the best possibilities according to their needs. It is impossible to develop their talents properly without measuring students ‘ abilities and identifying people with special gifts (Neihard, & Olszewski-Kubilius, 2010).
Intuitive for some people, different skills require different approaches to education. The same approach is certainly not effective for students who have different gifts and different learning styles. The debate is over for anyone who follows this line of thought without any additional explanation (Peters, 2016). Some measurements are required to determine which students require enrichment opportunities. While the best identification methods can be discussed, the importance of identifying gifted students should not be discussed. Throughout history, the perceptions, opinions and treatments of gifted and talented students differ. Different talents are evaluated and various services to nurture these ‘gifts’ are provided, depending on the time and culture of society (Peters, 2012).
To correctly address government policy, school and educational needs, it is important that we formally identify and differentiate between talented and the gifted students. Talented and gifted students have educational needs which in undifferentiated inclusive classrooms are not always possible to address (Rubenstein, aet al., 2012). Although the identification and distinction of naturally gifted and talented students are legal requirements in many states, most are surprised to learn that some Member States don’t really need specific training or enhanced resumes for the identified students that influence teaching practise. Many people believe there is a purpose beyond the label to identify and distinguish talented and gifted students. Certain states require the provision of curricula tailored to their academic needs for students recognised as gifted, but whether schools have the necessary resources to provide these services is another challenge (Subontnik, aet al., 2011).
While certain gifted students excel without additional classroom resources, these instructional methods are not generally of value for gifted students. These students are often exposed to materials by policymakers, schools, and teachers which they have already mastered 1 or 2 years ago, so it is obvious why gifted students would have high standards in school, and they look like they are successful in education. However, as a result of this practise, some gifted students are never challenged and can become accustomed to teaching without having to make any real efforts. This is inevitably going to create problems when these school pupils are exposed to material they do not understand right from the very beginning (Swan, aet al., 2015). Therefore, researchers recommend that students must be constantly called on to grapple with interesting, complex and abstract insights and to develop strategies for problem solving in the whole process. However, if the practises are not changed for the gifted students, some students will not succeed in school because they do not see the value of making efforts on material they already understand. Moreover, some students develop a sense of apathy and laziness and demotivation, because policymakers and schools not sufficiently challenged them through the customised and specialised teaching practises (Vogl, & Preckel, 2014).
Strategies to Address the Misunderstandings
In terms of identification of gifted students between policymakers and educators there is lack of consensus and uncertainty. There continue to be significant differences and incoherences in definitions and categories of giftedness. Based on the aforementioned misunderstandings about identifying and distinguishing gifted and talented students, researchers propose strategies to tackle the misunderstandings (Winebrenner, 2012). Gifted evaluation should, for example, should not be a one-stage event, it should be a continuous phenomenon. Many students who are not known as gifted young adults can develop their own strengths in a variety of fields on a later stage, and other newer students will fall from the road to academic success for a range of reasons (Adelson, aet al., 2012).
Owing to a rigorous assessment that includes not only assessing general talents, but also particular expertise, inspiration, desire, engagement and psycho-psychological factors which are considered to promote academic performance, the gifted appraisal must take place with psychologists taking a more central role in identifying gifted students. All forms of qualifications and ability should be recognised and encouraged among all students, including highly skilled students. This is obviously an exciting new opportunity for schools to play an important role in terms of identification and differentiation of the gifted and talented students (Clark, 2012).
The promotion of high-quality students who also have not recognised or provided gifted school-level services, such as students of varying colour schemes, students from families of financial deficits, students with different language levels in their home countryside or rural neighbourhood students, is important to educators , teachers and psychologists. All too often they do not identify or provide gifted services with uncontrollable capacity for success for disadvantaged classes of studants (Fleith, 2010). Schools should support a highly skilled student who shows uncanny ability or potential to achieve a mark in an academic field, even if their IQ score falls below the cutscore of the school district; since, no correct answer is available to what IQ or % of students are qualified and the numbers may change according to the changing academic excellency criteria and the resources available (Jung, 2014).
Teachers should track talented students ‘ academic progress. Several influences play a part at all levels of the learning process and some aspects will improve or hinder the actualisation of a gifted student’s ability. Researchers urge teachers to use growth frameworks for gifted students. To benefit from this, schools and teachers must be acquainted with talent development and expert literature in order to design protocols of progress monitoring which are empirically supported and to identify effectively opportunities and experiences that promote a student’s high-quality pursuit of excellence and social influence (Lemons, 2011).
The children must be trained in learning environments that provide all with academic rigour and the right tools and challenges for everyone to achieve their individual potential. In all classrooms, the achievement of individual potential should be expected, recognising that all students have different abilities and different potential, such as distinguishing between the needs of gifted and talented students. Learning environments should not simply regenerate the ideas of someone else, but encourage all students to think originally, creatively and analytically.
By nature, gifted students are genetically unusual and, in comparison to others, they are special human resources. Talented students display exceptional academic ability or potential and are able to attain remarkable achievement. Such gifted students are excellent intellectual property, are extremely imaginative, inventive and inspire thinkers.
The gifted and talented students must be distinguished and educated to reflect the skills and interests of every child. In their efforts to achieve their full potential, all children should be supported. Students with learning problems should be welcomed and encouraged in order to not to be left behind. Students with gifts and talent should also be distinguished, accommodated and encouraged to ensure the development of their abilities.
Based on the misunderstandings about identifying and distinguishing gifted and talented students, researchers propose strategies to tackle misunderstandings. For example, gifted appraisal must be a continuous, not a one-stop-event, phenomenon. Some students, not identified at an early age, develop talent to make significant contributions in numerous fields at later stages and certain early students disappear on the path of academic excellence for several reasons.
Moreover, a gifted appraisal would be multi-purpose, with school psychologists taking a more critical role in identifying gifted students by an exhaustive assessment that involves not just the measurement of general competences, but also relevant skills that facilitate education performance. All forms of abilities and ability among all students, particularly students with high abilities must be recognised and promoted.
Adelson, J. L., McCoach, D. B., & Gavin, M. K. (2012). Examining the effects of gifted programming in mathematics and reading using the ECLS-K. Gifted Child Quarterly, 56, 25-39.
Ambrose, L., & Machek, G. (2015). Identifying creatively gifted students: Necessity of a multi-method approach. Contemporary School Psychology, 19(3), 121-127.
Assouline, S. G., Foley Nicpon, M., & Whiteman, C. (2010). Cognitive and psychosocial characteristics of gifted students with written language disability. Gifted Child Quarterly, 54, 102-115.
Calero, M. D., Belen, G. M., & Robles, M. A. (2010). Learning potential in high IQ children: The contribution of dynamic assessment to the identification of gifted children. Learning and Individual Differences, 21, 176–181.
Cross, T. L., & Frazier, A. D. (2010). Guiding the psychosocial development of gifted students attending specialized residential schools. Roeper Review, 32, 32-41.
Dingle-Swanson, J. (2016). Drawing Upon Lessons Learned: Effective Curriculum and Instruction for Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Gifted Learners Gifted Child Quarterly,60(3) 172–191.
Fleith, D. S. (2010). Teacher and student perceptions of creativity in the classroom environment. Roeper Review, 22(3), 148–153.
Gagné, F. (2010). Transforming gifts into talents: The DMGT as a developmental theory. High Ability Studies, 15, (2), 119-147.
Gagne, F. (2010). Motivation within the DMGT 2.0 framework. Gifted Child Quarterly, 21, 81-99.
Garn, A. C., Matthews, M. S., & Jolly, J. L. (2010). Parental influences on the academic motivation of gifted students: A self-determination perspective. Gifted Child Quarterly, 54, 263-272
Jung, J. (2014). Predictors of attitudes to gifted programs/provisions: Evidence from preservice educators. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(4), 247–258
Lemons, G. (2011). Diverse perspective of creativity testing: Controversial issues when used for inclusion into gifted program. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 34(5), 742–772.
Little. C., McCoach, B., & Reis. S. (2014). Effects of differentiated reading instruction on student achievement in middle school. Journal of Advanced Academics, 25(4) 384–402.
Mudrak, J. (2011). “He was born that way”: Parental constructions of giftedness. High Ability Studies, 22, 199-217
Neihart, M., & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2010). Special schools 6and other options for gifted STEM students. Roeper Review, 32, 61-70.
Peters, S. J. (2016). The bright vs. gifted comparison: A distraction from what matters. Gifted Child Today, 39, 125-127
Peters, S. J. (2012). Underachievers: From whose perspective? A commentary on “Differentiating low performance of the gifted learner: Achieving, underachieving, and selective consuming students.” Journal of Advanced Academics, 23, 176-179.
Rubenstein, L. D., Siegle, D., Reis, S. M., McCoach, D. B., & Burton, M. G. (2012). A complex quest: The development and research of underachievement interventions for gifted students. Psychology in the Schools, 49, 678-694.
Subotnik, R. F., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Worrell, F. C. (2011). Rethinking giftedness and gifted education: A proposed direction forward based on psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12, 3-54.
Swan, B., Xuan- Coulombe-Quach, L., Huang, A., Godek. J, Becker,D., & Zhou. Y. (2015). Meeting the needs of gifted and talented students: Case study of a virtual learning lab in a rural middle school. Journal of Advanced Academics, 26(4), 294–319.
Vogl, K., & Preckel, F. (2014). Full-time ability grouping of gifted students: Impacts on social selfconcept and school-related attitudes. Gifted Child Quarterly, 58(1), 51–68.