An interview with the lead author of the GRS-2, Steven Pfeiffer, recently appeared in the 2020 issue of the North American Journal of Psychology. Professor Pfeiffer was asked a number of questions about his views on giftedness, talent development, the new GRS-2, and ways to identify and nurture high ability kids. He has provided a short summary of his answer to one of the interview questions that appears in the journal to whet the interest of our readers. A full interview is available here.
Interviewer Question: A burning question about giftedness and talent development, Dr. Pfeiffer- is it quantitative or qualitative- and what do you see as the differences?
Steven Pfeiffer: This is a terrific question! It brings me back to my graduate student days, when I had the good fortune of studying with James Gallagher at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. Professor Gallagher had a lovely answer to the quantitative versus qualitative issue. He liked to say, and I am paraphrasing him here – “Try to view giftedness like water. At a certain temperature, it freezes into a solid, ice. But when warmed, the ice melts and turns into something very different, a liquid. And under further heating, the liquid actually transforms from a liquid into a gaseous state.” Professor Gallagher would then ask: “are these different states of water: solid, liquid, and gas – qualitative distinctions? Or are they quantitative differences?”
Professor Gallagher’s challenge to us students – at least how I have come to interpret and understand his view, is that giftedness can be considered both as marked by quantitative and qualitative distinctions. I agree with this nuanced position when thinking about giftedness and talent development. It helped guide our thinking about the development of the GRS and GRS-2. Let me use a soccer analogy, which readers of my work know I often rely upon by analogy when trying to explain intellectual or academic giftedness. The differences between most good High School varsity soccer players and weekend recreational soccer players, like myself, are, pretty much, quantitative. However, the differences between Division I College soccer players and world class soccer stars, such as Messi or Ronaldo, are, in many regards, astounding qualitative distinctions.
Messi and Ronaldo, and the other world class soccer players, perform, “on the turf,” in both quantitatively and in qualitatively different ways, compared to the rest of us who play soccer. Many things that they do on the field are more than just better or faster or more precise than what the rest of us can only hope to do. They play at an amazingly creative and elite level that captures our imagination because it reflects more than simply quantitative differences! The same is true among our most elite, eminent, and highly accomplished authors, poets, performing artists, scientists, politicians, engineers, mathematicians, physicians, teachers, and psychotherapists.
A second take-away from watching Messi, Ronaldo, and other world class soccer players on the field, training as well as competing, is this: They have an abundance of raw talent, considerable God-given gifts that are critical to develop to the highest levels on the soccer field. No question about this. But in addition to natural ability, to reach the highest levels in their chosen field, in this case soccer, they also need to develop to a very high level a number of specific physical and socio-emotional skills that complement their God-given gifts. Researchers have called these contextual, moderating and mediating factors. Whatever we label them, it is apparent to anyone who has spent considerable time on the sidelines watching elite youth develop, over time, into world-class soccer players, that many factors go into the equation that ultimately leads to elite performance on the playing field.
My point in thinking about soccer, which I love with an unbridled passion, is that the same is true in understanding the development of talent at its highest levels in almost any other field or profession, such as law, politics, the sciences, the performing arts, medicine, research, architecture, engineering… the list goes on and on. Of course, the factors that are uniquely important to the algorithm that creates a Messi or Ronaldo in soccer are not necessarily identical to the factors that create a world-class physician and immunologist such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, or world-renowned writers such as F. Scott Fitzgerald, Virginia Woolf, or Joyce Carol Oates. The point is this: A great many factors, in addition to high-level ability, go into the equation that ultimately leads to the development of talent at its highest level of expression-whatever the field.
Dr. David, counselor of gifted children and their families, has shared with us a timely post about considerations when conducting therapy online with students and families.
On-line treatment has been widely spread in the second decade of the 22nd century. Googling: ONLINE PSYCHOLOGICAL TREATMENT CORONAVIRUS has shown (until March 25) 67,600,000 results! However, written materials about the treatment of children, especially younger than 10, via video has been very limited in general, mainly because of the possibility of play treatment is almost non-existent through Skype, Zoom, WhatsApp, etc. No wonder that up to now I have not found any protocol for video-treatment of gifted children. I hereby offer some tips for such treatment based on my 2-week experience of treating 8-18-year old gifted children and instructing their parents through Skype and WhatsApp. As the coronavirus does not seem to disappear in the near future I hope that my following post – about video play-therapy of the gifted – will also be of some help for gifted children, their parents and their therapist.
This post will concentrate on five main issues:
The concern of patients about their [older] therapists;
The various difficulties young patients face when switching to video treatment;
Technical failures: when the connection is interrupted, the voice is blurred, etc.;
When younger siblings invade into the conversation;
When “I am the video-treatment person”.
Some of these issues have been mentioned before; most of them are common to video treatment of non-gifted as well.
What happens when the patient is concerned about their therapist?
Almost all child therapists have experienced the necessity of cancelling an appointment because of an illness, an injury or a misfortune, disaster or a sever condition of someone close to her. Children can understand, sometimes even at age 2, what is being unwell, and many of them already take part in a play role of: “a visit at the doctor’s clinic”, using kits that include a thermometer, a blood pressure gauge; a stethoscope, a plastic bottle with a colored medicine-like liquid given to them when their body temperature increases, or even without any accessories. There are children who put their teddy-bear to sleep, cover him with blankets, sing him a lullaby, and even ask everybody who enters the room to do it quietly because “teddy-bear has got a temperature”. Other children swing their doll’s cradle while “calming” her with unclear mumblings, try to “feed” her with the white liquid in “her” little plastic bottle while “persuading” her to sip some more drops because she “must become stronger”.
When “Corona Time” started, many kindergarten children were curious about the new situation, and many caretakers and teachers had to respond to the demand of children who asked for more knowledge. More intelligent children asked more questions at a younger age, but all educators have noticed that giving as accurate answers as possible – depending on the child’s developmental stage and emotional maturity – was needed. While this has been the case in many other critical situations, for example an illness or even a death in the family, there has always been an option of giving a general answer rather than profound answers that the child could not possibly understand or perceive. This has not been the case with the coronavirus.
The fight against the coronavirus has required as full cooperation as possible from everybody. Thus, parents, educators and caretakers have taught children how to properly wash their hands; how to keep “social distance” from others; and later telling even very young children that they could not meet their older relatives, not even their grandparents. Gifted children as young as 4-5 already knew the difference between a virus and a microbe and what must be done in order to minimize their nature.
This reality has created an enormous challenge for all therapists, especially for the older among us. Older therapists do not have to take care of their own children whose schools have been closed, and are not even allowed to meet their own grandchildren, so they are the most “natural’ group ready and available for video-treatment of children. But some highly gifted children know already at the age of 6 that older persons are more vulnerable to the coronavirus, and most death cases it causes are of 65+-year olds. The children’s concern about the health – even the life – of their therapists is accompanied, man a time, with the parents’ concern, which is well grounded.
The first rule in facing this challenge is telling the truth. When a child asks me if I am not afraid because of being old I tell her that indeed, I am old, and thus I do whatever I can in order to stay healthy. All “my” children know that this is true, as about 3 weeks ago, before people belonging to my age-group were advised not to meet others at all, I already told each child who entered my clinic to measure the distance between us, using my PowerLock 5-meter measuring tape [see the picture]. When the next week the children started the video treatment they already knew that I was telling them the truth about keeping as isolated from the virus as possible.
Many children, especially young, ask, at this point: “How old are you”? My answer is “67 and a half” or “next August I’ll be 68”. Accuracy rather than vagueness is a key for establishing trust. However, if you happen to have additional risk factor, it is not recommended to share this info with any of your patients, no matter how old or gifted they are.
2. What happens when a young child feels he need his parents to be present at the video-meeting?
Trust building is a main ingredient – if not the most important factor – of the treatment success. It is quite frequent to hear from the child’s parents, before the first meeting with the therapist, that they “can’t believe he will be able to stay in the clinic without us” or even “why can’t I, his mother, be present”? In most cases when the child is aware of his parents’ concerns they turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy; the child insists on his parents’ presence in the clinic. But when the parents are determined not to allow it the child eventually gives up, which helps building the necessary connection with the therapist and accelerates its strength. Thus, even if the child is a gifted 5-year old, it is almost always possible to agree upon “two breaks during the meeting when she meets her mother at the waiting room” or “leaving the clinic door open for the first two weeks”.
It is not possible to go through this process when the first meeting is not at the clinic, so just to make sure – we are talking about a child that has already established a satisfactory level of trust with the therapist. But even then, the transition to a video meeting is not simple. First of all: there is a technical problem. It is highly recommended not to use a tablet when the child is under 10, and operating the computer for such a meeting might be new for many young children even if highly gifted. Thus, a parent must “be there” both at the beginning and the end of the meeting. A parent is also required to “be close” in case of a technical or other problem.
But the transition from a two-people meeting to the situation when the parent is present or at least within a hearing distance is not necessarily negative. Here is an example that shows that this situation can have a positive effect.
A child who has not dared to express his deep negative feelings towards school, other family members, his siblings or even his parents is finally speaking about it with his therapist knowing that his parents are listening but cannot stop him or even intervene. He uses the opportunity to “speak up”, after he had already practiced it with his therapist, in order to “show” his parents that his feelings were acceptable, “telling” them that there is a possibility that he is “to blame”, that he feels being accused for no reason, and that he is ready to speak about his “bad behavior” with them.
3. What happens when technical failures occur?
During a video conversation it is quite frequent that the connection is interrupted, the voice is blurred, the therapist or the patient moves and her picture disappear from the screen, etc. We, older people, are used to hearing time and again that “children are better than us with computers” or “the young generation was born with a screen”. However, generalizations tend to be statistically true, but they cannot be applied to all cases. In addition, a child can be a champion in computer-games, or even an excellent programmer, but this does not necessarily make him more knowledgeable in fixing hardware problems… Sometimes a child who got his first smartphone at age 5 has had no experience in using video programs that are much better functional with a large screen. We need a larger screen for a better opportunity to follow the nuances of the patient’s expressions, her home-environment, the design of her room and many other important things that we have not had the opportunity to see because we always met the patient in our clinic.
In order to minimize the problems while using Skype or Zoom, the therapist must make sure it is installed on her computer. Both programs can be downloaded for free; even a technophobe can download them if she is determined to succeed. The next step will be to try using it in order to make sure it works. After that, you, the therapist, need to send the email address you used for it to your patients. When you do that, you demonstrate confidence, as if to say: most probably both you, my patient and your parents need me now more than ever, and together we shall overcome any technical problem!
But we cannot deny that using a video tool for a counseling meeting might cause an unexpected problem, including the potential of disconnection of the conversation and even the patient’s decision to terminate the whole process. In order to prevent such a situation, or at least minimize its prospects, I recommend preparing a back-up video tool, another program that should be installed in a different computer or smartphone, as well as an available telephone, if possible, a hardwired phone.
All these details seem very technical, but unlike in a face-to-face therapy session, when the therapist depends mainly on her own capabilities and experience, in a video session she must make sure these “technicalities” would not be on the way. This is true especially for highly-talented children and adolescents who sometimes have less patience than others, and in many cases hate to waste time until the line is fixed and the conversation resumed.
4. What happens when younger siblings invade into the conversation?
When our patient, child or adolescent, is sitting at the table during our conversation, whether in her own room or not, the basic rule or privacy in treatment, namely, that only the two of us are present and nobody gets in during it, changes. When everybody is at home younger siblings, who usually want to interfere with their older brother’s and sister’s life, find it harder to control themselves. It would not be fair to blame them or their parents for “not disciplining” them. “Corona Time” is not a good time to educate younger siblings, so both parents and counselors should be understanding when a sibling enters the room where our patient is conversing with us. A younger sibling usually believes that her older sister has a more interesting life – she goes to more places, meets more people… These beliefs are reinforced when the younger child feels she has nothing to do while her older sister is “on Skype”…
Here is a least of the most frequent scenarios that might happen when the younger sibling enters the room in the middle of the video meeting:
The older brother drives him out. It can be done by shouting, yelling and even pushing, kicking or hitting him. It is not our task to intervene. We must remember that while we are speaking with our patient, the sibling is under a parent’s care, the sole commander of what goes on in the house. The fact that we saw what happened does not mean we are part of it and certainly not that we have a role in it.
Our patient tries to involve us into the situation, saying things such as: “You see, I always tell you how unbearable my brother is”. In such a case we should ask our patient to call the parent. When our conversation is resumed, we might be asked to explain our reaction. One single sentence should be enough: “Your parent is the chief commander at home!”
The younger child enters the room, waves at us, “makes a face” in front of the screen, or says something that she knows would make her brother angry. If our patient did not react physically when the sibling leaves the room, we must praise her for her self-control and for not being impulsive.
If and only if our patient wishes to speak about what had just happened, we are to explain to her that her younger sibling was jealous because she was probably bored, and because she also wanted to have “someone special” to speak with. This explanation can develop, if the child shows an interest, to deeper ideas and thoughts about envy and jealousy. Quite often with gifted children being aware of a more abstract idea, sometimes at a very young age, leads to a deeper interest in the subject and curiosity that results in self-studying it.
5. What if “this kind of treatment does not feel like me” or just “I cannot do it”?
In spite of my warm recommendation to offer each patient the possibility to continue their treatment by video conversations, it is, first of all, up to the patient. If the patient or her parents decide they do not want to try it there is no problem.
But there are also many therapists who feel they cannot do it. The reason does not really matter. Some therapists find it hard to adopt a new method, preferring to stick to things they are familiar with; to protocols they had been using or rules such as “I am not to be in my patient’s house”. Some others have the self-perception: “I am a technophobe”. Younger therapists may not be able to treat other children when their own need care. In all these cases, and in many others, it is recommended to stop the treatment in order to get back to face-to-face meetings in better days.
The worst possible scenario, in my opinion, is that a therapist who is overwhelmed by her own anxieties continues meeting patients. Such a scenario might be harmful to all patients: adults, adolescents and children. But gifted children and adolescents are even more vulnerable to such a situation. As one of the most typical characteristic of the gifted is sensitivity, many are extremely sensitive to their therapist’s feelings. Indeed, transference in treatment is important, and counter-transference is unavoidable, but when the therapist’s anxieties are projected upon her patient, and even worst – the patient is concerns about her therapist’s life – such a situation is not just unethical; I would define is as immoral.
Dr. Michael F. Shaughnessy received his Bachelor’s degree from Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY, his master’s degree in counseling and guidance from Bank Street College of Education, and his master’s in School Psychology from the College of New Rochelle. He did his doctoral work at the University of Nebraska- Lincoln and has done post-doctoral study at George Washington University in Head Injury and Brain Trauma and additional study at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas in multiple disabilities.
Dr. Shaughnessy’s research interests are Intelligence Testing and Personality, Gifted Education, Projective Psychology, and Clinical Psychology
In this blog post, Dr. Shaughnessy reviews revisions of two well-known tests – The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-5th Edition and The Expressive Vocabulary Test- 3rd Edition. These instruments are often used as part of comprehensive evaluations and their revisions provide updated norms and easy paper and pencil or digital administration.
The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test-5th Edition
The Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test 5th Edition (PPVT™-5) is a well-known test that has been around literally for decades, serving as an integral part of most comprehensive evaluations. The PPVT-5 is a measure of receptive vocabulary designed for Standard American English. The test measures receptive vocabulary and its acquisition; strengths and weaknesses in the domain of semantics, word knowledge; and overall general language development. The PPVT-5 can be used for screening for receptive language disorders, screening for pre-school children, measuring word knowledge, understanding reading delays and difficulties, and measuring reevaluation and growth.
The goal of the revision was to update normative data to provide accurate comparative information; simplify and shorten the administration process; and include item analyses for assessment to intervention connections. The PPVT-5 keeps the basic well-known format of the PPVT–4 – respondents select a stimulus word from a four-picture layout – with stimulus words and pictures more applicable to different cultures within the United States.
Examiners compute raw scores to receive age-based standard scores (M = 100, SD = 15), percentile ranks, normal curve equivalents (NCEs), stanines, and both age and grade equivalents. Douglas Dunn, the author of the PPVT-5 has written a quite comprehensive manual delving into the statistical aspects of the test. The manual provides evidence of reliability, evidence of internal consistency, standard error of measurement and confidence intervals, and reliability of test scores. In terms of validity, the manual provides evidence based on test content, and response processes. The manual also reports relationships with other variables, specifically correlations with the PPVT-4, EVT-3, CLEF-Preschool -2, CLEF-5, and the KTEA-3-Brief.
Special group studies included populations diagnosed with language disorder, language delay and specific language impairment, autism spectrum disorder, specific language disability in reading and or writing, and hearing impairment with cochlear implants.
The publisher’s website and testing manual has additional information about testers’ qualifications, age-rage, administration time, and the paper and pencil and digital format of the assessment.
The Expressive Vocabulary Test- Third Edition
The EVT-3 is a valid reliable measure of expressive vocabulary and word retrieval for Standard American English. The EVT–3:
Measures expressive vocabulary
Offers comparisons of receptive and expressive vocabulary with concurrent administration of the PPVT-5
Assesses strengths and weaknesses in the realm of semantics, word knowledge
Offers an assessment of general language development.
Generates evidence-based interventions through the online Q-global system
The goals of the updated Expressive Vocabulary Test, Third Edition (EVT™-3) were to update normative data, include item analyses to connect assessment to intervention, and offer digital applications that maintain the basic qualities of the EVT–2 – ease of administration and response capture, brief administration time, and accurate and straightforward scoring. The stimulus words and pictures were also updated to be culturally relevant.
The EVT-3 will be available in paper and pencil and digital formats. The digital format includes digital scoring and reporting, digital stimulus books and manuals, and digital administration and scoring via Pearson’s Q-interactive® system.
The test yields age-based standard scores (M = 100, SD = 15), percentiles, normal curve equivalents (NCEs), stanines, and age and grade equivalents. Scoring options include digital Q-global scoring, although examiners can also use the manual for hand score.
The manual provides evidence of reliability and validity, including test-retest, internal consistency, standard error of measurement, confidence intervals, and reliability and standard errors of measurement of the normative sample. In terms of evidence of validity, the manual provides evidence based on test content, response processes, and relationships with other variables such as correlations with EVT-2 and PPVT-5. The PPVT-5 and EVT-3 were co-normed, offering a high degree of confidence in the results of the two tests.
The publisher’s website and testing manual has additional information about testers’ qualifications, age-rage, administration time, and the paper and pencil and digital format of the assessment.
When used together, the PPVT-5 and the EVT-3 offer direct comparisons of receptive and expressive vocabulary. The general idea is that using both tests together expedites movement immediately to evidence-based interventions using the data gathered from these two tests.
Both instruments will be available via Q-interactive, Pearson’s web- and iPad®-based system for interactive, seamless assessment, scoring, and reporting. With Q-interactive, examiners administer interactive assessments with an intuitive, portable system that employs two iPads that are connected by Bluetooth. The student or subject views the test stimuli on one iPad while the examiner uses the other iPad to view and control test administration directions and the verbal stimuli, and record and score responses. New users can receive orientation or sign-up at HelloQ.com. for an overview.
Both tests have a long and rich history of use and their importance cannot be over-estimated. These two instruments are easy to administer and score, and provide an excellent baseline and pre-post measure of growth and development to ascertain if students are responding to intervention. These two instruments will provide excellent information for speech language therapists, school psychologists, educational diagnosticians and others involved in the evaluation and assessment of preschool and school aged children, adolescents and adults.
Dunn, D. M. (2019) . Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test (5th ed.) [Measurement instrument]. Bloomington, MN: NCS Pearson.
Williams, K. T. (2019). Expressive Vocabulary Test (3rd ed.) [Measurement instrument]. Bloomington, MN: NCS Pearson.
Del Siegle is a professor in gifted education in the Neag School of Education at the University of Connecticut, where he was honored as a teaching fellow. Prior to earning his PhD, Del worked as a gifted and talented coordinator in Montana. He is past president of the National Association of Gifted Children and has served on the board of directors of The Association for the Gifted. He is also past chair of the AERA Research on Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent SIG. He has been co-editor of the Journal of Advanced Academics and Gifted Child Quarterly. He writes a technology column for Gifted Child Today. Del’s research interests include web-based instruction, motivation of gifted students, and teacher bias in the identification of students for gifted programs. Along with Gary Davis and Sylvia Rimm, he is an author of the popular textbook, Education of the Gifted and Talented (6th and 7th ed.). He is the Director of the National Center for Research on Gifted Education (NCRGE), which replaces the former National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT).
Gifted students, similar to other students, can be at risk for academic failure, and the seeming lack of motivation of many academically gifted students is an area of frustration and concern for many parents and teachers. The underachievement of some of America’s most talented students represents a loss of valuable human resources for the nation, as well as unrealized fulfillment for the individual.
We know that
• Teachers nominate three times as many gifted boys as underachievers as they nominate gifted girls as underachievers. Are more gifted boys underachieving, or are gifted girls who are underachieving being overlooked?
• Parents and teachers indicate higher rates of inattentive behavior at home and school for underachievers. Is inattention a cause of underachievement or a product of the underachievement?
• Developing trusting relationships with gifted underachievers, making school meaningful, and helping students see the important of school appear to be the strongest strategies for improving gifted underachievers’ grades. How can educators make school more meaningful for gifted and talented students?
One way to understand why students are not motivated to achieve is to study what motivates individuals. Our work has demonstrated there is a relationship between and among three key perceptions (self-efficacy, goal/task value, and environmental perceptions), and a resultant behavior (self-regulation). Students must believe they have the skills to do well before they will tackle a task. This self-efficacy appears to be necessary, but not sufficient for students to achieve.
Students must also find school tasks meaningful and valuable. Even if students believe they have the skills (self-efficacy) to do well in school, if they do not see their schoolwork as meaningful, they will not complete it. Many gifted students do not see the work they are doing in school as meaningful for several reasons. They may already know much of what is being presented to them. They also often have specific passion areas they enjoy exploring, but are seldom given opportunities to pursue in school. Educators often fail to share with students why content they are teaching is significant and how it relates the world in which live.
Additionally, students’ perceptions of school and home events, the nature of teachers’ and parents’ expectations and support, and the patterns of interaction between students, teachers, and parents have an impact on their academic attitudes and behaviors. These environmental perceptions interact with students’ goal/task values, and self-efficacy to help them set realistic goals and self-regulate. If any one of these three attitudes is low, individuals can fail to engage and achieve. Self-regulation and study skills are important for academic success; however, they interact with attitudes and are a resultant behavior that enables students to be successful. Helping students recognize and appreciate the abilities they are developing, helping them see the meaningfulness of the tasks we ask them to do, and letting them know we support their efforts as they approach challenges promotes the achievement oriented attitude necessary for success.
Last week’s post by Dr. Pfeiffer was one of our more popular posts so far. Dr. Pfeiffer wrote about facilitating a presentation for families of gifted children during which the audience discussed answers that they had submitted in response to the question, “What is the one thing that you find most worrisome or challenging as a parent of a gifted child?”
Dr. Pfeiffer wrote about the power of the discussion as participants shared similar concerns and experience. We know that having a community of families with similar interests and concerns can provide an important source of information and support.
To follow up on that post, we collected a set of resources that we hope will be helpful for parents to learn more about available educational opportunities, research about giftedness, and organizations that support gifted students and families. These resources can also be helpful for educators to share with students and families.
Your state department of education and your local school district should have a page with information for parents specific to your state and local community. The resources on the Ohio Department of Education website include information about giftedness, educational strategies for serving gifted students, and links to state and national organizations.
Of course, we suggest that you look at the Duke TIP website for information. Dr. Pfeiffer, former Executive Director of Duke TIP, and I, former Research Postdoctoral Fellow, have great respect for the work, research, advocacy, and resources that Duke TIP offers students, families, and the gifted community.
University centers offer useful research-based resources and services for students. Below is a sample of these centers. You can see that resources are located across the country and in a variety of institutions. These are just a few of the centers that focus their work on gifted students. Check your area to see if a local institution of higher education has a summer program, research center, or program that could be of interest.
I just returned from a trip to Calgary, Canada, where I was invited by the University of Calgary Werklund School of Education and their Integrated Services in Education to lead a group of professional workshops for teachers, educational administrators, and psychologists. I also was asked to provide an evening talk with parents of gifted students. This blog is about the evening parent talk, which proved to be an extraordinarily fascinating and moving experience.
I was rather tired from the six-hour professional workshop that same day, so I decided to structure the 2-hour parent evening event as a more informal and more interactional experience. As a speaker, you never know how the event will be received or turn out for the attendees! I’ve given perhaps 200 parent talks over the course of my career, both across the USA and internationally; some prove to be awe-inspiring and amazing, whereas others, sadly and sometimes inexplicably, can be rather uninspiring and lackluster grinds! Well, this meeting of parents of gifted kids in Calgary was, thankfully, breathtaking and awesome!
One aspect of the evening parent workshop that proved to be particularly interesting was my reading to the group of over 120 parents in the audience from a stack of 3×5 inch index cards the comments that the parents provided to me- anonymously! The information on the index cards was in response to my very specific instructions to write down, privately, with no identifying information on the card other than the gender and age of their gifted child, on their card: “What is the one thing that you find most worrisome or challenging as a parent of a gifted child?” Much of the rest of the evening was sharing and discussing some of the parent-reported challenges.
What makes this technique particularly powerful, in my experience, is that many parents who are struggling with how to best raise their gifted child, are reluctant for any number of reasons to share in a group setting their very private and personal struggles. In groups like these, you always have a sub-set of more outspoken parents who are quite willing and comfortable to share their thoughts and feelings about their gifted child. But there are many, many parents who keep their thoughts and feelings to themselves, hoping that some other parent will “speak for them” in sharing a challenge or concern that they also are struggling with in their life as a parent. The anonymity of each and every parent being able to privately write down their own personal challenge on an index card without having to voice the challenge out loud in a social group setting or even write down their name is powerful.
I’d like to share a handful of the challenges and struggles that these courageous and concerned and loving parents shared with me, and permitted me to share anonymously with the group for discussion. I hope that in sharing these parental concerns, the reader is provided some additional insights and new perspectives into the world of parenting a gifted child. These are in no particular order:
“My daughter, age 6, is a very smart kid, but she is way-to-cautious and hates risk. How can I get her to try new things?”
“Denise’s [name changed; age 16] room is incredibly messy. Horrible. She refuses to clean it up. She still manages to do well in school, be successful in extra- curricular activities, and be social. What is the root of her problem and what can I do about it?”
“You write about family meetings as very helpful to promote character strengths, social skills and emotional intelligence [this parent has obviously read my books!]. How can we as a family organize family meetings?”
“What are the risks of not having gifted programming for a gifted child? Meaning, what are the risks of my child staying in the mainstream school system?”
“My daughter, age 9, who is gifted, has significant anxiety at bedtime over things out of her control, such as the house burning down, the dog dying, etc. She overthinks every scenario. What can we do to help her?”
“Our daughter, age 17, is very passionate about her interests but lags far behind her age-peers in socio-emotional development. For example, she does not want to drive, does not want to get a job, doesn’t want to do “adulting.” Any thoughts on how to support her development as an independent adult?”
My ten-year old daughter is gifted. She rarely performs to her full ability. How do we encourage her to show how talented she is?”
“Has your research supported sports as a method to increase the gifted child’s ‘heart strengths’ “(another parent familiar with my work!).
“In reference to misdiagnosis of ADHD, what differentiating factors would you look for to assess whether my child is just bored or has ADHD?”
“Is social intelligence deficiency more pronounced in the gifted children population, and if yes, why is this?”
“Our 16-year old son questions everything, analyzes, scrutinizes all. How do you get your child through the educational system when they question, debunk, and poke holes in the way the system operates!”
“What would be the positives and negatives of not telling your child about giftedness? Our 6-year old was recently tested as gifted.”
“Our gifted daughter (age 10) is demonstrating isolation and periodic emotional breakdowns.”
“Our 7-year old son is super-sensitive and gets easily upset. How can we deal with this issue as his parents?”
“How can you set high expectations without overwhelming your child?”
“Our son, in grade 1 (age 6) wants to be perfect at everything he does. When he can’t meet these expectations, he internalizes it, thinks poorly of himself as a result. How can I help him build his self-esteem and self-confidence when he has these unreasonable expectations for himself? Nothing I say o encouragement helps.”
“At what age, generally, do gifted kids become aware that they are different”?
“How can we help our daughter (age 7) maximize her potential without pushing past her boundaries and being a ‘tiger mom’?”
“How do you make your child interested in your opinions as a parent?”
As you can see from the above sample of almost 100 questions on index cards that were posed by the group of parents, there are quite a huge variety and range of concerns, unanswered questions, and fears that parents of the gifted worry about. The take-home for me, as the leader of the evening session, and as a practicing clinical child/school psychologist, is that those of us who work in the gifted field need a ‘heavy measure’ of humility, patience, understanding, compassion, and answers based on facts and not opinion, if we hope to be responsive and helpful in our work with parents and families of gifted kids.
Note: It is with great indebtedness that I express my gratitude and appreciation to the many parents that I met with at the Westmount Charter School in Calgary, Canada. Their honesty, sincerity, candor, and authenticity made for a very powerful evening. This blog post is dedicated to these parents, who permitted me to share their thoughts and feelings.
In the January 16, 2020 post, I discussed grant writing for gifted educators. In today’s post I address how program evaluation aligned with a project’s research agenda can enhance your project, and provide good reasons to include an external evaluator in your project.
Program evaluation: enhance your proposal and your project
Respond to the call for proposals. The first reason to focus on evaluation in your grant proposal is because funders ask for it. We know that the key rule of grant writing is to include all the elements that the funder seeks. Most education-focused grant programs at the National Science Foundation, National Institutes for Health, and US Department of Education require an explanation of how grant activities and outcomes will be evaluated.
Support program implementation and improvement. Evaluation is not just important because the funder asks for this, but also because evaluation can help support a team’s work and can provide information and feedback that could improve the success of the project.
Program evaluators speak of two types of evaluation: formative and summative. Formative evaluation collects information and provides feedback to a project team about progress and perception of activities. This information can help the team understand if they are on track to complete project activities, if changes to the project plan or timeline should be considered, and if the expectations of the project participants and stakeholders are being met. Summative evaluation focuses on the outcomes of grant activities and assesses the impact of a program on participants and the extent to which a program resulted in expected outcomes.
Program evaluation aligned with the research agenda
External evaluation and research activities can focus on similar areas and use similar, or even the same data, to answer different questions. An evaluator can be assessing the extent to which a curriculum meets teacher needs, provides sufficient support and materials for implementation, and engages the interest of students. Concurrently, the research team can be examining the connection between student engagement and motivation.
Research and evaluation plans should be closely aligned to ensure efficient and complete data collection while avoiding repetitive or intrusive data collection. Communicating to grant reviewers, program participants, and stakeholders that the research and evaluation efforts are aligned and coordinated helps build trust and shows respect for participants.
In order to create an aligned plan, engage an evaluator early in your planning and proposal writing process. Developing an evaluation plan along with the research agenda can help align and organize data collection activities and ensure that all required information and data be available by project end.
External evaluation support
No doubt you are thinking “since the research team is already studying the project, can’t the research team just collect information about implementation and participant feedback?” Yes, that is possible. However, here a few reasons a skilled and experienced evaluator should be engaged.
First, an outside perspective is helpful. Evaluators can help shed light on a theory of action that is missing a step or help clarify assumptions at program onset. Discussions with an evaluator often help solidify thinking about project work and can position a project for successful implementation.
Experience is another reason. Experienced evaluators can offer a broad knowledge about assessment tools, data collection practices, and evaluation methodologies that can improve the work of the team. These skills can improve research efforts, as well, allowing you to focus on answering the questions that are of interest to you and your research agenda. A skilled independent evaluator should not come to your project to answer his or her own questions, they should come to your project with the goal of answering the questions that will help ensure that your program runs smoothly, and as intended.
And finally, an evaluator can help disseminate results, new practices, or innovative methods to different audiences. Evaluators can share innovations in assessment tools and methods, data collection strategies, analysis methods, and effective data visualization and reporting efforts. Often evaluators are willing to accompany principal investigators and project teams to conferences or professional meetings to help share and promote project outcomes.
With the right partner, external evaluation support can be a benefit to any project. If you have an idea for a grant submission that you would like to discuss, please email me at Tania@CenseoGroup.com. Our team would be excited to work with your team to develop your idea, to support your grant writing and grant evaluation efforts, and to increase research about effective programming for, gifted learners.
Censeo Group helps clients set their goals, as well as attain them!
Steven Pfeiffer is first author of the Gifted Rating Scales (GRS). He is a popular speaker on best practices in gifted assessment and how to raise successful and psychologically well-adjusted gifted kids. He is Emeritus Professor at Florida State University. Prior to his tenure at FSU, Dr. Pfeiffer was a Professor at Duke University, where he served as Executive Director of Duke’s gifted program, TIP. He also served as Director of Devereux’s Institute of Clinical Training & Research, headquartered in Villanova, PA. Author of over 200 articles and book chapters, he is lead author of the Gifted Rating Scales, published by MHS (http://info.mhs.com/grsinfo).
The Tripartite Model of Giftedness
There are many different ways to conceptualize giftedness. Sternberg and Davidson suggested at least twenty different ways to view giftedness in their 2005 book. The alternative models imply different ways to define, conceptualize, identify, and nurture what we mean by kids with gifts. The different models reflect, in part, to what extent we view giftedness as a disposition within the child vs. a more contextual view of developmental conditions necessary to allow some individuals to demonstrate superior performance in real-world, culturally valued domains.
My model, the tripartite model of giftedness, is not contradictory to any of the major models that most readers are familiar with. In fact, the tripartite model incorporates elements from a number of the more popular models. The tripartite model is a practical model, developed based on my experience working closely with highly gifted youth during my tenure as Executive Director of the Duke TIP summer programs. The tripartite model provides three different ways of viewing students with high ability or extraordinary potential. The tripartite model offers three different, complementary ways to conceptualize, identify, and provide evidence-based psycho-educational interventions for gifted learners. The three distinct lenses through which high ability students are viewed within the tripartite model are as follows:
Viewing giftedness through the lens of high intellectual ability;
Viewing giftedness through the lens of outstanding performance and accomplishments; and
Viewing giftedness through the lens of potential to excel
The first perspective of the tripartite model, the high intelligence view, is familiar to most readers. This first view dates back to Charles Spearman and Lewis Terman. Applying this first lens, an IQ test score or cognitive ability test score, or its proxy, can be used to identify students functioning at a certain level considerably above average intellectually. The criterion for high intellectual giftedness should be based on compelling, and scientifically reliable, evidence that the youngster is advanced intellectually, when compared to her or his same-age peers. The first perspective of the tripartite model can follow a general (g) or multidimensional view of intelligence. For example, the popular C-H-C model of cognitive abilities fits nicely within this first lens for viewing giftedness. However, applying the first lens to operationalize giftedness could also be guided by any other of the other models of human intelligence, such as the structure of intellect model, multiple intelligences, or even recent neuroanatomical models of intelligences. The point of the first lens of the tripartite model is that high intellectual ability defines giftedness.
The rationale for gifted programs based on viewing giftedness through the first lens of the tripartite model is that students with superior intelligence need, and benefit from, advanced, intellectually challenging and often more fast-paced academic material not typically found in the regular classroom. Based on this first lens or perspective, gifted education would be arrayed to reflect highly accelerated and/or academically advanced and challenging pedagogical approaches. The Johns Hopkins and Duke TIP summer programs are two examples.
The second perspective of the tripartite model views giftedness through the lens of outstanding accomplishments. This second perspective does not scoff at or minimize the value or importance of cognitive ability. However, the second perspective does emphasize viewing giftedness through the lens of a student’s actual performance in the classroom and performance on real-world projects as a core defining characteristic for giftedness in the schools. As we conceptualize giftedness applying the second lens of the tripartitemodel, evidence of real-world excellence compared to other same-age peers is the sine qua non to qualify a student for gifted programming. Not a high IQ test score. Standardized and rigorously developed portfolio and rubric assessment of actual student products are the templates that should be used to identify high-performing students as gifted through this second lens of the tripartite model.
Viewing giftedness through the outstanding accomplishments lens, educators, school administrators, school psychologists, and parents would be looking for direct and incontrovertible evidence of authentic academic excellence. Creativity could be emphasized when viewing giftedness through this second lens, since we often expect ingenuity and creativity in judging outstanding real-world thinking and accomplishments. When we developed the Gifted Rating Scales (GRS), now revised and newly standardized with a teacher and parent form (GRS-2), we intentionally considered items such as displays an active imagination and generates many ideas to what if questions for the scale, reflecting our appreciation for the value of reliable assessment of classroom evidence of high levels of creativity.
The rationale for gifted programs based on an outstanding accomplishments perspective is that students who excel academically have earned and deserve special academic programs and services because of their consistently outstanding effort and superior accomplishments. Gifted education, based on this second lens of outstanding accomplishments, looks somewhat different from gifted education guided by a high intelligence perspective. For example, gifted programs would consist of highly enriched and academically challenging curricula, although not necessarily fast-paced or highly advanced.
The third lens or perspective of the tripartite model is called potential to excel. What do I mean by this third way to view giftedness? In my clinical experience, and in consulting with many educators over 40 years, I have come to appreciate that some children and youth -for any number of reasons, have not been provided nearly enough opportunity or intellectual stimulation. I have also come to recognize that all-too-often, many children are not provided exposure and development of facilitative socio-emotional skills and attitudes that make a real difference in the expression of academic success and intellectual competence. This third perspective of the tripartite model is supported by a growing body of research (for example, Nisbett’s work ). I am sure that most readers can identify with this third perspective and can think of one or more students that they taught or worked with who possessed latent, not-actualized high potential.
Most of us agree that not all children start out on equal footing -on a “level playing field.” Some children from poverty, immigrant families, from homes in which intellectual and academic activities are neither encouraged nor promoted, or children growing up in overcrowded or dangerous communities with limited community or neighborhood resources or educational opportunities, are at a distinct disadvantage to develop their gifts. This was the rationale for the third perspective within the tripartite model.
The third perspective implies a prediction that students of high potential will likely flourish and excel when provided with “just the right” special resources and psycho-educational interventions. The assumption underlying this third perspective of the tripartite model is that with time, an encouraging and highly stimulating environment, and the proper social-emotional interventions, these students will actualize their yet unrealized high potential and distinguish themselves from among their same-age peers as gifted and talented.
Gifted programs guided by a potential-to-excel perspective should consist of highly motivating and enriched curricula and instructional approaches that may actually require compensatory interventions. This third category of gifted carries with it a prediction. The prediction is that if the identified student is provided a well-conceived, comprehensive and “high-dosage,” evidence-based set of psycho-educational interventions -often requiring an integrated home component -then she or he will thrive and ultimately appear almost indistinguishable, or at least very similar to, students who are already identified as falling within one of the other two gifted categories, high intelligence or academically gifted learner.
There isn’t a good deal of empirical research supporting -or refuting, for that matter -the hypothesis that there exists this third type of gifted, the diamonds in the rough. Children and youth who will flourish in astounding ways with well-designed and intensive psycho-educational interventions. It is apparent that the psycho-educational interventions need to be comprehensive and high dosage to compensate for the early, missed educational and psycho-social experiences and opportunities. It is also apparent that the earlier educators and school psychologists can identify these young, high potential students, the more likely a number of them will respond favorably to the planned, evidence-based psycho-educational interventions. This is a very exciting and promising area of research opportunity, both in the USA and globally. When we developed the Gifted Rating Scales (GRS), including the new parent scale (GRS-2), we intentionally included non-intellectual rating scale items (http://info.mhs.com/grsinfo ). We wanted to have behaviors that could be reliably rated that measure motivation, drive, persistence, academic passion and socio-emotional maturity – things that we believe help identify this third group of gifted children and youth -the diamonds in the rough. These items on the new GRS-2 teacher and parent scales reflect important, non-intellectual factors that differentiate successful from less successful gifted students.
In summary, these three categories of the tripartite model constitute three different types of bright children, which reflect different levels and profiles of cognitive and social-emotional abilities. However, the three groups are not necessarily mutually exclusive. For example, there are many students with exceptionally high IQ score who are also academically gifted learners with a burning passion to learn. The tripartite model, was developed, in part, to reduce much of the acrimony often found in the gifted literature and in the schools when one group of educators, administrators or parents advocate for adopting only one, typically narrowly defined view of giftedness that reflects only high IQ. The tripartite model intentionally goes beyond viewing giftedness as a unitary quality inherent within the child. It embraces multiple ways to view gifted learners, including recognition of non-intellectual factors, the role of the family and environment, and dynamic, developmental considerations. Interested readers may find my 2015 book, Essentials of Gifted Assessment,published by Wiley, informative (https://www.wiley.com/en-us/Essentials+of+Gifted+Assessment-p-9781118589205 ). The book details how to operationalize the tripartite model.
Since it’s still January, let’s continue discussing our professional goals for the new year. Let’s focus on your goal to start or increase the success of your grant funding efforts – or maybe that is a goal of your superintendent or department chair.
January is a great time to begin working toward that goal, and as a professional program evaluator and frequent contributor to grant applications, I am both equipped and glad to help you. If you are thinking, “Hm, perhaps my organization can finally write for or be awarded one of these grants this year”, read on!
Over the past 15 years, I have led a team of evaluators, statisticians, and data collectors at Censeo Group, an external evaluation consulting firm. We support school districts, state departments of education, faculty, and grantmakers in implementing and measuring the impact of grant-funded activities. We help educators craft evaluation and research sections of grant proposals and ensure that goals, activities, plans, and personnel are aligned. Our team has evaluated programs across the country at the K12 and postsecondary levels in formal and informal education settings. We have worked with educators who are creating curriculum units and teacher professional development aligned with the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), Minecraft activities to help middle school boys and girls develop spatial skills, literacy initiatives, mathematics and Earth science teacher professional development, and online learning for gifted students in language arts instruction.
Censeo Group is currently the external evaluator of a newly-funded School Climate Transformation Grant (SCTG), and we are familiar with federal evaluation requirements for proposal writing and evaluation reporting. We have extensive experience evaluating US Department of Education awards – from Reading Excellent Act and Reading First grants in the 1990s to Javits and current SCTG grant awards.
The Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Program at the U.S. Department of Education is by far the largest and most focused grant program for gifted educators. The 2019 appropriation for this program was $12,000,000. As of this writing, there is no information posted about the FY 2020 Javits competition, but if the timeline is consistent with the 2019 competition, the grant application could be available in early May and deadline to submit in early June. The FY2019 competition was open to state educational agencies, local educational agencies, the Bureau of Indian Education, institutions of higher education, and other public and private agencies and organizations. If you are thinking about submitting a Javits grant proposal , we can help you by discussing your project ideas and evaluation plan so that perhaps your program can be one of this year’s Javits awardees.
Currently, 24 active National Science Foundation (NSF) grants include gifted students in project activities. The majority of these projects, funded by specific NSF science directorates, focus on basic science research and include gifted students in summer experiences or lab visits. For example, the Division of Astronomical Sciences (AST) funded a study of faint dwarf galaxies at Ohio State University (NSF award number 1615838) that includes, as a small component, a dwarf-galaxy-hunting project for gifted high-school students attending a summer program, scholarships for students to attend the program, and a video blog (vlog) and a guide for students interested in scientific careers.
Censeo Group evaluators could support NSF-funded projects that include gifted learners in several ways:
Measure changes in student STEM attitudes, learning, and career interest as a result of their engagement in project activities.
Investigate the methods and impact of mentoring provided by undergraduate and graduate students.
Study the impact of mentoring on project staff.
Measure the impact of the summer learning experience and activities.
Support building curriculum materials from summer programs into robust learning experiences for informal or formal science settings.
Study the process of implementation, and the factors that supported or interfered with project activities in order to improve implementation in subsequent years.
Support and evaluate the effectiveness of dissemination and communication efforts.
If you have an idea for a grant submission that you would like to discuss, please email me at Tania@CenseoGroup.com. We would love to work with you to develop your idea and support your grant writing and grant evaluation efforts to increase research and effective programming for gifted learners. Censeo Group prides itself on helping clients not only set their goals but also attain them!
Dr. Hanna David is an Israel-born expert of high ability, giftedness and creativity. She received her PhD “magna cum laude” in educational psychology from Ludwig Maximilians Universität, München and worked at the Tel Aviv University between 1976 and 2004. Dr. David has published six books and over 70 articles in psychology of giftedness, didactics in special education with an emphasis on mathematics for gifted students, gender-related issues of giftedness, educational policy and administration, and sociology of high ability. Currently she is a counselor of gifted children and their families.
During the last 50 years I have met many hundreds – maybe thousands – of parents of gifted children. During my childhood they were mostly parents of friends, family members or neighbors; people who had no idea the word “gifted” existed, and certainly did not consider themselves special or admirable because they “produced” an intelligent, curious, talented daughter or son. These parents were mostly concerned because their child asked for music, gym, or science lessons they could not afford; because the daughter had already read all books in the local library “suitable for her age” and asked for more, or because their son’s teacher complained that the “good, sweet boy” they had raised asked “too many questions”, “spoke up”, or even – god forbid – “argued that the teacher had been mistaken”. Having nobody to consult with, these parents discussed these issues with each other; my parents, who had two such “troublesome” children were included. These talks took usually place in German, Hungarian and Yiddish: most of these parents did not know Hebrew well enough, but they also believed that “children must not know that we worry because of them”. This was my first lesson about gifted children: their parents always want the best for them; they are concerned about them, but too often they do not know how to fulfill their needs.
I started tutoring gifted children when still in high school; it was always their parents who approached me; the parents arranged for the lessons; the parents brought their children to my parents’ apartment and paid for the lessons. This has not changed since then. It is the parents who support their gifted children emotionally, socially, academically – practically in all life aspects. Parents are the soldiers who stand right there, in the battlefront against boredom, solitude and estrangement their children so often feel, as well as against lack of understanding, jealousy, a variety of prejudices and unwanted remarks or advices.
Dear Parents of gifted children:
You have been blessed with a precious treasure. But this treasure needs maintenance which is your sole responsibility. Sometimes it seems that there is nobody there for help, sometimes it looks like you are not even allowed to complain because your problems seem minor, or because “everybody would love to switch their child’s problems with yours”. Experts in psychology and education of the gifted are there to help you. But of no less importance is expanding your own knowledge about giftedness especially in subjects you need for your child or adolescent gifted girl or boy, such as double-exceptionality or the gifted-disabled, the gifted girl, the creative gifted child, the mathematically or scientifically gifted, the socially gifted, the artist, the stage star, the chess champion – or any other exceptional child.
Hanna David has recently published the first two books in the series Giftedness: Identification, Assessment, Nurturing, and Treatment: