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Unraveling Giftedness: The Six Areas of Giftedness and Talents

written by: Mayflor Markusic • edited by: Amanda Grove • updated: 9/11/2012

Do you suspect that your child or student is gifted or talented? There are six areas that you can look into to determine giftedness and/or talent.

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    Is Your Child Gifted?

    Learning to read at an early age and preferring to read books instead of playing video games do not automatically mean that the child is gifted and talented. This is why schools would not give in to parents’ demands of including their children in the gifted program simply because the children can recite the 50 states of the country in alphabetical order. The definition of giftedness is beyond memorization. Giftedness and talent involves a creative and imaginative thinking style. On the other hand, the child’s inability to explain Einstein’s theory of relativity does not rule out the possibility of giftedness. Gifted and talented students have different traits and capabilities. This is why identifying them can be a complicated process. But based on the early observations (Marland (1972) of those who are teaching gifted students, there are six areas or facets of giftedness and talents. Excellence in one or more of these areas meets the requirements of giftedness.

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    Multiple Facets of Giftedness and Talents

    The six areas of giftedness and talents are the following:

    • General Intellectual Ability – The existence of a high intellectual ability is not merely about the student’s ability to use an extensive vocabulary. It must be supported by evidence such as high scores in intelligence tests. The scores of such students are usually two standard deviations higher than the average.
    • Specific Academic Aptitude – The student need not demonstrate high aptitude in all academic subjects. A high proficiency in one subject, which places the student at a 97% or higher percentile rank, is sufficient to classify the student as gifted. The often-tested subjects, however, are mathematics and language arts.
    • Creative/Productive Thinking – Creativity is the single-word description of a student’s ability to come up with new ideas, to tolerate ambiguity, to choose complex ideas over simple ones, to develop new meanings of concepts, and to enjoy taking risks. These traits of creative and productive thinking are usually brought to light by tests, such as the TTCT (Torrance Test of Creative Thinking).
    • Leadership Abilities – Not all leaders are geniuses. But good leaders demonstrate highly developed interpersonal and social skills. This is why they have the ability to negotiate, influence, and even dominate. Students with leadership abilities are usually responsible and self-confident. Similar to creativity, leadership abilities can be recognized through standardized tests, such as the FIRO-B (Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation Behavior).
    • Visual/Performing Arts – Talents in visual and performing arts are usually demonstrated in music, painting, drama, and other similar areas. Although subjective, judges critique the appeal of an artwork, the existence of giftedness and talent in the arts is identified through a more objective process. One example of an objective instrument is the Creative Product Scales.
    • Psychomotor Abilities – Highly developed kinesthetic abilities lead to extraordinary psychomotor abilities. The gifted and talented student has exceptional mechanical, spatial, and physical skills. There are no standardized tests for identifying gifted and talented children in this area, but, thankfully, psychomotor abilities can be readily observed.

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    Marland, S. P. (1972). Education of the gifted and talented. Report to Congress of the United States Commissioner of Education. Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office