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Advanced Cognitive Development and Renzulli's Triad

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  • 0:08 Gifted Versus Talented
  • 1:52 Gifted
  • 2:20 Academic Aptitude
  • 2:49 Intellectual Ability
  • 3:18 Characteristics of Giftedness
  • 4:14 Renzulli Three-Ring Model
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Valerie Houghton, Ph.D.

Valerie holds a Ph.D. in Health Psychology.

In this lesson, we will explore advanced cognitive development in terms of a gifted child. We will also define what it means to be gifted and Joseph Renzulli's model of giftedness.

Gifted Versus Talented

What talent do you have? Would you consider yourself to be gifted, or did you have to practice in order to achieve success?

The terms gifted and talented are often used interchangeably, and, as of yet, there's not a single universally accepted definition of either term. Nevertheless, a general definition for giftedness is: a child who is gifted was born with that ability. However, having ability and applying ability are two different things. For example, a child with a 'gift' for music may be able to play the piano at the age of five with no prior lessons but, due to lack of interest, does not continue playing and, over time, loses his or her natural ability to play.

A child who is gifted was born with that ability.
gifted

On the other hand, a child who is talented is often seen diligently working in an area he or she enjoys, such as music, until he or she becomes good at it. For example, a child has been taking piano lessons and practicing daily since he or she was five years old, and by the time he or she reaches high school, he or she has become talented beyond anyone in his or her peer group.

A child can be both talented and gifted, meaning that he or she has innate ability and applies that ability significantly beyond what would be expected from a child his or her age. Or a child can be gifted but not talented, meaning that he or she has potential to use his or her gift, but he or she does not apply him/herself. These students are also known as underachievers. Additionally, a child can be talented without being gifted. This means that a child has an interest in a particular area and works diligently until he or she achieves a level beyond what would be expected from a child his or her age.

In this lesson, we will discuss what it means to be gifted and Joseph Renzulli's model of giftedness.

Gifted

Children who are gifted have been defined as having outstanding abilities and are capable of high performance. Outstanding abilities refers to a child's aptitude to continuously perform at the top 10% of one or more domains. There are many domains that an individual can be gifted in. Some of the common domains are intellectual ability, academic aptitude, music, art, dance, and athletic ability.

Academic Aptitude

The domains of academic aptitude and intellectual ability have straightforward methods to determine if a child has outstanding abilities and is capable of high performance. For example, if a child's grades are in the top 10% of his or her peer group, he or she can be considered gifted in the area of academic aptitude. However, it is important to note that a child can be gifted in one area of academics, such as math, and not be gifted in other areas, such as English.

Intellectual Ability

The domain of intellectual ability is measured by the child's IQ. There are two IQ tests that are standard measures of giftedness - the Wechsler Intelligence Test for Children - Version IV (WISC-IV) and the Stanford-Binet - Version V (SB-V). Although the two tests have slight variations, they both agree that if an individual has an IQ of 100, they are considered average; an IQ of 120 or higher, they are considered to be gifted; and a score of 160 or above, they are considered to be genius.

A child can be talented without being gifted.
talented

Characteristics of Giftedness

An average child needs to hear a new concept 16 to 18 times before he or she comprehends the concept. However, a gifted child needs to hear a new concept only 6 to 8 times before he or she comprehends the concept. Thus, it can be said that gifted students learn more quickly. Other characteristics of giftedness include having an excellent memory, getting good grades, showing a high level of curiosity, and demonstrating unique creativity. However, a gifted child may also be emotionally sensitive, have perfectionistic behavior, have trouble relating to their peers, and question authority, like Sheldon Cooper from The Big Bang Theory.

Another characteristic to keep in mind is that just because a child is gifted in one area doesn't mean that he or she will be gifted in others. For example, a child may excel at playing chess and games of logic and yet have difficulty with reading and spelling.

Renzulli Three-Ring Model

Intellectual ability can be quantified by the child's IQ, and academic aptitude can be characterized by the grades a child earns. If the child has an IQ above 120 and/or is at the top 10% of his or her class, he or she can be considered gifted. But there are other domains that a child may be gifted in, such as music, art, dance, and athletic ability. What does it take to be classified as gifted in these domains? This is a question that has yet to have a ubiquitous answer.

The concept of giftedness has been elusive to define, but in 1978, Joseph Renzulli, one of the foremost scholars in gifted education and an educational psychologist, brought clarity to what it means to be gifted. Instead of trying to define a single aspect, like intellectual ability, he looked at the behaviors of children who were gifted. From his observations, he developed a three-ring model of giftedness in which he theorized that giftedness arises through an interaction of three human traits. He believed that a person needs all three traits working together, and at the intersection of above-average ability, task commitment, and creativity, you will find the gifted behavior.

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