Cognitive Characteristics of Gifted Students

Instructor: Frank Clint

Frank has been an educator for over 10 years. He has a doctorate degree in education with a concentration in curriculum and instruction.

How do you know when you have a gifted student in your classroom? Gifted students share many traits. Explore the cognitive characteristics of gifted students in this lesson.

Gifted Students and Cognitive Characteristics

At first glance, Shantel might look like a regular high school student. She does her homework after school, she goes to school sporting events, and she likes to have fun with her friends on the weekends. But she's also on the swimming and gymnastics teams, part of the theater and music clubs, the editor of the school newspaper, and an honor roll student taking advanced classes. Shantel was identified as a gifted student all the way back when she started school.

Gifted students are students who show potential for performing at high levels and who accomplish a vast amount when compared to their peers. These accomplishments can be in intellectual, artistic, and creative areas. But how did her teachers and parents know she was gifted? They learned she wasn't quite like everyone else early on based on some common cognitive characteristics she has shown since childhood.

Gifted students often show common cognitive characteristics.

Cognition, Focus, and Learning

As a young child, Shantel was alert at a level uncommon for her age. Once in school, she picked up learning quickly and assembled thoughts at a faster pace than her peers. Basic facts require little practice for her to master, and she goes above and beyond, implementing metacognition, which means she often questions her thinking or thought process. Her thought process has always been complex and different, even though she is not right 100% of the time and doesn't always score the highest in her class.

While her peers sometimes daydream or doze off in class, Shantel is always focused, and not only that, but she can concentrate on her homework even under the noisiest of conditions. The most remarkable thing is how she remembers almost everything! Her teachers often comment that her memory is excellent.

Thinking, Reasoning, and Communication

Much of Shantel's vocabulary and the way she constructs her sentences are also advanced and uncommon for her age. She quickly picks up nuances of language, such as figurative language and abstract ideas. Shantel has a knack for advanced reasoning and analogical thinking, which means using analogies to solve complex problems. She always has a logical explanation or a logical, abstract, and complex solution to a problem that provided deep insight for others. When it comes to math, numbers, and problem solving, she has always been able to make sense of them. In class, she also always probes teachers with questions.

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