Getting Started in Gifted Education Research

  • Models/Theories of Giftedness
  • Psychology of Giftedness
  • Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted
  • Teaching Strategies
  • G&T Educational Policy
  • International and Policy Research

The list is not exhaustive but certainly plenty to get you started on the ins and outs of giftedness. If there is a particularly good book you’ve read, please add it to comments section at the end saying what you liked about it. (Transcript)

Models/Theories of Giftedness

1. Francois Gagné  proposed the Differentiated model of Giftedness and Talent  Here is a nice visual of the model.

2. Joseph Renzulli describes the Three Ring Model of Giftedness

3. Francis Heylighen proposed a different model in Characteristics and Problems of the Gifted: neural propagation depth and flow motivation as a model of intelligence and creativity.

4. Howard Gardner is well known in teaching circles for his Theory of Multiple Intelligences which he describes in this video.

In Multiple Intelligences, the Mozart Effect, and Emotional Intelligence: A Critical Review, psychologist, Lynn Waterhouse argues that there is little evidence for Gardner’s theory.

Gardener’s response and Waterhouse’s further reply!

5. George Betts, Professor of Special Education at the University of Northern Colerado  is the co-author of The Autonomous Learner Model for Gifted and Talented  also described here.

With Maureen Neihardt, he also co-wrote Profiles of the Gifted and Talented  in 1988, describing 6 types of gifted individuals. These profiles are referred to in the NCCA Exceptionally Able Students: Draft guidelines for Teachers , but were revised in 2010.

6. Albert Ziegler is Professor of Psychology and Head of Educational Psychology in the Institute of Educational Sciences at the University of  Ulm, Germany. He describes the Actiopic Model of Giftedness.

The Psychology of Giftedness

1. Kazimierz Dabrowski was a Polish psychiatrist and psychologist. He is famous for his description of the

Overexcitabilities or OE’s, which are explained well in:

Theory of Positive Disintegration (TPD), a novel theory of personality development.

2. Lev Vyotsky was a Belarusian psychologist whose work has become the foundation of much research and theory in cognitive development. His theory is compared to that of Piaget here.  He developed a concept known as the Zone of Proximal Development which is outlined with specific reference to gifted learners here.

3. Linda Silverman is a psychologist who established the Gifted Development Centre (GDC) in Colorado. Based on many years of experience, she has written extensively on identification, assessment, twice exceptionality and social and emotional needs. The Gifted Development Center’s website contains a huge amount of information  as does the Visual Spatial Resource.

What Have We Learned About Gifted Children 1979-2007  is a summary of the findings of the GDC.

A summary of some of Dr Silverman’s best known presentations can be found here.

4. Professor Joan Freeman  is a well-known British psychologist and founder of the European Council for High Ability (ECHA) who has written extensively about gifted children and will be familiar to many from Channel 4’s series Child Genius.

Her latest book is Gifted Lives: What Happens When Gifted Children Grow Up is based on 35 year longitudinal research of gifted individuals in the UK.

5. John G. Geake was Professor of Learning and Teaching in the School of Education, The University of New England, Australia. He co-founded the Oxford Cognitive Neuroscience Education Forum and conducted research at the Centre for Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging of the Brain, Oxford, UK.

In Neuromythologies in Education, he looks at some  popular educational programmes through the eye of neuroscience. This is further discussed in Brain-Science in the Classroom. Thanks to Karen for those.

The Brain at School: Educational Neuroscience in the Classroom is a book worth reading for those with an interest in this area.

6. Dr Deborah L. Ruf  is a specialist in intelligence assessment and guidance for both gifted children and adults. A list of her writing can be found Educational Options.

She devised The Ruf Estimates of Levels of Gifted

 7.  Robert Sternberg is Provost and Professor of Psychology at Oklahoma State University, USA and President-Elect of the Federation of Associations of Behavioural and Brain Sciences (FABBS). He is a former Director of the Center for the Psychology of Abilities Competences and Expertise (PACE) at Yale.

He is the author of Identifying Gifted Students in the New Millennium

8.  Wilma Vialle is Executive Officer of the International Research Association for Talent Development and Excellence (IRATDE) and Associate Professor in Educational Psychology and Associate Dean (Graduate) in the Faculty of Education, University of Wollongong, Australia. Her interests are predominantly in the nature of intelligence and creativity, with a particular focus on giftedness. She is currently President of the Australian Association for the Education of the Gifted and Talented (AAEGT), editing its Australasian Journal of Gifted Education and on the editorial board of High Ability Studies and Gifted and Talented International.

In Gifted, Talented or Educationally Disadvantaged?, Vaille argues that there are distinct educational disadvantages for gifted students in classrooms where teachers do not appropriately differentiate instruction to match the needs of those students”.

9. Barbara Kerr  has written some interesting material on gender and giftedness, such as

Meeting the Social and Emotional Needs of the Gifted

1.James T. Webb is a psychologist and advocate for the mental health of gifted children. As a reflection of his passion to disperse information about the social and emotional needs of the gifted, he is a founder of Supporting the Emotional Needs of the Gifted (SENG) and of Great Potential Press.

He has written 2 must-reads:

In this video, Dr Webb discusses Asperger’s Disorder, and Other Common Misdiagnoses and Dual Diagnoses of Gifted Children For any teacher or parent of gifted children, it is an hour of invaluable information. Slides for this presentation are here. Here’s  snippet of the video.


2. Tracy L Cross  is the Executive Director of the Centre for Gifted Education  College of William and Mary, Virginia. He is someone dear to our hearts in Ireland, where he is a member of the Board of the Centre for Talented Youth, Ireland (CTYI) and has given several memorable presentations at DCU.

The Social and Emotional Development of Gifted Students

Common Endogenous Characteristics Among Students with Gifts and Talents

 3. Jim Delisle is a retired teacher who has written some of the books which we refer to as “bibles”, such as Parenting Gifted Kids: Tips for Raising Happy and Successful Children . He has a wealth of experience in teaching gifted students and an extremely engaging writing style.

4. Stephanie Tolan  is an American author who has written many articles on various aspects of giftedness,  Perhaps the most famous of these is the must-read Is it A Cheetah? 

5. Miraca Gross is Emeritus Professor of Gifted Education in University of New South Wales’ School of Education as well as Director of the Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC).

Two of Prof Gross’s best known papers are:

6. Lesley Sword is the Director of Gifted and Creative Services, Australia.  She has written many articles on all aspects of nurturing gifted individuals of all ages, many of which are available to read here.

7. Joyce Van Tassel Baska  is Professor Emerita of the Center for Gifted Education at The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, USA where she was formerly Executive Director. She is an international visiting lecturer at the Gifted Education Research, Resource and Information Centre (GERRIC) in New South Wales Australia.

Teaching Strategies

1. Differentiation:

Susan Winebrenner  is the author of the best known handbook book on differentiation for GT students: Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom.  She also co-authored The Schoolwide Cluster Grouping Handbook  

2. Acceleration:

Nicholas Colangelo  is director and co-founder of the The Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (Belin Blank) at the University of Iowa.

Susan Assouline is Associate Director of the Belin Blank Center

They are co-authors of the Iowa Acceleration Scale , a tool commonly used to determine if grade acceleration would be appropriate for a particular student.

They also co-wrote with Miraca Gross, A Nation Deceived: How Schools Hold Back America’s Brightest Students,  a report published in 2004, advocating acceleration.
Further information and discussion of this report can be found here and here 

3. Books

Several publishers produce texts focused on teaching strategies generally and on subject-specific teaching.

G&T Education Policy:

Deborah Eyre is the Education Director for  Nord Anglia Education. She is a senior visiting research fellow at Oxford University and internationally renowned for her work in gifted education. She has written extensively about provision for G&T students in schools:

International and Policy Research

Tim Dracup  is in a class of his own! He is educator from the United Kingdom who specializes in the design and development of gifted education programs. If you want to know what is happening internationally, Tim’s blog, Gifted Phoenix, is a mine of impeccably researched information and policy analysis.

Sam Boswell Storify of #gtie Chat on Research


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