Research in Progress

March 1992 Masthead

How the Structure of the Intellect Tests and Curriculum Identify, Develop, and Maintain Giftedness
Mary Meeker, SDI Systems, Dula, Oregon

Decades ago Dr. Joy P Guilford created a theory of multiple Intelligences represented graphically by a three-dimensional cube. This model of Intelligence, known as the Structure of the Intellect (SOI), Initially Included 120 cells along three dimensions: Content – figural, symbolic, semantic, and behavioral; Product – units, classes, relations, systems, transformations, and Implications; Operation – evaluation, convergent production, divergent production, memory, and cognition. The theoretical model eventually expanded to Include 180 cells. Research by Meeker and others extended the use of the Structure of the Intellect and the accompanying learning abilities tests as a diagnostic-prescriptive approach to the teaching of thinking skills.

Summaries of research studies focusing on special populations using the SOI curriculum 30 minutes a day, three times a week are highlighted.

Longitudinal studies of Native Americans (1977-1981)

Compiling and documenting patterns of abilities from various studies In which Navajo, Shoshone, Comanche, Nez Pince and Canadian Indians (west and eastern coastal) were Identified as gifted, showed that there were remarkably similar patterns of intellectual abilities among the groups. Strength areas Included figural-spatial abilities, visual memory for details, auditory memory, and symbolic abilities. Areas that needed further development were: convergent production, vocabulary, verbal relations, verbal systems, and classification abilities.

Knowledge about these abilities, when used as a basis for meeting individual needs of Native Americans, has resulted In Increased motivation to stay In school, to Improve grades and achievement and eventually to seek college admittance.

Longitudinal studies of Hispanic Americans (1975 to the present)

Various age groups of Hispanic students In California, New Mexico, Texas, and Florida, from children to engineering students at technological universities In Mexico, have been and still are being studied. As a group, they Initially showed high ability In creativity and symbolics. Classification and semantic abilities needed to be encouraged.

After programming was done to match curriculum to their strengths and weaknesses, several changes occurred. First, the parents began to feel a part of the community and far fewer families moved frequently. Secondly, Intellectual growth In the younger students was slow, but steady. If the program was sustained over two years, there was rapid Improvement In achievement. Even at middle school and high school, grades improved and there was a desire to remain In school until graduation.

Longitudinal studies of African Americans

Boys with.patterns of high auditory memory, but low visual memory, will do much better In arithmetic and mathematics than In the language arts where visual memory Is required. Low visual memory, In combination with low semantic abilities, almost guarantees failure In subjects requiring reading In school. The obvious solution, of course, was to Include daily Intellectual abilities lessons In the primary grades that developed visual memory, vocabulary, verbal relations and verbal sequencing. In schools where this change took place, school failure was significantly reduced.

Strength areas of African American students Included auditory memory, figural and motor abilities with visual memory and semantic memory requiring more attention. For example, highly skilled college football athletes who showed long standing low semantic abilities, even with advanced auditory memory and spatial abilities. After a year of daily SOI training, their semantic abilities Improved enough for them to make qualifying scores on the SAT (Michelles, Tulane University), thus allowing them to play collegiate ball.

Studies of students who are deaf or hearing impaired

As early as 1979, educators of the deaf, dissatisfied with consistent below average IQ test scores on students with hearing Impairments, designed studies to Identify specific Intellectual strengths. They were, of course, searching as well for potentially gifted students.

The first report showed students with hearing Impairments had differential Intellectual developmental growth expectancies In SOI abilities. There was a three year deficiency In most abilities except for figural classifications which crossed both gender and three grades, suggesting that the Initial learning process for storing Information was a classifications strategy. In other words, each new Item was comprehended and stored on Its basis for being similar to something already known.

When we average all SOI tests, we find that even though there was a three year over all delay in progress for students who are deaf or have hearing impairments, they nevertheless made, as a group, scores In the gifted range In visual memory, systems thinking, and figural classifications.

Studies using the Structure of Intellect learning abilities tests and curriculum have confirmed the Importance of diagnosing students’ strengths and weaknesses In cognition, memory, convergent production, divergent production, and evaluation. The diagnosis of skills leads to a prescriptive approach using curriculum to teach the abilities that are low, maintain the abilities that are high, and develop other abilities.
Family Personality and the Creative Potential of Exceptionally Gifted Boys
Robert S. Albert, Pitzer College
Mark A. Runco, California State University, Fullerton

The California Psychological Inventory (CPI) was administered to two samples of adolescents (N=54) and their parents as part of an on-going longitudinal investigation of exceptional giftedness. The adolescents were selected based on either IQ (all in excess of 150) or math-science abilities (e.g., age 11 SAT Mathematics scores at the 99th percentile). CPI profiles indicated that both groups of adolescents had low scores on the Well-Being scale, and there was some indication across several scales of low sociability. While the parents’ profiles were relatively uniform, there were significant differences in intrafamily similarity, with the High IQ families being more similar than the Math-Science families. Finally, correlational analyses indicated that several scales from the CPI were associated with creativity scores of the adolescent boys.
Effects of Radical Acceleration on Educational and Career Attainment of Young Women and Men

Kathleen Noble, University of Washington
The Early Entrance Program (EEP) at the University of Washington has been in operation since 1977, enabling 15 students each year, maximum age 14, to enter the UW without attending high school. Studies to date indicate that the majority of these students perform extremely well academically, and become well integrated into the University community. However we do not know what effect participation in the EEP will have on students’ subsequent personal and professional adult lives, nor whether any gender differences will exist in these effects. This study begins the accrual of a data base to provide current answers to a number of critical questions about the radical educational acceleration of gifted, qualified adolescents.
Problem Finding Skills As Components in the Creative Process
Ivonne Chand, Mark A. Runco, California State University, Fullerton

The present investigation compared the effects of explicit and standard instructions on six tests of divergent thinking. Two of these tests assessed real world divergent thinking; two tests assessed real world problem generation; and the last two assessed a combination of problem generation and divergent thinking (i.e., examinees chose one of the problems they had themselves identified, and then generated ideas and solutions). Importantly, all tasks focused on problems occurring in the natural environment. In particular, examinees (80 college students) were asked to give solutions for problems concerning both work and school situations. The results revealed significant differences among the different tests and differences between the explicit and standard instructional groups. Importantly, only the scores elicited by explicit instructions were significantly correlated with—and predictive of—creative activities and accomplishments. Implications for future research are discussed.
Resilient Youth: Case Studies of Disadvantaged Gifted Adolescents
Ann Robinson, University of Arkansas at Little Rock

Against the odds of economic, social, and educational disadvantage some remarkable youth develop as talented individuals capable of high-level performance. A qualitative study of economically disadvantaged youths who attended the 1988 Arkansas Governor’s School is underway at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. Over a period of two years, four youths have been followed through high school graduation and the first year of college. The study attempts to document the effects of the residential governor’s school on economically disadvantaged youth. Students’ social relationships, post secondary aspirations, and epistemological beliefs are under investigation: Werner’s concept of resiliency, which is defined as successful adaptation to stressful life experience, is the framework used to describe and account for the development of high-level performance among gifted youth from impoverished homes.

The investigators are interested in establishing contacts with other researchers currently investigating economically disadvantaged gifted youth. Please write:

Dr. Ann Robinson & Ms. Margaret Leigh
Center for Research on Teaching & Learning
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
2801 South University
Little Rock, AR 72204
Stage, Structure, and Complexity in the Drawings of Middle Childhood: A Developmental Model of Artistic Ability
Marion Porath, University of British Columbia

The period of middle childhood (children aged 4, 6, 8, and 10) is the focus of this study which seeks to define the characteristics of artistic ability within a model of giftedness. The model combines neo-Piagetian stage theory (Case, 1985), a perspective which identifies formally parallel, age-related characteristics of children’s cognition across a variety of domains and modular views of exceptionality. These views argue for advanced development in the area of giftedness (Feldman, 1986; Gardner, 1983).

Each child in the sample (N=217) completed five drawing tasks. The tasks were designed to reflect increasingly complex demands in organizing the elements of the drawing according to rules of perspective. The young gifted artists in the sample have been found to be age-typical in their ability to render perspective. Their drawings, however, are characterized by advanced development in specific artistic skills such as understanding of composition and colour and sophisticated graphic ability. Formal analyses of these elements are now underway.

Educational applications will include guidelines for identification of young gifted artists and for the nature and appropriateness of instruction at different stages of development.

Marion Porath, Ph.D.
Faculty of Education
University of British Columbia
2125 Main Mall
Vancouver, B.C., Canada V6T 1Z4
(604)822-6045 Fax (604)822-3302


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