NRC/GT Through the Year 2000

Winter 1996 Masthead

E. Jean Gubbins
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

The research agenda for The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) will continue through the Year 2000. In October 1995, the United States Department of Education, Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI), awarded a five-year cooperative agreement to the University of Connecticut. The consortium of the University of Connecticut; City University of New York, City College; Stanford University; University of Virginia; and Yale University will extend and enhance our focus on critical issues in the field of gifted and talented education. Funding for the cooperative agreement is under the Jacob K. Javits Gifted and Talented Students Education Act of 1994. The legislation focuses on identifying and serving students who have traditionally been underrepresented in programs for the gifted and talented, including individuals who are economically disadvantaged, individuals with limited English proficiency, and individuals with disabilities.

During the first five years of the NRC/GT (1990-1995), principal investigators planned the Year 1 studies. Subsequent studies initiated in Years 2-5 emerged from the results of the national research needs assessment survey (Reid, Renzulli, & Gubbins, n.d.). With the new award, OERI outlined several topics to be addressed through the proposed research. These topics included:

  • identifying, teaching, and serving gifted and talented students;
  • improving the education of gifted and talented students who may not be identified and served through traditional assessment methods and programs;
  • using knowledge and experience gained in developing and implementing gifted and talented programs and methods to serve all students; and
  • understanding the effects of gifted education programs on the educational achievement of students schoolwide.

The topics cited by OERI reflect several of the research priorities from the national needs assessment. Since the completion of the survey in 1991, we have revisited and updated the priorities with our advisory panel and consortium members. The major priorities that emerged from the needs assessment are addressed in our proposed research agenda for 1995-2000. The priorities include: (1) identifying, teaching, and serving gifted and talented students with known and emergent talents; (2) developing effective professional development techniques to improve the nation’s ability to work with students with high abilities; (3) creating alternative approaches to recognizing and nurturing talents and abilities of students who have been underserved in the past; and (4) applying the pedagogy of gifted education to all students.

Abstracts of the research proposals for 1995-2000 follow.

Maximizing the Effects of Professional Development Practices to Extend Gifted Education Pedagogy to Regular Education Programs

Karen L. Westberg
Deborah E. Burns
E. Jean Gubbins
Sally M. Reis
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT

Several studies conducted by The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT) have pointed out that classroom teachers have limited exposure to professional development practices regarding new techniques and new strategies associated with gifted education pedagogy. Given that classroom teachers often have the primary responsibility of meeting the needs of talented students in their classrooms, it is important to gather specific data on how the whole process of professional development in gifted education is addressed. In this five year study, a national survey of approximately 4,300 districts will be conducted during 1995-1996 (Year 1) to determine the purpose, scope, and content of professional development practices in gifted education.

In subsequent years, we will experiment with existing professional development modules on curriculum compacting, thinking skills, curricular options for high-end learning, and enrichment clusters to determine their effectiveness in providing administrators and teachers with theoretical and practical knowledge, skills, and model activities to meet the needs of talented students. We also will develop a new module on enrichment learning and teaching to help teachers apply gifted education pedagogy in regular classrooms.

Applying the Triarchic Theory to Ethnic Minority High School Students

Deborah L. Coates
City University of New York, City College
New York, NY

Students from Hispanic and African origin backgrounds are often underrepresented in programs for the gifted and talented and in higher education programs in mathematics and science. Reasons for such underrepresentation are complex and may include test performance, economic disadvantage, and educational practices. Sternberg (1985) developed a theory of intelligence responsive to the diversity of intellectual abilities that addresses issues of identification, instruction, and assessment. The application of Sternberg’s theory will be studied. The purposes of the intervention will be: (1) to use the triarchic method of assessment and teaching to identify undiscovered gifted students among ethnic minority group students; (2) to use innovative strategies to teach high school students to use thinking skills based on the triarchic model; and (3) to develop supportive mechanisms to sustain the thinking skills.

Identifying, Teaching, and Evaluating the Talented Through Linguistic and Cultural Lenses

Shirley Brice Heath
Guadalupe Valdés
Stanford University
Stanford, CA

Oftentimes the identification of talents among young people is confined to the school environment. It is important, however, to go beyond school walls and consider and understand the recognition, nurturance, and application of talents. Students within and outside of school will be identified who exhibit talents for leadership, translation and interpretation, resilience, and teaching/demonstration.
Several populations will be the focus of using linguistic and cultural lenses to identify, teach, and evaluate talented students. The populations will include:

  • Latino students in a middle-class community high school;
  • Latino youth in community-to-school programs;
  • White and Native American/Indian youth involved in community development and entrepreneurship in impoverished counties;
  • African American youth in performing arts programs in urban centers; and
  • Immigrant, local, and “sent up” youth (from juvenile detention centers) in rural comprehensive schools and county youth programs.
The Feasibility of High-End Learning in the Diverse Middle School

Carolyn M. Callahan
Carol A. Tomlinson
Tonya R. Moon
Donna Ford-Harris
Ellen Menaker Tomchin
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA

How can all learners, including gifted, minority, and limited English proficient students be appropriately served in a strong middle school environment? This study is designed to test the viability and impact of bringing together leaders and practitioners of middle school and gifted education to develop, execute, and test models of curriculum differentiation and alternative assessment strategies. One approach will focus on introducing a model of curriculum differentiation in a heterogeneous classroom, focusing on high-end learning. The second approach will investigate ways teachers use classroom performance assessments to evaluate and assess multiple levels of student achievement in heterogeneous classrooms. It also will assess the impact of using these strategies on instruction, student attitudes, and achievement.

Modern Theories of Intelligence Applied to Assessment of Abilities, Instructional Design, and Knowledge-Based Assessment

Robert J. Sternberg
Yale University
New Haven, CT

The effects of instructional strategies on gifted students based on Sternberg’s (1985) triarchic theory of intelligence will be examined in grades 4, 7, and 10 in language arts, math, science, and social studies. According to the triarchic theory, intelligence has three aspects: memory-analytic, creative-synthetic, and practical-contextual. The principal research question is whether the triarchic theory of intelligence can inform identification, instruction, and assessment. To test this question and others, three treatments are proposed: (1) standard instructional regimen, emphasizing recall learning, but also incorporating thinking skills; (2) standard instructional regimen, but also emphasizing critical (analytical) thinking; and (3) instructional regimen infused with triarchic (analytical, creative, and practical) thinking.

Giftedness and Expertise

Robert J. Sternberg
Yale University
New Haven, CT

Potential and performance have long been sources of discussion and reflection among educators who seek to identify and serve students’ emergent or recognized giftedness. The types of abilities and skills identified among young children may not be predictors of adult giftedness. This study of giftedness and expertise will compare the relative importance of reasoning ability (as measured by psychometric tests) and of deliberate practice in achieving expert levels of achievement through a computer related task requiring complex reasoning. Gifted students will serve as the expert group and nongifted students will be the novices involved in prototypical and novel tasks.

The expert task performance of established adult leaders in English, mathematics, history, and biological science also will be examined to set the stage for comparing and contrasting the expert and novice states for student and adult performers. Knowledge gained from these strategies will be used to create and validate an assessment tool that measures what is required for expert studentship and transition into expertise in a discipline.

Identification and Assessment of Tacit Knowledge for Youth Leaders

Robert J. Sternberg
Yale University
New Haven, CT

When we think about giftedness, we often think about academic giftedness and occasionally about musical or athletic giftedness. At least as important, however, is giftedness in leadership. This aspect of practical intelligence is critical. In this collaborative effort with Shirley Brice Heath of Stanford University, we will identify the tacit knowledge (i.e., knowledge that is not openly expressed or stated) needed for success in youth leadership; and develop a separate instrument to measure tacit knowledge for youth leaders. Youth leaders will be interviewed and observed to provide preliminary information for a measure of tacit knowledge. The inventory will then be subjected to validity and reliability procedures to ensure its usefulness as a measure of identification and assessment of tacit knowledge for youth leadership.


This five-year research agenda of The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented focuses on large scale, basic research accomplished through surveys and small to medium scale, applied research in classrooms. We will, once again, call upon our Collaborative School Districts in every state and two territories (Guam; Virgin Islands) to participate in these studies. The specific responsibilities of Collaborative School Districts are:

  1. To serve as locations at which research data can be gathered;
  2. To provide locations where visitations can be arranged to observe successful practices in operation, to participate in the preparation of consumer-oriented guidebooks and video training tapes, and to provide technical assistance to school districts that express an interest in replicating successful practices; and
  3. To assist in the documentation of biographical information about students so that contacts can be maintained for longitudinal follow-up studies.

Districts will benefit from the opportunity to:

  1. Receive announcements of materials and staff development opportunities for teachers and students;
  2. Participate in experimental curriculum;
  3. Network with other school districts throughout the country;
  4. Access the NRC/GT’s WWW site for the latest research;
  5. Receive copies of the NRC/GT newsletters summarizing the latest research activities;
  6. Provide guidance and direction for the establishment of state and national policies for gifted and talented education; and
  7. Access copies of all products produced by the Center on a cost-recovery basis.

Since Spring 1995, two districts (Suffield Public Schools, Suffield, CT: Laurence Public Schools, Laurence, NY) have joined our network now totaling 339. We would like to extend an invitation to other districts to become a Collaborative School District. Just contact us at the NRC/GT address on the back of this newsletter and we will send you a demographic profile and other pertinent information. We are especially interested in expanding our network in several states and territories, including North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, Hawaii, Louisiana, Tennessee, Wyoming, Alabama, Ohio, West Virginia, Alaska, Delaware, Rhode Island, Puerto Rico, and American Samoa. Although we have representation in all of the states, we would like access to more school districts, and we are interested in working with the territories.

We are excited about our research plans and will continue to share our progress with you through our semi-annual newsletters and other publications from the NRC/GT. Thank you for all of your support and continued interest in our work.

Reid, B. D., Renzulli, J. S., & Gubbins, E. J. (n.d.). Setting an agenda: Research priorities through the year 2000. Storrs: University of Connecticut, The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented.
Sternberg, R. J. (1985). Beyond IQ: A triarchic theory of human intelligence. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.


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