There are many factors that go into high educational and occupational achievement, including hard work, motivation, and luck. But how important is talent? Specifically, how likely were global innovators and leaders intellectually talented or gifted when younger? This paper reviews retrospective data on multiple US samples (Total N = 11,745), including Chief Executive Officers, federal judges, politicians, multi-millionaires and billionaires, business leaders, elite journalists, and the “most globally powerful men and women”, examining to what extent these groups were in the top 1% in general intellectual talent in youth, also examining their educational backgrounds. About 50% of these leaders were in the top 1% of our indicator of ability, so overrepresented by a factor of about 50. Elite education, and especially the impact of Harvard, was notable, suggesting that in addition to talent, elite education and networks were important. These data suggest that various occupations may draw from different levels of intellectual giftedness. Based on this data and a synthesis of prior literature, concrete policy recommendations for gifted education are provided. We recommend a policy focus on talented low income and disadvantaged students, who are greatly underrepresented among these leaders of US society.
Jonathan Wai & Heiner Rindermann(2017)What goes into high educational and occupational achievement? Education, brains, hard work, networks, and other factors,High Ability Studies,28:1,127-145,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2017.1302874
In this paper, I review the empirical evidence for advantages in visual perception and attention that may be associated with high levels of drawing skill. Particularly in the last few decades, some substantial progress on these issues has been made, although frequently with inconsistent or even contradictory results across studies, some substantial methodological issues and limitations, and divergent theoretical perspectives. Despite the lively messiness of the current state of research on artists and perception, a core set of findings about the nature of artists’ expertise is emerging, rooted in superior object understanding and attentional flexibility. Moreover, key unresolved questions, like causal relations between drawing skill and perception and the longitudinal development of perceptual changes as drawing skill develops or is trained, are highly amenable to investigation and should continue to inform this set of issues.
Aaron Kozbelt(2017)Learning to see by learning to draw: Probing the perceptual bases and consequences of highly skilled artistic drawing,High Ability Studies,28:1,93-105,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2017.1298995
The aim of this study is to investigate interrelationships between overexcitability and learning patterns from the perspective of personality development according to Dabrowski’s theory of positive disintegration. To this end, Bayesian structural equation modeling (BSEM) is applied which allows for the simultaneous inclusion in the measurement model of all, approximate zero cross-loadings and residual covariances based on zero-mean, small-variance priors, and represents substantive theory better. Our BSEM analysis with a sample of 516 students in higher education yields positive results regarding the validity of the model, in contrast to a frequentist approach to validation, and reveals that overexcitability – the degree and nature of which is characteristic of the potential for advanced personality development, according to Dabrowski’s theory – is substantially related to the way in which information is processed, as well as to the regulation strategies that are used for this purpose and to study motivation. Overexcitability is able to explain variations in learning patterns to varying degrees, ranging from weakly (3.3% for reproduction-directed learning for the female group) to rather strongly (46.1% for meaning-directed learning for males), with intellectual overexcitability representing the strongest indicator of deep learning. This study further argues for the relevance of including emotion dynamics – taking into account their multilevelness – in the study of the learning process.
Niki De Bondt & Peter Van Petegem(2017)Emphasis on emotions in student learning: Analyzing relationships between overexcitabilities and the learning approach using Bayesian MIMIC modeling,High Ability Studies,28:2,225-248,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2017.1292897
This study investigates the perceived role of psychological factors in achieving excellence in scientific research. Six outstanding scientists aged 33–42 were interviewed. Data were analyzed inductively resulting in three main dimensions: personality traits and characteristics, psychological skills and processes, and task-specific strategies. Researchers highlighted the importance of emotional factors and motivational processes to achieve and sustain scientific excellence. Flexible coping, emotion regulation, and goal setting were emphasized and described as particularly important in dealing with rejections, setbacks, and team management issues. Persistence and adaptive perfectionism were key individual characteristics which helped participants in nurturing and sustaining motivation. This study suggests that the specific impact of emotional, motivational, and other psychological skills at different stages of excellence development is relevant; yet, further investigation is needed.
Liliana S. Araújo, José Fernando A. Cruz & Leandro S. Almeida(2016)Achieving scientific excellence: An exploratory study of the role of emotional and motivational factors,High Ability Studies,28:2,249-264,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2016.1264293
This study compared Dutch alumni who previously participated in an honors program (n = 72) to non-honors alumni who entered university as high-achieving high school students (n = 72) with regard to (1) final university grade point average (GPA) and (2) early career outcomes. Final grades were drawn from university files. Using an online questionnaire, participants were asked to rate themselves on work engagement and other characteristics in their current jobs. Results indicate that, compared to the non-honors control group, honors alumni had a higher study GPA at the end of their studies and higher work engagement after graduation, while job characteristics were found to be similar. Implications for educators and job recruiters are discussed.
A. Kool, M. T. Mainhard, A. D. C. Jaarsma, M. Brekelmans & P. van Beukelen(2016)Academic success and early career outcomes: Can honors alumni be distinguished from non-honors alumni?,High Ability Studies,27:2,179-192,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2016.1238818
Identity formation is particularly challenging for stigmatized minorities. The minority stress model (MSM) posits that both negative stereotypes and their internalization represent stressors. There is evidence that this applies to the gifted, too. However, their status is ambiguous, given that both negative and positive stereotypes exist. Furthermore, individual wellbeing also hinges on one’s identity stage, as outlined in the Cass identity model (CIM).
The CIM was applied to gifted identity development in a survey of 742 high-IQ society members (16–79 years). Identity stages could be reliably and validly assessed with a new measure and were related to adjustment and coping as expected. Latent class analysis revealed four groups, which resembled the CIM, but with a few notable exceptions. Ordinal-logistic regression showed that years since first suspicion and since diagnosis of giftedness predicted group membership. In sum, identity development in the gifted examined here shows similarities with the CIM stages (which are differentially related to wellbeing and feelings toward one’s own giftedness) but has its own specific characteristics, too.
Tanja Gabriele Baudson & Johanna Fee Ziemes(2016)The importance of being gifted: Stages of gifted identity development, their correlates and predictors,Gifted and Talented International,31:1,19-32,DOI: 10.1080/15332276.2016.1194675
The aim of the present study is to assess and document the experiences of schools, parents, adolescents, and, finally, adults with grade skipping in Germany to form recommendations for handling this type of acceleration. This article is based on three studies on grade skipping; two studies conducted in schools in Lower Saxony, Germany, spanned the years 1980–2001, the first including questionnaires for parents and interviews with adolescents. The third study, conducted in 2012, consists of questionnaires for adults born between 1917 and 1987. Overall, the schools reported few intellectual problems and slightly more emotional or social ones. As for the parents, for 97% of the girls and 88% of the boys it had been the right decision. The adolescents were much happier in the higher grades as they felt they fitted in better despite some problems with older students. Of the adults, 89% of the females and 78% of the males reported they would grade skip again if conditions were the same. When problems occurred, findings revealed that when handling grade skipping, mistakes had been made due to a lack of knowledge of acceleration.
The purpose of this research was to examine what contributes to gifted adolescent females’ talent development at a high-achieving girls’ school. Using Kronborg’s (2010) Talent Development Model for Eminent Women as a theoretical framework, this research examined the conditions that supported and those that hindered the participants’ talent development in the setting of their secondary girls’ school. In this qualitative study, semistructured interviews were conducted with six gifted females, 17–20 years of age, who were all identified as gifted and who achieved highly in one or more talent domains during their years at their former high-achieving secondary girls’ school. The findings of this research support the theoretical framework. The themes found to support these participants’ talent development were psychological qualities, individual abilities, opportunities to achieve in talent domain(s), allies in the family, allies beyond the family, passionate engagement in talent domain, and feelings and experiences of difference. These findings add support to the themes Kronborg (2010) found in her Talent Development Model of Eminent Women.
Charlotte Tweedale & Leonie Kronborg(2016)What contributes to gifted adolescent females’ talent development at a high-achieving, secondary girls’ school?,Gifted and Talented International,30:1-2,6-18,DOI: 10.1080/15332276.2015.1137450
There is limited research applying the four sources of self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997) to global academic self-efficacy. This qualitative study examined the sources of global academic self-efficacy in a sample of academically high-achieving females who developed disordered eating. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 14 participants to gain an understanding of how they decided that they were or were not academically excellent before the onset of their disordered eating. The findings reveal data on the wide range of sources identified by these high-achieving females and on issues that negatively influenced how they integrated the sources into a global concept of their academic self-efficacy. Teachers should be mindful of providing information from mastery experiences, vicarious experiences, and persuasion sources to high-achieving girls so that the girls maintain a high global academic self-efficacy.
Jennifer Krafchek & Leonie Kronborg(2016)Sources of global academic self-efficacy in academically high-achieving females before the onset of disordered eating,Gifted and Talented International,30:1-2,49-60,DOI: 10.1080/15332276.2015.1137454
The Maker Movement is an international trend for communities to form around shared tools and workspaces in order to engage in do-it-yourself activities. Women are underrepresented in Makerspaces, and exploration of issues related to their participation may provide directions for future research. Eight women participated in a focus group study of their motivations, perception, needs, and goals for Makerspace participation. Women participated primarily to showcase their work and to network with others. They benefited most from encouragement and support to finish their projects. They did not perceive gender barriers to their participation, and their hope was that the Makerspace would become a community resource. It may be that these “pioneer” women in the Maker movement were used to being a minority in male spaces and felt welcome in most activities. Despite their acknowledgment of the importance of tools and space, what was most valued by these Women Makers were the social aspects of the community.
Age-related changes in divergent thinking and creative objects production were investigated in 150 native Italian speakers, divided into six age groups, each one comprised 25 participants: young (20–29), young adult (30–39), middle aged (40–49), adult-old (50–59), old (60–69), and old-old (70–80). Two tasks were used: the alternative uses task, which measures divergent thinking, and the creative mental synthesis task, which measure the ability to create objects belonging to specific categories. Results showed that the peaking of performances at both tasks is reached before 40 years, and declines thereafter. The analysis also showed that divergent thinking and creative objects production stabilize after 40 years and decline after 70 years, especially the ability to create objects. These results reveal that creative thinking might be preserved across years.
This study explores the factors affecting the development of academic excellence on a group of 33 high-achieving engineering students. Participants were interviewed individually to explore several personal and contextual aspects of their past and current academic pathways. The results obtained reflect three main contributions to the conceptualization and understanding of excellence in academic contexts: the need to adopt a multidimensional and dynamic view about the concept of excellence; the existence of a variety of possible pathways and environmental conditions to achieve excellence; and the understanding of excellence as a process undergoing continuous development, which thrives within the family context and school environment, and that seems to be continuously nurtured by individuals in interaction with their contexts.
Sílvia Monteiro, Leandro S. Almeida, Rosa M. Vasconcelos & José Fernando A. Cruz(2014)Be(com)ing an excellent student: a qualitative study with engineering undergraduates,High Ability Studies,25:2,169-186,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2014.966066
Although universities aim to challenge high-ability students to develop their talents to the full, the question of how to create such challenges remains unanswered. In this study, we examined six different honors courses to discover which factors in the learning environment specifically designed for high-ability students challenged these students and determined how such challenges were established. Perceived challenges (factors and intensity) in the different courses were identified from focus group interviews with students. The interviews were guided by a storyline method which retrospectively discussed students’ experiences of course activities. In addition, course materials and audio-recorded classes were analyzed to describe how challenge was established. Results revealed three challenge factors: autonomy, complexity, and teacher expectations, similar to the ones found in a previous, single-case study. Results showed that the greatest challenge was experienced when the three factors were simultaneously experienced in the learning environment. These three challenge factors were manifested in various and sometimes very subtle ways through course design (e.g. open structure of assignments) and class interactions (e.g. particular ways of questioning).
Karin Scager, Sanne F. Akkerman, Albert Pilot & Theo Wubbels(2013)How to persuade honors students to go the extra mile: creating a challenging learning environment,High Ability Studies,24:2,115-134,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2013.841092
The experiences of gifted students at the postsecondary level have not been studied widely. The goal of the present study was to explore and describe gifted students’ perceptions of their first year after high school regarding experiences of success and failure. Two focus groups were conducted with 12 students (8 males, 4 females) from different educational backgrounds, who had participated in a university-based enrichment program, to discuss topics related to their academic and socio-emotional experiences at a postsecondary level. Many students who attended vocational high schools experienced high levels of discomfort with their academic preparedness to face postsecondary education. Other initial problems were adapting socially to a new environment and perceiving themselves as “less” gifted than their peers. However, after these initial adjustment problems, students revealed high perseverance to face difficulties and a strong motivation for continuing the academic path they had outlined for themselves. Conducting longitudinal research and rethinking college services offered for gifted students are some of the implications discussed in this study.
María P. Gómez-Arízaga & M. Leonor Conejeros-Solar(2013)Am I That Talented? The experiences of gifted individuals from diverse educational backgrounds at the postsecondary level,High Ability Studies,24:2,135-151,DOI: 10.1080/13598139.2013.838898