Summary and Keywords
Giftedness, the ability or potential to achieve at an exceptional (i.e., superior) level, is a social construction. The concept has undergone many shifts over the years, in response to societal values and trends. Educational researchers should know about the varied conceptions of giftedness, the definitions that have been used to identify students, and the implications of these for providing an appropriate and equitable education. The predominant conceptualization of giftedness has long been through an IQ-based model, initiated by the early work of Terman and Hollingworth, whose research focused on students who achieved the highest scores on standardized IQ tests. As more comprehensive models that include more relevant factors, in particular, intrapersonal and environment variables, have emerged, educational practice has been slow to respond. The problem of underrepresentation of students from diverse populations (e.g., African American, low-income, etc.) in gifted education services stems from the adoption of conceptions of giftedness that identify well-resourced and demographically advantaged students. Newer conceptions of giftedness acknowledge the developmental nature of giftedness. The talent development paradigm assumes that giftedness manifests as potential in young students and achievement in older students. Taking this approach requires schools to offer ample opportunity for exploration to students, who can show their potential and interest when exposed to various talent domains. Opportunities to practice and hone the skills of a domain are necessary for achievement to be expressed. One talent development model proposes that the objective of gifted education should be to produce eminence among those who participate. The challenge to schools is to create a versatile and effective conception of giftedness that can provide the services and opportunities that make it possible for all students to reach their potential, including those who can achieve at the highest level. The conception of giftedness that is adopted will determine how effectively they will meet this challenge.
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