· Five Domains
· Characteristics
· Visual-Spatial Learner
· Profoundly-Gifted Children
Identifying Giftedness

The United States Office of Education has designated five domains of giftedness and talent. In her recent book, Re-Forming Gifted Education, Karen B. Rogers, Ph.D., provides the following chart of Research-Based Profiles of Behaviors in Five Major Domains for use in identifying or recognizing gifts and talents (defined as superior performance or achievement in a particular gift domain):

Research-Based Behaviors of Five Major Domain Profiles

Intellectual Ability Domain
"The Brain"
  1. Contemplation/Reflection Time: In solving a problem, a larger than expected proportion of the time is spent thinking "around" the problem rather than directly solving it. The thinker muses over what type of problem it is, other experiences with such problems, what solutions worked before, and whether they would work this time BEFORE actually starting the problem (not procrastination, but at times it may be hard to tell the two apart!).

  2. Thinking in Analogies: Making connections between what is currently being learned and previous learning in the same or different arenas. Often, an observer cannot easily understand how the connections were made, so the child may be seen as unrealistic.

  3. Love of Learning: A genuine love for intellectualizing, conceptual discussions, and school in general. Willingness to do whatever extra credit is available or to pursue any lead a teacher or mentor gives to learning something new. A craving for content that is new and different ALL THE TIME.

  4. Concentration and Memory: A remarkable ability to focus on what the task is regardless of what else is going on in a setting (concentration), and a rapid, extraordinary ability to retain new information in long-term memory with little obvious effort.

  5. Problem Finding: Ability to focus on what the "real" or important crux of a situation is to understand how to sort relevant from irrelevant information in finding the real problem.

  6. Accelerated Cognitive Development: Tendency to reach the final stage of Piaget's theory of cognitive development — formal operations or abstract thinking and logic — considerably earlier than the general population. The higher the IQ, the faster the acceleration.

Specific Academic Ability Domain
"The Specialist"
  1. Intense, Focused Interest and Skill Set: Tendency to "eat, drink, and sleep" a subject until all that can be learned about it is learned; interests are rarely broad and wide-ranging.

  2. Intense, Focused Motivation to Learn: See the characteristics listed in (a).

  3. Self-Criticism: Tendency to feel less good about self than children of similar ages in the general population; mistrust of own ability perhaps as a result of uneven set of skills.

  4. Need to Achieve: Intense drive to master a domain of knowledge and be recognized as "the expert."

  5. Concentration and Memory: Remarkable ability to focus on a task (in high interest/skill area), and rapid, extraordinary ability to retain new information in that area with little obvious effort.

  6. Love of Learning: A genuine love for intellectualizing and conceptual discussions about a specific area of high interest and skill. A craving for content in that area.

Creative-Productive Thinking Domain
"The Creative Spirit"
  1. Flexibility: Ability to look at information from many different perspectives or directions; likewise, ability to come up with solutions from a variety of different angles.

  2. Individual Structuring: Need to shape the environment around self, including desks and chairs in a classroom, assignments, and tasks at home and school; lots of negotiating about "how" things will be done.

  3. Risk-Taking: Consistent urge to try something new, regardless of cognitive, emotional or physical risks that might be incurred.

  4. Tolerance for Ambiguity: Comfortable in "messy" situations, disorganized environments, and with tasks that are poorly structured or seemingly impossible to solve.

  5. Self-Concept: Significantly more positive self-concept than the general population, with an unending supply of confidence that they can produce at will.

  6. Inner Locus of Control: Tendency to attribute success and failure to own effort and abilities.

Leadership and Psychosocial Domain
"The Social Leader"
  1. Backwards Planning: Ability to sequentially break down a complex task into its parts by backwards planning — starting at ultimate goal, then working backwards to present.

  2. Scanning: Ability to look holistically at complex information and "pick out" similarities or differences with little effort. Relatively independent and unaffected by situational and social pressures or others' attitudes.

  3. Need to Achieve: Intense drive to master a domain of knowledge and be recognized as "the expert."

  4. Social Cognition: Intuitive knowledge of how one should behave and treat others, from a very early age; not necessarily connected all the time to actual behavior.

  5. Emotional Stability: Tendency to be calm, even-tempered, and accepting of others' foibles with little tendency toward anxiety or nervousness.

  6. Perspective-Taking: Ability to understand someone else's ideas (ideological PT), someone's feelings or moods (affective PT), or to orient self in space (visual/perceptive PT).

Visual and Performing Arts Domain
"The Artistic Extraordinaire"
  1. Intense, Focused Interest and Skill Set: Tendency to "eat, drink, and sleep" an art form until all that can be learned about it is learned. Interests are rarely broad or wide-ranging.

  2. Intense, Focused Motivation to Learn: See the above characteristics listed in (a).

  3. Self-Criticism: Tendency to feel that if they don't work hard, their ability may disappear; very self-evaluative of own products or performances.

  4. Intense Concentration in Art Form: Ability to stay focused on arts task, and to practice skills despite complex surrounding environment.

  5. Cognitive Verbal, Visual Matching: Ability to quickly and accurately match figural or symbol pairs (visual), words or syllables (verbal), or words and meanings (cognitive).

If you study this table carefully, you can probably figure out that you, the parent, are the key to finding and understanding your child's gifts and talents, especially if you are beginning the child's educational plan at an early age. Once the child is in elementary school, teachers may get to know your child fairly well, but you are the best first judge of the characteristics and behaviors listed in the tables above.

Dr. Rogers further provides in her book a comprehensive questionnaire that she has developed and validated to enable parents and teachers to conduct their own identifications of the kinds of gifts a child may have. Both the Parent Inventory for Finding Potential ("PIP") and the Teachers' Inventory of Learning Strengths ("TLS") are available together at minimal cost through the publisher of the book, Great Potential Press*, at the following link:


*Great Potential Press (www.greatpotentialpress.com) is also a great source for the book itself and for many, many other publications on gifted topics.


Identifying Giftedness

Assessing/Testing for Giftedness