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Identifying Giftedness

Dr. Linda Silverman discusses potential signs parents may see in their gifted children:


Characteristics of Giftedness Scale:
A Review of the Literature

Linda Kreger Silverman, Ph.D.

From a developmental perspective, the characteristics associated with giftedness become apparent early in life. The following list of descriptors has been used successfully for nearly 19 years at the Gifted Development Center to predict performance in the superior and gifted ranges of the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (Silverman, Chitwood & Waters, 1986), WISC-III, and other standardized intelligence tests. The Characteristics of Giftedness Scale was designed specifically for parents as part of a phone intake procedure. It was developed as a result of research findings and clinical observations, as well as many years of teaching experience with this population.

The descriptors were selected according to the following criteria:

  • Representative of the majority of children assessed

  • Descriptive of children with various talents

  • Appropriate at varying degrees of ability

  • Applicable to a wide age range

  • Generalizable to children of different socio-economic and cultural backgrounds

  • Easily observed in the home environment

  • Brief and clearly worded for ease of interpretation by parents

Several studies were conducted between 1981 and 1986 to determine the validity of this set of characteristics, and the list has been refined to incorporate the research findings. The following 25 characteristics have resulted:

Characteristics of Giftedness Scale

  1. Good problem solving/reasoning abilities

  2. Rapid learning ability

  3. Extensive vocabulary

  4. Excellent memory

  5. Long attention span

  6. Personal sensitivity

  7. Compassion for others

  8. Perfectionism

  9. Intensity

  10. Moral sensitivity

  11. Unusual curiosity

  12. Perseverant when interested

  13. High degree of energy

  14. Preference for older companions

  15. Wide range of interests

  16. Great sense of humor

  17. Early or avid reading ability

  18. Concerned with justice, fairness

  19. At times, judgment seems mature for age

  20. Keen powers of observation

  21. Vivid imagination

  22. High degree of creativity

  23. Tends to question authority

  24. Shows ability with numbers

  25. Good at jigsaw puzzles

If a child demonstrates more than three-fourths of these traits, it is likely that he or she is gifted. In a study by Rogers (1986), the following characteristics clearly differentiated the development of 38 gifted and 42 average third and fourth graders (p. < .01): rapid learning ability; extensive vocabulary; good memory; long attention span; perfectionism; preference for older companions; sophisticated sense of humor; early interest in books; ability in puzzles and mazes; maturity; curiosity; perseverance; and keen powers of observation. (See Table 1.)

A pilot study (Silverman, Rogers, & Waters, 1982) was conducted with 16 families (both parents) at a school for the gifted, using similar questions in an open-ended, narrative format. Among the traits that surfaced in the pilot study in a relatively high frequency of cases were compassion, sensitivity, and high levels of activity.


TABLE 1

Comparison of Traits Between 38 Gifted and 42 Average
Third and Fourth Graders

Trait

Means for Gifted

Means for Average

p

Rapid learning

1.45

2.90

.001

Extensive vocabulary

1.71

2.72

.001

Good memory

1.45

2.29

.001

Long attention span

2.55

3.37

.004

Sensitivity

1.73

2.02

.190

Compassion for others

2.32

2.09

.399

Perfectionism

2.55

3.37

.001

High degree of energy

2.65

2.61

.847

Preference for older companions

2.57

3.04

.048

Wide range of interests

1.92

2.23

.143

Excellent sense of humor

2.15

2.79

.011

Ability to sight read easy readers

4.37 yrs.

5.06 yrs.

.016

Interest in books

1.92

3.02

.001

Ability in puzzles and mazes

1.83

2.55

.008

Maturity

2.02

2.67

.003

Perseverence

1.175

2.5

.003

Note:  Data are from Rogers (1986)

The characteristics in the scale also have been supported by other experimental and clinical studies, and in the professional literature.


This article in its entirety, including references, may be found at http://www.gifteddevelopment.com/Articles/Characteristics_Scale.htm.

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