Theoretical Frameworks for Giftedness

There are many theoretical conceptions of giftedness. Those of Francoys Gagné and Joseph Renzulli are two of the most prominent.  Others include Robert Sternberg’s Theory of Successful Intelligence and Howard Gardner’s Theory of Multiple Intelligences.

Gagné: The Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent proposes a clear distinction between giftedness and talent. In his model, the term giftedness designates the possession and use of untrained and spontaneously expressed natural abilities (called aptitudes or gifts) in at least one ability domain to a degree that places a child among the top 10% of his or her age peers. By contrast, the term talent designates the superior mastery of systematically developed abilities (or skills) and knowledge in at least one field of human activity to a degree that places a child's achievement within the upper 10% of age-peers who are active in that field or fields. His model presents five aptitude domains: intellectual, creative, socioaffective, sensorimotor and "others" (e.g. extrasensory perception). These natural abilities, which have a clear genetic substratum, can be observed in every task children are confronted with in the course of their schooling.

(Gagné, F. (1985).  Giftedness and talent:  Reexamining a reexamination of the definitions.  Gifted Child Quarterly, 29, 103-112.)

Renzulli: Gifted behavior occurs when there is an interaction among three basic clusters of human traits: above-average general and/or specific abilities, high levels of task commitment (motivation), and high levels of creativity. Gifted and talented children are those who possess or are capable of developing this composite of traits and applying them to any potentially valuable area of human performance. As noted in the Schoolwide Enrichment Model, gifted behaviors can be found "in certain people (not all people), at certain times (not all the time), and under certain circumstances (not all circumstances)."

(Renzulli, J. S. (1978). What makes giftedness? Re-examining a definition. Phi Delta Kappa, 60, 180-181.)

Additional Resources

Timeline of Gifted and Talented Education