Ability Grouping:

Placing students of similar ability in the same class or group for purposes of instruction. Research shows that when students are able to work with like minded peers, and the pace of instruction matches their ability, they experience fewer negative social-emotional issues and academic achievements are heightened.


Faster presentation of content to more closely match the speed at which gifted students learn. This can occur within the students' class in one or more subject areas; OR the child may need to work in one or more subject areas with a higher year level; OR the child may need to move forward a whole year (if this is necessary the school or district will have a set format that needs to be followed to facilitate the move).

Affective Education:

Study of emotions, identifying and dealing with them.

Alternative Schools:

Schools designed with more flexible programs for exceptional learners or with an educational philosophy different from regular public education.


Undeveloped potential or ability.

Asynchronous Development:

Differing rates for physical, cognitive and emotional development. If you tell a gifted child to "act your age!" s/he may legitimately respond, "which one?" The gifted child may have a chronological age of 8 years, a mental age of 12 years and an emotional age of 5 years. Also known as disychronous development.


Multiple tests to assess functioning in a variety of psychological areas such as intelligence, achievement, personality and self-esteem.

Ceiling effect:

Compression of top scores on a test. That is, if an assessment item only scores to a certain level and the student is capable of performing at a higher level her/his real ability will not be recorded.

Characteristics of Gifted:

Whilst there are lists of character traits that describe gifted children (see Identification) it must be remembered that, like all children, the gifted child is a unique human. Such lists give characteristics (both positive and negative) that are common NOT universal.


Eliminating repetition, minimizing drill, and accelerating instruction in basic skills so that gifted students can move to more challenging material.


The theory that new knowledge is an active product of the learner integrating new information and perceptions of prior knowledge. Educational philosophies based on constructivist ideas stand in contrast with behaviorist teaching techniques, such as direct instruction.


The academic subject matter studied in an educational program or class.

Convergent Thinking:

Thinking which results in conventional or expected solutions and answers. (Contrasts with divergent thinking)


Artistic or intellectual inventiveness.


Measurement is compared to an acceptable standard.

Critical Thinking:

Using higher order thinking skills, e.g. analysis or evaluation, to gain understanding of complex problems or ideas.


There is some research evidence and considerable anecdotal evidence that the gifted are at a significantly higher risk for depression and suicide than the general population. (see Social-emotional issues)


Behavior outside a norm.

Diagnostic Test:

An assessment prompted by a perceived problem in order to determine current level of functioning. Test results are then used to prescribe a solution.

Divergent Thinking:

Thinking which results in novel, unique, or creative solutions or answers.

Dysychronous Development:

See Asynchronous development.

Emotional Shutdown:

A psychological defense mechanism characterized by withdrawal. A gifted child in a hostile or anti-intellectual environment may react this way.


Understanding and feeling from the point of view of the other person.


Deeper coverage of content often provided for gifted students (not to be confused with differentiation or acceleration).

Extrinsic Motivation:

Re-enforcers, rewards, or incentives used by one person to bring about desired behavior in another person. (Contrast with intrinsic motivation).

Frustration Tolerance:

Ability to continue working to solve a problem even when setbacks are encountered or little progress is made.


A popular term for extraordinary intelligence which has no fixed meaning in education.


Having superior mental ability or intelligence. A label of potential. The intellect and emotions of gifted students are both quantitatively and qualitatively different. (see Identification)

Gifted Programs:

Special academic and social opportunities which try to meet the needs of gifted students. (see acceleration, ability grouping, enrichment, independent study, and pullout)

Higher Order Thinking Skills:

Thinking that focuses on the top levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy, e.g., analyzing, evaluating and creating.

Home Schooling:

An option for students whose needs are not being met at school. Contact Education Queensland for further information.


The selecting and labeling process. Requirements to be identified as gifted may vary between schools and districts. (see Identification)


Grouping of students in regular classrooms without regard to ability. It is based on social, not academic concerns.

Independent Study:

Self education, often using self-selected resources and driven by student interest.

Individual Education Plan (IEP):

A written document which states the student's unique characteristics and needs, educational goals and objectives to meet those needs, and instructional materials and services to be provided.

Individualized Instruction:

Content and pacing of instruction geared toward the individual's unique learning styles, abilities, needs and goals.

Individual Referenced:

One's score is compared to one's own previous score on a test covering the same material in order to show that learning has occurred.

Integrated Curriculum:

Combination of content from two or more subjects to enhance meaning through interconnectedness of knowledge.


A general concept of cognitive ability to learn and understand concepts. Has been put into a measurable form as intelligence quotient: IQ. Theorists such as Howard Gardner believe there are Multiple Intelligences which traditional IQ tests do not sample.

Intelligence Quotient (IQ):

A quantitative representation of cognitive ability which results from testing a sample of cognitive skills. The formula is intellectual age divided by chronological age, multiplied by 100. For example, someone 10 years old with an intellectual age of 13 would have an IQ of 130.

Intrinsic Motivation:

The desire to satisfy natural needs and interests, which includes a desire to understand and make sense of the world.

Labeling Theory:

The proposition that labels placed on a person may lead him/her to act the role associated with the label whether or not it was initially accurate. When a label is known to others, they may interpret the labeled person's behavior as abnormal whether it is or not. This changes their actions toward the labeled person so that their interactions reinforce the label.

Lateral Thinking:

A popular term coined by Edward de Bono in the 1960s for unorthodox thinking.


An increase in knowledge or skill.

Learning Disability:

A deficit in a specific area, such as word decoding or mathematic computation, which is out of line with overall intellectual ability. Some learning disabilities may interfere with proper measurement on conventional IQ tests.


Arithmetical average.


A measure of central tendency where half the scores are above and half below.


The most frequent score.

Multiple Intelligences (MI):

Constructs of intelligence that include more aspects of mental ability than the conventional concept of intelligence. Howard Gardner initially proposed seven intelligences: musical, bodily-kinesthetic, logical-mathematical, linguistic, spatial, interpersonal and intrapersonal. Naturalist and spiritualist intelligences have since been added to the list. MI is about how you are smart NOT how smart you are.


(1) In sociology, a culturally relative guideline for social behavior. (2) In testing, a statistical measure of central tendency.


Measurement is compared to a norm or average IQ tests are norm-referenced tests.

Normally Distributed:

Statistically symmetrical around an average, represented graphically by a bell curve. In a normal distribution, the mean, median and mode are all equal.

Outcomes Based Education:

Teaching designed to lead the student to demonstrate a specific level of mastery.

Over excitabilities:

A term originated by Dabrowski to describe excessive response to stimuli in five psychic domains (psychomotor, sensual, intellectual, imaginational and emotional) which may occur singly or in combination. Over excitabilities are often used to describe certain characteristics of the gifted. (see Identification and Social-emotional issues).


The speed at which content is presented and instruction delivered. Pacing which matches the student's rate of learning is optimal.

Peer Group:

People with which one feels equal. Due to gifted children’s' asynchronous development they may have different intellectual, emotional and social peer groups.


The desire to execute tasks flawlessly. (see Social-emotional issues.)


A collection of student work that demonstrates achievement for purposes of assessment.


Development significantly earlier than normal. Most gifted children show precocious intelligence, but not all who develop skills early are gifted: they may reach a plateau, allowing those of average ability to catch up.


A test given before instruction to determine current level of performance in a specific area.


A child (usually under age 10) who is able to perform at an adult level in a specific skill. Unlike savants, prodigies often have high intelligence and are aware of their thinking strategies.


The quantitative measurement of mental characteristics, as in IQ.


A part-time special education program that takes like ability learners out of the mainstream class for specific instruction. Many primary gifted programs are once a week, pull-out, and enrichment activities.


The accuracy and repeatability of a measurement.


A person with exceptional ability in a specific skill, often artistic, mathematical or musical, who seems intuitively to 'know' but is unaware of thinking strategies.

Twice Exceptional:

The term “twice exceptional” or “2e” refers to intellectually gifted children who have one or more learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADHD, or autism spectrum disorder.

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