Cognitive and Affective Characteristics of Gifted Children

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There are many cognitive and affective characteristics of intellectually gifted adolescents which differ from those of their non-gifted peers. These characteristics have the potential to assist academic and social development, or conversely may present social and academic difficulties for the adolescents.

Two cognitive characteristics and two affective characteristics typically associated with gifted adolescents will be examined to explore the relationship between these characteristics and their effect on social and academic development. The two cognitive characteristics that will be examined is self-regulation, and their dislike of slow paced work. And the two affective characteristics is the possible exhibition of perfectionist tendencies, and their emotional intensity.

The first cognitive characteristic is self-regulation. Self-regulation is a characteristic in which all students will generally have. It is comprised of metacognition, thinking about thinking, and motivation. It is the process of self-regulation employed by intellectually gifted adolescents which differ from those of their non-gifted peers. The metacognition component requires students to plan and self-check their academic performance. These students tended to plan strategies and checked their solution processes and answers while solving problems. The motivation aspect of self-regualtion involves self-efficacy and effort. Highly intrinsically motivated students expended greater effort for completing relevant tasks, and also tended to be self-efficacious. (Hong & Aqui, 2004)

It has been asserted that gifted student’s use of cognitive and metacognitive strategies enhance perception of self-efficacy, which as a consequence provide the motivation for self-regulation. Confidence in their own abilities causes their efforts in the face of failure to increase exponentially until success us achieved. (Hong & Aqui, 2004)

Gifted students have the ability to apply more conscious control over their use of metacognitive processes, such as controlling the solution process.
This characteristic translates to a positive influence onto gifted student’s academic development, since gifted students are more self-efficacious. This means that they are more aware of what their level of ability is, and can strive to the best of their ability. With this increase in self-efficacy, since the students know what they can do, expend greater amounts of effort in achieving the desired results. Such effort, although generally positive, may lead to negative perfectionist tendencies, which will be discussed later.

Another aspect of self-regulation which can be seen to directly benefit academic development is planning and self-check. Planning may involve activities such as time management for successful balance between studying and leisure, planning the processes required to reach the desired solution when completing a task, or even planning how to disrupt a classroom in their bid to mask their giftedness. Gifted students will generally be more proficient with the planning processes than non-gifted peers, thus allowing them greater opportunities for academic success. (Hong & Aqui, 2004)

Research conducted by Hong & Aqui appear to indicate that male gifted students have higher self-efficacy than their female counterparts, whereas the female gifted students have higher motivation for success. An explanation proposed is that “female adolescents [to] examine their work meticulously even when they attain high levels of achievement in school […], male high achievers might believe that they can do well in school […] without exerting much effort.” (Hong & Aqui, 2004)

The next cognitive characteristics to be discussed is gifted adolescent’s dislike of slow paced work. Intellectually gifted students have larger, more efficient memories, they have larger and more elaborately organised schemata, and as mentioned before, exert greater conscious control over metacognitive processes....
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