Challenges in the identification of giftedness: Issues related to psychological assessment

  • Leandro S. Almeida Universidade do Minho
  • Alexandra M. Araújo Portucalense University
  • Marta Sainz-Gómez Universidad de Murcia
  • Maria-Dolores Prieto Universidad de Murcia
Keywords: Giftedness, high abilities, talents, assessment, identification


This paper discusses issues related to the assessment of children and youth for the identification of giftedness, and presents specific recommendations for educational measures in order to attend to the particular characteristics and needs of these students. We outline the most common difficulties related to the psychological assessment of these children, including the lack of adequate instruments for the assessment of the multiple dimensions of giftedness, as well as the shortage of training for this identification.

Regarding these difficulties, we describe some assessment procedures that assure higher levels of objectivity and validity in data, reducing the possibility of false positives and false negatives in the identification of these students. In addition to psychological tests, we present the advantages of using multiple informants and the contribution of different professionals and parents for this assessment. On the other hand, as we present giftedness as a result of a developmental process, it is important to conduct students’ assessment in phases, including an initial screening phase, followed by the sound assessment of students and nurturing. Finally, we present some suggestions for the advancement in giftedness identification and assessment, as a means to support the development of research in this area.


Download data is not yet available.


Alencar, E. S., & Fleith, D. S. (2001). Superdotados: Determinantes, educação e ajustamento (2ª edição). São Paulo: EPU.

Al-Hroub, A. (2013). A multidimensional model for the identification of dual-exceptional learners. Gifted and Talented International, 28(1), 51-69.

Almeida, L. S., & Oliveira, E. P. (2000). Os professores na identificação dos alunos sobredotados. In L. Almeida, E. Oliveira & A. Melo (eds.), Alunos sobredotados: Contributos para a sua idenificação e apoio (pp. 43-53). Braga: ANEIS.

Almeida, L. S., Oliveira, E. P., & Melo, A. S. (2000). Bateria de Instrumentos para a Sinalização de Alunos Sobredotados e Talentosos. Braga: Universidade do Minho

Almeida, L. S., Oliveira, E. P., Silva, M. E., & Oliveira, C. G. (2000). O papel dos professores na identificação de crianças sobredotadas: Impacto de variáveis pessoais dos alunos na avaliação. Sobredotação, 1(1, 2), 83-98.

Almeida, L. S., Simões, M. R., Viana, F. L. & Pereira, M. A. (1996). A entrada antecipada de crianças na escola: Considerações em torno da avaliação psicológica. In L. Almeida, J. Silvério & S. Araújo (eds.), Actas do 2º Congresso Galaico–Português de Psicopedagogia (pp. 173–185). Braga: Universidade do Minho.

Arx, H. P., Meyer, C. S., & Grob, A. (2008). Assessing intellectual giftedness with the WISC-IV and the IDS. Journal of Psychology, 216(3), 172-179.

Bracken, B. A., & Brown, E. F. (2006). Behavioral identification and assessment of gifted and talented students. Journal of Psychological Assessment, 24(2), 112-122.

Candeias, A., Duarte, M., Araújo, L., Albano, A., Silvestre, A., Santos, A. F., Arguelles, F., & Claudino, P. (2003). Avaliação da sobredotação: Percepções parentais. Sobredotação, 4(1), 75-93.

Castelló, A. (2005). Aproximación a la evaluación de la superdotación y los talentos. In M. Sánchez-Cano & J. B. Picas (Coords.), La evaluación psicopedagógica (pp. 382-415). Barcelona: Graó.

Chart, H., Grigorenko, E. L, & Sternberg, R. J. (2008). Identification: The Aurora Battery. In J. A. Plucker & C. M. Callahan (Eds), Critical issues and practices in gifted education (pp. 345-365). Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Davis, G. A., Rimm, S. B., & Siegle, D. (2011). Education of the gifted and talented. New Jersey: Pearson.

DeVries, A. R. (2009). Parenting. In Kerr, B. (Ed.), Encyclopedia of giftedness, creativity, and talent 2 (pp. 670-673). Washington, DC: SAGE.

Feldhusen, J. F., & Jarwan, F. A. (1993). Identification of gifted and talented youth for educational programs. In K. A. Heller, F. J. Mönks, & A. H. Passow (Eds.), International handbook and development of giftedness and talent (pp. 233-250). Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Gardner, H. (2003). Multiple intelligences after twenty years. Paper presented at the

American Educational Research Association, Chicago, Illinois.

Gardner, H., Kornhaber, M. L., & Wake, W. K. (1998). Inteligência: Múltiplas perspectivas. Porto Alegre: ArtMed.

Gagné, F. (2004). Transforming gifts into talents: The DMGT as a developmental theory. High Ability Studies, 15, 119-147.

Gagné, F. (2007). Ten commandments for academic talent development. Gifted Child Quarterly, 51, 93-118.

Gagné, M. (2009). A model of knowledge‐sharing motivation. Human Resource Management, 48(4), 571-589.

Gagné, F. (2015). De los genes al talento: la perspectiva DMGT/CMTD= From genes to talent: the DMGT/CMTD perspective. Revista de Educación, 368, 12-39.

Gagné, F., & Guenther, Z. (2010). O DMGT 2.0 de Françoys Gagné: Construindo talentos a partir da dotação. Sobredotação, 11, 7-23.

Galbraith, J., & Delisle, J. (1996). The gifted kid’s survival guide: A teen handbook. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing.

Gallagher, J. J. (2008). Psychology, psychologist, and gifted students. In S. Pfeiffer (Org.). Handbook of giftedness in children: Psycho-educational theory, research and best practices (pp. 1-11). New York: Springer.

Garcia-Santos, S., Almeida, L. S., & Cruz, J. F. (2012). Avaliação psicológica nas altas habilidades e na excelência. Psicologia, Educação e Cultura, 16, 64-78.

Guisande, M. A., Almeida, L. S., Páramo, M. F., & Ponte, F. (2005). Estilos cognitivos y superdotación: Implicaciones en la identificación y en la educación. Sobredotação, 6, 281-292.

Hany, E. A. (1993). Methodological problems and issues concerning identification. In K. A. Heller, F. J. Mönks, & A. H. Passow (Eds.), International handbook and development of giftedness and talent (pp. 209-232). Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Heller, K. A. (2004). Identification of gifted and talented students. Psychology Science, 46(3), 302-323.

Heller, K. A., Perleth, C., & Lim, T. K. (2005). The Munich model of giftedness designed to identify and promote gifted students. Conceptions of giftedness, 2, 147-170.

Huang, S. Y. (2008). Early identification: Cultivating success for young gifted children. Gifted Education International, 24(1), 118-125.

Jarosewich, T., Pfeiffer, S. I., & Morris, J. (2002). Identifying gifted students using teacher rating scales: A review of existing instruments. Journal of Psychoeducational Assessment, 20, 322-336.

Kaufman, A., & Kaufman, N. (2004). KABC-II manual. Circle Pines, MN: AGS


Kerr, B. (1997). Developing talents in girls and young women. In Colangelo, & N. Davis, G. A. (Eds.), Handbook of gifted education, 2 (pp. 483-497). Needham Heights, MA: Allyn; Bacon.

Kuo, C. C., Maker, J., Su, F., L., & Hu, C. (2010). Identifying young gifted children and cultivating problem solving abilities and multiple intelligences. Learning and Individual Differences, 20, 365–379.

Lubinski, D. (2004). Introduction to the Special Section on Cognitive Abilities: 100 Years after Spearman´s (1904) “General intelligence”, objectively determined and measured”. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 86, 112-129.

McLain, M. C., & Pfeiffer, St. (2012). Identification of Gifted Students in the United States Today: A Look at State Definitions, Policies, and Practices. Journal of Applied School Psychology, 28(1), 59-88.

Melo, A. S. (2003). Sinalização de alunos sobredotados e talentosos pelos professores. Sobredotação, 4(1), 29-46.

Miranda, L. & Almeida, L. (2003). Sinalização de alunos sobredotados e talentosos por professores e psicólogos: Dificuldades na sua convergência. Sobredotação, 4(2), 91-105.

Moon, S. M. (2003). Personal talent. Hight Ability Studies, 14, 5-21.

Morais, M. F. (2003). Os produtos criativos: Introdução a uma alternativa de avaliação no contexto educativo. Sobredotação, 4(2), 9-23.

Naglieri, J. A., & Kaufman, J. C. (2001). Understanding intelligence, giftedness and creativity using the PASS theory. Roeper review, 23(3), 151-156.

Nisbett, R. E., Aronson, J., Blair, C., Dickens, W., Flynn, J., Halpern, D. F., & Turkheimer, E. (2012). Intelligence: New findings and theoretical developments. American Psychologist, 67(2), 130-159. Doi: 10.1037/a0026699.

Pereira, M., Gaspar, M. F., Simões, M. R., & Lopes, A. F. (2006). Funções executivas: uma nova metodologia de avaliação do comportamento inteligente. Sobredotação, 7, 177-186.

Pereira, M., Seabra-Santos, M. J., & Simões, M. R. (2003). Estudos com a WISC-III numa amostra de crianças sobredotadas. Sobredotação, 4(2), 69-89.

Pfeiffer, S. I. (2013). Lessons learned from working with high ability students. Gifted Education International, 29, 86-97.

Pfeiffer, S. I. (2015). El modelo tripartito sobre la alta capacidad y las mejores prácticas en la evaluación de los más capaces. Revista de Educación, 368, 66-95.

Pfeiffer, S., & Blei, S. (2008). Gifted identification beyond the IQ test: rating scales and other assessment procedures. In S. Pfeiffer (Ed.). Handbook of giftedness in children: Psycho-educational theory, research and best practices (pp. 177-198). New York: Springer.

Phelps, C. L. (2009). Girls, gifted. In Kerr, B. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of giftedness, creativity, and talent (vol. 1, p. 393-397). Washington, DC: SAGE.

Prieto, L., Ferándiz, C. Ferrando M., & Bermejo, R. (2015). La Batería Aurora: una nueva evaluación de la inteligencia exitosa= Aurora Battery: A new assessment of successful intelligence. Revista de Educación(368), 132-157.

Prieto, M. D., López, O., & Ferrándiz, C. (2003): La creatividad en el contexto escolar. Estrategias para favorecerla. Madrid: Pirámide.

Renzulli, J. S. (Ed.). (1986). Systems and Models for Developing Programs for the Gifted and Talented. Mansfield Center, Conn.: Creative Learning Press.

Renzulli, J. S. (2005). The three-ring conception of giftedness. In R. J. Sternberg & J. E. Davidson (Eds.), Conceptions of giftedness (2nd ed., pp. 246-79). New York: Cambridge University Press.

Renzulli, J. S. (2013). The achievement gap and the education conspiracy against low income children. International Journal for Talent Development and Creativity, 1(1), 45-55.

Renzulli, J. S., & Gaesser, A. H. (2015). Un sistema multicriterial para la identificación del alumnado de alto rendimiento y de alta capacidad creativo-productiva. Revista de Educación, 368, 96-131.

Renzulli, J. S., & Reis, S. (1997). The schoolwide enrichment model: A how-to guide for educational excellence (2nd ed.). Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning Press.

Renzulli, J. S., & Reis, S. M. (2000). The schoolwide enrichment model. In K. A. Heller, F. J. Mönks, R. J. Sternberg & R. F. Subotnik (Eds.), International handbook of giftedness and talent (2nd ed., pp. 367-382). Oxford: Elsevier Science.

Renzulli, J. S., Smith, L. H., White, A. J., Callahan, C. M., & Hartman, R. K. (1976). Scales for Rating the Behavioral Characteristics of Superior Students. Mansfield Center, CT: Creative Learning.

Rimm, S. (2010). The importance of the use of the WISC-IV General Ability Index (GAI) IQ score for identification of gifted students. OAGC Summer Research Journal, 1(1), 3-10.

Rizza, M. G. & Morrison, W. F. (2003). Uncovering stereotypes and identifying characteristics of gifted students and students with emotional/behavioral disabilities. Roeper Review, 25(2), 73-77.

Robinson, B. R. & Harrison, P. L. (2005). WISC-III core profiles for students referred or found eligible for special education and gifted programs. School Psychology Quarterly, 20(1), 51-65.

Roid, G. H. (2003). Stanford-binet intelligence scales (SB5). Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside.

Ruban, L., & Reis, S. (2005). Identification and assessment of gifted students with learning disabilities. Theory into Practice, 44, 115-124.

Russo, C. F. (2004). A comparative study of creativity and problem-solving strategies of high-IQ and average students. Gifted Child Quarterly, 48(3), 179-190.

Sankar-DeLeeuw, N. (1999). Gifted preschoolers: Parent and teacher views on identification, early admission and programming. Roeper Review, 21(3), 174-179.

Sattler, J. M. (1992). Assessment of children (3rd ed.). San Diego, CA: Jerome M. Sattler, Publisher.

Schader, R. (2009). Parent nominations. In Kerr, B. (Ed.). Encyclopedia of giftedness, creativity, and talent (vol. 2, pp. 673-675). Washington, DC: SAGE.

Schrank, F. A., McGrew, K. S., & Mather, N. (2014). Woodcock-Johnson IV Tests of Cognitive Abilities. Rolling Meadows, IL: Riverside.

Schwartz, S. H. (1994). Are There Universal Aspects in the Structure and. Journal of Social Issues, 50(4), 19-45.

Shavinina, L. V. (2009). On giftedness and economy: The impact of talented individuals on the global economy. In L. V. Shavinina (Ed.), International handbook on giftedness, 2 (pp. 925-944). Gatineau, Quebec: Springer.

Shavinina, L. V. (2013). The role of parents and teachers in the development of scientific talent: Lessons from early childhood and adolescent education of Nobel Laureates. Gifted and Talented International, 28(1), 11-24.

Silverman, L. K. (1993). The gifted individual. In L. K. Silverman (Eds.), Counseling the gifted and talented (pp. 3-28). Oxford: Pergamon Press.

Silverman, L. K. (2009). The measurement of giftedness. In L. V. Shavinina (Ed.), International handbook on giftedness (pp. 947-970). Amsterdam: Springer Science and Business Media.

Simonton, D. K. (2009). Gifts, talents, and their societal repercussions. In Shavinina, L. V. (Ed.), International handbook on giftedness, 2 (pp. 905-912). Gatineau, Quebec: Springer.

Sternberg, R. J. (1998). Metacognition, abilities, and developing expertise: What makes an expert student? Instructional Science, 26, 127-140.

Sternberg, R. J. (1999). The theory of successful intelligence. Review of General Psychology, 3, 292-316.

Sternberg, R. J. (2001). Giftedness as developing expertise: A theory of the interface between high abilities and achieved excellence. High Ability Studies, 12, 159-179.

Sternberg, R. J. (2003). Wisdom, intelligence, and creativity synthesized. Cambridge: University Press.

Sternberg, R. J. (2015). Successful Intelligence: A model for testing Intelligence beyond IQ tests. European Journal of Educational Psychology.8,76-84.

Sternberg, R. J., & Zhang, L. (2004). What do we mean by giftedness? A pentagonal implicit theory. In S. M. Reis, & R. J. Sternberg (Eds.), Essential Reading in Gifted Education: Definitions and conceptions of giftedness (vol. 1, pp. 13-27). Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press & The National Association for Gifted Children.

Subotnik, R. F., Olszewski-Kubilius, P., & Worrell, F. C. (2011). Rethinking giftedness and gifted education: A proposed direction forward based on psychological science. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 12, 3-54.

Treffinger, D. J., & Renzulli, J. S. (1986). Giftedness as potential for creative productivity: Transcending IQ scores. Roeper Review, 8(3), 150-154.

Van Tassel-Baska, J., Feng, A. X., & Evans, B. L. (2007). Patterns of identification and performance among gifted students identified through performance tasks. Gifted Child Quarterly, 51(3), 218-231. Doi: 10.1177/0016986207302717.

Veiga, F. H., & Marques, P. (2001). Escala de Representações dos Professores acerca da Sobredotação: Construção de uma escala de avaliação (ERPAS). Revista Sobredotação, 2(2), 25-40.

Volker, M. A., & Smerbeck, A. M. (2009). Identification of gifted students with the WISC-IV. In D. P. Flanagan & A. S. Kaufman (Eds.), Essentials of WISC-IV assessment (2nd., pp. 262-276). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley.

Wechsler, D. (2014). Wechsler intelligence scale for children (5th ed.). Bloomington, MN: Pearson.

Ziegler, A, & Heller, A. (2000). Conceptions of Giftedness from a Meta-Theoretical Perspective. In K.A. Heller, F.J. Mönks, R.J. Sternberg & R.F. Subotnik (Eds.), International Handbook of Giftedness and Talent (2nd ed., pp. 3-21). Oxford: Pergamon.

Ziegler, A., & Phillipson, S. N. (2012). Towards a systemic theory of gifted education. High Ability Studies, 23(1), 3-30. doi:10.1080/13598139.2012.679085.

How to Cite
Almeida, L. S., Araújo, A. M., Sainz-Gómez, M., & Prieto, M.-D. (2016). Challenges in the identification of giftedness: Issues related to psychological assessment. Anales De Psicología / Annals of Psychology, 32(3), 621-627.
Monographic theme: High Ability (giftedness and talent)