Executive functioning as a cognitive characteristic of giftedness
Research examining the cognitive characteristics of gifted children is limited. Not much is known about the underlying cognitive mechanisms that lead to gifted performance, which confines the educator in the attempt to develop the potential excellence in all learners through enriched instruction. The purpose of the present researcher was to examine executive functioning as a possible cognitive characteristic of giftedness. The process for identifying students for an enrichment program within a specific district in New York was examined. The participants, including second grade students that were screened for but found ineligible for the enrichment program (n = 17), and second grade students that were found eligible for the enrichment program (n = 37), were administered a measure of cognitive ability (WJ III BIA) and a measure of executive functioning (TOL). The first proposed hypothesis asserted that there would be group differences on the measure of executive functioning, specifically, students in the gifted group would score significantly higher. The second hypothesis proposed that there would be group differences on the measure of IQ, specifically, students in the gifted group would score significantly higher. The third hypothesis posed that executive functioning would be a significantly stronger predictor of group membership when compared to IQ. Results supported the second hypothesis, in that students in the gifted group scored significantly higher on a measure of IQ (p = .03) than students in the non-gifted group. Additional exploratory analyses examined the effect that subjective teacher recommendations may have upon the screening process. Results support the lack of knowledge about the underlying cognitive mechanisms that may lead to gifted performance. Future researchers should examine alternative subfunctions of executive functioning, as well as additional cognitive and behavioral characteristics, in an attempt to narrow the definition of giftedness. Implications for school psychology and related disciplines within the domain of education include more effective identification and programming for gifted students, as well as the possibility of developing curriculum that will allow for the enhancement of these abilities in all learners. In addition, there are implications for training programs for school psychologists, as well as those for other professionals within education.
0529: Special education
0633: Cognitive therapy