2018-2019 Awards for Excellence in Research winners

Senior Investigators

Scott J. Peters, University of Wisconsin-Whitewater: “Equity and Excellence: Proactive Efforts in the Identification of Underrepresented Students for Gifted and Talented Services” (coauthor Kenneth G. Engerrand)

Abstract: The identification of gifted and talented students and the accompanying fact that most identification systems result in the underrepresentation of students from African American, Hispanic, Native American, English language learning, and low-income families are two of the most discussed and hotly debated topics in the field. This article provides an overview of past efforts to mitigate inequity in both K-12 and higher education program identification, highlights successes and limitations, and presents a particular perspective in order to help facilitate broader thinking about the purpose of identification, the development of talent, and how academic excellence can be fostered while simultaneously increasing equity in gifted education.

Article link (paywall): Gifted Child Quarterly

Joseph Renzulli, University of Connecticut, “Common Sense About the Under-Representation Issue: A School-Wide Approach to Increase Participation of Diverse Students in Programs that Develop Talents and Gifted Behaviors in Young People” (coauthor Laurel E. Brandon)

Abstract: Changing demographics in schools around the world have raised questions about the nature and role of gifted education programs. An intense interest in the underrepresentation of students from low-income families and minority groups in gifted education programs has caused the field to re-examine both identification and services. In this article, the authors discuss the larger issues related to identification and programming, including data about the extent of the problem in American schools. We review the recommendations and suggested practices made by other researchers and writers in the field for improving the representation of diverse students in gifted programs and provide examples of efforts taking place in schools that are dealing with this challenge. The authors conclude by describing how a specific approach developed over decades shows promise in addressing the problem of under-representation.

Article link: International Journal for Talent Development and Creativity

Jonathan Wai, University of Arkansas, “Sex Differences in Ability in the Right Tail of Cognitive Abilities: A 35-Year Examination” (coauthors Jaret Hodges and Matthew C. Makel)

Abstract: Sex differences in cognitive ability level and cognitive ability pattern or tilt (e.g., math?>?verbal) have been linked to educational and occupational outcomes in STEM and other fields. The present study examines cognitive ability tilt across the last 35?years in 2,053,265 academically talented students in the U.S. (SAT, ACT, EXPLORE) and 7,119 students in India (ASSET) who were in the top 5% of cognitive ability, populations that largely feed high level STEM and other occupations. Across all measures and samples, sex differences in ability tilt were uncovered, favoring males for math?>?verbal and favoring females for verbal?>?math. As ability tilt increased, sex differences in ability tilt appeared to increase. Additionally, sex differences in tilt increased as ability selectivity increased. Broadly, sex differences in ability tilt remained fairly stable over time, were consistent across most measures, and replicated across the U.S. and India. Such trends should be carefully monitored given their potential to impact future workforce trends.

Article link (paywall): Intelligence

Junior Investigators

Juliana Tay, Purdue University, “Parental Perceptions of STEM Enrichment for Young Children” (coauthors Alissa Salazar and Hyeseong Lee)

Abstract: Most pre-kindergarten (pre-K) and kindergarten curricula are challenging and engaging, but few are strongly grounded in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) education. In this study, the authors examined parental perception (N = 55) of the influences of a Saturday STEM enrichment program in one university center on pre-K and kindergarten students and their attitudes toward STEM learning. Using survey data collected from 2013 to 2016, the authors studied parental comments about benefits, drawbacks, and memorable moments they observed from their children’s experiences during the program. These comments were analyzed qualitatively using NVivo, and three main themes were developed. The themes were children’s reactions to STEM learning, meeting the needs of young gifted learners, and learning beyond the classroom. These themes reinforced current literature in the field showing young children’s need for STEM education. Sadly, few opportunities for STEM-focused programming for young children exist.

Article link (paywall): Journal for the Education of the Gifted

The Mensa Foundation’s Awards for Excellence in Research are given internationally for outstanding research on intelligence, intellectual giftedness and related fields. Papers must be published in a peer-reviewed journal or presented at a peer-reviewed conference. Senior investigators received their degrees more than five years ago and have since been active in their fields. Junior investigators include graduate students, researchers who have earned their degrees within the past five years and those who have previously earned degrees in other fields and entered their present field within the past five years.