EPSY 5194: Seminar on the Gifted and Talented
Summer 2024 (on campus)

Dr. Del Siegle (del.siegle@uconn.edu)  860.486.0616 (office), 860.634.2361 (cell)
with Joseph S. Renzulli
8:15 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. —  July 1-July 12, 2024 (no class on July 4)
Tasker Conference Room

Course Description

Gifted seminar is one of the capstone courses of the Three Summers Master’s Degree Program. It provides the opportunity to explore a variety of conceptions of giftedness and further develop one’s own professional identity, including leadership and advocacy roles. The course is designed with two distinct phases: pre-class and on-campus. The pre-class portion of the course consists of essential reading and assignments that would not be possible to complete in the accelerated summer session. In turn, the on-campus portion of the course requires active participation in classroom activities, informed by the pre-class work, but has minimal “homework.”

Course Objectives

As a result of their involvement in this course, it is expected that students will be able to:

  • Describe and analyze the major conceptions of giftedness offered by the major theorist in psychology and educational psychology.
  • Develop a personal conception of giftedness using historical perspectives, contemporary theories, and practical experience in the field.
  • Review criteria for the evaluation of effective staff development.
  • Investigate current topics and trends in education and relate them to the field of gifted education.
  • Review different advocacy options across a variety of audiences from local to national.
  • Review criticisms of gifted and talented education programs and provide a rationale for their existence.
  • Debate a controversial topic in the field of gifted and talented education.

Required Text

Cross, T. L., & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2020). Conceptual frameworks for giftedness and talent development: Enduring theories and comprehensive models in gifted education. Routledge. (ISBN 9781646320486)

This book is available through the UConn bookstore, Amazon.com, and other online retailers.

Course Policies

  • It is expected that pre-class assignments will be completed prior to the start of the summer session. If this is not possible, students are expected to contact del.siegle@uconn.edu to discuss options.  However, students are still responsible to be fully prepared to participate in the on-campus seminar. While we will work with you to avoid having an incomplete, if an incomplete is necessary, it may not be converted into any grade higher than a B.
  • The assignments for this course have been designed as both learning opportunities and assessment tools. If you feel that your class experience could be enhanced through a differentiated assignment, send a request to del.siegle@uconn.edu. Your request should include a description of the proposed assignment, reason for differentiation, and how the assignment should be assessed.

Class Assignments

There are four separate assignments. The class requirements include the following:

  • Reflections on Conceptions of Giftedness (due July 1)
  • Personal Conception of Giftedness (summer campus activity)
  • Meet the Press Simulation (summer campus activity)
  • Participation in Great Debate (summer campus activity)

Daily Topics

We anticipate using the following schedule, although we reserve the right to adjust it throughout our two weeks together.

  • Monday, July 1 – Introduction to the Course; History of Gifted Education; SEM Update and Sustainability
  • Tuesday, July 2—Characteristics of Effective Professional Learning;  Journals and Organizations; APA Style;  Infusion Activity
  • Wednesday, July 3– Sternberg Video; Issues in the Field of Gifted Education
  • Thursday, July 4 — No Class (Holiday)
  • Friday, July 5 – Conceptions of Giftedness Discussion
  • Monday, July 8– Conceptions of Giftedness Continued; Prepare for Great Debate
  • Tuesday, July 9 –Great Debate; EdWeek Exercise
  • Wednesday, July 10— All about Advocacy; Meet the Press Simulations; Start Personal Conceptions Presentations and Discussion
  • Thursday, July 11—Personal Conceptions Presentations and Discussions
  • Friday, July 12 – Mean, Nasty and Rotten Questions; Program Feedback; Discussion of What’s Missing in the Research (What research would help you the most?)       

Review and Analysis of Conceptions of Giftedness

This seminar assignment consists of an examination of the theories or conceptions of giftedness as presented in the book by Tracy L. Cross and Paula Olszewski-Kubilius [Cross, T., L., & Olszewski-Kubilius, P. (2020). Conceptual frameworks for giftedness and talent development: Enduring theories and comprehensive models in gifted education. Routledge.]. Because of the nature of the material in this book, and the need to conserve time in seminar meetings, it is expected that students will complete the reading independently prior to class. Below is an outline of the assignment due July 1 (first day of class).

Step 1 – Pre-Reading

Read the book. You may wish to make notes of key points from each chapter that will help you during our class discussion of the chapters during seminar this summer.

Step 2 – Summaries and Analysis

Summarize a total of 8 chapters (select from 1-4; 6-11) from the book (Review Chapters 5 [Renzulli and Reis] but do not summarize it).

  • Read each chapter carefully and critically.
  • Complete a Conceptions Chapter Matrix (rev 2022) (download) with information for each of the articles you choose. You will not analyze two of the chapters listed, but will have read them.

–    Conception Summary: Write a 3 to 4 sentence concise summary of the main points of the conception.

–    Critical Analysis – While short, this is the heart of your work. Think about how the conception relates to your experiences as an educator…what makes sense to you and what doesn’t (about one paragraph).

–    Strengths: List what you consider to be the 3 most important strengths.

–    Weaknesses: List what you consider to be the 3 most critical weaknesses.

–    Compare and Contrast: Compare and contrast the original conception with the 3 Ring Conception. List the most significant similarity. List the most profound difference.

–    Questions Left Unanswered: Prepare a list of two thoughtful questions for the author. What questions would you pose to the author if you were able to talk to him/her about his/her conception?

You will read ALL of the chapters, but only analyze 10 of them. This assignment is due July 1. Contact Del if you need an extension. Send your electronic submission to del.siegle@uconn.edu or give access (del.siegle@gmail.com) to the information on your Google Drive.

Personal Conception of Giftedness

Due July 10, 2024

You will prepare a paper and brief presentation of your own conception of giftedness, which will reflect the influence the book, contemporary theories, class discussions, the Three Summers Program, and your own experiences have had on your ideas.

  • The paper (2 to 4 pages; double spaced;  12 point Times font; 1 inch margins) should clearly reflect, “where you stand” on the overall issue of giftedness.  Support your personal conception of giftedness with examples.
  • Prepare a five-minute presentation using one slide that depict a graphic representation of your personal conception.  You will deliver your presentation during class on July 10 or 11.

Your paper and presentation can be organized in one of two ways. Either include the following sections:

  • My Conception of Giftedness;
  • Research and Personal Experiences This Conception is Based Upon;
  • Identification System for This Conception; and
  • School Services for Students Identified with This Conception

or create sections of your choice that work for you that answer the following questions about your conception:

  • Does giftedness differ at different stages of childhood and adulthood?
  • What role does school play in developing/serving your conception of giftedness?
  • Can your conception of giftedness be measured, and if so, how? and
  • What is the role of potential and performance in your conception of giftedness?

Basis of Evaluation

Your conception should demonstrate the influence of the readings and your own experiences, clearly describe your own ideas, and use examples where appropriate. Each of these aspects will be scored using the same 0-3 rubric (0 = not evident; 1 = minimal; 2 = most information included; 3 = clear, comprehensive, and accurate).

Your conception should also be a well-written paper and will also be evaluated for proper spelling, grammar, and organization.

Great Debate

In class, you will form teams to debate controversial topics in the field of gifted education. Depending on our schedule, you may be given some class time to research and prepare an argument for or against a position related to the topic. The debate will use the following format: 5 minute introduction from each side (total 10 minutes). 3 minute rebuttal from each side (total 6 minutes) and 2 minute concluding remark from each side (total 4 minutes). After each debate, we will hold a class discussion about the topic.

Basis of Evaluation

This assignment should demonstrate your understanding of the field of gifted education. You will be evaluated on the evidence you present to support your case and how well you identify pertinent educational issues related to the topic.

Advocacy: Meet the Press

A common saying in the advocacy world is, “If you are not at the table, you are on the menu.” One aspect of advocacy is sharing your knowledge of the field with others. This might be as simple as having a conversation with a neighbor or as complex as meeting with a senator or writing an opinion piece for your local newspaper.  We will brainstorm a list of potential questions a reporter might ask an experienced educator in gifted education. You will be given time in class to prepare responses to the questions. Each group will be provided an opportunity to have a mock interview featuring one of the questions.

Basis of Evaluation

The purpose of this exercise is to expand your comfort level when talking about the importance of our field, which requires some risk taking. Therefore, credit will be given for completing this assignment.

Student Rights and Responsibilities

Absence of Students due to Religious Beliefs
Connecticut law states that no person shall be expelled from or refused admission as a student to an institution of higher education for the reason that he is unable, because the tenets of his religion forbid secular activity on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day, to attend classes or to participate in any examination, study or work requirements on such particular day or days or at such time of day. Any student in an institution of higher education who is unable, because of such reason, to attend classes on a particular day or days or at a particular time of day shall be excused from any examination or any study or work assignments on such particular day or days or at such particular time of day. The University Senate requires that students anticipating such a conflict should inform their instructor in writing within the first three weeks of the semester, and prior to the anticipated absence, and should take the initiative to work out with the instructor a schedule for making up missed work.  For conflicts with final examinations, students should, as usual, contact the Office of Student Services and Advocacy (formerly the Dean of Students Office).

Academic Integrity
A fundamental tenet of all educational communities is academic honesty; academic work depends upon respect for and acknowledgement of the research, ideas and intellectual property of others. When we express our ideas in class assignments, projects or exams, we need to trust that someone else will not take credit for them. Similarly, others need to trust that our words, data and ideas are our own. We find the intellectual property of others in textbooks, periodicals, newspapers, journals, solution manuals, dissertation abstracts, emails, the internet and other sources electronic or otherwise. Regardless of where we find information, protecting and acknowledging the rightful originators of intellectual property is vital to academic integrity.

Academic misconduct is dishonest or unethical academic behavior that includes, but is not limited, to misrepresenting mastery in an academic area (e.g., cheating), intentionally or knowingly failing to properly credit information, research or ideas to their rightful originators or representing such information, research or ideas as your own (e.g., plagiarism). Knowing what constitutes academic misconduct is so important to an educational community that all students are encouraged to go to their advisors, instructors, counselors, or assistant deans of students whenever they need clarification. When an instructor believes there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate a clear case of academic misconduct within a particular course taught by that instructor, the instructor shall notify the student in writing, and also orally if possible, that unless the student requests a hearing to contest the instructor’s belief, the instructor shall impose the appropriate academic consequences warranted by the circumstances. This should occur within 30 days of discovery of the alleged academic misconduct. The appropriate academic consequence for serious offenses is generally considered to be failure in the course. For less serious offenses regarding small portions of the course work, failure for that portion is suggested, with the requirement that the student repeat the work satisfactorily for no credit.

Students with Disabilities
Students with special needs should contact the instructor early in the semester so accommodations can be made. Additional help is available through the university. Through the merge of the Center for Students with Disabilities (CSD) and the University Program for College Students with Learning Disabilities (UPLD), one office now serves all students with disabilities (http://csd.uconn.edu). All students may contact the office by visiting the Wilbur Cross Building, Room 204, calling (860) 486-2020 or emailing csd@uconn.edu.

What is a Seminar?

By Joseph S. Renzulli

Anecdote No. 1.  I was visiting in the home of a friend when her 12 year old son returned home from a two-week science camp for bright students.  “Did you learn a lot at the science camp?” I asked.  “No,” said the boy, “but the teacher sure did… and she spent the whole two weeks trying to pull it out of us!”

Anecdote No. 2.  During my early years at UConn, I taught a course for undergraduates in the teacher education program entitled Education Measurement and Evaluation.  When covering the topic of “Teacher Made Tests,” small groups of students used the Taxonomy to develop a test for a subject and grade level of their choice after a lecture and discussion about Bloom’s Taxonomy.  They used elementary grade textbooks and instructional material from the School of Education’s curriculum library.

One day the associate dean came for a visit, slipping into the back of the room and quietly observed class.  The room was a hubbub of activity with the students spread out around the room discussing and debating questions they developed, and then pasting items on a large Taxonomy matrix in their respective groups.  I wandered from group to group, answering questions and nodding approval.

After about ten minutes, the associate dean approached me and said, “I came to do your evaluation today, but I’ll come back another time when you’re teaching.”

Anecdote No. 3.  Every now and then I receive publications from G/T and classroom teachers that describes some of the innovative practices they have come up with in their teaching.  What occurred to me is that the best ideas in our Schoolwide Enrichment Model have been classroom inspired, and it is my hope that our graduate students will consider looking for opportunities to make their own contributions to the professional literature.

These three anecdotes have stuck in my mind over the years, and caused me to raise important questions about learning in general, the teacher’s role(s) in the learning process, and more specifically, how learning in a seminar should differ from learning in a lecture-based course.  As you can well imagine, I’ve come up with a few conclusions, but am still a long way from writing the definitive book on The Seminar Style of Teaching!

Before you read the remainder of this page, please jot down a few thoughts about what you think should be included if you were to write this book!

First and foremost, I believe that a seminar should be a confrontation with knowledge and ideas that relate to theory, research, and practice.  By “confrontation,” I mean that there must be opposing positions about a theory (e.g., behaviorism versus constructivism, grouping versus inclusion), a particular research study or group of studies (e.g., grouping, discovery learning, creativity training,), or particular practices (e.g., high-stakes testing, cooperative learning, standards-based curriculum, site-based management).  Additionally, an interesting seminar includes students who are willing and able to attack or defend a position, even if it is not consistent with their own personal point of view.  If everyone agrees on a particular position, or if the instructor tries to ram his or her own position down the students’ throats, then we end up with dogmatism, brainwashing, and an unwillingness to peel back the layers of complexity that make a topic confrontational in the first place.

Second, a seminar should not revolve around an instructor disseminating information in typical lecture fashion, but rather an interactive process between and among instructor and students.  This process should draw upon everyone’s knowledge, experience, and wisdom, whether that knowledge results from traditional scholarship (i.e., reading “the literature”) or practical experience in schools and classrooms.  Obviously, the larger the knowledge base, and the broader the range of experience, the more sophisticated the level of discussion and growth that can be achieved in a seminar.  It is natural for a graduate seminar to include numerous different opinions related to complex and sometimes fuzzy situations that stimulate conversation.  In order to facilitate the development of ideas, all knowledge, conclusions, and especially our own opinions should be viewed as tentative and subject to possible modification.  If there is one “deadly sin” that I don’t want to see committed in seminar, it is any individual refusing to respect the opinions of others, not matter how much they differ from one’s own point of view.  Our own thoughts grow by presenting the strongest position we can take on an issue and by bouncing ideas off others and listening to what they have to say.

These two major characteristics of a seminar are easy to talk about, but somewhat more difficult to achieve.  Topics must be carefully selected to insure that there is a worthwhile confrontation embedded within them, that they represent important issues in the field, and that they appeal to the majority’s interest and imagination.  You can help set the agenda for seminar by bringing your own suggestions for “hot topics” to the table, and recommending how to integrate these topics can be pursued in ways that are both interesting and creative.

Other Aspects of Seminar

Standing Assignments.  There are a number of standing assignments for students and there are particular lecture/discussion topics that the instructors and invited guest speakers present.  Even these lectures should be approached with a confrontation-with-knowledge perspective, and like all seminar activities, they should also be viewed as “Type Is” that might be the basis for your own future research, teaching, or program development activities.

Town Meeting.  Seminar also serves as our group’s town meeting.  It is where we discuss operational issues such as conferences, presentation and consulting opportunities, current or future projects, resume preparation, job interview skills, ways to support and help each other, office etiquette and procedures, social events, and any and all items that are collectively good for our common mission.

A Model for Learning.  Finally, we view seminar as one of among a number of “models of teaching and learning.”  Certain kinds of growth should take place in this type of setting that are different from a traditional lecture, lab, or other type of course that is primarily focused on the transmission of knowledge or skills.  We believe that the highest level of learning takes place through personal relationships and the ability to deal with situations for which there are not prescribed or canned answers.  As you begin to think about your future career and, job opportunities, and the courses you might teach, it might be worthwhile to consider developing your own “brand” of seminar experience for your students, whether they be K – 12, undergraduate, or graduate.

I cannot teach anybody anything.
I can only make them think.


last updated 6/10/2024