EPSY 5780: Social and Emotional Components of Giftedness and Talent Development

University of Connecticut
Neag School of Education
Department of Educational Psychology

Semester: Spring 2014 (CANCELLED)
Credit Hours: 3
Instructor:  Del Siegle, Ph.D.
del.siegle@uconn.edu (email)
www.delsiegle.info (Web site)
860-486-0616 (phone)
860-486-0180 (fax)
Office: 119B/C Gentry
Class Meetings: Wednesdays, 4:00 – 6:30 p.m., Storrs Hall 011
Office Hours: Mon., Tues., Thurs, & Fri.: 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Wed.: 9:30 – 3 p.m.
(Call before visiting the office, since I am head of the Educational Psychology Department and serve on a number of committees that will have meetings during my office hours).

Course Description:
This course will explore current research and material relevant to the social and emotional issues that may arise for gifted and talented students. Some topics include perfectionism, oversensitivities, gender issues, underachievement, and special populations. Students must have a copy of the required text. All required supplementary readings will be provided by the instructor on a weekly basis. Since the course will be conducted as a discussion seminar, it is essential that students complete the assigned reading before each class. The extent to which gifted and talented students have unique social and emotional needs is not universally agreed upon. Therefore, it is expected that within our class students will hold a variety of perceptions on this topic. Through reading of the current research, thoughtful discussions and projects, we will develop a deeper understanding of social and emotional issues that students with gifts and talents experience.

Course Objectives:
Involvement in this course will enable educators to…

  • Provide a rationale for the importance of studying the affective characteristics of high ability students.
  • Develop an awareness of the affective issues confronting students labeled gifted and talented.
  • Develop a personal perspective on the importance of the affective needs as well as the intellectual growth of high ability students.
  • Explore related literature and research on the affective characteristics and needs of high ability students.
  • Develop a broad base of knowledge regarding research on the affective growth of high ability students.
  • Become proficient in skills that help to foster the emotional growth of high ability students.
  • Design appropriate instructional strategies and curriculum for meeting the affective needs of high ability students.
  • Become aware of the influences of individuals (family members, teachers, peers) and environments (home, school, and community) on the social and emotional development of high ability students.
  • Become aware of the affective needs of special populations within the field of gifted education, e.g., culturally diverse, gifted females, gifted males, underachievers, gifted students with disabilities.
  • Become knowledgeable about the researchers, theorists and educational leaders who are actively involved in promoting the affective component of gifted education.

This course is aligned with the University of Connecticut Educator Preparation Program’s Conceptual Framework.  Specifically, content and objectives address:

  • Learning by helping students recognize the social and emotional needs of students who have been labeled gifted and talented.
  • Leading by enabling students to develop expertise in meeting the social and emotional needs of gifted and talented students.
  • Lighting the way by preparing students to incorporate the knowledge they gain from this course to become sensitive educators who recognize students’ affective needs and addresses them through classroom learning activities.

Readings will include assigned readings as well as selections of students’ choice relevant to topics of interest. All required course readings (beyond the text) will be made available in class or on the HuskyCT site for the course. Students should come to class each week with possible discussion questions for each article/chapter we read for the week. The following text is required:

Cross, T. L., & Cross, J. R. (Eds.). (2012). Handbook for counselors serving students with gifts & talents: Development, relationships, school issues, and counseling needs/interventions. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

The following texts are completely optional and may be of interest to students:

Neihart, M., Reis, S. M., Robinson, N. M., & Moon, S. M. (Eds.). (2002). The social and emotional development of gifted children: What do we know? Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Hebert, T. H. (2011). Understanding the social and emotional lives of gifted students. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Class Sessions:
Class sessions will involve a variety of activities, including: (1) discussions related to readings and assignments, (2) presentations related to course topics and objectives, (3) practice activities that help students apply learned concepts and professional skills, (4) sharing sessions to provide other students with an overview of response to course assignments, and (5) planning sessions for the development of course assignments.  Accomplishment of course objectives requires regular, prompt attendance and contributions of all participants to class learning. Therefore, please try not to miss class or to arrive late. If you are interested in modifying course assignments, readings, or activities to suit your individual needs or prior experiences, please make an appointment to discuss your ideas with the instructor.

Course Assignments:
This course is designed to encourage active reading, discussion, and application of ideas. Students will complete graded assignments related to the course objectives as well as in-class activities. Options for modifying these assignments to meet individual needs may be discussed. Students are encouraged to share ideas, work together, and/or receive feedback before submitting their work for grading. Final versions of assignments must give credit to all sources and should follow the University’s ethical guidelines for independent work.

Assignment 1: Choice of movie or children’s book analysis
This assignment incorporates two different tasks and emphases. One part is to analyze the social and emotional characteristics and needs of a fictional gifted character. The other is to analyze the portrayal of that character from your perspective as a developing professional.

You may address the assignment using one of two stimuli, as described below.

Movie Analysis:
Watch a movie (NOT a documentary) that portrays a gifted child or young adult as a central character. Write a 3-4 page paper addressing (a) the significant social/emotional characteristics the character displayed, with discussion of how those characteristics affected the child and interacted with his or her cognitive (or other talent domain) characteristics (25%); (b) what special needs the character had, based on his or her affective characteristics (25%); and (c) how significant people in the individual’s environment responded to the characteristics, positively or negatively (25%). Then write a brief critique (1 page) of the movie from your perspective as a developing professional in gifted or general education – does the movie help to create stereotypes, dispel them, or both (25%)?

Some possible movies are:

• The Emperor’s Club
• Billy Elliott (U.K, 2000)
• Little Man Tate
• Matilda
• Searching for Bobby Fischer
• Dead Poet’s Society
• Finding Forrester
• Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
• Good Will Hunting
• The Color Purple
• Bend It Like Beckham (U.K., 2002)
• The Outsiders

Children’s Book Analysis:
Read a children’s or young adult literature selection (must be a fictional chapter book) that portrays a gifted child or young adult as a central character. Write a 3-4 page paper addressing (a) the significant social/emotional characteristics the character displayed, with discussion of how those characteristics affected the child and interacted with cognitive (or other talent domain) characteristics (25%); (b) what special needs the character had, based on his or her affective characteristics (25%); and (c) how significant people in the individual’s environment responded to the characteristics, positively or negatively (25%). Then write a brief critique (1 page) of the book from your perspective as a developing professional in gifted or general education – does the book help to create stereotypes, dispel them, or both (25%)?

Some possible novels are:
• Letters to Julia, (Barbara Holmes)
• Welcome to the Ark, (Stephanie Tolan)
• The View from Saturday, (E.L. Konigsburg)
• Anne of Green Gables, (L.M. Montgomery)
• Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson, (Judy Blume)
• The Gospel According to Larry, (Janet Tashjian)
• I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, Maya Angelou
• The Report Card, (Andrew Clements)

Assignment 2: Student Interviews
Conduct and record individual interviews with a student of high ability, after obtaining written permission from the parent(s)/guardian(s) and informed consent from the students. The interview should be designed to help you explore themes in the students’ perceptions of themselves and their relationships with others (peers, family, teachers, etc.) and should link your findings to the existing literature.
We will use a consent form that includes your contact information, the reason you are doing the interviews, and explicitly state that there is no penalty for withdrawing from and no remuneration for participating in the interviews. This interview is not a research project, and you will not be allowed to publish your findings. Also, assure participants and their parents that no one besides you and your instructor will see the results (although you may share some of your findings with the class without using any identifying information), and that your notes will be destroyed. Parents may request to see your final paper. You will have to use your judgment on that, being sure to consider the students’ wishes as well as the contents of your interview analysis. If you wish to possibly publish a paper based on this assignment, we will need to file for an IRB approval.

Submission of a word-for-word transcription is not necessary. An integrated analytic paper, with the interview questions in an appendix, should be submitted .
For grading purposes, the analytic paper (about 5 pages double spaced 12 point Times New Roman with 1 inch margins) should include in the following order:
• (15%) Description of the student:
Give the reader some background on the student. How old is she/he? What is her/his gender? What are his/her interests? What brought him/her to your attention in the first place?
• (40%) Summarize your findings:
What themes emerged based on your conversation with the student? What issues are he/she concerned about? What does he/shefeel confident about? How does he/she feel about being gifted or talented in some area? What motivates or discourages her/him to excel? Use direct quotes from the students to support your findings.
• (40%) Personal reflection:
How did your findings agree or disagree with what we have been discussing and reading in class? What did you learn that surprised you? What did you learn that confirmed what you already knew?
• (5%) Appendices:
Include a list of your interview questions.

Assignment 3: Choice of Instructional Unit or Workshop
Option 1:  Instructional Unit
Develop a unit of 3-5 15-minute-lessons to address a specific area of need in the affective development of gifted students. This unit may be designed for use in a regular classroom setting OR in a resource room setting. (Potential topics: stress management, coping with perfectionism, understanding giftedness, leadership, gender issues, careers, etc.). A teacher or counselor should be able to take your unit and teach it. In other words, it must contain all of the material and sufficient details for someone to execute the unit without your assistance. The format of the unit may be original, however the units will be graded for specificity regarding:
• (15%) Overview and rationale for the unit:
Theoretical rationale explaining the need for this particular unit (what issue/s is/are being addressed) with the selected group (for whom, how many, in what setting; citations from text and articles required plus outside readings of choice
• (25%) Materials necessary for instruction:
Include all materials, e.g., song lyrics, explanation of film clips, excerpts from books used; worksheets; student assessment procedures /forms /activities to evaluate student progress and success of unit
• 20%) Goals, objectives, and anticipated outcomes of each lesson
• (40%) Detailed lesson plans with variety of activities and their instructions

Option 2: Workshop
Design a 30-minute workshop on a specific social/emotional issue(s) for a target audience (e.g., staff professional learning community, parent group, counselor in-service, support group for students.) This is intended to be a workshop or in-service session and it must include a mix of appropriate media and activities, such as film/video clips, music, hands-on activities, mini-lecture, visual aids (e.g., posters, charts, photos, overheads, PowerPoint), print resources (e.g., handouts, books, articles), etc. A simple PowerPoint presentation does NOT constitute a workshop; it is merely a visual aid for a workshop.
The workshop should include:
• (15%) Rationale for the presentation content and format
• (35%) Individual and group activities and at least one handout
• (30%) Formal presentation (mini-lecture, main points, “script”).
• (10%) Information on the logistics:
Include information on your intended audience (who, how many), how you would publicize the event, time and location, etc
• (10%) References and citations in APA format.

Assignment 4: Discussion of Readings
Each week students will bring to class possible discussion questions related to each article/chapter we read. We cannot discuss content unless you have read it, so please read the material prior to class. .

The exam will be open note…open book…open Web. It will cover the material we read and discussed in class. The purpose of the exam is to help you organize and reflect on the course content.

Statement on Differentiation:
This instructor recognizes that all students are different in terms of their readiness, interests, and learning preferences.  This syllabus provides the foundation for the course expectations, but flexibility and recognition of individual differences will be emphasized as key elements of the course and of its central topic.  Students who wish to pursue assignments in alternative formats or to pursue alternative assignments are encouraged to approach the instructor with proposed alternatives.  Students should also recognize that expectations regarding particular activities and assignments may change for groups or individual students based on their background and different needs and interests.

Submission of Work:
Assignments may be submitted in hard copy or electronic format. If alternative formats are to be used, students must pre-arrange with the instructor the format and method of submission. Assignments submitted electronically will be returned electronically.

It is expected that all work will be submitted on time (i.e., by class time on the date due).  If circumstances prevent the completion of an assignment by its due date, it is the student’s responsibility to approach the instructor in advance of the due date to discuss the situation and implications.

As appropriate, assignments that include reference to course readings and other literature should follow APA guidelines. All assignments should follow the University’s guidelines for ethical work.

Grading for the course will be based on the quality of assignments and participation in discussions and activities. Students will be encouraged to self-assess their work on projects throughout the semester.  Distribution of points will be as follows:

Assignments and Evaluation:


Due Date
1. Choice of movie or children’s book analysis


February 16

2. Student interview


March 16

3. Choice of instructional unit or workshop


April 27

4. Discussion questions


Each Week

5. Test


April 20

Final grades for the course will be determined based on a sum of the points across all assignments, with the following scale determining the grade:

94-100                   A
90-93                     A-
87-89                     B+
83-86                     B
79-82                     B-
76-78                     C+
72-75                     C
68-71                     C-

Preliminary Schedule:
The following outline is a list of topics to be covered in this course; however, the schedule should be viewed as flexible.  Group interests and needs may result in more or less time being devoted to a topic. Class members are expected to be present for each session and are expected to participate in discussions and activities. Each week we will discuss the book chapters listed below as well as two to four journal articles related to the weekly topic. Some weeks we will video conference with scholars on topics we have discussed in class.



Class 1
Read Chapter 2, 3, and 22
  • Course Overview
  • Introduction to gifted education and affective characteristics and issues related to social/emotional needs of the gifted
  • Talent development
Class 2
Read Chapter 4
  • Dabrowski’s Theory of Positive Disintegration & Overexcitabilities – Video Conference with a Scholar
Class 3
Read Chapter 36 and handout
  • Perfectionism – Video Conference with a Scholar
Class 4
Read Chapter 30 and handout
  • Underachievement – Video Conference with a Scholar
Class 5
Read Chapter 16 and 17
  • Multi-potentiality and Asynchronous Development
  • Children’s Book or Movie Assignment Due
Class 6
Read Chapter 8, 9, 13 and 18
  • Effects of Grouping (Big Fish Little Pond, Acceleration/Cooperative Learning)
  • Racial and Cultural Issues/Resiliency
Class 7
Read Chapter 15 and 35
  • Exceptionalities (LD/Asperger’s Syndrome/Autism/ADHD) – Video Conference with a Scholar
Class 8
  • No Class (work on interviews)
Class 9
Read Chapter 10, 19, and 20
  • Issues Related to Gender and Sexual Orientation – Video Conference with a Scholar
  • Student Interviews Due
Class 10
Read Chapter 37, 39, and 40
  • Bullying, Delinquency, and Suicide – – Video Conference with a Scholar
Class 11
Read Chapter 23, 24, and handout
  • Sibling Issues and Mentorships
Class 12
Read Chapter 28 and 31
  • College and Career Planning – Video Conference with a Scholar
  • Receive Take Home Exam
Class 13
Read Chapter 12, 14, and handout
  • Early Childhood – Video Conference with a Scholar
  • Extremely Advanced Students
  • Bibliotherapy/Videotherapy
  • (Reschedule–Interviews Due)
Class 14
  • Unit and Workshop Presentations

Key Standards Addressed:
The following key standards from the NCATE-CEC Standards for Teacher Preparation in Gifted Education are addressed in part within the context of this course:

Standard 2: Development and Characteristics of Learners

K1 Cognitive and affective characteristics of individuals with gifts and talents, including those from diverse backgrounds, in intellectual, academic, creative, leadership, and artistic domains.
K2 Characteristics and effects of culture and environment on the development of individuals with gifts and talents.
K3 Role of families and communities in supporting the development of individuals with gifts and talents.
K4 Advanced developmental milestones of individuals with gifts and talents from early childhood through adolescence.
K5 Similarities and differences within the group of individuals with gifts and talents as compared to the general population.


Standard 3: Individual Learning Differences

K2 Academic and affective characteristics and learning needs of individuals with gifts, talents, and disabilities.
K3 Idiosyncratic learning patterns of individuals with gifts and talents, including those from diverse backgrounds.


Standard 5: Learning Environments and Social Interactions

K2 Influence of social and emotional development on interpersonal relationships and learning of individuals with gifts and talents.
S1 Design learning opportunities for individuals with gifts and talents that promote self-awareness, positive peer relationships, intercultural experiences, and leadership.
S2 Create learning environments for individuals with gifts and talents that promote self-awareness, self-efficacy, leadership, and lifelong learning.
S3 Create safe learning environments for individuals with gifts and talents that encourage active participation in individual and group activities to enhance independence, interdependence, and positive peer relationships.
S5 Develop social interaction and coping skills in individuals with gifts and talents to address personal and social issues, including discrimination and stereotyping.


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. For additional information see http://www.dos.uconn.edu/student_code_appendixb.html
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. All students may contact the office by visiting the Wilbur Cross Building, Room 204, calling (860) 486-2020 or emailing csd@uconn.edu.
Snow Closing:
As this semester starts with the season of snowstorms and ice, we will not hold class if the University announces a snow closure that goes into effect at or before 5 p.m. If the university announces that it will be closing at 6 p.m., we will hold class from 4-6 p.m.
The decision about whether to initiate an early release, delay, closing, or to keep the university open in questionable weather is posted (http://news.uconn.edu/emergency_closings.php).
If the decision is made to keep the university open in questionable weather conditions (as opposed to obvious decisions like closing for a definite severe, lengthy storm or remaining open for a dusting), students should consider safety first in deciding whether to come to campus or not since road conditions vary widely across the region. Commuting students are given the opportunity to make up work missed under such circumstances.  Commuting students should contact their professors as soon as possible if they must miss a class or other activity due to treacherous conditions. The decision to keep the university open in questionable weather does not mean that it is safe for everyone to travel to campus from any location.  Students should evaluate their routes and exercise appropriate judgment when making a decision. Please put safety first.  For more information on the emergency closing, please visit: http://news.uconn.edu/emergency_closings.php
Absences for Student Activities:
Students will be allowed to complete work missed by absence resulting from extra-curricular/co–curricular activities performed in the interest of the university and/or those that support the scholarly development of the student.  Such accommodations are made in ways that do not dilute or preclude the requirements or learning outcomes for the course. Examples include participation in scholarly presentations, performing arts, and intercollegiate sports, when the participation is at the request of, or coordinated by, a University official. Students involved in such activities should inform the instructor in writing prior to the anticipated absence and take the initiative to make up missed work in a timely fashion.
Cell Phones and Texting:
As an educator, or future educator, you understand the importance of “engagement” for learning. You also understand how nonacademic tasks detract from engagement. Please be respectful of your other students and me and do not electronically text during class. If I notice that you are texting, I will ask you to turn off your cell phone. If this becomes a problem, I will ask you to drop the class.

Some of the ideas used for this course came from Dr. Catherine Little and Dr. Meredith Greene.