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Are gifted children getting lost in the shuffle? 30-year study reveals clues to the exceptional child’s journey

Posted January 8, 2014
Are gifted children getting lost in the shuffle? 30-year study reveals clues to the exceptional child's journey
David Lubinski. Credit: Vanderbilt University
Gifted children are likely to be the next generation’s innovators and leaders—yet the exceptionally smart are often invisible in the classroom, lacking the curricula, teacher input and external motivation to reach full potential.

This conclusion comes as the result of the largest scientific study of the profoundly gifted to date, a 30-year study conducted by researchers at Vanderbilt University’s Peabody College of education and human development.

David Lubinski, professor of psychology and human development at Peabody, led the study, which tracked 300 gifted children from age 13 until age 38, logging their accomplishments in academia, business, culture, health care, science and technology. The results were recently published in a paper titled “Who Rises to the Top? Early Indicators,” in Psychological Science.

“Gifted children are a precious human-capital resource,” said Lubinski, who has spent four decades studying talented individuals to correlate exceptional early SAT scores with achievement later in life. “This population represents future creators of modern culture and leaders in business, health care, law, the professoriate and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics). Our study provides new insight into the potential of these children.”

Peabody collaborators on the study were Camilla P. Benbow, Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development; and Harrison Kell, visiting postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology and Human Development.

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