Childhood: Clinical and School Psychology – Lecture 5 (UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM)

The WISC-IQ test measures the following:

  • It measures how well somebody can learn.
  • It measures what somebody knows.
  • It measures what somebody can do.
  • It assesses what a person’s strong skills are.
  • It assesses what a person’s weak skills are.

The focus of an IQ test is on school-based skills (e.g. language; math; understanding; spatial skills; planning; problem-solving; logical skills) and it also measures acquired knowledge and skills. This means that an IQ test does not only measure potential but also current intelligence. It is important to assess whether deficits are the results of lack of opportunities (i.e. deprivation) or limitations in capacity.

There is not a perfect relationship between school performance and IQ as school performance may be lower than somebody’s IQ due to socio-emotional circumstances (e.g. being bullied) or other issues making school performance more problematic (e.g. dyslexia).

An IQ score is not a school advice in the Netherlands. The schools give an advice and CITO scores and IQ scores could change this advice. The traditional view of giftedness holds that a child with an IQ of 130 is gifted. The current view of giftedness holds that there needs to be high ability but not necessarily an IQ score of 130 or higher. Somebody is not only gifted if somebody has potential but also if this person shows gifted behaviour.

According to Renzulli, giftedness does not depend on a single criterion (e.g. IQ) but refers to the interaction between three clusters of traits;

  1. Above-average general abilities (e.g. IQ).
  2. High levels of task commitment (e.g. perseverance).
  3. High levels of creativity.

This definition is applicable to any valuable area of performance (e.g. music; arts) and not just academics. People who are gifted score above average on each of the clusters but not necessarily in the superior range. Whether somebody is gifted depends on the needs and values of a culture.

Persistence in the accomplishment of ends (1), integration toward goals (2), self-confidence (3) and freedom from inferiority feelings (4) are personality factors that predict achievement among individuals with high intellect.

While intelligence on IQ test is relatively stable it does not say anything about development. Giftedness focuses on exceptional behaviour. Gifted children need educational opportunities that are normally not provided in regular instruction. However, this may be needed for all children but the outcomes differ depending on talent.

According to Gardner, there are multiple intelligences. This includes the following:

  • Linguistic intelligence.
  • Logical-mathematical intelligence.
  • Spatial intelligence.
  • Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence.
  • Musical intelligence.
  • Interpersonal intelligence.
  • Intrapersonal intelligence.
  • Naturalist intelligence.

According to this view, giftedness includes a biopsychological potential to process information. This can be activated by the appropriate cultural setting (e.g. teachers should present lessons through a variety of methods, such as music).

Sternberg’s augmented theory of successful intelligence states that intelligence is more complex than a general ‘gfactor. Successful intelligence refers to one’s ability to set and accomplish personally meaningful goals in one’s life given the cultural context. This requires figuring out strengths and weaknesses and capitalizing on the strengths and compensating for the weaknesses. He identified four strengths and weaknesses:

  1. Creative
    This refers to generating novel and useful ideas.
  2. Analytical
    This refers to the ability to ascertain that an idea is a good one.
  3. Practical
    This refers to the ability to apply these ideas and convince others of their value.
  4. Wise
    This refers to the ability to ensure that implementation of the ideas will help ensure a common good through the mediation of positive ethical principles.

According to Sternberg, different mental processes are needed for these strengths and weaknesses:

  1. Meta-components (i.e. higher-order executive processes)
    This includes planning (1), monitoring (2) and evaluating courses of thinking and action (3) (e.g. recognizing the existence of a problem; define the problem).
  2. Performance components
    This includes problem analysis and implementing the instructions of the meta-components (e.g. inferring relations and applying relations).
  3. Knowledge-acquisition components
    This includes learning how to solve problems (e.g. selective encoding) and selective comparison (e.g. what prior information stored in memory is relevant).

In the Munich Model of giftedness, giftedness refers to a multi-factorized ability construct within a network of non-cognitive (e.g. motivation; interests) and social moderators which are related to the giftedness factors (i.e. predictors) and the exceptional performance areas (i.e. criterion variables).

In other words, several factors (e.g. intellectual abilities; social competence) influence talent factors. These are predictors of performance (e.g. academic achievement). The talent factors and performance are both influences by environmental conditions (e.g. family climate; quality of instruction) and non-cognitive personality characteristics (e.g. test anxiety; learning strategies).

In the universal model of giftedness (UMG), the non-cognitive personality characteristics include motivational factors (1), coping factors (e.g. learning strategies (2) and a self-concept factor (e.g. control expectations) (3). This model holds that motivation strongly influences performance. The motivational factors can be positive (e.g. curiosity) or negative (e.g. test anxiety). The environmental factors include a creative environment (1), social climate (2), pedagogical style (3) and critical events (4).

A positive self-concept is important and this requires a safe environment and good coping strategies. The self-concept influences self-efficacy. The quality of the social climate is essential for good functioning. Social support (1), educational level of the people in the climate (2), communication style(3) and clarity of roles (4) influence the social climate.

Task commitment refers to a focused form of motivation. The conflict triangle holds that every desire is accompanied by anxiety, leading to the necessity of defence or coping. Fear and anxiety are counter-motivational.

The Meerfactorenmodel (i.e. multiple factor model) states that personal factors (i.e. high capacities; motivation; creativity) and environmental factors (i.e. school; family; friends) are essential. The interaction between these factors determines the effect of capacities on behaviour. The Munich model has a greater focus on realizing potential and on the interaction between factors compared to Sternberg.

Talent development consists of talent identification and talent promotion. Abilities associated with a specific domain or talent are malleable and need to be cultivated. The domains have different developmental trajectories. This means that the begin, peak and end differ (e.g. athletics; academics). The community needs to provide opportunities at every stage in the talent-development process and the individual needs to take advantage of these opportunities. Psychosocial variables are determining factors in the successful development of giftedness (i.e. talent).

The mega-model of talent development states that talent development goes from potential to achievement to eminence. The transition across stages is mainly a function of developed psychosocial skills. Chance plays an important role in providing opportunities for talent development and successful individuals learn how to prepare themselves to capitalize on chances (e.g. making opportune connections; an action unique to the individual).

There are several myths about gifted students:

  • Gifted students will make it on their own.
  • Gifted programmes exist to advantage only a segment of society.

Ability (1), creativity (2), motivation (3), personality (4), emotional trauma (5), parents (6), interest (7), passion (8), opportunity (9), chance (10) and culture (11) are important factors for giftedness.

Little-c creativity refers to creative accomplishments within a set environment (e.g. a classroom). It is creativity exhibited in narrower social contexts. Big-C creativity refers to ground-breaking innovations and new products. This is creativity exhibited in a broad social context. Creative producers are people who generate new knowledge and significantly alter a field with their work.

Little-m motivation refers to the motivation involved in smaller achievement-related tasks and decisions (e.g. what course to take). These decisions accumulate over time and make eminent levels of achievement possible. Big-M motivation refers to compelling drives rooted in early experiences and underlying overarching goals (e.g. desire for fame).

People with high opportunity and low motivation are children who are talented but tend to underachieve and shy away from demanding educational opportunities. People with low opportunity and undetermined motivation may develop motivation as a result of opportunity. People with low opportunity and high motivation are at risk of not fully developing their talents. People with high opportunity and high motivation have the greatest likelihood of eminence.

According to all models, giftedness includes different types of talent and focused on the upper-end of the talent domain. Multidimensional models differentiate between capacity and performance. Different factors are included, such as personal and environmental factors which influence gifted performance (i.e. bio-ecological model). The relationship between these factors is dynamic (i.e. transactional models). More skills than only cognitive skills are needed (e.g. practical skills; social skills; creativity). Talent develops from potential to achievement to eminence.

Following these models, giftedness is related to a high IQ yet whether this talent is expressed in exceptional behaviour depends on other factors (e.g. motivation) and on environmental condition provided by peers, parents and schools. This means that a general ability is necessary but not sufficient. Cognitive and psychosocial variables are malleable and need to be cultivated. All children need to be challenged. Effort and opportunity are important at every stage of talent development.

Achievement tests are objective measures of school skills but are not sufficient to assess giftedness. Intelligence test results may be influenced by test anxiety (1), motivation (2) and a lack of focus (3). A multidimensional approach should be adopted as both functional development (e.g. IQ) and social development (e.g. motivation) need to be taken into account. Comorbidity (e.g. Asperger’s syndrome; ADHD) may mask giftedness.

Teachers have to make children enthusiastic to develop talent. Different domains have different ages as to when a child needs to start when a child peaks and when talent ends (e.g. sports; science). There are six student profiles:

  1. Independent student
    This is the ideal student and the school results match one’s capacities. There are good social skills, no real need for validation, sets personal targets and there is a growth mindset.
  2. Successful student
    This student has good school results but there is room for improvement. This child is perfectionistic, needs affirmation of the teacher, tries not to stand out in the group ad has a fixed mindset.
  3. Dodging student
    This student denies being gifted and avoids a challenge. This child wants to belong to the group.
  4. Provocative student
    This student corrects teachers (1), has poor inhibition (2), is critical about rules (3), is competitive (4), is honest (5) and is direct (6).
  5. Student with learning and behavioural problems
    This student underachieves in comparison to the age norm and disrupts class.
  6. Drop-out
    This student skips classes (1), does not complete tasks (2), looks for challenges outside of school (3), shows disruptive behaviour in class (4) and underachieves in comparison to the age norm (5).

Giftedness must be developed and sustained by training in domain-specific skills. The acquisition of psychological and social skills is important. There are several strategies to develop these skills:

  1. Acceleration
    This refers to faster learning (e.g. skip a class) and this strategy is only effective for gifted students.
  2. Precondition
    This refers to making the teaching materials more compact rather than having repetition.
  3. Enrichment
    This refers to extending and supplementing the regular curriculum to have more in-depth knowledge and broaden the knowledge base. It is not clear whether this is effective and whether it is only effective for gifted students.
  4. Psychosocial coaching
    This refers to preparing people for and supporting them through key transitions.
  5. Selective institution
    This refers to having a selective institution for gifted people which provides the students with a unique challenge and provides regular opportunities for public demonstrations of skills.

It is important to focus on strategies when the topics become challenging. However, gifted students may also need help for things they are less good at (e.g. basic arithmetic). In the school programme, it is possible to leave the regular group occasionally (e.g. ‘Plusklas’). A possible drawback of this is distance from regular class and less positive contact with peers. This may lead to the need for social-emotional coaching. Another drawback is that in a special class for gifted students, the child is not the best anymore and this may lead to a perception of challenge or stress.

When creating a giftedness programme, it is important to not base selection on IQ scores (1), look at school achievement (2), make sure all children can join (3), look for underachievers (4), observe behaviour (5), use interviews (6), talk to parents (7) and use brain teasers (8).

Intelligence is relative to the age group and this holds for giftedness and mental disability. When it comes to low academic functioning, the number of hours of education are more important than cognitive defects.

Mental disability refers to a person with an IQ below approximately 70 and deficits in adaptive functioning. The prevalence is 1% to 3% with more males than females being diagnosed with ID. Mild intellectual delays may not be detected until formal schooling begins and comorbidity is common. The diagnosis of ADHD is only made if the symptoms of inattention are excessive for the child’s mental age and not for the child’s chronological age.

The presenting features of ID depend on the severity (1), personality (2) and behavioural characteristics (3). Self-injurious behaviour (1), aggression (2), stereotypical movements (3), communication problems (4) and overactivity (5) predict more serious problems. Environmental factors during prenatal development can cause birth defects (e.g. foetal alcohol syndrome).

There are three important factors:

  • IQ cut-off scores.
  • Deficits in adaptive functioning.
  • Age of onset (i.e. before 18).

To diagnose a person with ID, it is important to have somebody’s developmental and medical history. Information regarding when a child achieved developmental milestones is important and individual assessment of intellectual and adaptive functioning is necessary.

According to the AAIDD, the degree and nature of support required are central. There can be intermittent, limited, extensive or pervasive support. According to the DSM-5, mental disability regards the three factors and there are specifiers for severity levels (i.e. mild; moderate; severe; profound). According to the educational system (IDEA), a person is eligible for special education if there is a developmental delay.

A global developmental delay refers to a diagnosis that indicates that a child is not meeting developmental expectations in some areas of intellectual development. This is only given to children under the age of five and is a temporary category. A developmental delay refers to a delay of 35% or more in a developmental area or a delay of 25% of more in two developmental areas (i.e. cognitive; motor; speech; language; social; emotional development; adaptive functioning).

There are three criteria to be diagnosed with borderline mental disability:

  1. An IQ between 50 and 85 (i.e. this determines severity)
  2. Serious deficits in adaptive behaviour in at least two domains (e.g. communication; self-care; social/relational skills). This could include deficits in social cognition (e.g. pragmatics; theory of mind) and problems with conceptual/communicative skills (e.g. executive functioning).
  3. Additional problems in social surroundings (e.g. learning problems; psychiatric disorders).

Aggression is more common in MBID due to poorer social skills. Adaptive social behaviour depends on social information processing (SIP). This refers to the way social information is encoded (1), behaviour of others is interpreted (2), own emotions are regulated (3) and responses to the problem situation are generated, selected and enacted (4). Cognitive limitations may explain differences in SIP and selective attention (1), working memory (2) and inhibition (3) may be the most important skills for SIP. People with MBID are at risk for inadequate interpretation of others’ intentions and have inadequate SIP due to their problems with recognizing emotions.

Working memory and emotion recognition skills predict the encoding and interpretation of emotional cues. Inhibition predicts hostile intent attributions. Emotion recognition predicts the size of the repertoire of generated responses and interpretation skills predict the number of aggressive and submissive responses.

There are typically more general developmental delays with a lower IQ. With a higher IQ, there may be more severe deficits in social adaptive skills to still receive the diagnosis. Mainstreaming refers to integrating children with intellectual disabilities as much as possible in regular classes. To do this, it is important to take into account the strength-weakness profile in instruction and match this with the individual. A focused approach could minimize risk of frustration (1), behavioural problems (2), learned helplessness (3), a negative self-concept (4) and anxiety for failing (5).

There are several factors that are important for training with children with BID:

  • Number of hours of education (i.e. in the case of low academic functioning).
  • Interaction child and training (i.e. connect material to existing knowledge).
  • Provide feedback about the results.
  • Make aims of the training explicit to increase motivation.
  • Adjust the training to educational needs.
  • Have intensive and individualized instruction.
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