The article that is to be reviewed is “Identification of giftedness in culturally diverse groups” by Wilma Vialle in Gifted Education International, 1999, Vol 13, pp 250 -257.
In this article Vialle (1999) recognises the under representation of disadvantaged students in educationally gifted programs. Vialle identifies the disadvantaged students as being children from “…non-English-speaking backgrounds, indigenous children and economically disadvantaged children” (Vialle, 1999, p250). Vialle suggests the cause of this under representation of disadvantaged students lies in the linear model approach “..whereby a narrow set of identification procedures usually an IQ test is used to identify gifted students who are then placed in a program that may or may not be specifically designed to meet their intellectual strengths.” (Vialle, 1999, pp. 251-252). Vialles perceived resolution to neutralise these disadvantages occurring in the identification of giftedness is to use an identifying procedure that shifts from the more traditional approach of mainly IQ testing to a more diverse, multi-facet approach that supports the use of Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence’s Theory.
Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory opposes traditional methods that view intelligence as unitary, and perceive’s intelligence to contain seven distinct domains. These domains include and can be defined as follows:
Linguistic Intelligence is the ability to use language to excite, please, convince, stimulate or convey information;
Logical-mathematical Intelligence is the ability to explore patterns, categories, and relationships by manipulating objects or symbols, and to experiment in a controlled orderly way;
Spatial Intelligence is the ability to perceive and mentally manipulate a form or object, and to perceive and create tension, balance, and composition in a visual or spatial display;
Musical Intelligence is the ability to enjoy, perform, or compose a musical piece;
Bodily-kinesthetic intelligence is the ability to use fine and gross motor skills in sports, the performing arts, or arts and craft production;
Intrapersonal Intelligence is the ability to gain access to and understand one’s inner feelings, dreams, and ideas; and
Interpersonal Intelligence is the ability to get along and understand others. (Hatch ; Gardner, 1988, cited in Vialle 1999, pp.252-253).
Using these aspects for assessment criteria to identify giftedness in particular areas, instead of traditional measures is the key argument presented in this article. Several other authors have share the same view as Vialle when concerning disadvantaged students, but offer different assessment procedures again. In agreeing with Vialle, Bolig ; Day state that “Traditional intelligence tests…specify neither how, nor what, to teach to improve performance; they discriminate against minorities and individuals whose backgrounds are not middle and upper-middle class; they fail to address individual differences in motivation, personality, and/or social competence….and they only assess one dimension of an individual’s abilities, that of intellectual ability.”(Bolig ; Day, 1993, p. 110). Bolig ; Day then present their method to identify gifted students in a non-discriminating manner that consists of the concept of dynamic assessment. Dynamic assessment includes static measures of ability as well as dynamic measures that consist of “…tests of ongoing learning that measure how easily the child acquires new knowledge and skills. (Bolig & Day, p. 110). The idea presented seems underdeveloped when compared to that of Vialle as collecting portfolios of children work is done in many schools already, and the disadvantage has more potential to occur when compared to using Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence Theory.
Multiple Intelligence Theory in identifying giftedness contains enough scope to break some of the culturally diverse barriers sometimes experienced because of the three underlying principles of Gardner’s Theory that are pluralisation, contextualisation and distribution.”Pluralisation involves the recognition that intelligence is a complex, multi-faceted concept; contextualisation demands that intelligence be interpreted in the light of the milieu in which the individual functions; and finally, distribution involves the individual’s relationship with other resources and artefacts, particularly the ways in such resources are used to support or enhance intelligent behaviour”. (Gardner, 1994, cited in Vialle, 1999, p. 253). In using a multi-facet assessment procedure students from diverse backgrounds are able to show an array of skills in different areas of intelligence, and be recognised as containing such attributes, that were not traditionally thought about as being intelligence until recently. There are still many differing opinions about intelligence and there are limitations recognised in both models, traditional and contemporary. Berk (1997) in discussing Gardner’s Theory acknowledges the importance and connotations for the field of Intelligence recognition, but also raises some limitations and states that “..neurological support for the independence of his intelligence’s is weak….and that logical-mathematical ability, in particular seems to be governed by many brain regions, not just one. (Berk, 1997, p307). Berk (1997) also recognises that some current mental tests assess some of the main intelligence’s identified by Gardner .
Vialle in presenting Multiple Intelligence Theory realises and develops class room based activities and assessment practices that relate to the different intelligence types identified by Gardner. In presenting these activities and procedures Vialle is displaying her competence and usefulness of the suggested approach. Multiple Intelligence theory has several important implications for the class room as it caters and provides for a large diversity and actually takes into consideration cultural background. This can be seen in his definition of intelligence, in that “..intelligence refers to the human ability to solve problems or to make something that is valued in one or more cultures”. (Checkley, September 1997, The First Seven …and the Eighth online). The importance is seen in what is deemed culturally important, and it needs to be recognised that what is deemed as important in one culture might not be given the same significance in another, therefore confusion can sometimes occur in determining what is and is not important.
It can be concluded from Vialle, that there is a significant underrepresentation of disadvantaged students in gifted programs throughout Australia and the United States. Vialle attributes this to the traditional
procedures used in determining intelligence among students and the amount of biases contained by these tests towards the disadvantaged students. IN presenting Gardner’s Multiple Intelligence theory Vialle constructs and appropriate argument about the method that should be used to determine intelligence and supports this with relevant, real world class room activities and assessment procedures. These procedures allow intelligence to be recognised as more than just cognitive competence and focus on real world skills that are used in everyday situations and contain little cultural biases. This article develops valuable insights into the relevance, implementation and assessment of diverse intelligence and states that “..talent identification can occur as a consequence of providing an engaging, varied and challenging environment in which students’ potentials are given the opportunity to emerge.” (Vialle, 1999, p. 253).
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