Date of Completion


Embargo Period



gifted education, giftedness, conceptions, teachers, parents, gifted teachers, gifted coordinators

Major Advisor

Del Siegle

Associate Advisor

E. Jean Gubbins

Associate Advisor

Catherine A. Little

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


In the world of gifted education, educators must first find students who qualify for gifted services. Various stakeholders in public elementary education often nominate students for gifted identification and ultimately gifted programs. It is important to determine if stakeholders’ conceptions of giftedness are the same or different, as conceptions influence actions. There is substantial research on teachers’ conceptions of giftedness but limited research on parents’ conceptions of giftedness. The purpose of this study was to explore stakeholders’ conceptions of giftedness and answer the research question: How do stakeholder groups describe giftedness? Participants included parents of elementary gifted students (n = 217), general education K-5 teachers (n= 213), gifted teachers (n= 87), and gifted coordinators (n= 36) from 3 states and 23 schools that mandated gifted identification and programming. Gifted stakeholder groups described giftedness as differences from same age peers in four subthemes: (a) advanced capacity to learn and reason, (b) high-level performance, (c) the need for challenge, and (d) unique personality characteristics and behaviors. Stakeholder groups all described giftedness as differences from same age peers; however, the frequency of each subtheme varied. Parents emphasized a need for challenge beyond the typical age-based learning environment. General education teachers emphasized high performance. Gifted teachers and coordinators emphasized district and state criteria for gifted identification, stressing ability test scores and potential.