Co-cognitive factors and socially constructive giftedness: Distribution, abundance, and relevance among high school students

Date of Completion

January 2003


Psychology, Social|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Secondary




Literature from various fields of research and biographical sketches of eminent individuals suggests that the key to socially constructive success as an adult may in large part lie beyond the relatively simple idea of intellectual capability. A set of six factors—Optimism, Courage, Romance with a Topic/Discipline, Sensitivity to Human Concerns, Mental/Physical Energy, and Vision/Sense of Destiny—related to cognitive development but not measurable by traditional cognitive tests were explored for the first time among students. Collectively, these factors are referred to as “co-cognitive factors” because of their interdependence with cognitive development, and they appear to be integral to considerations of social capital because of their close association with life satisfaction, disposition, personality, and well-being. ^ A quantitative study with a correlational descriptive design was conducted using two forms of the Co-Cognitive Factors Scale (Co-CFS) and an associated survey with a convenient sample of high school juniors and seniors from 11 states. Data from this study were used to establish additional information regarding the content validity of the Co-CFS. Multivariate analyses, including MANOVA, MANCOVA, and canonical correlation, were conducted to examine the factors as a set with regard to motivation, happiness, student grade point average (GPA), and involvement in extracurricular activities (particularly those associated with community- or service-oriented work). ^ Interaction involving GPA, optimism, Vision/Sense of Destiny, and motivation were identified. Results suggested inverse relationships that require additional research. Scale score means and alpha reliabilities were higher when students were thinking about topics or subjects of interest to them. Community-oriented extracurricular involvement, utilized as a proxy for social capital, was a significant contributor to the prediction of students' levels of Courage, Romance with a Topic/Discipline, and Sensitivity to Human Concerns. ^ This study provided a first look at the distribution, relevance, and abundance of the co-cognitive factors among a high school student sample. Results from this first empirical study pertaining to co-cognitive factors support additional research on co-cognitive factors, which appear may be significant contributors to student success, personal satisfaction, and development of social capital. ^