The identification of gifted students with spatial strengths: An exploratory study

Date of Completion

January 2005


Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Special




Gifted students with spatial strengths are often overlooked and underserved in American schools. These students have areas of remarkable talent but often have verbal learning difficulties that prevent them from being identified for gifted services as traditional assessments emphasize verbal and quantitative skills, not nonverbal expertise. The dwindling number of American students pursuing higher level degrees in mathematics and science, natural strength areas for students with spatial skills, emphasizes the reasons educators need to identify and encourage these students at an early age. ^ This exploratory correlational research investigated the practicality and effectiveness of identification tools intended to locate elementary children with spatial strengths. My Thinking Style (MTS), a self-report survey instrument, was developed for this research. The results of the survey, determined through one-on-one interviews with fourth grade students, were compared to performance on the Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test (NNAT ) and the block design subtest of the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children-Fourth Edition (WISC-IV). ^ Performance on a measure of nonverbal ability, the NNAT, was not related to visual-spatial ability as measured by the block design subtest of the WISC-IV Performance on the block design subtest was statistically significantly related to learning style preference as indicated on MTS. There was not a significant relationship between the MTS and the NNAT. The block design subtest of the WISC-IV has been shown to identify students with spatial strengths. The Naglieri Nonverbal Ability Test may not be effective in identifying children with spatial strengths, while the self-report instrument, My Thinking Style has potential to do so. The block design must be administered individually to students by a licensed professional, while MTS has the potential for quick and simple administration by any educator. ^