Talent search and development: A long-range study of participants in Mary Hunter Wolf's Center for Theater Techniques in Education

Date of Completion

January 2000


Education, Tests and Measurements|Education, Educational Psychology|Education, Special




The underrepresentation of minority students in programs for the gifted and their overrepresentation in special education programs has been well documented. Definitions of giftedness and identification procedures are frequently cited barriers to identification and placement of culturally diverse students in programs for the gifted. Research efforts are directed toward developing alternative assessment techniques for identification of minority students for placement in gifted education programs. ^ The Center for Theater Techniques in Education, under the guidance of Mary Hunter Wolf, founder and President, began offering a talent identification and development program for gifted, urban minority students. Middle school students identified by their non-verbal intellectual ability and their creative abilities are selected to participate in the Talent Search and Development Program (TSDP), a unique theater tech/integrated arts program. The goal of the program is to identify and nurture each student's talent in the arts or academic areas. ^ This qualitative study of past participants explored the factors related to the recognition and development of talent in each participant. Also examined were the components of the program affecting continuing education and career choices, and the ability of each participant to relate to his/her cultural heritage as well as the broader world. Qualitative data collected from participants and program personnel and documents revealed the educational interventions, personal traits, and the support systems necessary to help guide the participants toward their eventual career choices. ^ Qualitative data indicated that the absence of consistent support systems (families, gifted program opportunities, peer groups, and counseling opportunities) prevented some of the participants from moving forward with talent development opportunities, higher education, and career choices. The greater the inconsistency of support systems, the less possibility existed for developmental paths to be sustained. For some participants, clear goals, and visions for the future were never developed. Adequate consistency of support systems, enabled other participants to continue the developmental progress they began in TSDP, and move forward with higher education and career planning providing the beginning to a fulfilling life in the broader world. ^