During the last quarter century, educational psychologists have completed and compiled the findings of more than 8,000 studies on how educational productivity factors during the first two or three decades of life influence academic learning. More efficient educational productivity in academic and related learning may allow more time to develop childhood and adolescent giftedness and adult eminence. The productivity factors that enhance academic learning, moreover, also appear to develop exceptional talent, since learning is a fundamental ingredient of notable human accomplishments. The theory of educational productivity based on meta-analysis of the outcomes of many studies (Walberg, 1984a, 1990; Walberg, Fraser, & Welch, 1986), coupled with the theory of human capital (Walberg & Stariha, 1992), emphasizes the importance of broad learning through the primary agencies of families, teachers, peer groups, mass media, and the efficient use of human time.
This chapter reviews corroborative findings as well as current primary research. It suggests that alterations in the productivity factors have proven beneficial for ordinary and extraordinary human achievement. It makes clear that the amount of time invested by parents, educators, coaches, and learners themselves multiplies the effects of educational and environmental factors to increase academic learning, talent development, and adult eminence.
Accordingly, to better realize human potential, efficient procedures are required. Efficiency streamlines the acquisition of basic skills and cultural literacy so that general education can be accomplished in less time and earlier in the life span. The time savings can result in greater supplies of time for the pursuit of general all-roundedness or specialized exceptionality. It is therefore reasonable, as Redmond, Mumford, and Teach (1993) found, that with this time saving, the resultant additional time could be spent planning and re-planning a project that would result in increased productivity and higher creativity. Piirto (1994) cites Simonton's (l988a, 1988b) concurrence that the early production of work by eminent creators results in impressive cumulative rates of output. Such time use allows for greater accomplishments, including transformation and novel application of existing knowledge (Walberg & Herbig, 1991; Walberg & Stariha, 1992; Walberg & Tsai, 1984). In the 1970s a select group of mathematically and scientifically precocious children were identified and guided by psychologist Julian Stanley of Johns Hopkins. The pace of their math and science education was accelerated, and they later enrolled in college at an early age. Preliminary results of a twenty-year follow-up of the Study for Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY) cohort I (those identified in the early 1970s) indicate that most of the participants have been successful. Many achieved advanced degrees and others rose to outstanding careers at an early age (Hendricks, 2000).
Research synthesis suggest that nine factors, when controlled for each other and other factors, consistently and strongly influence academic learning (Walberg, 1984a). These factors are the main direct influences on cognitive, affective, and behavioral learning in childhood and adolescence.
No single factor, however, accounts for great accomplishments. It is the combination and interaction of these factors, taken together, that appear to do so. High ability and large quantities of instructional time, for example, may have little effect on unmotivated students, on students whose home environment may discount the importance of school, or on those receiving poor-quality instruction.
Poor-quality instruction may be a result of non-identification. When high ability students are not provided appropriate enrichment, not only will their potential be under-capitalized, but they also may react with disruptive or nonproductive behaviors (Gallagher, 1994).
School, Home, and Peer GroupConstructive relations between parents and teachers are required for optimum performance (Bennett, 1987). The goals for intellectual development of the child, then, must be shared among these chief agents of education if instruction is to be maximally productive. One of the factors in thirty-eight schools recognized for consistent and significant gains in student achievement was that the administrators extended themselves to involve parents in the school and in their child's learning (Wolk, 2001). World-class test scores in culture-free subjects such as mathematics and science in Japan can be explained in part by this communality of interest. It has been observed, for example, that Asian families sometimes purchase not one, but two textbooks for their children. The second textbook is for the mother to help her child be successful in school. Such dedication has huge effects on children's learning.
The first five of the above nine factors were included in the educational models of Bloom, Bruner, Carroll, and Glaser (see Walberg, 1984b). Syntheses of research, however, suggest that social/psychological factors, both inside and outside the school, significantly influence valued outcomes.
Factor 6, the curriculum of the home, refers to such activity as informed parent-child conversation and communication about everyday observations and events. These may include discussions or critical analysis of school-related discoveries, leisure reading, television programs, and friends. Among such serious efforts, as Walberg and Herbig (1991) point out, are the no less important expressions of affect and relatedness: happiness, laughter, caprice, and serenity.
Television's impact on academic skills depends not only on the amount of television watched, but also on the type of program and the age of the child (Reinking & Wu, 1990). Estimates suggest that American adolescents watch television around twenty-eight hours per week. After ten hours per week, however, television has deleterious influences on learning. The eighteen "excessive" hours per week might better be reallocated to other pursuits such as homework, leisure reading, projects, hobbies, and talent development.
Noncognitive OutcomesMuch research on productivity factors focused on cognitive outcomes. Still, these are hardly all of what educators and parents want from schooling. Raven's (1981) summary of surveys in Western countries, including England and the United States, suggests that attitudinal, social, and emotional goals are more important to educators, parents, and students than academic ones. Given a choice, Raven reports, all three groups rank cooperation, self-reliance, constructive attitudes, lifelong learning incentives, and critical thinking as more important than specific academic achievement reflected in school grades or standardized test scores. At the same time, no one has shown that cognitive mastery interferes with the less measurable outcomes of schooling; presumably the mastery of school subjects enhances self-concept, "learning to learn" skills, and the basic knowledge required for beginner's status in most academic and non-academic fields.
In a related noncognitive area, a recent study that compared the social status of highly gifted and moderately gifted students across academic and social settings found that level of giftedness does not playa major role in social status (Norman, Ramsay, Roberts, & Martray, 2000). This finding supports prior studies, which found that, in general, gifted students are no more or less adjusted than other students; rather, factors unrelated to giftedness often contribute to adjustment problems (Richardson & Benbow, 1990; Cornell, 1990).
Raven's findings and those of Norman et al. may underscore the value of active participation, interaction, and human relationships for learning in the home, the classroom, and friendship circles. These not only influence learning directly, but also indirectly influence ability and motivation, which, in turn, influence responsiveness to instruction (Walberg & Stariha, 1992). The dynamic and interactive qualities of our model of educational productivity suggest, then, that motivation and ability to learn will increase if we provide a great deal of exceptional instruction - with the support of the home, the active participation and cooperation of students in the classroom within a peer culture and popular culture that do not actively promote anti-intellectual values.
"Matthew Effects"Research on the productivity model suggests that early educational advantages multiply (as the Matthew's Gospel story of the rich getting richer or what sociologists call "cumulative advantage"). In modern times, Merton (1968), in portraying distinguished scientific careers, described how the initial advantages of university study, work with eminent scientists, early publication, job placement, and citation combine multiplicatively to confer tastes, skills, habits, rewards, and further opportunities that cumulate to produce highly skewed productivity in scientific work. That is, relatively few scientists account for much of publications, citations, and discoveries. Similar processes and advantages appear to explain the precocity and accomplishments of talented children and adolescents who accumulate multiplicative advantages through the educational productivity factors. Still, unless they can maintain optimal conditions with respect to most of the factors, they may not reach and maintain world-class status (see Walberg & Tsai, 1984).
Motivation and Productivity
Although Herbert Simon's (1954) motivational theory pertains to foreign language learning, it appears to generalize and parsimoniously explain much of human learning and exceptional performance. Simon noted that in choosing frequent practice (that is, amount of self-instruction time), we eventually experience the learning activity as easier; with ease comes an increase in the pleasure of the activity; with an increase in pleasure comes greater desire for further learning. Knowledge of results, whether self-recognized or pointed out by others, enhances such motivation.
Sustained, concentrated effort over time appears to be one of the necessary factors of distinguished accomplishment. Catharine Cox (1926), who analyzed over 300 biographical accounts, found that eminent adults were characterized, in part, by persistence, intellectual energy, and unusual ambition-which all indicate motivation. Block (1971) also found impressive endurance of aspiration levels in his analysis of the Berkeley Growth Studies, a fifty-year longitudinal project. Kagan and Moss (1962) found that gifted children placed a high value on intellectual and cognitive activities, which also endured over time. Thus, accomplishment in adolescence and adult life may be attributable in part to sustained motivation and habits of perseverance acquired early in life.
Creativity, Activity, and Accomplishment
During the 1960s, creativity came to be misconstrued as an instant phenomenon. True enough, an apparently sudden insight may be a part of artistic and scientific discoveries. But insight is hardly sufficient by itself. Its coming to consciousness requires intense preparation, and most insights require vast testing and planning before they come to fruition. Therefore, though discovery may occur in an instant, distinguished accomplishment usually requires decades of preparation in the special field (Getzels & Csikszentmihalyi, 1976; Walberg & Herbig, 1991), For example, an entry in the journal of the great mathematician Karl Gauss reveals the progress of his discovery: "Finally, two days ago, I succeeded .... Like a sudden flash of lightning, the riddle happened to be solved. I myself cannot say what was the conducting thread which connected what I previously knew with what made my success possible" (Getzels & Jackson, 1962, p. 84). But for years Gauss had been working on a proof for this theorem, before everything came together at a single moment in time. Similarly, the great English scientist Isaac Newton believed that his record of discoveries was achieved "by always thinking about them."
A Knowledge BaseAmabile (1996) posits the following components in his theory of creativity: (I) domain-relevant skills or existing knowledge, (2) task motivation, and (3) creativity-relevant skills. Embedded in Amabile's creativity-relevant skills is the concept of exploring new pathways.
Of sixteen programs of research on creativity (Tardif & Sternberg, 1988), eleven cited the individual’s use of existing knowledge for novel ideas as the most frequently observed cognitive characteristic of creativity. The necessity of the familiar component in creative discovery is supported by a large-scale review of psychological studies of eminent painters, writers, musicians, philosophers, religious leaders, and scientists, both past and present, as well as by prize-winning adolescents of today (Walberg, 1969). All reveal early, intense concentration and interest in previous work in their fields (Bloom, 1985).
Simon (1981) estimated that 70 hours of concentrated, prodigious work per week for ten years is required for expert mastery of a special field today. Recent evidence, even in the study of so-called idiot savants, suggests that social withdrawal leaves them enormous amounts of time to think about the fields in which they show brilliance (Howe & Smith, 1988). Showing, for example, that perfect pitch is a learned ability, Howe and Smith's work suggests that no person has ever managed to create outstanding accomplishments without undergoing a lengthy period of intense and careful preparation.
Although eminent creators sometimes produce inferior work, the amount of work produced generally varies directly with the quality of work produced (Albert, 1978; Barron, 1961; Simonton, 1984). It is interesting to note how extremely productive some highly creative people are. Bach composed an average of twenty pages of finished music per day; Picasso produced over 20,000 paintings, sculptures, and drawings; Poincare published 500 papers and 30 books; Edison held 1093 patents; Freud had 300 publications, and Einstein 248 (Simonton, 1984). Only enduring motivation and perseverance can account for such prodigious production of outstanding works (Simonton, 1987; Ochse, 1990).
Knowledge, Experience, and NoveltyAcquisition of knowledge alone cannot completely account for eminent accomplishment. Creativity is something more than mere mastery (Walberg & Herbig, 1991). The growth of human capital and cultural progress requires more than mere transmission of knowledge and its embodiment in people; creativity refers ultimately to new knowledge, techniques, and applications that promote human welfare (Walberg, 1988).
In the search to identify the acquisition of this new knowledge, another definition of intelligence has evolved, While cognition refers to having skills, metacognition refers to awareness of and conscious control over those skills (Stewart & Tei, 1983). Metacognition has been defined as achieving a deep comprehension that synthesizes the knowledge of literal facts with creative thinking, It is a well-developed understanding and strategic use of one's own cognitive processes; knowing when and how to use one's thinking skills to understand and solve problems. Researchers have suggested that not only is there a link between metacognition and creativity (Boyce, VanTassel-Baska, Burruss, Sher, & Johnson, 1997; Feldhusen & Goh, 1995; Jausovec, 1994), but Davidson and Sternberg (1998) describe how metacognitive processes also contribute to problem solving, which can then lead to a "Eureka" moment.
Morgan (1953) reviewed a large number of definitions of creativity and demonstrated that the single most common element was novelty. Subsequently, Finke, Ward, and Smith (1992) identified two different kinds of processes leading to novelty: (1) generating novel cognitive structures via retrieving, associating, synthesizing, transforming, and constructing analogies; and (2) exploring the creative implications of new structures, that is, attribute finding, interpreting, and inferring. The first process produces novelty, and the second makes novelty effective, thereby leading to creativity. According to Csikszentmihalyi (1996) and Grudin (1990), social recognition and ethics are required for novelty to become creativity. Still, novelty or creativity has been accorded more mystery and inspiration than it probably deserves, and a parsimonious account deriving from the natural sciences may well serve as a working explanation and guide to practice.
In the theory of evolution, Darwin showed that new species evolve by trial and error; Skinner similarly showed that differential rewards or "positive reinforcements" determine what randomly emitted behavior is reinforced; and subsequent research on humans showed that given powerful enough needs and reinforcers, human behavior can also be strongly influenced, if not determined (Lea, 1978). Similarly, Campbell (1960) cogently argued that trial and error suffices to explain creative thought as well as other mental processes.
Campbell held that processes of blind variation and selective retention are "fundamental to all inductive achievements, to all genuine increases in knowledge, to all increases in fit of system to environment" (p. 380). For this reason, three conditions for creativity are necessary: a mechanism for introducing variation, a consistent selection process, and a mechanism for preserving and reproducing the selected variations" (p. 381). Campbell cites many illustrative examples of such creative trial and error in autobiographical works by such mathematicians and scientists as Mach, Poincare and Hadamard, as well as works by psychologists such as Thurstone, Tolman, Hull, Miller and Dollard, and Mowrer.
The significance of the models of both Campbell and Simon lies in their parsimony and applicability to real-world problems and solutions. Notable in their work are the limitations and trade-offs in time, memory, and retrieval that constrain learning and thought.
Having a large fund of knowledge and experience confers advantages in discovering novel solutions, but such funds are hardly preconditions. Even novices can think of novel and workable ideas, particularly if they are encouraged to do so. Teachers and parents who understand and point out the possibilities of discovering and applying ideas may show novel applications of familiar ideas and experience-a good service, especially for exceptional students. In a national sample of high school students, those winning competitive awards in the arts and in science chose creativity over wealth and power as the most valued development in life (Walberg, 1969).
Many of the ideas expressed here derive from our studies of eminent people (see Walberg & Stariha, 1992). Even though concerned about tomorrow's achievement, educators, psychologists, and others should also think about what they are doing today that may affect students' adult accomplishments. For more than two decades, we have been researching the early lives of people who achieved eminence in such fields as the visual arts, music, politics, and science. In our initial research, we studied the biographies of Leonardo da Vinci, Abraham Lincoln, Isaac Newton, and others (nearly all men). We and their biographers rated each person on the educative conditions of their families and schools that promoted their accomplishments.
It is the parents who, as the first adults to become aware of their child's talent, provide supplementary, meaningful activities (Walberg & Stariha, 1992), as well as support and guidance. As children, the eminent men showed intellectual competence and motivation, social and communication skills, general psychological wholesomeness, and both versatility and persevering concentration. Most were stimulated by cultural stimuli and materials related to their field of eminence and by teachers, parents, and other adults. Although most had clear parental expectations for their conduct, they also had the opportunity to explore on their own.
Large percentages of the sample were exposed to stimulating family, educational, and cultural conditions during childhood. Only slightly more than half were encouraged by parents, but a solid majority were encouraged by teachers and other adults and were exposed to many adults at an early age. Significantly more than half, 60%, were exposed to eminent persons during childhood.
About 80 percent were successful in school; the majority liked it; and less than a quarter had school problems. Seventy percent had clear parental expectations for their conduct; but nearly 90% were allowed to explore their environments on their own, obviously a delicate, important balance in child rearing and teaching.
Psychologists who have employed case studies and other methods to discover the conditions of creativity suggest similar traits and conditions. In addition, national surveys of accomplished adolescents who have won competitive awards for achievements in the arts and sciences suggested similar trends. Still, prior psychological studies concentrated on males, and the surveys employed the criterion of promising adolescent accomplishment rather than actual adult eminence.
For these reasons, we made content analyses of biographies of 256 eminent women of this century. They include skater Sonja Henie, actress Ethel Barrymore, singer Mahalia Jackson, athlete Babe Didrikson Zaharias, business woman Helena Rubinstein, blind and deaf leader Helen Keller, poet Marianne Moore, painter Grandma Moses, reformer Margaret Sanger, educator and civil rights leader Mary McLeod Bethune, scientist Rachel Carson, suffragist Jeannette Rankin, and political leader Eleanor Roosevelt.
We wanted to depict childhood character and conditions of eminent women. One goal was to help identify and encourage distinguished accomplishments in others. We recognize, nonetheless, at least three problems: the shortcomings of biography, biases in our own ratings, and the possibility that the present may require different patterns of traits and conditions than did the past. Thus, our findings can be taken only as hints for the present and should be compared with other research and personal experience.
Childhood Traits What was the most common psychological trait of eminent women shown during childhood? It was the same as that shown by eminent American and European men of previous centuries-intelligence. More than 50 percent of the women showed high intelligence in their early years. Equally for women as for men, the other top ranking traits were perseverance and work hard, especially in music and the visual arts.
Shared by more than three in ten girls, especially political activists and college administrators, was success in school. Seven in ten women, nonetheless, Were not particularly successful academically. Many contemporary studies show little relation of academic grades to adult success for people with a given amount of education.
Parental and Other Social Influence Because they can be altered, environmental influences are of practical interest. From about one-third to one-half of the women were taught directly or strongly encouraged by their fathers, mothers, or other adults. Seven in ten had clear parental expectations for their conduct, yet nearly one-fourth were allowed to explore on their own, and 32 percent learned much outside school.
Forty-six percent came from financially advantaged families, although more than half came from culturally advantaged families, More than one-third were extensively exposed to cultural materials and stimulation (not necessarily in their later fields of accomplishment). Roughly one-fifth of the sample (not necessarily overlapping groups) were exposed to one or more of the following advantages:
The rarest environmental condition was cultural emphasis on immediate gratification. Only I percent of the women grew up under this condition.
SUMMARY AND CONCLUSIONS
Research synthesis of over 8,000 studies suggests that the interaction of nine educational productivity factors is beneficial for realizing human potential. In addition, the critical element of time allows for reflection on knowledge, techniques, and applications that can lead to creativity or novelty. The amount of time invested by parents, educators, and other accomplished adults, as well as the efficient use of time invested in accelerated learning, are catalysts that can contribute to high accomplishment.
Our analyses of talented adolescents and the biographies of eminent men and women indicate that accomplished adults and young people in many fields share common traits. They are intelligent, hard-working, persistent, and follow through on activities, despite difficulties. Many are inquisitive and original enough to question conventions. Most of these traits were acquired early in life.
The accomplished adolescents and adults benefited from encouragement, stimulation, and direct teaching provided by their parents, teachers, and other adults. Many lived in social environments receptive to varied ideas and cultures. Many were tutored and given special recognition for their early accomplishments.
It is the convergence of ability and motivational traits, the interaction of the educational productivity factors, the efficient use of time, and supportive environmental factors that promote human potential and accomplishment.
However, the common traits of accomplished people-intelligence, perseverance, and stimulating social environments-are hardly guarantees of adult success. Combinations of other traits and conditions undoubtedly play influential roles at various stages of childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Luck and the vicissitudes of opportunity also play their parts. Nonetheless, the findings strongly suggest that parents, educators, and others should think carefully about how to encourage constructive psychological traits, and how to design stimulating conditions that are likely to enable boys and girls to fulfill their potential.
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