Conceptual Foundations


Openness to Experience and Overexcitability: Perspectives on Two Windows to Gifted Personality

Saturday, November 11
9:15 AM - 10:15 AM
Location: 213 BC

Interest has increased in a possible overlap between Dabrowski’s notion of Overexcitability and Openness to Experience as described by McCrea's Five Factor Model of personality. Questions have emerged as to whether these two constructs are essentially the same or whether each holds unique value. After a brief introduction to the major tenets of each theory, experts who have written about these topics with different interpretations discuss the issues involved in discerning the most likely relationship between Openness and Overexcitability, including theory, measurement, and research methodology, along with the separate—or combined—implications the theories hold for gifted education.

Shelagh Gallagher

Engaged Education

Dr. Shelagh A. Gallagher works with teachers and schools around the world to promote appropriate education for gifted children. She currently runs Engaged Education, a consulting firm for gifted education in Charlotte, NC. Under that umbrella she provides professional development, participated in policy forums, writes curriculum, and recruits teachers for the Diligence and Delight Learning Center in China. Earlier in her career, Dr. Gallagher spent 15 years leading the gifted education licensure and M.Ed. programs at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte. Before that Dr. Gallagher served as Director of Research and Assessment at the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy. Shelagh is best known for her work developing Problem-Based Learning curriculum for gifted students, however, she has also conducted research, made presentations, and published articles on topics related to the development and education of gifted children. Shelagh served two terms on the Board of Directors of the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) and is currently a US delegate to the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children. She has received the Distinguished Service Award and the James J. Gallagher Award for Advocacy from the North Carolina Association for Gifted and Talented, the Provost’s Award for Teaching Excellence from UNC Charlotte, and the Article of the Year Award from NAGC. Eight of Dr. Gallagher’s curriculum units have won the NAGC Curriculum Division Award for Outstanding Curriculum. She recently received the “Person of SIGnificance” award from the National Society for Gifted and Talented. Every summer Dr. Gallagher makes time to work to work with gifted adolescents as a Fellow at the IEA award-winning camp Yunasa.


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Barbara Kerr

Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology
University of Kansas

Barbara A. Kerr, Ph.D. is the Williamson Family Distinguished Professor of Counseling Psychology at the University of Kansas. Her experience as a Post-Sputnik gifted kid led to a lifelong career in research into the development of talent and creativity. She founded laboratories for counseling gifted and creative students at four universities, including many research projects in gender equity for the National Science Foundation. Currently, she directs the Counseling Laboratory for the Exploration of Optimal States(CLEOS), where creative students learn to navigate the invisible pathways to creative careers, and is co-director of the Lawrence Creates Makerspace, where artists and technologists innovate together. She is the author of Smart Girls in the Twenty-First Century with Robyn McKay; Smart Girls, Gifted Women; The Encyclopedia of Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent; Major Works in Gifted and Talented Education; co-author with Sanford Cohn of Smart Boys; and has authored over a hundred other scholarly works in the her area. She is an American Psychological Association Fellow, and was named one of the twenty-five most influential psychologists in the study of giftedness by APA.


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Openness to Experience and Overexcitability: Perspectives on Two Windows to Gifted Personality

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