A group of gifted WUR students is working on a project to make the university more ‘giftedstudent friendly’.
Logo of the Giftedness-project. © WUR
Being gifted is about more than having a high IQ, says Food Technology student Liselore Marcuse (23). ‘It’s a combination of different aspects, with intelligence as just one of them. It can manifest itself in different ways, for example mental agility, complexity and richness. But there is often also a particular sensitivity to the outside world. So it’s a misconception to say gifted people are all Einsteins. There are gradations too: someone with an IQ of 160 will be different to someone with an IQ of 130.
Fear of failure
Marcuse is involved in the ‘Giftedness’ project along with four other gifted students. ‘It might sound weird but there is actually a large group of gifted students who get stuck or run up against problems,’ explains Marcuse. ‘They struggle with a fear of failure, concentration problems or loneliness, for example. Others are afraid of success: they don’t want their grades to be too high because they want to be normal. So being gifted has an effect on students’ welfare and their results. If you’re gifted, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll get top grades every time.’ Lecturers also don’t always know how to deal with gifted students, says student counsellor Ruur Boersma, who is involved in the ‘Giftedness’ project too. ‘That can be tricky when supervising a thesis, for instance. One lecturer emailed the rector to ask whether the university was already doing anything for gifted students. That prompted us to start this project. Because I had been looking at the gifted issue as a student counsellor for a few years now, I took the initiative to ask some students to work on this project.’
Safe meeting place
The project group has asked gifted students what problems they face and how the university could help them. A survey is also underway to find out what questions lecturers have. Marcuse: We also plan to organize events such as lectures and talks on giftedness, including for students who have never had an IQ test but recognize themselves in the description. The first will be in January.’ An online platform will also be set up in MS Teams where gifted students can talk to one another and ask questions. ‘A kind of safe meeting place,’ says Marcuse.
Boersma: ‘Gifted students can help one another. But they need to be able to find one another first. And it’s good for lecturers to know how to recognize a gifted student and how best to deal with them. I ran a workshop on this in July but it would be nice if this could become part of the training programme for thesis supervision. Lecturers need to know that gifted people take a slightly different approach to things.’