Asynchronous Development

Asynchrony is the term used to describe the mismatch between cognitive, emotional, and physical development of gifted individuals. 1 Gifted children often have significant variations within themselves and develop unevenly across skill levels. For example, a gifted child may be excellent in math, but poor in reading--or vice versa. Often, intellectual skills are quite advanced, but fine motor or social skills are lagging. Experts do not completely agree, but because asynchrony is so prominent in gifted children, some professionals believe asynchronous development rather than potential or ability, is the defining characteristic of giftedness. 2

A definition of giftedness that captures the essence of this uneven development was developed by the Columbus Group in 1991:

Giftedness is asynchronous development in which advanced cognitive abilities and heightened intensity combine to create inner experiences and awareness that are qualitatively different from the norm. This asynchrony increases with higher intellectual capacity. The uniqueness of the gifted renders them particularly vulnerable and requires modifications in parenting, teaching, and counseling in order for them to develop optimally.

Read More:

Research on Asynchronous Development- The Davidson Institute

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Learning and Leading with Habits of Mind

Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Attributes that human beings display when they behave intelligently are referred to Habits of Mind. They are the characteristics of what intelligent people do when they are confronted with problems, the resolutions to which are not immediately apparent. For more information:

Developing Scholarly Habits

Developing Depth and Complexity through Icons

Questioning With Depth and Complexity Across Grade Levels and Content Areas

Students can develop a deeper understanding of the curriculum via discussions and activities that require them to engage in high level questioning. Question stems based on the elements of depth and complexity as defined in Sandra Kaplan’s model can be used by the teacher or by the student to explore or further enhance student learning.

Questions may also be used as a “hook” to introduce the lesson or as a way to culminate the learning at the end of the lesson. (See sample questions below):

Gr. Levels 6-8


Patterns: What elements are repeated in all of these quadrilaterals: rhombus, parallelogram, trapezoid, rectangle?


Language of the Discipline: What terms would a chemist use to describe the Periodic Table of Elements?

Social Studies/History:

Details: What features characterize the Boston Tea Party?

Additional sample high-level, differentiated questions can be viewed in the link provided below.

Language Arts:

Trends: What events in the story contributed to the main character’s major conflict at the end of the story?

Additional sample high-level, differentiated questions can be viewed in the link provided below.