Article of the Year awards 2022: “Self-Evaluated Multiple Intelligences of Gifted Upper-Secondary-School Physics Students in Finland”

Nordic Mensa Fund awarded three article of the year- awards in 2022. Taina Makkonen was awarded for “Self-Evaluated Multiple Intelligences of Gifted Upper-Secondary-School Physics Students in Finland” published in Roeper Review.

The article examines the self-evaluated intelligence of gifted Finnish upper-secondary-school physics students, with the focus being on gender differences in students’ self-rated intelligence profiles.

Information about students’ self-evaluated intelligence is important, as self-perception of one’s abilities has been associated with achievement and effort in learning; to succeed, the students should learn to utilize their strengths and to compensate for their weaknesses. Also, teachers need to understand the abilities of their students in order to support the students to maximize their potential. Persisting in learning science and choosing a science-related career are not self-evident even among students with outstanding abilities. Additionally, a major gender difference has continued to prevail among students in their choice of educational field, with science-related fields being more popular among male students.

The data for this study were collected through an online questionnaire and analysed statistically. The results reveal that the students perceived their intelligence as highest in environmental, spiritual, and logical-mathematical areas and lowest in linguistic intelligence. Female and male students differed in their self-rated intelligence profiles. More specifically, male students with similar course grades as female students in physics, mathematics, and English perceived their intelligence as higher in logical-mathematical and spatial areas. In turn, female students rated their linguistic and environmental intelligence as higher. These findings give cause for concern about genuine gender equity in education in Finland. However, the students’ high scores for self-evaluated spiritual and environmental intelligence also have interesting implications with regard to physics teaching. Overall, the findings can be used to support teachers in improving the instruction of their high-ability students.

Lic. Phil. Taina Makkonen is a lecturer at the Viikki Teacher Training School of the University of Helsinki, Finland. She has more than 20 years of experience in teaching physics, predominantly among high-achieving upper secondary school students. She also supervises physics and chemistry student teachers during their teaching practice. Currently, she is working on her PhD at the Faculty of Educational Sciences at the University of Helsinki, focusing on questions related to talent development and science learning among gifted students. She has published her research on gifted and science education in international and national journals and books.