Natalya Zakharova

Natalya Zakharova

Moscow State Pedagogical University

Research supervisor: Prof. Popova L.V.

My ongoing project is concerned with how gifted university students find their way in university life and what outcomes they bring into adulthood. While working on the project I discovered that the theory of cultural development goes far beyond the period of childhood and had provided a solid ground for research almost in every sphere of Russian and foreign psychology. A wide range of studies are grounded on the assumption that a person acquires knowledge and skills through interacting with cultural environment, assistance of More Knowledgeable Others and timely and reasonable support within the Zone of Proximal Development. L.S.Vygotsky assumed that social environment and high abilities are in complex and ambiguous relations; on the one hand culture-based development has a tendency to eliminate some distinct features of natural giftedness, but on the other it results in a wider range and variety of developmental trajectories. As to ZPD, it is still a useful concept which helps to identify child giftedness by testing whether a child can master the task and strive for solving problems independently or can only reproduce the given (though sometimes very complex) patterns of behaviour. But if scaffolding is effective for small gifted children, this method is unlikely to work with university students as their self-regulatory and self-development skills are high enough not to seek for attentive guidance in studies. On the other hand their need in mentors as More Knowledgeable Others in a new social setting is higher than in average-ability students as their vulnerable and impressive nature doesn’t easily adjust to the new demands of their teachers, new relations with their peers and new social role in general. It helped me to come to the conclusion that it is essential to organise psychological support for the gifted in universities. The theoretical basis for the studies in this field is well-grounded in L.S.Vygotsky’s theory, providing social perspective as well as subsequent theories by A.R. Luria, A.N. Leontyev, V.V.Davydov, V.D.Shadrikov, etc.

My intention is to acquire a broader view on how L.S.Vygotsky’s ideas are interpreted, applied and put into practice by the young scientists who participate in ISCAR summer university. The very idea of ISCAR Summer University is of great interest for me in my research, as I’m looking for projects for the gifted youth in Russia. My participation can give me an exuberance of examples of what the education for the gifted may (or must) be like. I expect this experience to be challenging in terms of intellectual work and emotional atmosphere. The great diversity of subjects will broaden my horizons, encourage me to enrich my research with new, unexpected, bold ideas, and contribute to my scientific self-concept.

Presentation “Self-concept of gifted university students as a basis for high achievements and self-actualisation”

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