Whitworth University Center for Gifted Education

Quick Look

  • M.A. and Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement
  • Only university in Washington with a degree in gifted education
  • Complete your specialty endorsement in one year
  • Online and on-campus options
  • Courses and institutes for professional development
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Degree & Professional Development Programs

  • Master of Arts in Teaching, Emphasis in Gifted and Talented

    Whitworth’s innovative master’s degree program is designed to train educators to meet the particular academic and social-emotional needs of the gifted learner while empowering all students to be successful. Candidates study research-based instruction techniques, explore current trends, and develop curriculum to meet the unique and accelerated learning needs of gifted and talented students. Educators will gain a deep understanding of current teaching theory and will help students to develop the skills to translate this knowledge into a classroom setting that engages both the highly capable learner and mainstream students.

    This program was created with working educators like you in mind. Enjoy the benefits of a respected university with the freedom of online classes, or, if you prefer, choose a combination of online and on-campus classes that allow you to interact with your instructors and fellow classmates face-to-face. You decide what will work best for you.

    Required Core Education Courses: 13 credits (available online or on campus)

    Course Number Course Title Credits
    EDU 501 Advanced Educational Psychology (spring online, summer online) 3
    EDU 502 Curriculum Development (summer on campus, fall online) 3
    EDU 515 Educational Research (spring on campus and online, summer on campus) 4
    EDU 550 Core: Milestones in Education (fall on campus and online, spring on campus) 3

    Required Gifted and Talented Courses: 14 credits (available online or on campus)

    Course Number Course Title Credits
    EDG 551 Nature and Needs of the Gifted Learner (spring online) 3
    EDG 552
    EDG 571
    Teaching for Independence and Responsibility (summer on campus)
    Teaching the Underachiever
    EDG 553 Creativity and Analytical Thinking (fall online, even years) 3
    EDG 554 Strategies and Instructional Models for Challenging Bright Students (spring online) 3
    EDG 581
    EDG 596
    Practicum: Gifted and Talented
    Graduate Research Project (if appropriate)

    Electives: 6-7 credits (available online or on campus)

    A limit of seven semester credits of approved Whitworth Gifted & Talented professional development classes may be applied to the degree. Your advisor will assist you in selection of electives to meet your educational goals. All electives must be approved by the assistant director of Graduate Studies in Education.

  • Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement

    Gifted students, an often-overlooked group in student populations, need a particular type of instruction to thrive in school and in society. This specialty endorsement emphasizes curricular and instructional needs of students and focuses on strategies for identifying and reaching exceptional students in both mixed-ability and self-contained classrooms.

    The specialty endorsement is available online, or you may speak with an advisor to discuss on-campus options. Earn your specialty endorsement in just one year.

    Course Number Course Title Credits
    EDG 528/OL New Directions in Gifted Education 1
    EDG 551/OL Nature and Needs of the Gifted Learner 3
    EDG 554/OL Strategies & Instructional Models for Challenging Bright Students 3
    EDG 508/OL Differentiating Instruction for Highly Capable Students 1
    EDG 581/G Field Study (complete in you district location or arrange with the supervisor) 1
    Electives Credits relating to gifted education from at least two sources (classes, conferences, etc.) 2 credits minimum
    Portfolio Final assessment to demonstrate evidence of knowledge & skills to meet Washington state standards and competencies  
  • Professional Development and Institutes

    Whether you are looking to add to your teaching toolkit or working on an endorsement and/or master’s degree, Whitworth offers courses and institutes for professional development to help you meet your goals.

    For more information, please contact the Whitworth Center for Gifted Education at 509.777.3226 or gifted@whitworth.edu.

    Upcoming Gifted Education Institutes

    Planning for and Measuring Growth in Highly Capable Students


    Documenting student growth can be a challenge in any classroom setting. But how can you tell if a student has grown if they’re already achieving above grade level? The focus of this two-day institute will address what can be done to assess and document student growth in advanced learners and what curricular options are possible for adapting their curriculum to ensure continuous learning. Join us to explore different techniques for assessing student growth and strategies for creating effective differentiated curriculum for advanced students.

    Dates: November 20-21, 2014
    Time: 9 a.m. - 3:30 p.m.
    Location: Richland Public Library, 955 Northgate Dr., Richland WA 99352
    Cost: $225 per person or $500 for a group of three.

    How to Register
    Register online at www.whitworth.edu/GiftedInstituteRegistration. If you have any questions about the registration process, please contact the Center for Gifted Education at 509.777.3226 or spage@whitworth.edu.


    Day 1




    9 - 9:15 a.m.

    Welcome and Announcements


    9:15 - 10:30 a.m.

    “The Challenge: Documenting the Academic Growth of Advanced Level Students” – Dr. E. Jean Gubbins


    11:30 - 12:30 p.m.



    12:30 - 3:15 p.m.

    “The Challenge: Documenting the Academic Growth of Advanced Level Students” – Dr. E. Jean Gubbins (continued)


    3:15 - 3:30 p.m.

    Closing Questions and Comments




    Day 2




    9 - 9:15 a.m.

    Welcome and Announcements


    9:15 - 10:30 a.m.

    “Elements of High Quality Curriculum for Highly Capable Students” – Dr. Nancy Hertzog, Dr. Jann  Leppien and Dr. Kathryn Picanco


    11:30 - 12:30 p.m.



    12:30 - 3:15 p.m.

    Breakout Sessions (choose one)

    K-2 Curricular Options and Strategies – Dr. Nancy Hertzog
    3-5 Curricular Options and Strategies – Dr. Kathryn Picanco
    6-12 Curricular Options and Strategies – Dr. Jann Leppien


    3:15 - 3:30 p.m.

    Closing Questions and Comments

    Session Topic Descriptions

    “The Challenge: Documenting the Academic Growth of Advanced-Level Students”
    – Dr. E. Jean Gubbins

    As educators, we adopt, adapt, and create assessment tools that measure students’ progress to determine what they know. However, typical tools may not uncover what advanced-level students need to learn, based on current knowledge and understanding. The focus of this professional development opportunity is to determine learning outcomes expected of advanced-level students; share challenges in obtaining accurate information on changes in student learning growth profiles; discuss the applicability of pre-assessments, and formative and summative assessments; and explore how a system could be created to monitor student progress.

    Participants are encouraged to bring samples of informal or formal assessment tools (e.g., rating scales; observation measures; performance ratings; rubrics) they currently use to prompt dialog about what works for tracking student learning growth profiles and what needs improvement. All of your input and perspectives will help us meet the challenge of documenting the academic growth of advanced-level students.

     “Elements of High Quality Curriculum for Highly Capable Students”
    – Dr. Nancy Hertzog, Dr. Jann  Leppien and Dr. Kathryn Picanco

    Challenging advanced students requires high quality curriculum and artful instruction that focuses on meeting the diverse needs of often time asynchronous learners.  In these sessions, the presenters will focus on choosing appropriate curriculum and implementing the pedagogical strategies that enhance students’ opportunities to engage in critical and creative thinking and accelerated learning.  In addition to examining criteria for effective curriculum, participants will have opportunities to learn how to implement three critical instructional strategies that optimally challenge gifted students: (1) providing student choice, (2) designing concept-based curriculum, and (3) engaging in inquiry-based learning. Breakout sessions will be provided to address these targeted grade levels: 

    • Dr. Nancy Hertzog- Grades K-2
    • Dr. Kathryn Picanco- Grades 3-5
    • Dr. Jann Leppien- Grades 6-12

    Additional Information

    • Check in for the Institute will begin at 8:30 each day.
    • All sessions will include time for districts to work together implementing the presented material. We recommend you bring a laptop computer or tablet. Free wireless will be provided.
    • There is no dress code for this institute; however, we recommend that you dress in layers to maintain your comfort.

    Payment Information and Cancelation/Refund Policy: Payments with credit cards can be made via the online registration form.  We also accept checks and purchase orders.  Please email purchase orders to spage@whitworth.edu or mail them to:

    Whitworth University
    Center for Gifted Education
    300 W. Hawthorne Rd.
    Spokane, WA 99251

    All monies will be refunded if paid registrations are cancelled by 4:00 p.m. PST on November 10, 2014.
    Requests for refunds received after these dates will be issued on a case-by-case basis. 

    Contact Sharon Page, Program Coordinator for the Center for Gifted Education, at spage@whitworth.edu or 509.777.3226 to cancel your registration and request a refund.

    Academic Credit/ Clock Hours: You may elect to receive one graduate-level credit from Whitworth University for an additional fee of $85. This can be used as an elective requirement for the state recognized Gifted Education Specialty Endorsement. One graduate-level semester credit equals 15 clock hours. Registration for credit and payments will occur during the Institute.

    Clock hours will be available for an additional fee.

    Meals: Light snacks and coffee will be provided. Lunch is not included.

    Travel: For a list of local accommodations near the Richland Public Library click here.

    Presenter Biographies

    Dr. E. Jean Gubbins

    Jean GubbinsDr. E. Jean Gubbins is Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut. Through grant funding from the United States Department of Education for The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented (NRC/GT), Dr. Gubbins implemented research studies focusing on the curricular strategies and practices in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) high schools, reading and mathematics education in elementary schools, professional development, and gifted education pedagogy for all students. Dr. Gubbins’ expertise in program evaluation has allowed her to conduct over 40 program evaluations for school districts around the country and implement literacy and arts-integrated evaluations for non-profit organizations. Her research, evaluation, and teaching interests stem from prior experiences as a classroom teacher, teacher of gifted and talented students, evaluation consultant, and professional developer. She teaches graduate courses in gifted education and talent development related to identification, programming, curriculum development, and program evaluation. Articles in Roeper Review, Journal of Advanced Academics, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, and Gifted Child Quarterly, and book chapters in Fundamentals of Gifted Education: Considering Multiple Perspectives and Critical Issues in Gifted Education and Designing Services and Programs for High Ability Learners, as well as an i-Book entitled Status of STEM High Schools and Implications for Practice illustrate her range of special topics within the field of gifted and talented education.

    Dr. Nancy Hertzog

    Nancy HertzogDr. Hertzog is Professor in the area of Educational Psychology at the University of Washington and the Director of the Halbert and Nancy Robinson Center for Young Scholars. Dr. Hertzog, has an extensive background in gifted education and expertise on curriculum development. She has written two books on early childhood gifted education and has published in the Journal of Curriculum Studies, Gifted Child Quarterly, Journal for the Education of the Gifted, Roeper Review, Teaching Exceptional Children, Early Childhood Research and Practice, and Young Exceptional Children. Her current research focuses on the ways in which teachers enhance their ability to differentiate instruction by participating in Collaborative Inquiry Groups.

    Dr. Jann Leppien
    Jann Leppien

    Dr. Leppien is an associate professor at Whitworth University in Spokane, Washington. She is the recipient of the Margo Long Chair in Gifted Education, an endowed chair funded by James P. and Wanda Cowles. Whitworth's Center for Gifted Education supports and develops policies and practices that encourage and respond to the diverse expressions of gifts and talents in children and youth from all cultures, racial and ethnic backgrounds, and socioeconomic groups. To this end, the center supports and engages in translational research, staff development, advocacy, and communication and collaboration with other organizations and agencies that strive to improve the quality of education for all students. Dr. Leppien has an extensive background in curriculum design and services for advanced students. She is the co-author of The Multiple Menu Model: A Practical Guide for Developing Differentiated Curriculum, and The Parallel Curriculum: A Design to Develop High Potential and Challenge High-Ability Students, and several other books on curriculum design for advanced level students.

    Dr. Kathryn Picanco

    Kathryn PicancoDr. Picanco is the director of the Whitworth Center for Gifted Education & Professional Development. She is an experienced classroom teacher, district coordinator, consultant and instructor in the areas of differentiation and gifted education. A Spokane native, Picanco earned her B.A. from Santa Clara University, and her M.Ed. in elementary education and Ed.D. in curriculum and instruction from Washington State University. She taught fourth and fifth grade prior to becoming the district differentiation specialist and gifted and talented education coordinator for the Saratoga Union School District, in Saratoga, Calif. Picanco regularly taught coursework in the field of gifted education at the University of Santa Cruz Extension and at Santa Clara University before moving back to the Spokane area and joining the faculty of Whitworth University. Picanco teaches the New Directions in Gifted Education, Strategies and Models for Challenging Bright Students, Differentiating Instruction for Highly Capable Students, and Exceptional Learners and Differentiated Instruction courses.