Presentation on theme: "WHO is the Gifted Underachiever?"— Presentation transcript:
1 WHO is the Gifted Underachiever? Professor Karen B. RogersCollege of Applied Professional StudiesUniversity of St. ThomasMinneapolis, Minnesota
2 StephanieStephanie is a Year 5 student whose evaluation comments read like a list of missed opportunities. “Stephanie is bright, but seems insecure about her ability to do well; her perfectionism prevents her from pursuing new topics or projects.” In class, Stephanie seldom causes trouble; in fact, you hardly know she’s there. She pursues work with caution, and when her teacher hands her an assignment, she immediately thinks it is too hard for her to do. Often she is her own worst enemy. When she does well on a project, she attributes it to “being lucky” and when she does not do well, she internalizes her failure and calls herself “dumb”. She would like to do better in school but claims she cannot. She insists she is not as smart as everyone says and she can prove it by showing you all her low marks and poor papers. To the casual observer, she is a nice, quiet girl who just lacks self-confidence. To the careful observer, she is a sad girl who seems to have little hope of ever being anything more than she is right now: self-critical, deprecating, and unable to chart her own social or academic course.
3 MarkMark is a student most teachers hear about before they ever meet him. His reputation precedes him because he is the source of constant staffroom banter: “You’ve got to approach him just so, or else he will walk all over you; he’s a smart kid, and he knows it --that’s his biggest problem.” On some days he is the most animated discussant in a review of current world events. On other days,, he just sits there, completing seatwork when he feels like it and turning in homework when the mood strikes him. Mark dislikes “busy work” and the teachers who assign it. He succeeds on projects that pique his interest, often concentrating solely on them to the exclusion of other tasks. This makes it difficult for teachers to assign grades. They know Mark understands the concepts taught but if he refuses to turn in all the required work, how can they possibly reward him with high grades? Getting good grades is not one of his personal goals. He is into learning but often does not see school as the place where that can occur. To the casual observer, Mark rebels for the sake of rebelling. To the careful observer, he knows what he knows and doesn’t want to keep proving it.
4 Four Major Researchers on Underachievement Sylvia Rimm, The Underachievement Syndrome: Causes and CuresBarbara Clark, Growing Up GiftedDiane Heacox, Up From UnderachievementJames Delisle, When Gifted Kids Don’t Have All the Answers
5 Rimm’s Underachievement “Syndrome” Identified 13 different forms of underachievement represented as fictional characters.Their underachievement has been “shaped” by their home, school climate, unrewarding curriculum, and personal flaws: Manipulative Mary, Taunted Terrence, Depressed Donna, Passive Paul, Jock Jack, Academic Alice, Torn Tommy, Rebellious Rebecca, Dramatic Dick, Hyperactive Harry, Perfectionist Pearl, Adopted Annie, and Creative Chris
6 Rimm’s Syndrome (2)All underachievers, whether dependent or dominant in their behaviour exhibit:ForgetfulnessDisorganisationCarelessness and superficiality on tasksNon-academic interestsManipulation of relations with parents and teachersLoneliness and social withdrawal
7 Rimm’s Syndrome (3) Home origins of underachievement: The over welcome childEarly illnessBirth order (later, not first)Marital discordConflicting parenting stylesKind mom/ogre dadWonderful dad/ogre momDummy dadMousy mom
8 Rimm’s Syndrome (4) A trifocal approach can “cure” the syndrome Child is monitored by home and school so that tasks are noted and completed, assignments turned in. System of behaviour modification is used to re-shape the behavioursParent must carry out what school requires child to do, ensuring schedule, space, and monitoring of child’s work outside of school. Daily/weekly reports are provided for the school. Parents are counselled when discord or conflicts are presentSchool develops plan for child and parents to follow, notes when the plan has been followed and reinforces achieving behaviours when observed in the child
9 Clark’s Underachievement Characteristics There are 16 characteristics or behaviors that gifted underachievers exhibit to at least some degree, some of which are personal-related and some of which are school-related. Just knowing these behaviors are there is the first step to overcoming the responses (and choices) the underachiever makes.
10 Clark’s Characteristics SchoolLack of discipline in tasks, high distractibilityDon’t see connection between effort and achievement outcomesFew strong hobbies or interestsResistant to influence from teachers, parentsPersonalLow self-concept, negative self-evaluationSocial immaturity, unpopular with peersChoose companions who do not like schoolFeelings of rejection, helplessness, feeling victimized
11 Clark’s Characteristics (2) PersonalHostile toward adult authority figuresLow aspirations for future, career, less persistent and assertiveExternalization of conflicts, problemsSchoolWithdraw in classroom situationsLack of study skills,Weak academic motivationLeave schoolwork incomplete, nap during study timesPerform well on synthesis tasks but not on tasks requiring precise, analytic processing
12 Heacox’s Up From Underachievement Gifted AchieverPride in own work and effortResilience when things go wrongPractice risk takingSelf-disciplinedGoal-oriented --set out plan for own work and follow throughGifted UnderachieverPoor academic self-concept, poor organisationExternal locus of controlPerfectionism, so unlikely to take risksIndependent --insist on doing only what they want to doDiscrepancy between oral and written work
13 Heacox Strategies Single-sided interests Identify “acceptable minimums for tasksPick up pace of instructionIdentify “have to have” skills and focus on theseHelp child focus on their single-sided interests
14 Heacox Strategies (2) Claims of boredom Develop diagnostic- prescriptive instructionCompact the regular curriculumUse continuous progress for learningFast paced content presentationsSubject accelerationFind “cause” of boredom
15 Heacox Strategies (3) Perfectionism Teach strategies for when to quit, how to match effort to tasks, setting goals, focusing on successes not failures, and separating self-concept from productsRole model mistake making
16 Heacox Strategies (4) Peer Pressure to Underachieve Selectively encourage certain friendshipsTake interest in child’s friendsEncourage extra- curricularsTeach strategies for resisting peer pressure
17 Heacox Strategies (5) Lack of Organizational Skills Study habits trainingStrategies for developing work plans, priorities, balance, flexibilityProvide consistent space and schedule for study at home
19 Delisle’s Differences in Types of Underachievement Non-Producer/ Selective ConsumerMentally healthyCan explain both problem and possible solutionsIndependent and proactiveSee teachers as adversaries and are contentiousUnderachieverPsychologically at riskDoes not understand causes or curesDependent and reactiveRespects or fears authority figures
20 Delisle’s Differences in Types of Underachievement (2) Non-Producer/ Selective ConsumerCounseling needs are minimalRequires little structure, needs breathing roomPerformance varies relative to teacher and contentUnderachieverStrong counseling program neededNeeds both structure and imposed limitsPerformance uniformly weak
21 Delisle’s Differences in Types of Underachievement (3) Non-Producer/ Selective ConsumerCan be dealt with within school resourcesChange may occur overnightFrequently satisfied with accomplishmentsSees self as academically ableUnderachieverRequires family interventionChange is long termOften perfectionistic, nothing is ever good enoughPoor academic self-esteem
22 Commonalities Between Two Forms of Underachievement Socialization with classmates may be impairedPrefer “family” versus “factory” classroom atmosphereNeeds to change both behaviors and attitudesMay need guidance or counseling to achieve academic success
23 Delisle’s Strategies for Improving Academic Performance Supportive StrategiesBehaviors that affirm the worth of the child in the classroom and convey the promise of greater potential and success yet to be discovered and enjoyedIntrinsic StrategiesBehaviors that are designed to develop intrinsic achievement motivation through the child’s discovery of the rewards available as a result of efforts to learn, achieve, and contribute to the groupRemedial StrategiesBehaviors that are used to improve the student’s academic performance in an area of learning difficulty which led to experience of failure and loss of motivation to engage in learning tasks
24 Supportive Strategies Non-ProducerEliminate work already masteredAllow independent study on topics of personal interestNonauthoritarian atmospherePermit students to prove competence via multiple methodsTeach through problem solving rather than rote drillUnderachieverDaily class meetings to discuss student’s concernsDirective atmosphere to show who is in chargeDaily written contracts of work to be doneFree time scheduled each day to show import of relaxation, free choiceUse of concrete, predictable teaching methods
25 Intrinsic Strategies Underachiever Non-Producer Student helps determine class rulesAssign specific responsibilities for classroom maintenance, managementPractice reflective listening, comment to clarify student statementsStudent sets daily/weekly/monthly goals with teacher approvalUnderachieverDaily review of/reward for small successesAllow students to evaluate work prior to teacher markingFrequent, positive contact with family about child’s progressVerbal praise for any self-initiating behaviors
26 Remedial Strategies Non-Producer Underachiever Self-selected weekly goals for improvementPrivate instruction in areas of weaknessUse of humor and personal example to approach academic weakness areasFamiliarize students with learning styles and personal implications for performanceUnderachieverProgrammed instruction materials, students grade own papers upon completionPeer tutoring of younger students in areas of strengthSmall group instruction in common areas of weaknessEncourage students to work on projects not involving marks or external evaluation
27 Finding the Right Approach When approaching any problem, there are two general lines of attack: the “shotgun” approach, where strategies are applied willy-nilly in hopes that something will hits its target, and the “spotlight” approach, where a sharp, precise beam is focused on a specific situation or problem. In issues as complex as underachievement and selective consumerism, time and effort spent on locating the target will result ultimately in more effective and efficient treatment strategies.
28 Finding the Right Approach The child who chooses not to perform up to others’ expectations --the selective consumer --reminds us of the old adage, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. With just a little editorial license, this new proverb describes such a case: “You can lead a child to knowledge, but you can’t make him think.
29 Finding the Right Approach For the truly underachieving child who has little control over or understanding of his or her depressed performance, the myth of Narcissus seems to apply. This character, who upon seeing his reflection in a pond, pined away for the lovely creature he saw. He longed for something he already had, so his was not a problem of attainment but of realization. And just as Narcissus was eventually transformed into a beautiful flower, so might the child with underachieving behaviors come into full bloom, given the proper mix of support and nurturance (Delisle, 2002, p. 180)