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Underachievement and the Gifted Suzanne Myers-Laird, MS Ed. Waukee Academic Boosters 1/13/09.

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Presentation on theme: "Underachievement and the Gifted Suzanne Myers-Laird, MS Ed. Waukee Academic Boosters 1/13/09."— Presentation transcript:

1 Underachievement and the Gifted Suzanne Myers-Laird, MS Ed. Waukee Academic Boosters 1/13/09

2 “It is not impossibilities which fill us with the deepest despair, but possibilities which we have failed to realize.”“It is not impossibilities which fill us with the deepest despair, but possibilities which we have failed to realize.” Robert Mallet

3 Underachievement: What is it? “Children with average, above- average, and even gifted intellectual abilities who are simply not performing up to their capabilities.”“Children with average, above- average, and even gifted intellectual abilities who are simply not performing up to their capabilities.” »Rimm (1995)

4 Severe discrepancy between expected achievement (as measured by standardized achievement test scores or cognitive or intellectual ability assessments) and actual achievement (as measured by class grades and teacher evaluations)Severe discrepancy between expected achievement (as measured by standardized achievement test scores or cognitive or intellectual ability assessments) and actual achievement (as measured by class grades and teacher evaluations) »Reis and McCoach (2000)

5 A student not working up to his/her potential. “You can do better”A student not working up to his/her potential. “You can do better” »Coil (2004)

6 Underachievement: Why should we care? It is speculated that approximately 50% of the gifted population fit the definition of underachievementIt is speculated that approximately 50% of the gifted population fit the definition of underachievement »McCoach and Seigle (2008) »Davidson and Davidson (2004) »A Nation at Risk (1983)

7 Of those gifted students without underachievement issues:Of those gifted students without underachievement issues: –100% attend college –83% finish 4 years of college »Peterson (2000 study)

8 Of those gifted students who struggle with underachievement issues:Of those gifted students who struggle with underachievement issues: –87% attend college –52% finish 4 years of college »Peterson (2000 study)

9 Four years after high school graduation, high school and college achievement were strongly correlated.Four years after high school graduation, high school and college achievement were strongly correlated. »Peterson (2000)

10 Thirteen years after high school, the educational and occupational status of high school underachievers paralleled their grades in high school, rather than their abilities.Thirteen years after high school, the educational and occupational status of high school underachievers paralleled their grades in high school, rather than their abilities. »McCall, Evahn, & Kratzer (1992 in the largest longitudinal study of underachievers conducted to date)

11 Between 18-25% of high school dropouts are identified as giftedBetween 18-25% of high school dropouts are identified as gifted »The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement (2008)

12 Characteristics of Underachievement The Rebel or “Rebellious Rebecca”The Rebel or “Rebellious Rebecca” –Disruptive, delinquent, hostile, touchy, temperamental »Reis & McCoach (2000)

13 The Stressed Learner or “Perfectionistic Pearl”The Stressed Learner or “Perfectionistic Pearl” –Anxious, perfectionistic, worries about failure »Reis & McCoach (2000)

14 The Complacent Learner or “Passive Paul”The Complacent Learner or “Passive Paul” –Procrastinates, easily distracted, seems unconcerned about work »Reis & McCoach (2000)

15 Underachievement: What does it look like? Low academic self- perceptionsLow academic self- perceptions Low self-motivationLow self-motivation Low effort toward academic tasksLow effort toward academic tasks Negative attitudes toward school and teachersNegative attitudes toward school and teachers Daydream and dawdleDaydream and dawdle Lack of goalsLack of goals Feelings of inferiorityFeelings of inferiority Avoid competition (unless they are sure to win)Avoid competition (unless they are sure to win) Low self-confidence Low self-confidence Use reading, tv, and video games as escapes from doing homework Use reading, tv, and video games as escapes from doing homework Inability to persevere Inability to persevere Have creative ideas but they are rarely brought to closure Have creative ideas but they are rarely brought to closure “School is boring” “School is boring” Disorganized Disorganized Possible behavior/learning problems Possible behavior/learning problems

16 Calvin and Hobbes by Bill WattersonCalvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson »Reprint for educational use only Reprinted for educational purposes only

17 Early Risk Factors for Underachievement: The “too soon” childThe “too soon” child The “overwelcome” childThe “overwelcome” child Birth orderBirth order Early health problemsEarly health problems Specific parenting relationshipsSpecific parenting relationships GiftednessGiftedness »Rimm (1995)

18 Eleanor Roosevelt said, “The surest way to make it difficult for children is to make it easy for them.”

19 Possible Familial Causes Inconsistent parenting techniquesInconsistent parenting techniques Overly lenient/strict/protectiveOverly lenient/strict/protective Treating child as an adult at too young an ageTreating child as an adult at too young an age Family instability/problemsFamily instability/problems Too much pressureToo much pressure

20 Possible Environmental Causes (school) Possible Environmental Causes (school) Strict/repressive/inflexible teachersStrict/repressive/inflexible teachers Unrewarding curriculumUnrewarding curriculum Overly helpful teachersOverly helpful teachers Lack of variety in teaching stylesLack of variety in teaching styles Impossible standards/low expectationsImpossible standards/low expectations Extremely competitive/no competitionExtremely competitive/no competition

21 Possible Environmental Causes (peers) High-achieving peers have a positive influence on gifted students who begin to underachieve. The reverse is true as well. One study showed that 66% of high ability students named peer pressure as the primary force against getting good grades.High-achieving peers have a positive influence on gifted students who begin to underachieve. The reverse is true as well. One study showed that 66% of high ability students named peer pressure as the primary force against getting good grades. Studies show that friends’ grades are very similar by the end of the year.Studies show that friends’ grades are very similar by the end of the year. »Inman Powerpoint

22 Possible Personal Causes Depression and anxietyDepression and anxiety Externalizing issues including rebellion and nonconformityExternalizing issues including rebellion and nonconformity Learning problemsLearning problems Deficits in self-regulationDeficits in self-regulation Social immaturitySocial immaturity Dual exceptionalityDual exceptionality »Reis and McCoach (2002)

23 “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.” George Eliot

24 Is there no hope??? “Children are not born underachievers. Underachievement is learned, therefore it can be unlearned.” »Davis and Rimm (2004 p. 317)

25 Underachievement: What can we do to reverse it? As TeachersAs Teachers –Show acceptance and caring –Encourage extra-curricular interests –Communicate one-on-one –Maintain home/school contact –Suggest counseling (parent, student, or family) –Use competition productively

26 What can we do? As Parents:As Parents: –Be good models –Refrain from using words like “smartest” and “brilliant” –Emphasize “hard work” and “good thinking” –Instead of reassuring underachievers of their brilliance and creativity, it’s better to admire their hard work ethic. –Be consistent (individually and together) –Encourage extra-curricular activities –Maintain a positive attitude toward your child, even in the face of academic failure –Remain calm, consistent, and objective during the underachievement situation

27 What can we do? Rimm’s TRIFOCAL modelRimm’s TRIFOCAL model –Assessment –Communication –Changing Expectations –Role Model Identification –Correction of Deficiencies –Modifications of Reinforcements »Rimm (1995)

28 What can we do? As schools:As schools: –Provide for intellectual challenge and advanced studies –Use independent study –Include student discussion –Make activities/assignments real/relevant to the student –Focus on the process as well as the product –Gifted/advanced classes –Early identification –Use of counselors familiar with underachievement –Mentoring –Promote extracurricular activities –Promote home-school partnerships

29 What can we do? In regards to peers:In regards to peers: –Parents and teachers should encourage interactions and friendships with other gifted achievers with similar interests

30 “ I find the harder I work, the more luck I seem to have.” Thomas Jefferson

31 What can we do? Seek counseling interventionsSeek counseling interventions –Individual, group, or family –Concentrate on changing personal and/or family dynamics that lead to underachievement –Coping with frustration

32 Professor Dumbledore: “It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.” J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets

33 Works cited Coil, C. (2004). Becoming an Achiever. USA: Pieces of Learning.Coil, C. (2004). Becoming an Achiever. USA: Pieces of Learning. Davidson, J. a. (2004). Genius Denied. New York: Simon and Schuster.Davidson, J. a. (2004). Genius Denied. New York: Simon and Schuster. Davis, G. A. (2004). Education of the Gifted and Talented. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc.Davis, G. A. (2004). Education of the Gifted and Talented. Boston: Pearson Education, Inc. Delisle, J. (1994). Dealing with the stereotype of underachievement. Gifted Child Today, 17(6), 20-21.Delisle, J. (1994). Dealing with the stereotype of underachievement. Gifted Child Today, 17(6), 20-21. Emerick, L.J. (1992). Academic underachievement among the gifted: Students’ perceptions of factors that reverse the pattern. Gifted Child Quarterly, 36(3), 140-146.Emerick, L.J. (1992). Academic underachievement among the gifted: Students’ perceptions of factors that reverse the pattern. Gifted Child Quarterly, 36(3), 140-146. Inman, T. Underachievement Powerpoint. The Center for Gifted Studies: Western Kentucky UniversityInman, T. Underachievement Powerpoint. The Center for Gifted Studies: Western Kentucky University National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office.National Commission on Excellence in Education. (1983). A nation at risk: The imperative for educational reform. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office. McCall, R.B.; Evahn, C.; & Kratzer, L. (1992). High School Underachievers: What do they achieve as adults? Newbury Park: Sage Publications.McCall, R.B.; Evahn, C.; & Kratzer, L. (1992). High School Underachievers: What do they achieve as adults? Newbury Park: Sage Publications. Peterson, J.S. (2000). A Follow-Up Study of One Group of Achievers and Underachievers Four Years After High School Graduation. Roeper Review, 22(4), 217-224,Peterson, J.S. (2000). A Follow-Up Study of One Group of Achievers and Underachievers Four Years After High School Graduation. Roeper Review, 22(4), 217-224, Peterson, J.S. & Colangelo, N. (1996). Gifted Achievers and Underachievers: A Comparison of Patterns Found in School Files. Journal of Counseling and Development, 74, 399-407.Peterson, J.S. & Colangelo, N. (1996). Gifted Achievers and Underachievers: A Comparison of Patterns Found in School Files. Journal of Counseling and Development, 74, 399-407. Reis, S. M., & McCoach, D. B. (2002). Underachievement in gifted and talented students with special needs. Exceptionality, 10(2), 113-125.Reis, S. M., & McCoach, D. B. (2002). Underachievement in gifted and talented students with special needs. Exceptionality, 10(2), 113-125. Reis, S. M., & McCoach, D. B. (2000). The underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go? Gifted Child Quarterly, 44, 152-170.Reis, S. M., & McCoach, D. B. (2000). The underachievement of gifted students: What do we know and where do we go? Gifted Child Quarterly, 44, 152-170. Rimm, S. (1995). Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades (and what you can do about it). New York: Three Rivers Press.Rimm, S. (1995). Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades (and what you can do about it). New York: Three Rivers Press. Rimm, S., Cornale, M., Manos, R., & and Behrend, J. (1992). Guidebook For Implementing the TRIFOCAL Underachievement Program for Schools. Watertown: Apple Publishing Company.Rimm, S., Cornale, M., Manos, R., & and Behrend, J. (1992). Guidebook For Implementing the TRIFOCAL Underachievement Program for Schools. Watertown: Apple Publishing Company. Schultz, B. H. (2005). Gifted Underachievement: Oxymoron or Educational Enigma? Gifted Child Today, 28(2), 46-49.Schultz, B. H. (2005). Gifted Underachievement: Oxymoron or Educational Enigma? Gifted Child Today, 28(2), 46-49. The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. (2008). Issue Brief: Gifted and Talented Students at Risk for Underachievement. Washington, D.C.: Learning Point Associates and SEDL for the U.S. Department of Education.The Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement. (2008). Issue Brief: Gifted and Talented Students at Risk for Underachievement. Washington, D.C.: Learning Point Associates and SEDL for the U.S. Department of Education. Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners. Alexandria: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.


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