Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Wilkins, Elizabeth A.

Degree Name

Ed.D. (Doctor of Education)

Legacy Department

Department of Curriculum and Instruction (CI)


The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine gifted adolescents’ perspectives on motivation in regard to academic learning experiences. Participants were selected based on having at least one year of attendance at a midwestern private school for the gifted, having a full-scale IQ of at least 125, and being between the ages of 11-17. This study focused on six gifted adolescents who committed to participating in one personal interview, completing two student response journals, and submitting work samples with reflection tags that were found to be examples of motivational academic learning experiences.

Data from the interviews, student response journals, and student work samples with tags were analyzed using qualitative methods and through the theoretical framework of Gagne’s Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent as well as expectancy-value theory. From the triangulation of data, three major findings emerged. The first indicated that standard, mass-produced basal curricula does not meet the needs of gifted adolescent learners without additional modifications, indicating a need for specialized gifted curricula. The second focused on the need for ongoing training for educators who work with gifted adolescents, including instructional strategies and models of gifted education proven effective with gifted learners as well as how to provide meaningful and responsive feedback to gifted adolescents. Finally, the need for gifted adolescents to personally value and connect academic learning experiences to the real world also emerged.

Implications and recommendations for the field and for future research primarily include the need for increased awareness and increased funding in the field of gifted education to combat a lack of motivation and underachievement from gifted adolescent learners. Subsequently, recommendations for the field include raising awareness of the unique learning needs of gifted adolescents, creating meaningful professional development for gifted educators, and instituting greater levels of pre-service training in the areas of gifted education and differentiation for all educators. Areas for future research include further examination of educational policy regarding gifted education, how to increase gifted adolescents’ valuation of academic learning experiences, and an examination of preparation requirements for teachers of the gifted, as well as how to write, market, and support specialized gifted curricula.


197 pages




Northern Illinois University

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