Skip to main content

A study of gifted underachievers in a middle school setting

1 December 1993


This is a study of two sixth grade boys who have been identified as gifted underachievers. The purpose of this study is to explore the causes of underachieving among gifted students and apply the findings to the subjects of this study and their situations. I intend to propose solutions to reduce underachieving in the subjects.

Even though studies such as the Cupertino Project have been done on gifted underachievers, little is known or has been implemented across the board to address the problems of these students. Underachievement is not mentioned in most educational or psychological literature before the 1950's. is a leading researcher in the field Joanne Rand Whitmore of giftedness and underachievement. In her book, Giftedness, Conflict, and Underachievement, Whitmore summarizes the problems associated with gifted underachieving students by stating, "the descriptive portrait of the gifted underachiever is clear, but how he got that way or what can be done about it is not" (Whitmore, p.171, 1980).

Whitmore's work served as the backbone for this study. With research questions that focused on defining gifted, how gifted students become underachievers, and what can be done to remedy their debilitating situation, I set out to examine the problems gifted underachievers face in a regular classroom setting. I studied my subjects in a regular sixth grade classroom from March until June 1993.


Files are restricted to Pacific University. Sign in to view.