School of Education
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Primary Subject Area
dropout, gifted, middle school, phenomenology, relationships, trauma
This qualitative phenomenological study of the life experiences of seven rural gifted individuals who dropped out of school investigated whether they shared commonalities that might have led to the phenomenon of dropping out. The problem was that no one had asked them to share their stories prior to this study. By searching for meaning in their individual and combined stories, the overarching theme of relationships weaved through all of them. Three themes emerged which contributed to their drop out decision: relational traumas, relational losses, and relationships with teachers. All of these gifted dropouts experienced a significant relational trauma in middle school which affected later learning experiences. By focusing on their progressively declining interest in school through the lens of relationships, new data emerged which added to existing literature.