Shanna BakerFollow




School of Education


Doctor of Education (EdD)


Dr. Fred Milacci


Challenge, Engagement, Gifted, Relationships, Voice


Curriculum and Social Inquiry | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Educational Psychology | Social and Philosophical Foundations of Education


Since the implementation of No Child Left Behind in 2001 and high stakes testing, the focus in education has been on low-achieving students resulting in gifted learners being largely ignored. Gifted underachievers are often identified as bored or apathetic. Researchers are beginning to examine gifted students’ motivation and engagement, but there is a lack of research examining why gifted middle school students are uninspired to achieve. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to understand how gifted middle school students in a Georgia school district and their parents and teachers describe the lack of inspiration to achieve. Within the study, four research questions were asked: (1) How do middle school gifted students describe the terms "inspired" and "motivation"? (2) How do middle school gifted students, their parents and teachers describe the lack of inspiration to achieve? (3) What factors do participants identify as influencing the lack of inspiration to achieve? (4) What impact does the lack of inspiration to achieve have on gifted middle school students’ academic experiences and achievements? Data collection methods included student interviews, parent interviews, faculty interviews, and a student questionnaire. Seven students, seven parents, and five teachers participated for a total of 17 participants. Data analysis methods included bracketing, In Vivo coding, establishing patterns, textural description, structural description, and finally describing the essence of the participants’ experiences. Findings yielded two emerging themes: (a) Gifted Learners Experience Disengagement and (b) Gifted Learners Experience Reengagement.