School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Patricia Ferrin


phenomenological, achievement gap, minority, constructivism, and hierarchy of needs


Education | Social and Behavioral Sciences


The purpose of this transcendental phenomenological study was to describe effective constructivism teaching strategies and approaches for reducing the achievement gap between minority and non-minority students in a middle school gifted program at Stoneybrook Middle School in the Downey-Raine School System through an examination of the lived experiences of teacher participants. The theories that guided this study were Piaget’s cognitive constructivism and Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Both theories focused on the possible obstacles that educators may face when addressing the reduction of the achievement gap within this type of setting. Methodologically, this study followed the qualitative phenomenological research design. The research study focused on students within a middle school gifted program in southeastern North Carolina. The data collection took place through participant interviews, online blogs, and letter writing. Results from this study showed that the effectiveness of teaching strategies in this context was limited or enhanced by the factors of data usage and academically and intellectually gifted program structure, relationship building with students and nonacademic contributors to student performance like students’ homelives and the impact of COVID-19 on the school environment.