Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctorate of Education, Ed.D.


College of Education



First Advisor

Chad Becker, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Deborah Stone, Ed.D.

Third Advisor

Mary Robinson, Ed.D.


Gifted education is often overlooked in schools. Reasons for the lack of programming include standardized testing causing teachers to teach to the middle, untrained and underprepared teachers, mistaken ideas of equality, and a lack of funding. Even in schools which offer gifted programming, the education offered gifted students often does not meet the educational needs of the gifted student. Although much literature exists regarding the lack of rigor afforded gifted students, the students themselves are often left out of the reporting of results. This is especially true at the middle school level. Utilizing the perceptions of students, this study examined the level of challenge gifted students felt in honors-level classes, specifically focusing on which elements of the class most contributed to or detracted from experiencing an appropriate level of challenge. The eighteen students observed in this study were simultaneously enrolled in a gifted and talented elective course, as well as honors-level math and language arts classes. Participants were questioned in a series of interviews in order to determine individual perspectives regarding middle school gifted programming at one selected school site. The findings of the study revealed all students had a desire to be challenged in their academic programming yet were not experiencing challenge, even within most of the gifted programming offered. Students noted teacher understanding, utilization of specific instructional techniques, and depth of content increased challenge while district or state policies, teacher misunderstanding, and a lack of academic rigor decreased challenge.

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Education Commons