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Gifted Underachievement

"Why is it that so many gifted children suffer so wide a breach between potential and performance? What is it that causes so many gifted children to lose this spark? What can be done to rekindle it? How can the energy be channeled after it is rekindled?" Webb, Meckstroth and Tolan, Guiding the Gifted Child: A Practical Source for Parents and Teachers

Can Our Children Remain Gifted? Recommended by Andi Stix
The energy you invested to instill a sense of passion in your preschooler seems wasted now that your child is susceptible to other influences. And you realize that just because your child was bright or gifted at the elementary level does not ensure that he or she will grow up to be a highly productive adult. What causes the shut-down in creative ability as children age? What can we do about gifted underachievement?
Giftedness, Conflict and Underachievement Recommended by Joanne Rand Whitmore
Though out of print, this text's research is included in every book and research paper concerning twice exceptional and underachieving gifted populations that has followed. A must have for all researchers, parents, and or teachers who are concerned about or deal with highly able students that have mitigating problems...
Motivational Paralysis Recommended by Anna Caveney
Poor motivational health - an acquired form of self-sabotage that mystifies observers and humiliates suffers... [handouts from Anna's presentation]
Other Achievement: when your child doesn't achieve where you hope Recommended a Hoagies' Gifted Blog Hop
Call it underachievement.  Or non-scholastic achievement.  Or scholastic non-achievement. What is a parent or teacher to do when the gifted child they know and love isn't accomplishing in school what we know they can? And other achievement isn't just about gifted kids... what about gifted adults?  Gifted elders?  We all achieve, but it's not always what others are expecting!
The Prism Metaphor: A New Paradigm for Reversing Underachievement Recommended by Susan M. Baum, Joseph S. Renzulli, & Thomas Hébert
Unlike the remedial approaches which usually are offered to underachievers, the successful approaches tend to be child-centered, accentuate student strengths and value student interests. These approaches stress the process of learning as well as the final product. Learning is seen as an active process in which students choose to learn instead of passively taking notes and completing tests. Likewise research on high ability students in general has indicated that the highest levels of student productivity often occur when students are engaged in self-selected investigations. In other words, allowing students to pursue topics of strong and sometimes even passionate interest often results in high levels of achievement... (requires Adobe Reader)
Underachievement from the Inside Out Recommended by Josh Shaine
Perhaps the most upsetting part of being an underachiever with a lot of potential is the accusation, first from your parents and then from yourself, that you are somehow doing "it" intentionally...
Why Bright Kids Get Poor Grades And What You Can Do About It: A Six-Step Program for Parents and Teachers Recommended by Sylvia B. Rimm
Millions of gifted children with average, above-average, or even gifted abilities--including those from homes where education is valued--simply do not perform up to their capabilities.  Spells out a practical, six-step program...
Academic underachievement among the gifted: Students' perceptions of factors that reverse the pattern by Linda Emerick
Investigates factors which had influenced the reversal of the underachievement pattern in 10 gifted students, ages 14 to 20, who moved from chronic underachievement to academic success. Results indicate six factors were influential in reversing poor school performance. There is evidence that some gifted underachievers may respond well to interventions incorporating educational modifications which focus on individual strengths and interests...
Bright Minds, Poor Grades: Understanding and Motivating Your Underachieving Child by Michael D. Whitley
For any parent who has ever been told, "your child isn't performing up to his or her potential," this book has the answer, a proven ten-step program to motivate underachieving children
Dealing With the Needs of Underachieving Gifted Students in a Suburban School District: What Works! by Ceil Frey
How do we determine who these underachievers are? Over the years, we have found underachievers to fall into a variety of categories...
Dealing with the Stereotype of Underachievement by James R. Delisle
I would suggest another look, a different look, at this so-called underachievement syndrome...
Empowering Underachievers: New Strategies to Guide Kids (8-18) to Personal Excellence by Peter A. Spevak and Maryann Karinch
...equips parents and teachers with the information and processes they need to engage underachievers in a transformation to become self-motivated, responsible and happy individuals
Flirting with underachievement by R. Schultz
School is not a caring experience for many students. They are not received based on their underlying needs or desires. The worth of school to many students is waning but teachers and administrators can quell the deterioration by providing students an active role including choice and control in their learning...
From Overt Behavior to Developing Potential: The Gifted Underachiever by Josh Shaine
Gifted underachievers are usually lumped in with the rest of a school's malcontents. This tendency leads to disregard of the effects of that decision, for both the children and society. The children develop low self-esteem, while either under-utilizing or misapplying their abilities...
Get Off My Brain: A Survival Guide for Lazy* Students (*Bored, Frustrated, and Otherwise Sick of School) by Randall McCutcheon
Aimed at bright, talented kids who are bored, frustrated, and otherwise sick of school, including so-called "underachievers," Get Off My Brain is an offbeat, unconventional study guide
Gifted and Learning Disabled: Twice Exceptional Students by Dawn Beckley
There are at least three subgroups of twice-exceptional students whose dual exceptionality remains unacknowledged...
Giftedness: A Motivational Perspective in the Duke Gifted Letter
True or false?
bulletSome people are born gifted, and others are not.
bulletYou can tell who will be gifted from early on.
bulletGifted children should be labeled and praised for their brains and talent.
All of these statements are accepted by many as true. However, as evidence has accumulated over the past decade, another view has been gaining credence that portrays giftedness as a more dynamic quality that can grow or stagnate. With this outlook comes a shift in emphasis from how to identify gifted children to how to cultivate giftedness and talent—a change in focus from measurement psychology to cognitive and motivational psychology...
Giftedness and Academic Underachievement: What lies beneath by Andrew Mahoney
An example within clinical counseling of a highly gifted 19-year-old male student whose academic capabilities fall in the 99.9th percentile. He entered therapy with a desire to understand his presenting problem of academic decline over the past several years of high school as well as to deal with the impact of his decline, both on his emotional development and his academic future... an analyzed transcript
Gifted underachievement: oxymoron or educational enigma? by Barbara Hoover-Schultz, in Gifted Child Today ($)
A survey of the current literature demonstrates that educators disagree about the issue of gifted underachievement—not only in the definition, but the very legitimacy of gifted underachievement as a category of academic behavior.  There are at least three subgroups of twice-exceptional students whose dual exceptionality remains unacknowledged...
The Gifted Underachiever - Marching to a Different Drummer? by Talu Robertson, in Encouraging Achievement - Gifted Education Resources: EAGER
There are at least three subgroups of twice-exceptional students whose dual exceptionality remains unacknowledged...
Helping Kids Get Organized: Some Suggestions for Parents by Ellen D. Fiedler
Bright kids often are “organizationally-challenged.” In fact, the brighter they are, the more likely it is that they will have issues with organization (or, more likely, the grown-ups in their lives will have concerns about their not being organized). Among the reasons for this are: a) they have good memories and, for awhile anyway, are able to rely on remembering where they saw something last,...  Some strategies that may work are... (requires Adobe Reader)
How a Virtual AP Course Changed Her Son by Jay Matthews, Washington Post
Unlike the middle-school classes in which he apparently coasted, Matthew saw AP biology as authentic. For him, it was exciting to jump ahead of his peers.  "His attitude toward school and study is very different now," she said. "Matthew now talks confidently...
Increasing Academic Achievement Study by NRC/GT at UConn
NRC/GT has developed five intervention strategies for Self-Regulation intervention.  Includes slides and video clips, with great strategies!
Is Your Underachiever Lazy, Dumb, or Unappreciated? by Christine Duvivier
If your teen is in the bottom 80% of the class, you may have been told – or thought– that she is “an underachiever” (a polite way of saying lazy or dumb). Underachiever compared to what? Compared to the narrowly-defined measures of school performance or compared to the abilities that will help her to thrive in life?  In my opinion, your child is not under-achieving. I think your child is under-appreciated...
Learning in School by Ty Rainey
Most seem to have been born with a love for learning (I think everyone is), and started school with high hopes. Then came the experiences that told them *they* weren't supposed to learn in school... And they were told only that this was "wrong," or that they needed to turn their brain off until the others caught up
Making A Difference: Motivating Gifted Students Who Are Not Achieving by Del Siegle and D. Betsy McCoach
Underachievement has at least four potential underlying causes, each requiring different intervention strategies.  Educators should attempt to isolate the origin of the underachievement.  Gifted students who are have difficulty with school should be screened for a wide variety of ...
The Miseducation of Our Gifted Children by Ellen Winner
Gifted children are usually bored and unengaged in school; they tend to be highly critical of their teachers, who they feel know less than they do, and they are often underachievers...

Motivational goal orientations of intellectually gifted achieving and underachieving students in the United Arab Emirates by Mohamed A Albaili
Investigate the differences between intellectually gifted achieving and underachieving secondary school students on certain motivational goal orientations such as effort, task, competition, power, praise, feedback, token, social concern, and social dependency...
Motivation Problem or Hidden Disability? by Meredith Warshaw
"Your child's so smart - she could do that if only she'd try"...  Children who look like they have "motivational problems" may have undiagnosed special needs.  A few of the hidden disabilities that can make children seem like they "would rather stare at the ceiling than do serious work"...
Overcoming Underachievement by Dr. Suzanne Schneider, for PAGE
Underachievement is a pervasive problem which results in a tremendous waste of human potential in this country, even among our most able students. Studies have generally shown the dropout rate among gifted high school students enrolled in regular public schools to be somewhere between 10 and 20 percent
Parenting Strategies to Motivate Underachieving Gifted Students by Del Siegle
There is no silver bullet to motivate gifted children; however, parents can use the strategies mentioned here to begin to create an environment in which their children feel confident about themselves and value achievement...
The Procrastinator's Guide to the Galaxy, and Other Important Spots in the Universe by Deirdre V. Lovecky
Procrastinators actually come from an alternate universe, one in which time is elastic. In their universe, time infinitely expands to allow them to complete things whenever they get to them. It also contracts allowing them to actually experience little pain from negative consequences. In this universe, there is always reward and never much punishment. Thus, they can play the day away, confident that they will be able to get that report finished before bedtime, and will suffer absolutely no agony in doing it. The Procrastinators Universe is a happy one...
Promoting a positive achievement attitude with gifted and talented students by Del Siegle and D. Betsy McCoach
The results of an analysis suggested that gifted underachievers differed from achievers on four factors: attitudes toward teachers, attitudes toward school, goal valuation, and motivation/self-regulation.  Guidance for the design of such interventions comes from research in the field of educational psychology on four characteristics of achievers: self-efficacy, environmental perceptions, goal orientation, and self-regulation...
Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A's, Praise, and Other Bribes by Alfie Kohn
Shows how rewards of all sorts undermine our efforts to teach students, manage workers, and raise children...For more in Kohn's own words, listen to his podcasts
Smart Kids with School Problems: Things to Know and Ways to Help by Priscilla L. Vail
"Conundrum kids" -- the superb writer who can't add, the talented speech maker who can't write legibly. Provides practical suggestions and ideas for parents trying to decide when the child should start school and teachers trying to cope. Also covers students up through college and deals with the topics of visual learning, motor functioning, auditory learning, language and learning, and psychological problems, plus strategies for dealing with standardized tests the world of college...
Teaching Study Skills and Learning Strategies to Therapists, Teachers, and Tutors: How to Give Help and Hope to Disorganized Students by Diane Newton
If students are to have organization, study skills and learning strategies at the point when they need them, the skills have to be taught ahead of time. By middle school, or certainly no later than high school, students need specific instruction, demonstration, ample practice, and in many cases careful monitoring...
Too Smart for good? by Michael Duff  (requires free registration)
Some of the most brilliant people I know secretly believe they're stupid. They're always rushing from place to place, agonizing over tests, scrambling to find rare books, poised over their computer screens waiting for grades to be posted...

To produce or not to produce? Understanding boredom and the honor in underachievement by Lannie Kanevsky & Tacey Keighley, in Gifted Child Today ($)
Explores factors contributing to the boredom of gifted high school students who had gradually disengaged from classroom learning. Evidence from three case studies provides a rich sense of the complexities of this process. The core findings: (1) learning is the opposite of boredom, and (2) learning is the antidote to boredom...
Underachievement Among Gifted Minority Students: Problems and Promises (ERIC Digest #544) by Donna Y. Ford and Antoinette Thomas 
While there is a clear need to increase the participation of minority students in gifted education programs, there is an equally important need to focus on issues of achievement and underachievement. ...discusses factors affecting the achievement of gifted minority students, with particular attention to Black students...

Underachievement and Learning Disabilities in Children Who Are Gifted by Steven G. Zecker
It comes as a surprise to many people to hear that learning disabilities are as prevalent in the gifted population as in the general population, yet there is nothing in the definition of learning disabilities (or in their diagnosis) to preclude the gifted from this category
Underachievement in Exceptionally Gifted Adolescents and Young Adults: A Psychiatrist’s View by Jerald Grobman
It is crucial for educators to differentiate between issues related to academic motivation and special needs related to students' disabilities that may be unrecognized by many classroom teachers. research is summarized and suggestions about interventions are made...
Underachieving Gifted Students (ERIC Digest #478) by James R. Delisle and Sandra L. Berger
There is perhaps no situation more frustrating for parents or teachers than living or working with children who do not perform as well academically as their potential indicates they can...
Underachieving Gifted Students: A Mother's Perspective by Pamela Hunter-Braden
The problem of identifying underachievers reminds me of a quote ascribed to a supreme court justice about the definition of obscenity: "I can't tell you what it is, but I know it when I see it."
Uniquely Gifted
What looks like underachievement in a gifted child is often really an undiagnosed learning disability or other special need. This site provides information for families of gifted/special needs children and those who work with them...
What educators of gifted learners need to know about ... by The Association of Educators of Gifted, Talented and Creative Children in B.C.

Last updated December 01, 2020

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