This information was produced by the staff of the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (B-BC) at the University of Iowa (belinblank.org). The resources and information listed here are for informational purposes; there is no direct or implied endorsement by the B-BC. Services provided by the B-BC include programs for academically talented K-12 and college students, professional development for teachers, the Assessment and Counseling Clinic, the Acceleration Institute (accelerationinstitute.org), and graduate programs and research in gifted education.

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Grants - 2007

Trait and Process Determinants of Advanced Placement Test Performance

Phillip L. Ackerman
Georgia Institute of Technology

The Advanced Placement (AP) program represents a highly sought-after set of opportunities for accelerated study among talented high school students. However, little is known about the ingredients for success in the AP programs beyond some general information regarding student aptitudes and abilities. The study to be conducted will examine 150 students in an AP course. The study will involve assessment of a small set of key cognitive, attitude, and motivational/interest variables and a set of monthly questionnaires of student behaviors, attitudes, interests, and self-evaluations to evaluate the role of trait and process determinants of individual and gender differences in AP test performance success. The results are expected to provide important information about the determinants of success in AP test courses, that may in turn, be expected to help identify students who are best suited to these courses.

Investigating Attrition in a Residential Early College Entrance Program for Girls

Elizabeth Connell, Nancy Heilbronner, Sally Dobyns, & Sally Reis
Mary Baldwin College

This study will investigate causes of attrition in a residential early college entrance program for girls. Research questions to be addressed:

  1. What factors contribute to fluctuating retention rates at this early entrance program at an all-female liberal arts college?
  2. How should a college early entrance program set an “acceptable” attrition rate?
  3. How do students evaluate the value and importance of, and possible trade-offs between, opportunities for social bonding and development and intellectual challenge in their decisions about enrollment and persistence?

This study will address research questions #1 and #2 and begin to set the stage for investigations into question #3. Methodology to address questions #1 and #2 will include a survey administered to students who entered the program in the years 1995-2005, whether they persisted in or left the program. The survey will investigate factors related to retention and attrition. Survey results will be analyzed quantitatively.

Following the analyses of the surveys, research team members will identify areas of particular relevance to research question #3 and other emerging areas of interest and will conduct telephone or face-to-face interviews with survey respondents who have indicated a willingness to be contacted. The results of these interviews will be analyzed qualitatively and used to amplify the quantitative findings.

Pathways to the Top: Scaffolding Success for Black and Latino Students in--and Beyond--Academically Accelerated High School Environments

Holly Hertberg-Davis & Carolyn Callahan
University of Virginia

While significant efforts have been made to increase the number of minority students taking AP courses, a gap remains between Black and Latino students and their White peers in participation and success within these courses. Some research indicates that providing minority students with formal supports during high school (e.g., lunch groups, study groups, and pre-AP courses) may contribute to increased success in AP courses. However, the impact of these supports on students’ performance within college courses has not been researched. This qualitative study investigates: a.) the extent to which the existence of formal support structures for minority students taking AP courses are perceived to impact students’ performance on AP exams and in college courses; and b.) common factors in the case histories of Black and Latino students who are high-achieving in AP and college courses. Interviews and surveys will be conducted with 15 Black and Latino college students who took AP courses in high schools providing formal structures to encourage minority participation in AP courses, and 15 Black and Latino college students who took AP courses in high schools not providing supports. Case studies will be developed on each of the students and a cross-case analysis conducted to identify overall patterns and themes. This study has the potential to uncover factors that contribute to, or provide barriers to, the successful participation of minority students in AP and college courses.

Acceleration in Canada: Policy and Practice

Lannie Kanevsky
Simon Fraser University

Canadians advocating for the development and implementation of policies supporting acceleration are working "in the dark," often unaware of the variety of potential accelerative options or where they are practiced. Some are developing policy from scratch when they might benefit from the experiences and documents of others. The purpose of this study is to inaugurate an annual nation-wide survey of provincial policies and school district practices related to acceleration. It will have two dimensions: a survey of practices and the analysis of policies, if they exist. The resource teacher or gifted education contact in each of Canada's 369 public school districts has been sent a 34 item survey asking which the 18 types of acceleration described in the Nation At Risk report (Southern & Jones, 2004) were permitted and implemented in the 2006-7 school year. Each province's policy documents are being analysed to determine which forms of acceleration are encouraged or permitted.

The results will contribute to efforts to enhance policy development and implementation by creating a database including districts that might provide models and resources to those needing support and locations that might act as sites for future research on students who have and have not been accelerated. The frequency and percentage of responding districts in and out of compliance with their provincial policies will be determined, as well as for districts allowing and implementing acceleration where no policy exists. Future funding will be sought to repeat this work on an annual basis to monitor trends in policy development and implementation.

The Efficacy of Academic Acceleration for Gifted Minority Students

Seon-Young Lee, Paula Olszewski-Kubilius, & George Peternel
Center for Talent Development, Northwestern University

Acceleration as a practice has been studied very little for minority or low-income students in contrast to the substantial amount of research on its efficacy for Caucasian and Asian gifted students. To apply acceleration efficiently for this under-served population, it is crucial to understand their experiences and perceptions of acceleration. Yet, it is unknown if and how effective acceleration could be achieved for minority or low-income learners. This research is an in-depth qualitative investigation of the perceptions and experiences of academically talented minority students, their parents, and teachers regarding the students’ acceleration in math through participation in “Project EXCITE,” a program designed to identify academically talented minority students, mostly from low-income families, in grade 3. Through the program, students obtain various educational supports so that they can enter high school in grade 9 accelerated in math and ready for honor level courses in science. Using interviews with 63 students (including successful and unsuccessful accelerators, and non-accelerators), their parents, and five classroom teachers, as well as reviews of student records, this study will explore beliefs and attitudes toward acceleration, perceived obstacles and facilitators, and perceptions of the impact of acceleration on students’ academic and social lives. This study will be one of the few studies examining factors contributing to the successful and unsuccessful acceleration of minority students and show the views of students who are at various stages of acceleration including those who are accelerated in several math courses and who are in the middle of acceleration.

A Best-Evidence Synthesis of the Research on Academic Acceleration: 1990-Present

Karen B. Rogers
The University of New South Wales

The purpose of this study is to conduct a variant of meta-analysis on extant research studies on the 12-18 forms of academic acceleration recognized by the Nation Deceived report. Slavin’s (1984; 1986) form of meta-analysis, "best-evidence synthesis" will be used to calculate the Effect Sizes for academic, social, and psychological outcomes of the various forms of acceleration when provided for gifted learners. The following research questions will be addressed:

  1. What are the academic, social adjustment, and psychological adjustment effect sizes of the 18 forms of grade-based and subject-based academic acceleration with regard to intellectually gifted and academically talented students, years K-16?
  2. Do the effects reported for the 18 forms of academic acceleration differ in any respect from previous syntheses of research, in particular, the meta-analyses of Kulik and Kulik, Kent (1992), and Rogers?

The six major database searches will be searched to cover the years, 1990-present. The publications produced from ERIC, ECER, PsychAbstracts, Comprehensive Dissertation Index, Sociological Abstracts, and Child Development Abstracts will be categorized by type of publication, form of accelerative option, research or non-research base, and type of research design. Further analysis of the research-based articles tabulated by year of publication, topic, number of variables studied, study strength, sample size, study design, and type of research question or hypothesis posed will be conducted and become part of the ultimate annotated bibliography product. The best-evidence technique will be used to; (1) identify the well-designed, valid studies of each acceleration option, i.e., the “best evidence”; and (2) synthesize results for each option using the effect size metric. The outcomes or product of this method of analysis will be (1) an annotated bibliography of extant research and literature on academic acceleration and (2) a report on the tables of academic, social, and emotional effect sizes for 18 forms of academic acceleration for gifted students, K-16.

The Effects of Acceleration on Personal Thriving: Psychological Well Being and Academic and Personal Successes of Gifted Early College Entrants

Michael Sayler
University of North Texas

Psychological, academic, and personal successes are key elements of current and long-term personal thriving. The effects of acceleration and specifically early college entrance are most clearly understood through comparison to purposefully selected alternative populations and in comparison to the accelerants themselves over time. The comparative aspect is needed to help isolate the effect and interactions of types of ability, levels of ability, age at entry to college, previous educational experiences, and the kind of college intervention provided. Longitudinal study using the early entrants as their own comparison set enhances understanding of what things impact the individual and at what points in their lives.

Data from studies just completed indicate that early college entrants have very high levels of these markers of personal thriving when compared to norm groups. The current study adds comparison groups with specific contrasts to help understand the effects of giftedness and early college entrance on thriving. New groups added in this study include gifted students attending Honors College, but who completed high school prior to entry to college, and regular college students. In the next few years, data collection will be expanded to include early college high school students attending community colleges two years early and high-school highly-gifted students who do not go to college. Data sources include admissions and registrar data, self-reporting questionnaires and focus groups, and assessment with standardized psychological measures. Specific outcome measure include: academics, personal relationships, character, cognitive efficiency, psychological adjustment, and spirituality and religiosity.

Exploring Teacher and Administrator Attitudes toward Acceleration

Del Siegle
University of Connecticut

Despite a large body of research over the past quarter century supporting acceleration, acceleration remains a controversial and underutilized strategy for gifted and talented students. Volume 1 of A Nation Deceived listed 12 reasons why acceleration is not accepted in America (Colangelo, Assouline, & Gross, 2004). The purpose of this study is to develop a survey to explore administrator and teacher attitudes towards acceleration using those 12 reasons and the Southern, Jones, and Fiscus 1989 instrument as a theoretical basis. The survey will be distributed to a random sample of 1000 school administrators and 3000 classroom teachers. We will then design and test a professional development module based on the results of the survey. The module will address educators' concerns about acceleration. The module will be tested with university education majors, and we anticipate these education majors will have more positive attitudes toward acceleration practices after participating in this professional development opportunity. By understanding educators' attitudes, we can better inform policy-makers and advocates on how to improve attitudes towards acceleration. Ultimately, this will help the field of gifted education better implement the recommendations in A Nation Deceived.

Perceptions of Academic Acceleration of Profoundly Gifted Adolescents 20 Years Later

Rose Mary Webb
Appalachian State University

This study will draw upon the most able cohort of participants in the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth. When initially identified in 1980-1983, these participants met top .01% (top 1 in 10,000) selection criteria by scoring at least 700 on the SAT-M or 630 on the SAT-V before age 13. At time-1, participants were examined extensively with regard to cognitive and noncognitive attributes, and, subsequently, participants have been surveyed 5, 10, and 20 years later. In the 10-year follow-up of these participants, we documented several noteworthy findings regarding their accelerative educational experiences (Lubinski, Webb, Morelock, & Benbow, 2001). For example, 95% of participants reported using various forms of acceleration, and 71% of participants reported satisfaction with those experiences. These participants have been surveyed most recently in a 20-year follow-up, the preliminary results of which recently appeared in Psychological Science (Lubinski, Benbow, Webb, & Bleske-Rechek, 2006). As one focus of the 20-year follow-up, we asked participants about their views regarding the importance of accelerative opportunities for intellectually gifted children and their likelihood of using those opportunities for their own children. The proposed study will examine those data in light of the previous educational experiences of the participants. It is expected that, given these participants’ unique firsthand experiences with educational acceleration, they can provide unique insight into conceptualizing the effects of acceleration from a long-term perspective.