Year

2008

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Faculty of Education

Abstract

Underachievement among gifted students is a perplexing phenomenon since there is no universally agreed definitions of underachievement and giftedness in the literature. Statistics have shown that the problem is common and serious enough to draw researchers' attention to it. The literature suggested that underachievement might be attributed to a combination of several factors, which include school factors, family factors, peer influence, learning disability, and personality characteristics. Personality factors like motivation and self-regulation were considered important variables in gifted achievement.

This study examines the problem of underachievement among gifted high school students. Low achievers were compared to high and moderate achievers on their motivation, self-regulation, motivational goals, goal orientations, and attitudes toward their school and teachers and class. Participants were all highly able students from grades 10 and 11 in two academically selective high schools, one in Amman, Jordan (n=169) and the other in New South Wales, Australia (n=197). Teachers were asked to rank the students into high, moderate, and low achievers in terms of their performance in two subjects, Arabic and Mathematics in Jordan and English and Mathematics in Australia. Participants were asked to respond to three surveys that measured their motivation, self-regulation, motivational goals, goal orientations, and attitudes toward their school and teachers: the School Attitude Assessment Survey-R (SAAS), the Inventory of School Motivation Scale -R (ISM) and the Motivated Strategies for Learning Questionnaire (MSLQ-R). The results indicate that motivation, self-regulation, motivational goals, goal orientations, and attitudes differentiated the three groups of achievers. In addition, the results indicated that there was a significant difference between males and females as well as between tenth and eleventh grade students in the variables measured in this study. Further, culture played an important role in affecting the results of both Jordanian and Australian studies.

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