Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Underachievement in gifted individuals is a significant concern in the field of gifted education, a field which focuses mainly upon development of talent in individuals with high potential. The complexity of the factors which influence whether an individual is likely to underachieve has made it difficult to determine why it is that some gifted students do not fulfil their ‘potential’. As such, being able to better understand the factors that influence underachievement in different contexts and more effectively identify individuals who are likely to underachieve within the school system may make it more likely that the underachievement can be addressed and that more gifted students may reach their identified potential. This study used a combination of the School Attitude Assessment Survey-Revised (SAAS-R), the three subscales of the Self-Efficacy Scale for children, the two reliable subscales of the Social Coping Questionnaire and the academic achievement of identified groups of gifted achievers and gifted underachievers to investigate the relationship between these factors and achievement level, in a self-contained gifted/selective environment within an Australian setting. The study sought to understand the way in which gifted achievers and underachievers in academically selective or ability grouped classes differ in their attitudes toward school; attitudes toward teachers; goal valuation; motivation/self-regulation; academic self-perceptions; academic, social and emotional self-efficacy; and the social coping strategies of denying giftedness and using humour. The study also examined the relationships between these factors in underachievers and achievers to understand the way these factors cluster. Additionally, this study assessed the use of the instruments as predictive of the students being identified as either gifted achievers or gifted underachievers with 80% accuracy, using logistic regression techniques. Further, the study examined the role of gender and school type in the patterns of underachievement and achievement within an academically selective/self-contained gifted context