Term of Award

Fall 2016

Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Curriculum Studies (Ed.D.)

Document Type and Release Option

Dissertation (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Curriculum, Foundations, and Reading

Committee Chair

Robert Lake

Committee Member 1

Julie Garlen

Committee Member 2

Laura Rychly

Committee Member 3

Meca Williams-Johnson

Committee Member 3 Email



Gifted students may have safety needs beyond the universal needs for security that all students have in order to learn. I investigated the needs of gifted students first hand through interviews with nine gifted students with diverse backgrounds. Interview questions and findings were organized around five major themes: characterization of self, characterization of classmates, characterization of teachers, characterization of classroom, and characterization of strategies and activities. Conclusions show that gifted students share commonalities in personality, needs, and characteristics as well as commonalities among the challenges they face, conditions in which they learn, and the environment in which they feel safe to learn. Features in classroom, teachers, and activities create conditions for excitement about learning and student engagement in learning. The most salient findings were the importance gifted students place on a learning community that includes learning through interaction and conversation as well as through classroom discussions, the need that gifted students place on being in gifted classes with their peers throughout the day, and the focus gifted students put on trusting a teacher to teach what is needed as the gifted students further pursue their educations.

Research Data and Supplementary Material