Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

Teacher Education

Committee Member

Alane Starko, Ph.D., Chair

Committee Member

Joe Bishop, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Patricia Pokay, Ph.D.


Four gifted adolescents (2 males and 2 females) explore experiences transferring from multilevel schools to an independent gifted school from low- and high-income school districts in this phenomenological study. Semi-structured interviews inform this study demonstrating how changes in school context shape academic identity. Adolescent students discuss prior school perceptions of academic ability, how transferring schools affected academic ability, and challenges they overcame transitioning to an independent gifted school. Although participants all believed that prior schools did not meet academic and social needs, their academic self-concepts were strong. Three participants felt academic ability was stronger since transferring to an independent gifted school. One felt less capable to achieve as highly as she could in her prior school, but felt her academic ability had not changed. Implications of transfer student experiences to a gifted school will be discussed, as well as exploration of affects on academic identity.