Exploring Gifted Adults' Perception of Giftedness in their Pursuit of Graduate Education
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This qualitative study explores 8 gifted adults' perceptions of their own giftedness and how those perceptions influenced their pursuit of graduate education as revealed by retrospective interviews. This study serves to inform the existing literature surrounding giftedness especially as it relates to gifted individuals across the lifespan and their experiences and perceptions of education at all levels. This study also provides insight into the emotional impact being labeled gifted has on an individual's self-concept and academic identity. The major themes that emerged using the interpretive phenomenological analysis method (Smith & Osborn, 2003) were discussed under five main headings: Evolution of Giftedness, Success and Failure, Expectations, Effort, and Doubt and Proof. An adaptation of the listening guide method (Gilligan, Spencer, Weinberg, & Bertsch, 2003) was used to provide a unique and personal perspective of the phenomenon of giftedness and revealed the feelings behind the themes that emerged in the interpretive phenomenological analysis method. Specifically; this study illuminates the lack of evolution that an individual's understanding and perception of giftedness undergoes across the lifespan, and the impact such a static and school-bound understanding has on gifted adults' self-concept. It also reveals the influence that gifted individuals' innate need to achieve has on their academic aspirations and their perceptions of themselves as gifted. Furthermore, it reveals how important the understanding and internalization of failure can be on the self-concept of gifted individuals, and that this issue needs immediate attention at all levels of education.