Summer 8-13-2015



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Jennifer Carlson

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Frank Shaw

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Susan Wygant


The author sought to explore the research question, What is the relationship between mathematics achievement and self-concept of gifted female high school seniors? Review of the literature included discussions of definitions and stereotypes of giftedness, gender differences in math/STEM attitudes and achievement, malleable versus fixed intelligence and ability in math, self-concept, and stereotype threat. The author worked with gifted female high school students at a summer camp for gifted students in South Dakota. Participants were recruited from the group of young women who had finished the camp in 2014. Of 20 young women contacted, five returned letters of consent. A qualitative study using an online, open-ended questionnaire was used to learn about participants’ positive and negative experiences with math teachers and classrooms, feelings of success and failure, creative interests and opportunities for creativity in mathematics. A compilation of this information was used to provide narratives for the experience of each participant’s achievement in mathematics alongside the development of her self-concept as a gifted female student. The data yielded several key findings: Participants felt and performed better when they had opportunities to express themselves and take ownership of their learning. Participants most valued teachers who developed positive relationships with them, supported them, and valued their thinking and abilities. Concerted efforts among math educators to address deficits in creativity, engagement, and support could empower gifted female students both individually and collectively in their learning and self-efficacy.

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