Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Verhoek-Miller, Nancy

Committee Member

Hamil, Burnette

Committee Member

Prince, Debra

Committee Member

Hare, Dwight

Committee Member

Underwood, Ray Joe

Date of Degree


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Elementary Education

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Education


Department of Curriculum, Instruction and Special Education


The purpose of this study was to describe a gifted program in a rural Mississippi county school district through the perceptions of its student participants. This study consisted of a total of 19 participants. Thirteen participants in this study were students in grades 7-8 who were currently enrolled in the gifted program and six participants were students in grades 11-12 who had previously been enrolled in the gifted program. The researcher interviewed each focus group on two separate occasions using a tape recorder to record the participants’ responses. Each focus group interview lasted about one hour. This study used qualitative research. Fraenkel & Wallen (2003) stated that “Qualitative researchers have a much greater flexibility in both strategies and techniques they use and the overall research process itself. Their designs tend to emerge during the course of the research” (p.16). Data in this study were collected using an Interview Protocol created by the researcher. The Interview Protocol was comprised of background information, topics regarding the gifted program, and topics regarding students’ perspectives. After transcribing the data, the researcher developed a matrix to determine the themes/patterns found in the study. Results suggested that most students entered the gifted program in the second grade by teacher recommendation and taking an IQ test. Results suggested that the perspectives of students who were presently participating in the gifted program, or who had previously participated in the gifted program, were positive in respect to the gifted program. Furthermore, results suggested that the rigorous content of the gifted program prepared 7 - 8 grade participants for the course content taught in their regular education classes and for entrance into high school. This study also suggested that students in the 11- 12 grades were better prepared for the course content taught in their regular education classes and the Advanced Placement classes offered in their school. Results from interviews indicated that some participants’ self-esteem rose due to being in the gifted program. Results also indicated that the participants felt a need to overachieve as a gifted student. It is recommended that a longitudinal study be conducted with a follow-up of gifted program graduates.