Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Dr. Susan Isenberg
Dr. Stephen Sherblom
The purpose of the study was to explore the current perceptions of adults who were enrolled in the gifted program of the St. Louis Public Schools in the fall of 1959 or spring of 1960. At this time in history the Cold War was a reality and the U.S. enacted the National Defense Education Act (NDEA) to find talented young people and give them the opportunity to excel academically. The program in this research was already in place when the NDEA was put into effect. A pool of 62 potential subjects was identified and 33 accepted the invitation to participate. The research question was, “How did the St. Louis Public Schools gifted program contribute to the lived experience of the students who started in the program in 1959 and 1960?” A multiple case study method was determined to be the best fit for this study. Interviews were conducted in person, by telephone or by e-mail. From the interview transcriptions, the story of each case contributed to a bigger story of all the cases. After completing the interviews and data analysis, seven themes emerged: expectations, social, label, spiritual/religious, impact, lack of high school support, and lifetime well-being. Another significant finding was that approximately 90% graduated college with at least a two-year degree at a time when less than 52% of high school graduates even attended college, albeit the enriching primary school pull-out program experience was followed by a less-than-enriching secondary school experience that lacked academic and college advising. The participants had an overall positive opinion of their lived experience of being labeled gifted. The most salient finding was their life satisfaction, with an implication that positive labeling and a subsequent self-fulfilling prophesy contributed to it. Further iii research should be conducted on the relationship between positive labeling and life satisfaction with students not identified as gifted.
Beckerle, John R., "The Lifetime Experiences of Being Labeled “Gifted”: Case Studies of Adults Who Participated in a 1959 Public School Gifted Program" (2013). Dissertations. 439.