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Case Study of a Profoundly Gifted Student

This highly gifted student came from a well-educated family who was extremely supportive of her education from the beginning. She recently graduated from high school at the age of 15 and was accepted into UGA, Georgia Tech, and chose to go to Mercer University with a full engineering scholarship.
She skipped 6th grade and 10th grade, after going through a careful counseling and evaluative process involving her family, teachers, and guidance counselors.


In my interviews with her, I discovered the following personality traits:
  • She was passionate about science and engineering and determined to pursue these fields in her future. She did not mind being different, but she enjoyed the times when she felt like she was connecting with her intellectual peers.
  • She fluctuated between a maturity well beyond her years and an immaturity about approaching social relationships with peers. She felt extremely comfortable with adults.
  • She missed over 10 days of school her junior year and over 30 days of school her senior year. Although there were certainly times of illness, many of her absences came so that she could complete work or so that she could simply avoid school that day.
  • She sometimes questioned whether or not she had done the right thing by accelerating; however, when she then considered the curriculum of the year or two before her, she quickly reassured herself that this was the only decision for her.
  • Her teachers described her as sometimes inconsistent with achievement but did not question her potential. Her peers felt like she was always willing to help or tutor, and they accepted her as an unusual person who was dedicated to physics and engineering.

Test Scores:

ITBS: All were at 99%ile in 5th Grade; All except Capitalization (96%ile) were at 99%ile in 3rd Grade

8th Grade CRCT:
Math: 91 Language Arts: 90 Reading: 100 Science: 93 SS: 88

All High School EOCTs: 92 or higher

ACT: 30

Gifted Characteristics:

The student displays many of the gifted characteristics described on p. 33 – 34 of the text; however, the positive and negative traits below are extremely evident:
Positive Characteristics: Early and rapid learning; enjoys learning; superior reasoning skills; high curiosity; self-directed; high expectations of self
Negative Characteristics: Interpersonal difficulties; perfectionism

Prodigy/Highly Gifted Characteristics:

Extremely high IQ
Family that valued her abilities
Connected with several teachers involved in Physics and Engineering
Intrinsically motivated to pursue new ideas in Physics and Engineering
(Davis, Rimm, Seigle, p. 49)

Teaching and Counseling Strategies:

She responds well to curriculum compacting and independent, project- based enrichment. Acceleration has worked well, as she earned the IB Diploma after skipping the 7th grade. I believe she would do very well with a long-term mentor who loved Physics and Engineering. For the 2 years she was in the International Baccalaureate Programme, we met often, and I discovered how much she struggled to fit in with her peers, all of whom were now 2 years older than she was. This was further complicated by her parents not allowing her to ride with teenagers. What she seemed to need most of all was a person who would listen, have time for her to be emotional when needed, and then allow her to work back to her logical approach to solving her problems. I learned that although she struggled emotionally and socially due to acceleration, she was able to come full circle and forge real peer relationships and a strong sense of her own identity by the end of the year.