Young, gifted and underachieving: Examining the role of mentoring in assisting underachieving highly-able students achieve their educational potential.
Laurenson, Pauline (2012) Young, gifted and underachieving: Examining the role of mentoring in assisting underachieving highly-able students achieve their educational potential. Master of Arts thesis, Dublin City University.
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The education of gifted and talented pupils is a topical issue and one of growing concern to many parents and teachers. This was of particular concern in the school in which I was a teacher.
The school determined students as being of high ability when they scored in the top ten percent of the school population as indicated by standardised tests they completed prior to and upon admission. These tests were the Cognitive Abilities Test 3 and the Drumcondra Reasonsing Test. Teachers were also encouraged to identify students who they perceived to be highly able in their subject area.
The aim of this study was to examine reasons why pupils of high ability might underachieve and to address these issues through the use of a mentoring project. The mentors used positive psychology and metacognition strategies in an effort to get the students to achieve their potential.
Another aim of the study was to consider how a project of this nature might be managed in a large secondary school with limited resources. The use of a distributed leadership model of management in conjunction with a community of practice was examined as part of this study. An action research model was used to conduct the study which focussed on a small group of pupils in one school.
The overall findings suggested that there was merit to mentoring as a potential approach with these students. The students responded well to some of the positive psychology and metacognitive strategies and enjoyed the one to one support the mentoring offered them. However, the study also looks at other ways that some of the more successful strategies might be shared with the students given the labour intensive nature of one to one input in a time of scarce resources and concerns regarding its sustainability. In terms of managing a new initiative in a large secondary school, the distributed leadership model in conjunction with communities of practice was deemed an efficient and effective means of implementation.
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