Date of Award


Document Type

Dissertation in Practice

Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Morgridge College of Education, Teaching and Learning Sciences, Curriculum and Instruction

First Advisor

Norma L. Hafenstein

Second Advisor

Paul Michalec

Third Advisor

Maria Salazar

Fourth Advisor

Kimberly Schmidt


Agency, Confidence, Curiosity, Gifted education, High school, Secondary


The nuanced and complex cognitive and social-emotional needs of high school gifted learners are not sufficiently met through accelerated coursework like Advanced Placement and International Baccalaureate alone. Addressing their needs requires the design, implementation, and leadership of programming that maximizes their agency, curiosity, and confidence. Such programming should be fully modern in its conception and allow gifted high school students to construct and share products of their learning with respect to issues of global importance. The purpose of this study was to explore high school learning environments designed to maximize the agency, confidence, and curiosity of gifted and talented secondary students.

Framed in the tenets of Self-Determination Theory, this study investigated how three secondary schools nurtured student agency, curiosity, and confidence. The descriptive case study included twelve participants who served as teachers, administrators, and counselors. Analysis of the data yielded five themes consistent to all three school sites: Connected Technology, Structured Questioning, Interdisciplinarity, Appreciation of Intensities, and Gradual Release. Each theme was described through the lenses of student agency, curiosity, and confidence to provide context and details pertaining to how modern learning environments can be built as courses, programs, and school to maximize the potential of gifted secondary students.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Ryan A. McClintock


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

243 p.


Gifted education, Education