First Advisor

Ritchotte, Jennifer

Second Advisor

Omdal, Stuart

Document Type


Date Created



The underachievement of high potential students is considered a significant issue in the field of gifted education in the United States. For decades, researchers have studied why gifted students fail to achieve at high levels in school; however, the research base on this topic is limited in most Middle Eastern countries and nonexistent in Saudi Arabia. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological, qualitative research study was to gain an understanding of the perceptions of gifted education teachers, parents of gifted children, and gifted coordinators in Saudi Arabia regarding the phenomenon of gifted students who underachieve in school. Three parents of gifted children, four teachers of gifted children, and three gifted education coordinators were interviewed individually using semi-structured interviews. Findings revealed participants believed gifted underachievers could be found in Saudi Arabia and these students demonstrated both adverse (easily distracted, exhibiting problem behavior, disengaged, and sensitive) and positive characteristics (leadership and creativity). Further, the participants attributed individual factors (negative attitudes toward teachers, lack of self-regulation, desire for autonomy, lack of goal valuation, and low self-concept) to the underachievement of gifted students. Additionally, environmental factors (pressure from parents or lack thereof, peer pressure, insufficient instructional environment, and challenging external circumstances) were determined to affect the underachievement of gifted students in Saudi Arabia. The participants offered ideas to support the reversal of Saudi gifted students’ underachievement by providing a range of learning options such as building strong relationships, providing guidance, monitoring progress, and family and school collaboration Implications of the findings from this study will increase understanding about gifted underachievement in Saudi Arabia and thereby address a critical gap in the literature. In addition, it is hoped these findings will lead to discussion and even action with regard to identifying gifted underachievers in Saudi Arabia, recommendations that would prevent gifted students from underachieving, and strategies to reverse underachievement


Eduation, Factors, Gifted, phenomenon, Saudi, Underachievement


157 pages

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Copyright belongs to the author.