Date of Completion


Embargo Period



Gifted, Motivation, Specialized School

Major Advisor

E. Jean Gubbins

Associate Advisor

Sally M. Reis

Associate Advisor

Catherine A. Little

Associate Advisor

Rebecca D. Eckert

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


In social cognitive theory, the development of self-perceptions is a complex process involving personality and environment. While educators may have little influence on students’ personality traits, they can attend to environmental components that support the development of positive self-perceptions. Developing positive self-perceptions has been identified as a key precursor to developing achievement behaviors. Achievement orientations are viewed as positive learning orientations with students focused on learning new material in comparison to a standard of excellence. Motivational variables such as achievement goals, self-efficacy beliefs, and intelligence beliefs have been connected to the development of an achievement orientation. These motivational variables have been found to decline during transition periods such as from elementary to middle school. This basic, interpretive qualitative study presents 6 students’ retrospective self-perceptions of the development of their motivational variables and achievement orientation while participating in a gifted middle school program. Participants’ responses led to the development of the following conclusions: (a) challenging curricula within a supportive environment led to the development of positive self-efficacy beliefs and achievement behaviors (e.g., seeking help, studying, taking good notes) and (b) holding multiple achievement goals and/or fixed mindsets did not prevent the development of positive achievement orientations or behaviors.