Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Dr. David F. Lohman
This study examined the talent development of five Davidson Fellowship science winners using the Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent. The Davidson Fellowship program recognizes students under the age of 18 who have completed a significant piece of original work in one of six fields: science, technology, mathematics, music, literature, or philosophy. Parents of four of the Fellows also participated in the multiple-case study, which used semi-structured phone interviews to gather data. The cross-case analysis of this multiple-case study revealed that the Fellows traveled multiple pathways to success. Each Fellow and his family took advantage of different educational options, formal and informal. No consistent educational programming existed across participants from different schools in different areas of the country, except AP® courses and science fairs. The Fellows encountered a number of different negative catalysts in the environment, including a lack of challenge in the public schools, inconsistent treatment by teachers and administrators, variable availability of challenging school and extracurricular opportunities, difficulties with peers, and challenging logistical arrangements necessary for participation in extracurricular opportunities. The strength of these negative catalysts was offset by a number of protective factors, or positive catalysts. The positive catalysts were both strong and numerous in each of the Fellows. Each Fellow presented evidence of very high ability. They were healthy. They were raised in supportive learning environments that encouraged taking risks, striving for excellence, and improvement over earning good grades. They had multiple supportive adults in their lives: parents, teachers, and mentors who created a layered support system. When one adult was not available, there were others on whom the student could depend in a crisis. The parent relationship was particularly strong. Each Fellow reported, and each of the parents confirmed, a uniquely supportive relationship with their parents marked by mutual respect and admiration. Each Fellow presented strong motivation for his work. Each displayed a candid awareness of his own strengths and weaknesses, and a willingness to confront and apply himself to remedy weaknesses. They all presented compelling evidence of a tenacious perseverance. Stronger than the negative catalysts, these positive catalysts worked in concert to protect the individual against failure or resignation.
Copyright 2011 Ann M. Batenburg
Batenburg, Ann M.. "The Davidson Fellows: case studies in science talent development." dissertation, University of Iowa, 2011.