Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


Educational Psychology

Major Professor

William A. Poppen

Committee Members

Charles Thompson, Ohmer Milton, Ken Newton


Two major questions were addressed in this study: 1) What is the ideal classroom environment most preferred by students in a gifted and talented program?, and 2) Do preferences for the ideal classroom environment differ between students enrolled in a gifted and talented program and a comparison group of nongifted students?

The subjects were 147 eighth grade students selected from three middle schools in a large suburban school system. Seventy-three subjects were actively enrolled in a gifted and talented program, with the remaining 74 students randomly selected from the general population for comparison purposes. Schools were chosen because they were most representative of the socioeconomic range in the school system.

Data were collected on all subjects via three instruments: 1) the California Achievement Test; 2) the Otis Lennon Mental Abilities Test; and 3) the Classroom Environment Scale (CES).

The results indicated the gifted students wanted an ideal classroom environment that places strong emphasis on developing and maintaining good interpersonal relationships with their peers and teachers. They would like a high level of Involvement, where substantial energy can be devoted to class activities and discussions. Only moderate emphasis was given to Task Orientation. Gifted students wanted average emphasis on Competition, thus suggesting the ideal class would not stress the importance of grades. The ideal class for gifted students was further characterized by high levels of Innovation, Rule Clarity, and Organization. Finally, the gifted students wanted a teacher who is non-authoritarian and lenient in enforcing rules.

Student responses to the CES indicated that in most dimensions gifted and nongifted students would ideally prefer similar kinds of classes. However, results from the data analysis between groups indicated statistically significant differences in the level of emphasis placed on five of the nine CES dimensions. These findings suggest that student perceptions of the ideal classroom environment can have important consequences for planning and implementation of gifted education. Greater awareness of student perceptions and opinions could provide educators and policymakers with an enlightened perspective regarding an effective match between the student and the learning environment.

Files over 3MB may be slow to open. For best results, right-click and select "save as..."