Date of Conferral



Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)




Michael Sanders


African American students have been historically underrepresented in gifted programs throughout the United States. Research about retaining identified African American students in gifted programs is limited. This qualitative phenomenological study examined the perceptions of a purposeful sample of seven identified talented and potentially talented African American middle school students about participation in gifted programs. The purpose of the study was to understand the meaning of participants' expectations, attitudes, and experiences with regard to participating and remaining in a gifted program or participating and then dropping out. Data were collected through individual interviews. Interpretative phenomenological analysis revealed that participants expected talented and gifted programs to be challenging, boring, or fun. Attitudes about learning in gifted programs included a preference for hands-on activities, the study of other cultures, accelerated work, and a desire for a daily class rather than a pullout program. Male and female African Americans experienced participation in gifted programs differently. Males perceived that they are normal and like everybody else, but females perceived the need to resist conforming to negative African American stereotypes. Recommendations that could improve retention rates for African Americans in gifted programs include revising policies regarding gifted program delivery and providing teacher training with an emphasis on African American cultural sensitivity. The contribution of this study to the body of research literature has implications for positive social change because developing the talents and gifts of African Americans through gifted programs could result in higher college graduation rates and greater employment opportunities.