The Relationship Between Stereotype Threat Vulnerability and Academic Engagement Among Gifted Elementary Students in Rural Schools

Author: ORCID icon
Dmitrieva, Svetlana, Education - School of Education and Human Development, University of Virginia
Callahan, Carolyn, CU-Curr Instr & Sp Ed, University of Virginia

The purpose of the present study was to explore the relationship between stereotype threat vulnerability based on gender, rural identification, and low socioeconomic status and students’ academic engagement. The main research question of the study was concerned with the nature of this relationship. Additionally, the study explored a set of concomitant questions about the patterns of emotional and behavioral engagement, group identification, and stigma consciousness in a sample of 475 students identified as gifted in high-poverty rural schools. All the constructs were measured at the beginning of the third and end of the fourth grades using students’ scores on self-reported measures. Results indicated that although students’ engagement was high in both grades, there was a significant drop in emotional engagement in the fourth grade as compared to the third grade for both genders. Gender identification had a significant and large decline (p < .001), rural identification had a significant but small decline (p¬ < .05) while low SES identification was stable and high across the two grades. There were no changes in the level of stigma consciousness. Rural stereotype vulnerability contributed positively to emotional engagement (p < .001) while gender stereotype threat vulnerability had a statistically significant negative relationship with emotional engagement (p¬ < .05). Based on these results, it was suggested that elementary school is the right time, i.e., not too early, to implement interventions mitigating stereotype threat among vulnerable students. Considering the observed relative decline in engagement, teachers of gifted learners should not assume that gifted learners are always engaged. Rather, teachers should seek out strategies to sustain and increase these students’ engagement. Place-based education was suggested as one such potential strategy for gifted rural learners. Methodological and conceptual limitations as well as directions for future research were discussed.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)
gifted education, rural education, stereotype threat, academic engagement
Issued Date: