Observe and interact with the child over a period of at least two weeks to determine if he/she possesses the following characteristics. If the student exhibits ten or more of the listed traits, including all that are asterisked, individual intelligence testing is recommended to establish whether he/she is a gifted underachiever.

  • Poor test performance.
  • Achieving at or below grade-level expectations in one or all the basic skill areas: reading, language arts, mathematics.
  • Daily work frequently incomplete or poorly done.
  • Superior comprehension and retention of concepts when interested.
  • Vast gap between qualitative level of oral and written work.
  • Exceptionally large repertoire of factual knowledge.
  • Vitality of imagination: Creative.
  • Persistent dissatisfaction with work accomplished, even in art.
  • Seems to avoid trying new activities to prevent imperfect performance; Evidences perfectionism, self-criticism.
  • Shows initiative in pursuing self-selected projects at home.
  • Has a wide range of interests and possible special expertise in an area of investigation and research.
  • Evidences low self-esteem in tendencies to withdraw or be aggressive in the classroom.
  • Does not function comfortably or constructively in a group of any size.
  • Shows acute sensitivity and perceptions related to self, others and life in general.
  • Tends to set unrealistic self-expectations: goals too high or too low.
  • Dislikes practice work or drill for memorization and mastery.
  • Easilydistracted; unable to focus attention and concentrate efforts on tasks.
  • Had an indifferent or negative attitude towards school.
  • Resists teacher efforts to motivate or discipline behaviour in class.
  • Has difficulty in peer relationships; maintains few friendships.

Joanne Whitmore (1980) Giftedness, Conflict and Underachievement. Allyn and Bacon.

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Behaviour displayed by children and adults is a product of their experiences and learning. It has a meaning and function. Behaviour can be modified if we can modify their experiences and environment.