The waiting of gifted students and its impact on talent development projects

Sara Hinterplattner

Research output: Ph.D. ThesisPhD Research external, graduation external


Waiting is one of the inescapable situations in our lives and in many situations we are used to it. However, waiting is often not pleasant and unfortunately for many students in classrooms this is a common experience. Gifted students are particularly at risk, because they have the potential to accomplish tasks faster than less able students and already know much of the content being taught in classes. If such waiting causes boredom, it can lead to undesirable behaviours, under achievement and school dropouts.
There is a lack of research about gifted students’ waiting in classrooms and its effects on their behaviours and coping, particularly relations of waiting with boredom. Principle aims of this thesis are to investigate students’ experiences with waiting at both secondary school and university and suggest directions for talent development and shape projects for mathematically gifted students. My purpose was to determine differences in length, reasons and experiences of waiting time between mathematically gifted students and students with average abilities in mathematics in secondary school and university, and based on the understanding of these issues identify ways to overcome students’ difficulties. Thus, to investigate these issues, I conducted exploratory case studies involving
surveys and interviews. The collected data was both quantitatively and qualitatively
analysed following the principles of grounded theory approaches.
Results showed that mathematically gifted students in secondary school experienced 26% of their time in classrooms as waiting and waited approximately three times as long as students with average abilities in mathematics. This increased waiting time is strongly connected to negative experiences and is significantly different compared to the experiences of students with average abilities in mathematics. Moreover, findings also suggested that participating students from university had fewer available strategies for coping with waiting in secondary school in comparison to their time at university. Students reported that instead of waiting they frequently choose to skip classes that require them to wait. Most of the coping strategies found for gifted high achieving honors students could be classified as Behavioral-Avoidance Strategies. Although previous studies
confirmed some positive effects of waiting in classrooms, results of this thesis mainly uncovered wider ranges of negative experiences among mathematically gifted students in relation to their waiting in classrooms. Strategies for coping and the length of waiting among mathematically gifted students led to exploring ways in which students can be supported to utilize this waiting time constructively in their classrooms. For this purpose, different talent development projects for mathematics combined with other disciplines from STEAM fields were conducted as trials. In summary, this dissertation aims to contribute to the understanding of waiting in classroom situations among gifted students in secondary and tertiary education and offers suggestions for shaping talent development projects for mathematically gifted students.
Original languageEnglish
  • Lavicza, Zsolt, Supervisor, External person
  • Wolfensberger, Marca, Supervisor
Award date22 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 22 Jun 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • students
  • psychological aspects


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