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Development of personal strengths and moral reasoning in gifted adolescents

This study was designed to investigate the attitudes of academically gifted adolescents towards the development of their personal strengths or gifts and to compare these with the attitudes of age peers not identified as gifted. This study also examined the reported higher levels of moral reasoning in gifted adolescents compared to age peers and how this may relate to their development of academic potential. The 750 participants included 401 identified gifted students and 349 students not identified as gifted in Years 9, 10 and 11 from seven different high schools in the Sydney Metropolitan region. An instrument entitled the Development of Personal Strengths Questionnaire was developed to analyse students??? attitudes while the Defining Issues Test (Rest, 1986) was also administered to measure moral reasoning ability. Results showed that gifted students have significantly higher levels of acknowledgement of personal strengths and reasons for developing personal strengths, which reflect altruistic motivations. Gifted students scored significantly higher on altruism and philanthropy and showed significantly higher scores on the Defining Issues Test. Aspects of developing personal strengths, on which gifted students showed no significant difference from non-identified peers were in areas of motivation and responsibility for developing these strengths. A significant, but modest, connection was found between development of personal strengths and moral reasoning. Gender differences were also examined, with males reporting higher acknowledgement of personal strengths than females and females reporting higher levels on reasons for developing personal strengths as well as altruism and philanthropy. Females also showed significantly higher scores on the Defining Issues Test. These results were consistent within the gifted participant group. It was concluded that gifted students in this study were more likely to acknowledge their personal strengths or gifts and were more inclined to hold reasons for this development which related to higher levels of altruism, philanthropy and moral reasoning. These characteristics need to be taken into consideration in development of programs and provisions for gifted students, both now and in the future.
Date January 2005
CreatorsO???Leary, Kay, Education, Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences, UNSW
PublisherAwarded by:University of New South Wales. School of Education
Source SetsAustraliasian Digital Theses Program
Detected LanguageEnglish
RightsCopyright Kay O???Leary,

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