Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Julia Link Roberts (Director), Nielsen Pereira, Tracy Inman

Degree Program

School of Teacher Education

Degree Type

Master of Arts in Education


The goal of this qualitative study was to gain insight into which personal factors most affect student adjustment in a state residential STEM school. Factors from Tinto’s Model of Institutional Departure were used as the framework to capture the transition of gifted high school students from traditional high school to The Carol Martin Gatton Academy of Mathematics and Science in Kentucky, a statewide residential STEM school. Tinto’s Model predicts college persistence using pre-existing individual characteristics and institutional experiences. These qualities and experiences were used to form questions about student traits and transition. Questionnaires were administered to Gatton Academy first-year students, parents, and staff members. Participants included 10 students, two parents, and six staff members. The answers were analyzed using deductive analysis. The study found the student participants at The Gatton Academy came from intact families, were often not challenged at their sending high schools, and entered the residential setting with very few study habits but high self-control. The findings suggest that gifted students are highly adaptable to the college environment despite being younger than traditional college age.


Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | Gifted Education | Science and Mathematics Education