Department of Education



The most common characteristics and patterns of underachievement include:

  • a very high IQ
  • poor work habits
  • a seeming inability to concentrate
  • lack of effort in tasks
  • an intense interest in one particular area
  • frequently unfinished work
  • a low self esteem
  • demonstrations of emotional frustration
  • negative attitudes towards self and peers
  • a skill deficit in at least one subject area
  • inattentiveness to task at hand
  • failure to respond to motivation by usual teacher techniques

Because of continual failures in some areas, underachieving gifted students tend to exhibit either of two basic behaviour patterns: aggressive or withdrawn.

The features of the aggressive behaviour pattern are:

  • stubborn refusal to comply with requests
  • attention seeking
  • disruption of others
  • continual rejection of set work
  • absence of self-direction in decision making
  • continual alienation of peers

The features of withdrawal behaviour pattern are:

  • lack of communication
  • fantasy world
  • working alone
  • little in-class work undertaken
  • little attempt made to justify behaviour


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