This information was produced by the staff of the Belin-Blank International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development (B-BC) at the University of Iowa ( The resources and information listed here are for informational purposes; there is no direct or implied endorsement by the B-BC. Services provided by the B-BC include programs for academically talented K-12 and college students, professional development for teachers, the Assessment and Counseling Clinic, the Acceleration Institute (, and graduate programs and research in gifted education.

print Printing

Our pages are formatted to be printer-friendly. Simply click and print.

Twitter YouTube Facebook WordPress

Annotated Bibliography

Articles are listed in descending order by year (most recent first), and then by first author's last name.

Social-Emotional Development

Wu, J., Assouline, S., McClurg, V. M., & McCalum, R. S. (2022). An investigation of an early college entrance program's ability to impact intellectual and social development. Roeper Review, 44(2), 111–122.

Self-reported perceptions of the impact of acceleration through an early college entrance program at the University of Iowa National Academy of Arts, Sciences, and Engineering (NAASE), revealed the program’s contribution to students’ overall development. Responses from a sample of 76 gifted participants to a 64-item survey offered insights about accelerated college-aged students’ perceptions of their intellectual and social growth, peer and family relationships, leadership ability, happiness, and peer acceptance. Self-perceptions of NAASE program effectiveness were generally positive. Not all abilities or skills were perceived as equally impacted as a function of participation in the NAASE program. Results add to the growing literature explicating the effects of participation in an early college entrance program on the development and peer relationships of gifted students. Implications are discussed for further research.

Singh, S., Singh, S., Narayananm S., Kim, J., & Jiao, J. (2021). Mental health outcomes among early-entrance to college students: A cross-sectional study of an emerging educational system in the United States (Abstract). European Psychiatry, 64(S1), S399–S399.

Introduction: In the United States, students who attend early- entrance to college programs (EECP) undergo a unique, accelerated educational path. Many of these programs require students to forego their final years of high school to take dual-enrollment classes while residing on a college campus. While previous literature has documented mental health outcomes among traditional college and high school student populations, there is scarce literature on the mental health among this hybrid population in the United States.
Objectives: Investigate anxiety and depression among students enrolled in EECPs in the United States.

Methods: Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 item (GAD-7) and Patient Health Questionnaire-8 item (PHQ-8) were asked in 3 sets for how students felt before, during, and after their attendance in their EECP.

Results: 66 alumni students who graduated from an EECP were surveyed after giving informed consent. GAD-7 average scores before the students attended was 4.83 (median = 4, “mild anxiety”), during attendance was 11.5 (median = 12, “moderately severe anxiety”), and currently was 6.95 (median = 6, “moderate anxiety”). PHQ-8 scores for depression before attending were 5.1 (median = 4, “mild to potentially moderate depression”, during the program 10.9 (median 11.5, “moderately severe depression”), and current PHQ-8 was 16 (median = 16, “severe depression”).

Conclusions: Anxiety and depression seem to have a presence in this student population, compared to traditional college student populations, but different compared to international cohorts. Academic rigor was a notable driving force of these outcomes, differing from the literature on traditional college student populations.

Bernstein, B. O., Lubinksi, D., & Benbow, C. P. (2021). Academic acceleration in gifted youth and fruitless concerns regarding psychological well-being: A 35-year longitudinal study. Journal of Educational Psychology, 113(4), 830–845.

Academic acceleration of intellectually precocious youth is believed to harm overall psychological well-being even though short-term studies do not support this belief. Here we examine the long-term effects. Study 1 involves three cohorts identified before age 13, then longitudinally tracked for over 35 years: Cohort 1 gifted (top 1% in ability, identified 1972–1974, N = 1,020), Cohort 2 highly gifted (top 0.5% in ability, identified 1976 –1979, N = 396), and Cohort 3 profoundly gifted (top 0.01% in ability, identified 1980 –1983, N = 220). Two forms of educational acceleration were examined: (a) age at high school graduation and (b) quantity of advanced learning opportunities pursued prior to high school graduation. Participants were evaluated at age 50 on several well-known indicators of psychological well-being. Amount of acceleration did not covary with psychological well-being. Study 2, a constructive replication of Study 1, used a different high-potential sample—elite science, technology, engineering, and mathematics graduate students (N = 478) identified in 1992. Their educational histories were assessed at age 25 and they were followed up at age 50 using the same psychological assessments. Again, the amount of educational acceleration did not covary with psychological well-being. Further, the psychological well-being of participants in both studies was above the average of national probability samples. Concerns about long-term social/emotional effects of acceleration for high-potential students appear to be unwarranted, as has been demonstrated for short-term effects.

Wellisch, M. (2021). Parenting with eyes wide open: Young gifted children, early entry and social isolation. Gifted Education International, 37(1), 3–21.

This case study outlines the challenges of eight Australian mothers with intellectually gifted preschoolers. The ideal ways of nurturing children’s giftedness, the parents’ role in early identification and the effect of maternal depression and possible association with twice exceptionality (gifted with a disorder) are discussed. The narratives of case study parents then describe how and whether the needs of their preschoolers were understood or met in early childhood services, and the advice they received about early entry. It was found that early entry met the needs of children whose parents chose this acceleration option and that the preschoolers who missed out because of intervention by their educators did not fare so well. Findings also indicated an urgent need for the inclusion of compulsory early childhood giftedness courses for Australian pre-service educators and an equally urgent need for professional development courses about giftedness for educators already working in early childhood services.

Jett, N., & Rinn, A. N. (2019). Radically early college entrants on radically early college entrance: A heuristic inquiry. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 42(2), 303–335.

Despite extensive research supporting its use, including the 2004 publication of A Nation Deceived, acceleration is an underutilized strategy for meeting the academic needs of gifted and talented students. Parents’ and educators’ attitudes and beliefs about acceleration influence the extent to which it is implemented in schools. This study investigated gifted and talented educators’ attitudes toward acceleration using a 7-point rating scale measuring concerns about acceleration, beliefs about acceleration, and support for specific acceleration strategies. Data indicated there were no differences in attitudes among teachers from rural, suburban, or urban school districts. Overall, the least popular acceleration strategies were also the easiest to implement, but caused the greatest change in students’ environments (i.e., grade-skipping and early entrance to kindergarten). As expected, the educators were most troubled by social issues and least concerned about academic issues related to acceleration.

Mammadov, S., Hertzog, N. B., & Munm R. U. (2018). An examination of self-determination within alumni of an early college entrance program. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 41(3), 273–291.

This article describes outcomes from a subpopulation of a larger study (The Alumni Study) of early college entrance alumni through the lens of self-determination theory. The Alumni Study used mixed methods, was implemented in two sequential phases, and included alumni from two different early college entrance programs (Early Entrance Program and UW Academy). The focus of this article is on the qualitative interviews of 26 UW Academy early entrants who fully matriculated into college as Honors Students after 10th grade. Results indicated that early college entrance (a) provided a more challenging and autonomous environment than high school, (b) provided higher personal control over academic and social choices, and (c) met students’ strong need for relatedness as well as for autonomy and competence. The early entrance to college program gave students a cohort where they could interact with same-age peers who had demonstrated similar academic competence and interests to achieve. However, some participants reported that being younger than their college peers may have inhibited the development of relationships with older college students.

Barber, C. & Woodford-Wasson, J. (2015). A comparison of adolescents' friendship networks by advanced coursework participation status. Gifted Child Quarterly, 59(1), 23–27.

This article used longitudinal data to compare friendship networks of students taking advanced coursework to those of similar nonparticipants, and found that advanced coursework participants had larger networks and more engaged friends than nonparticipants did.

Gallagher, S. Smith, S. R., Merrotsy, P. (2011) Teachers' perceptions of the socioemotional development of intellectually gifted primary aged students and their attitudes towards ability grouping and acceleration. Gifted & Talented International, 26, 11–24.

This qualitative, multi-site case study sought to examine the current educational provisions in place for intellectually gifted primary school students in Queensland and to consider how the beliefs and attitudes of primary school stakeholders were reflected in the production of their school gifted education policies. Attitudes and perceptions of principals and teachers at four Queensland primary schools are reported in this article.

Eddles-Hirsch, K., Vialle, W., Rogers, K. B., & McCormick, J. (2010). "Just challenge those high-ability learners and they'll be alright!" The impact of social context on the affective development of high-ability students. Journal of Advanced Academics, 22(1), 106–128.

This study provided a voice to gifted elementary children attending three very different schools that endeavored to meet their atypical academic needs. Although educators have theorized that special programs for gifted students benefit gifted children academically and contribute positively to their social and emotional development, there is limited research to support this belief. The phenomenological framework used in this study allowed 27 gifted elementary students to present their perceptions of the advantages and disadvantages of extension class environments. The results demonstrate that while challenging instruction was clearly important for the emotional well-being of the advanced learners, it went hand in hand with the schools' approach to the social and emotional development of their student populations. The schools' objectives clearly influenced students' perceptions of emotional safety, acceptance of diversity, and teacher-student and peer relations in the schools. This finding differs from previous research results, which suggest that if a gifted child's cognitive abilities are catered to, his or her social and emotional needs will automatically be met. Whereas this study found that the social context of the school played an important role in the talent process, we also found a strong relationship between program type and socioaffective outcomes.

Neihart, M. (2007). The socioaffective impact of acceleration and ability grouping: Recommendations for best practice. Gifted Child Quarterly, 51(4), 330–341.

Although the academic gains associated with acceleration and peer ability grouping are well documented, resistance to their use for gifted students continues because of concerns that such practices will cause social or emotional harm to students. Results from the broad research indicate that grade skipping, early school entrance, and early admission to college have socioaffective benefits for gifted students who are selected on the basis of demonstrated academic, social, and emotional maturity, but may be harmful to unselected students who are arbitrarily accelerated on the basis of IQ, achievement, or social maturity. There is little research on the socioaffective effects of peer ability grouping. The limited evidence indicates strong benefits for highly gifted students and possibly for some minority or disadvantaged gifted students. Robust evidence does not exist to support the idea that heterogeneous classroom grouping per se significantly increases the risk for adjustment problems among moderately gifted students. Recommendations for best practice based on the available evidence are presented.

McHugh, M. W. (2006). Governor's Schools: Fostering the social and emotional well-being of gifted and talented students. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 17(3), 50–58.

The focus of this study is to review existing literature that evaluates the effects of attending a Governor’s School – a specific program model for enrichment – on students’ social and emotional well-being. This line of inquiry differs from traditional approaches in that it considers social and emotional development, as opposed to studying the types of learning that occur at these programs.McHugh begins by reviewing research on general enrichment programs. One set of studies showed that the majority of students attending an enrichment program experienced strong friendships with their newfound peers, while a 1993 study by Enersen concluded that these students experienced psychological difficulties in the form of “unmet needs.” However, all reviewed studies agreed that the supportive social network was the primary benefit of attending an enrichment program. The author next considers strengths and weaknesses of these studies. Strengths include large sample sizes, waiting to collect data until students have settled in at the camp, proper methodology (such as triangulating information sources), and open-ended questions, while weaknesses include low rates of data-return, a reliance on parent perceptions to measure students’ emotional changes, and potentially excessive familiarity between the researchers and the research participants.In reviewing studies that focus specifically on Governor’s Schools, the author concludes that students’ social, academic, and emotional well-being benefit from participating in this kind of summer enrichment. Information on the benefits of Governor’s Schools can be used to address perfectionism and underachievement, two difficulties for some gifted students. The results of this review suggest that Governor’s Schools provide participants with quality enrichment activities in a positive, psychologically-healthy environment. Consequently, existing research on Governor’s Schools can provide information on effective practices for gifted students.

Rinn, A. N. (2006). Effects of a summer program on the social self-concepts of gifted adolescents. The Journal of Secondary Gifted Education, 17(2), 65–75.

This study investigates the change in social self-concept among adolescents participating in a summer program for the gifted. Participants include 140 gifted students who had completed the 7th through 10th grade during the previous academic year. Social self-concept was measured at the beginning and end of the summer camp using the same-sex peer relations and the opposite-sex peer relations subscales of the Self-Description Questionnaire II (Marsh, 1990). Results indicate both males and females experienced an increase in their perceived same-sex peer relations and their perceived opposite-sex peer relations over the course of the summer program. Conclusions and implications for education policy are discussed.

Gagné, F., & Gagnier, N. (2004). The socio-affective and academic impact of early entrance to school. Roeper Review, 26(3), 128–138.

How well do early school entrants adjust socio-affectively when compared to their regularly admitted peers? Despite numerous publications on the subject, much controversy remains, mainly because of methodologically fragile studies. To assess the impact of a new early entrance policy in Quebec, 36 kindergarten and 42 Grade 2 teachers who had at least one early entrant in their class ranked all their students on four bipolar dimensions (conduct, social integration, academic maturity, and academic achievement). Data were collected for 98 early entrants and 1,723 regularly admitted children. The results revealed no substantial differences between the two groups, but a low correlation between age and adjustment among regularly admitted students. A semi-qualitative analysis showed that the teachers judged a significant percentage of early entrants less than well adjusted; perhaps explaining to a large extent the continuing resistance from educators and parents. Still, boys and the youngest among regularly admitted students were the two populations found much more at risk for social-emotional problems than early entrants.

Reis, S. M., & Renzulli, J. S. (2004). Current research on the social and emotional development of gifted and talented students: Good news and future possibilities. Psychology in the Schools, 41(1), 119–130.

A recent summary of research produced by a task force of psychologists and educational researchers associated with the National Association for Gifted Children and the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented indicated that high-ability students are generally at least as well adjusted as any other group of youngsters. This research also found, however, that gifted and talented students can face a number of situations that may constitute sources of risk to their social and emotional development. Some of these issues emerge because of a mismatch with educational environments that are not responsive to the pace and level of gifted students' learning and thinking. Others occur because of unsupportive social, school, or home environments. In this article, current research about the social and emotional development of gifted and talented students is summarized and suggestions are made about strategies to enhance these students' school experiences. Suggestions are provided for assessment and educational programming based on students' strengths and interests that may result in helping talented students realize their potential.

Cross, T. L. (2002). Competing with myths about the social and emotional development of gifted students. Gifted Child Today, 25(3), 44–45, 65.

This article presents 8 commonly held myths regarding the social development of gifted students, along with responses based on research, in the hopes that discussion of these examples will help improve services for gifted students and reduce barriers to their well-being.

Plucker, J. A., & Taylor, J. W. V. (1998). Too much too soon? Non-radical advanced grade placement and the self-concept of gifted students. Gifted Education International, 13(2), 121–135.

This study investigated the relationship between advanced-grade placement and the self-concept of 600 gifted adolescents. No differences were found in any facet of self-concept between grade-advanced and non-advanced students or in interactions of advanced status and gender and/or grade level. Caucasian students were significantly more likely to be grade advanced than Hispanic or African-American students.

Sayler, M. F., & Brookshire, W. K. (1993). Social, emotional, and behavioral adjustment of accelerated students, students in gifted classes, and regular students in eighth grade. Gifted Child Quarterly, 37(4), 150–154.

This study found that accelerated students (n=365) and students (n=334) in gifted classes had better perceptions of their social relationships and emotional development and fewer behavior problems than did regular students (n=323). The accelerated eighth graders who entered school early or skipped elementary grades did not report social isolation, emotional difficulties, or behavior problems.

Cornell, D. G., Callahan, C. M., & Loyd, B. H. (1991). Socioemotional adjustment of adolescent girls enrolled in a residential acceleration program. Gifted Child Quarterly, 35(2), 58–66.

The prospective study of adolescent girls enrolled in a residential early college entrance program investigated whether socioemotional adjustment could be predicted by prior personality and family characteristics. Adjustment was assessed from staff, student, and peer perspectives over the course of one academic year. Results indicate consistent predictive relationships between the Jackson Personality Inventory, the Self-Perception Profile for Adolescents, the Family Environment Scale, the Parent Adolescent Communication Scale, and four outcome adjustment measures. The importance of studying individual differences in how students adjust in acceleration programs is emphasized.

Bower, B. (1990). Academic acceleration gets social lift. Science News, 138(14), 212–222.

Reported are the findings of a study of the effects of academic acceleration on the social and emotional adjustments of students. Subjects included 1,247 12 to 14 year olds who scored in the top 1% on a national mathematics examination. The advantages of academic acceleration are emphasized.

Proctor, T. B., Black, K. N., & Feldhusen, J. F. (1986). Early admission of selected children to elementary school: A review of the research literature. The Journal of Educational Research, 80(2), 70–76.

Twenty-one studies reporting on early admission of selected children to elementary school are reviewed and discussed in terms of methodological design and findings. Two major kinds of designs were found. Comparisons of early entrants with their unselected classmates found, in general, no negative effects. Comparisons of early entrants with matched samples suggested that early admission may be preferable. Additional research is needed to formulate an ideal policy concerning early admission.

Pollins, L. (1983). The effects of acceleration on the social and emotional development of gifted students. In C. P. Benbow & J. C. Stanley (Eds.), Academic precocity: Aspects of its development (pp. 113-138). Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.

From the two perspectives of a literature review and a longitudinal comparison of accelerants and non-accelerants, an examination of the potential effects of acceleration on the social and emotional development of gifted students revealed no identifiable negative effects. The literature review discusses several major studies with respect to issues central to the problem: the differential effects of varying methods of acceleration, the definition of the "social and emotional development" construct, and the identification of appropriate reference groups. The longitudinal comparison presents the results of a study of twenty-one male radical accelerants and twenty-one nonaccelerants matched on age and ability at the time of the talent search. A comparison on several variables revealed that the two groups were very similar at age 13. Five years later, however, differences favoring the accelerants were found in educational aspirations and in the perceived use of educational opportunities, amount of help they reported having received from SMPY, and their evaluation of SMPY's influence on their social and emotional development.