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49:2 Spring 2005 - Important Role of Optimism

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Title:   The Important Role of Optimism in a Motivational Investigation of the Education of Gifted Adolescents 
 Author(s):  Katherine Hoekman, John McCormick, Kerry Barnett
 Year:   2005
 Volume:   49
 Number:   2
 Page Number(s):  99-110
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     Intellectually gifted 7th-grade students were surveyed approximately halfway through their 1st year of high school in order to investigate relationships between motivational and affective variables, commitment to schoolwork, and satisfaction with school.  The results of the confirmatory factor analyses and structural equation modeling suggest that relationships of mediating variables such as optimism, strain on coping resources, extrinsic motivation, and intrinsic motivation with satisfaction with school and commitment to schoolwork should be considered in the context of the motivational needs of gifted students.



     Perhaps the most important implication for further research and current practice is the identification of the central role of optimism, which was found to be positively associated with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation and indirectly with satisfaction with school and commitment to schoolwork.  It was also found to be negatively associated with strain on coping resources.  In this context, Carver and Scheier (1999) have noted that a growing body of literature supports the idea that expectations of favorable outcomes that characterize optimism have an important impact on how people respond to adversity and difficulty.  The results of this study lend support for the explanatory style associated with optimism (Seligman, 1991, 2002), which may minimize negative effects of anxiety.  These findings also provide further support for the recommendation that the strategies of providing students with meaningful and challenging opportunities for personal growth in the context of strong social support networks merits serious attention in helping gifted students negotiate the successful transition into high school.