Title

THE PERCEIVED EFFECTS OF AN EARLY ENRICHMENT EXPERIENCE: A FORTY YEAR FOLLOW-UP STUDY OF THE SPEYER SCHOOL EXPERIMENT FOR GIFTED STUDENTS

Date of Completion

January 1984

Keywords

Education, Special

Degree

Ph.D.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to follow-up a group of individuals who were identified at an early age as gifted and attended an experimental enrichment program at Speyer School in New York City from 1935 to 1940. Leta Stetter Hollingworth, who was the educational advisor to these rapid learners (called Terman Classes), was the first educator to advocate enrichment as an appropriate model for gifted education in this county.^ Prior to this experiment with enrichment, Hollingworth directed another school (P.S. 126) in New York City that was based on acceleration. Her interest in the social and emotional development of these students and her belief that gifted students should be given time to allow their social and emotional growth to catch up with their intellectual development led to her philosophical change from acceleration to enrichment.^ This study was the result of a donation of research and documents to The University of Connecticut from the widow of Hollingworth's research assistant, James G. Thomas. This material included a follow-up study that Thomas had begun as well as directories of the students with whom he had kept in contact. Thomas' research is now a part of the Hollingworth Archives at The University of Connecticut.^ Twenty-eight of the students who attended the Terman Classes at Speyer School were located and 20 of this group completed and returned a questionnaire. From information supplied in the questionnaire, eight subjects were selected for extensive interviews based on male/female ratio, accessibility, and inclusion of Hollingworth's book, Children Above 180 IQ.^ This qualitative study focused on the subjects' adult achievement, education, career choice, avocational interests, occupational history and current family status, attitudes about education and their age of highest productivity.^ The subjects believe this experience was instrumental in providing them with peer interaction, exposing them to competition, causing them to learn and like school for the first time, giving them a strong desire to excel and providing new exposures that were not possible in other schools in New York City at that time. ^