Date of Submission


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)



Department Chair

Robert A. DiTomasso, Ph.D., ABPP

First Advisor

George McCloskey, Ph.D., Chairperson

Second Advisor

Terri Erbacher. Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Kim Maguire, Ed.D.


It is possible that teachers are more likely to refer for gifted support students who are highly productive in class rather than students with classroom production difficulties such as those commonly exhibited by students with ADHD or other executive function-related difficulties. Some research support has been found for this hypothesis. In a study by Zentall, Moon, Hall, and Grskovic (2001), students diagnosed with ADHD, whether identified as academically gifted or not, were described as underachievers by their teachers (Zentall et al., 2001). There can be similar behavioral characteristics between ADHD and giftedness, including hyperactivity, disruptive behavior, and a tendency to challenge authority (Leroux & Levitt-Perelman, 2000). This study intended to assess teacher perceptions of the executive functioning of the students they referred for gifted testing, using the BRIEF checklist. It was suspected that students referred for gifted testing by their classroom teacher would have “better” (lower) BRIEF scores than those students not referred by their classroom teacher but who were found to have IQs in the superior to very superior range. It was hypothesized that teachers tend to refer based on “good student” behaviors such as productivity, task completion, motivation, and perseverance. This is contrary to traditional indicators of giftedness, which include creativity, higher level thinking skills, and quick processing speed. Findings supported the hypothesis because a greater number of parent-referred students were rated as having deficits in executive functioning as compared with teacher-referred students. Additionally, the brightest students were rated as having the most severe executive functioning difficulties and all were referred by parents.