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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Examining the evolution of the Transition Program preparing academically gifted students for early entrance to university Danylchuk, Daria

Abstract

The VSB/UBC Transition Program is a Ministry of Education Provincial Resource Program for highly academically gifted young adolescents. Unique to British Columbia and Canada since its inception in 1993, the two-year program is currently housed on the UBC campus and affiliated with University Hill Secondary School. Despite an extraordinary range of hurdles - which are fully discussed and analyzed in this study - the eventual establishment of an early entrance to university program is seen as a remarkable accomplishment of educational leadership and organizational learning involving institutional partnerships, flexible governance and a shared commitment to academically gifted young people. The study examined the complexities of implementing a unique educational innovation for academically highly gifted young students in a university setting and in a provincial context which has not traditionally favored support for the highly gifted. The study had two phases. An historical narrative traced the development of this innovation and described how the current program model evolved in response to student needs. Documentary evidence based on original documents and interviews with program developers, implementers, and participants provided a multi-faceted perspective of the program's complex history and highlighted factors contributing to program success for students, as well as problems encountered along the way. Building upon this narrative, the second phase surveyed and then analyzed the views and expectations of students, parents, and staff as well as program planners at different stages of the program. These various perspectives were used to advance an understanding of how and why this unique program developed as it did, and how its participants variously responded to a wide range of expectations and needs to arrive at the current delivery model. The study concludes with a discussion of critical issues and documents the strengths and unmet needs of academically gifted students that have emerged over the course of the program's development. It culminates by providing an understanding of key elements related to program success for gifted youth together with recommendations for future program development and a broader array of programs and services for academically gifted students in secondary schools and post-secondary institutions in BC. The study ends by encouraging more support for educational innovations that respond to the developmentally unique needs of all students, and a commitment to on-going short term as well as longitudinal research on the Transition Program and its graduates.

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