CONTACT: STEPHEN PRADARELLI
300 Plaza Centre One
Iowa City IA 52242
(319) 384-0007; fax (319) 384-0024
Release: Oct. 30, 2002
UI graduate student to receive national dissertation award
Despite overwhelming evidence that academically gifted students' early entrance
into college is a positive experience, many educators and parents remain skeptical.
"They are afraid that these exceptionally gifted students will become
emotionally or socially maladjusted if they are allowed to skip their senior
year of high school and miss out on high school activities such as the prom,"
said Michelle Muratori, a doctoral student in counselor education in the University
of Iowa's College of Education.
So from the fall 1999 to spring 2002, Muratori investigated the matter herself.
She interviewed 10 students in the Connie Belin & Jacqueline N. Blank
International Center for Gifted Education and Talent Development's early entrance
program, the National Academy of Arts, Sciences and Engineering (NAASE), where
she worked as a graduate assistant.
The result was a dissertation titled "A Follow-up Study Examining the
College Adjustment of Early Entrance Students," which has been selected
by the National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) to receive its 2002
Dissertation Research Award. Muratori will receive the award Saturday, Nov.
2, during the NAGC's annual convention in Denver, where she will also present
her findings. The award carries a $500 grant intended to support dissertation
"Receiving the award is a great honor," Muratori said. "I
am flattered that my work is being recognized by NAGC. Credit for this achievement
also belongs to Dr. Nicholas Colangelo and Dr. Susan Assouline, the director
and associate director of the Belin-Blank Center, because they have been so
generous with their support and guidance."
A native of Anaheim Hills, Calif., Muratori received her bachelor's degree
in human services, with a minor in psychology (with honors), from California
State University-Fullerton and her master's degree in the counseling psychology
program at Northwestern University. The dissertation for which Muratori is
being recognized by NAGC is a follow-up to her master's thesis, "First-Semester
Impressions of Early-Entrance Students," based on initial interviews
with the 10 NAASE students. The master's thesis earned Muratori the Iowa Talented
and Gifted Association 2000 Research Award and will soon be published in Gifted
Child Quarterly, the flagship journal in the field of gifted and talented
As a graduate assistant at the Belin-Blank Center, Muratori provided support
to NAASE students, helping organize meetings and social activities for them,
and assisted with clinical consultations. NAASE, created in 1999, gives select
students who have completed course work equivalent to the junior year in high
school a chance to accelerate their academic careers.
Over the course of two years Muratori interviewed NAASE students to see
how they were adjusting to college. She also interviewed parents, NAASE administrators,
UI faculty, and resident advisors and surveyed high school teachers. Her research
findings counter myths about gifted teenagers entering college early and show
that there are positive outcomes associated with this form of acceleration.
"Early entrance to college is certainly not appropriate for every gifted
student," she says. "However, for certain highly able students who
are ready for the challenge, it may be exactly what they need. And I demonstrate
that point in my research."
Muratori is currently sifting through all the data she's collected for her
final dissertation, which she may turn into a book.
"I am still writing up the findings, but the data is very rich and
I think the gifted education community will definitely be interested in the
findings," she said.