Date of Award

Spring 1-21-2019

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Phillip Pendley

Second Advisor

Rhonda Buss

Third Advisor

George Giokaris


Purpose: The purpose of this phenomenological qualitative study was to describe how expert teachers at the high school level perceive the impact of rigor, relevance, and personalized learning on the learning experience and achievement of gifted and talented (GATE) students.

Methodology: Data collected for this study included classroom observations, interviews, and documents. The target population consisted of public high school teachers of gifted learners in grades 9-12. Moreover, teacher participants were chosen using both purposeful and emergent sampling procedures.

Findings: For this phenomenological study, there were 15 teacher participants from both Los Angeles and Orange County. The study utilized mixed methods to develop a valid understanding of natural occurrences related to the research questions. Additionally, the researcher employed the used of thick descriptions as another method of advancing external validity.

Conclusions: Experts in education indicated personalized learning and the rigor and relevance framework were effective methods for learners and specifically gifted learners.

Recommendations: The research did not produce a unified methodology incorporating differentiation, personalized learning, rigor, and relevance in a single framework. Implications suggested a need to develop a concise framework incorporating these theories to implement student-centered curricula, effective in-class strategies, and a defined approach for students becoming active participants in their own learning.