Date of Completion


Embargo Period


Major Advisor

Orville Karan

Associate Advisor

Robin Grenier

Associate Advisor

Melissa Bray

Associate Advisor

Joseph Renzulli

Associate Advisor

Sally Reis

Field of Study

Educational Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Open Access

Open Access


Twice exceptional learners are typically defined as learners who fit the description of gifted while also meeting the parameters for a learning difference, such as learning disabilities, autism spectrum disorders, emotional disturbances, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, etc. These students have special social/emotional needs and special needs in education, and are at particular risk of underachievement and not meeting their full academic potential. The bulk of the previous research has focused primarily on gifted students with learning disabilities, and also has been conducted principally in primary and secondary education settings. This study examined four gifted post-secondary students with a variety of learning differences in a qualitative exploration of their perceptions and experiences. The study utilized basic interpretive qualitative methodology, and gathered data using an open-ended questionnaire and one-on-one semi-structured interviews with the students to gain information relating to the students’ perceptions and experiences as a twice exceptional learner. The findings of this study suggest that many twice exceptional learners have negative experiences and endure traumas related to their diagnosis in the school setting. It was also found that these learners are often unsure of their place in peer groups and feel different from others; they are often hesitant to disclose their diagnosis due to concerns of judgment or misunderstandings. In spite of these traumas, the findings indicate that the learners in this study display resiliency and are able to overcome obstacles. It was found that family support, developing compensation strategies and coping mechanisms, stress management, and accommodating school staff were found to play a large role in student academic success. This dissertation compares this study’s findings to previous research, discusses the implications of these findings, and offers suggestions for future research.