Characteristics of High-Achieving Students and the Effectiveness of a Low-Cost Program in Three New Zealand Universities

Pam Millward
The University of Auckland

Christine Rubie-Davies
The University of Auckland

Janna Wardman
The University of Auckland

This article reports on the final phase of a three-phase project and investigates the characteristics of high-achieving students at a university. It also reports student evaluations of a low-cost program aimed at supporting them, assesses their levels of satisfaction, and evaluates the applicability of the program across three institutions in the tertiary sector in New Zealand. Quantitative data were collected from 126 participants prior to the introduction of the program and 55 participants were interviewed. End-of-year data were gathered via a questionnaire and one focus group interview. The findings indicated that the participants appeared to have stronger intrinsic motivation, resilience, and self-belief when compared with participants from other undergraduate groups participating in international studies. Interviewed participants expressed pleasure at being identified as high-achieving, appreciated their involvement in the study, and as a consequence were considering transitioning to postgraduate study. We concluded that this low-cost program was an effective strategy for supporting high-achieving undergraduate students across three different universities’ departments and that other tertiary institutions might find the strategy useful.

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