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Accelerating the first-year – catering to the unique needs of gifted business students in tertiary education

Thursday 4 July: Conference day two, 4:45pm – 5:15pm parallel session



Room 1 – 302-G20, Case Room  



Dr Parizad Mulla
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Associate Professor Richard Brookes
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Dr Michelle Kilkolly-Proffit
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Tom Agee

Dr Douglas Carrie
University of Auckland, New Zealand

Herbert Sima
University of Auckland, New Zealand



Challenging and engaging top-performing students, while simultaneously nurturing those who struggle, can be difficult (Carrie et al., 2017).  A core team of staff at The University of Auckland Business School found support for the idea that top students excel not only through curricular extension, but also under deeper and more meaningful forms of socialisation through interactions with other top students, faculty members and the broader organisation (Weidman, 2006). Roberson and Franchini (2014) addressed extending students’ learning by engaging in projects, and then mentoring future participants, and Kift (2002) discussed the practical value that practicing professionals can add through projects. There have been calls for reconfigured curriculums specifically for high achieving students and gifted underachievers (Reis in Borland 2003).  However, few studies focus on large class settings in Business Schools.

By introducing ‘Accelerate’, the team has run a program in 2017 and 2018 aimed at extending a small number (30) of our highest performing first-year students in a real-world context outside the classroom (Mulla et al., 2017).  Our NVivo analysis of post-programme focus group responses shows that in both years the ‘Accelerate’ program has succeeded in: (a) engaging top students beyond the standard classroom curriculum; (b) providing them with a challenging applied project experience with an external organisation, where ‘pride’ in achievement supplants the need for grades; and (c) creating tangible value for the external organisation through their engagement with our top students.  These findings illustrate that our most high-performing first-year students are able to meet key criteria of the Business School’s postgraduate profile: knowledge, critical thinking, solution seeking, communication and engagement, independence and integrity, and social and environmental responsibilities.


Presentation topic

Students – Wellbeing and Success

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