Self-concept of gifted students: The reddening and blackening effects

Based on an ancient Chinese saying that "near vermillion, you turn red; near sepia, you turn black", when gifted students are grouped together, a vermillion (reddening) effect may result from assimilation. In contrast, when gifted students are grouped with non-gifted students, a sepia (blackening) effect may operate. However, recent theories have also shown a big-fish-little-pond (BFLP) effect resulting from comparison. Four groups of primary students (N=757) were placed into 3 classes. Class 1 had gifted students from Group 1. Class 2 had Group 2 (gifted) and Group 3 (average) students placed together. Average students of Group 4 were placed in class 3. When a gifted program for classes 1 and 2 started, Groups 1 and 2 (the big fish) had higher self-concept than Group 4 (the small fish) but Group 2 did not score higher than Group 3. One year later, whereas Groups 1 and 2 remained higher than Group 4, Group 2 scored higher than Group 3. Initially, there was a strong blackening effect for the big fish in Group 2, but a strong BFLP effect operated later. The results cast doubt on the provision of gifted programs where gifted students are pulled out from the regular classroom.