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Benefits of Programs

What are the academic and social benefits of participating in Programs for Talented Youth programs?

FOR SAVY

Saturday Academy at Vanderbilt for the Young provides Saturday and summer opportunities for academically advanced students in grades K-6. Research-based curriculum found to be effective with promising students is implemented in most of the SAVY classrooms. Vanderbilt students and educators occasionally pilot newly developed curriculum written for the gifted and measure the effectiveness. Commercial curriculum used in the majority of classes is carefully selected for its empirical evidence of effectiveness in promoting content acquisition and critical thinking skills within the content discipline as evidenced through quasi-experimental research projects.

Students reported that SAVY, as compared to their typical school experience, provided:

  • More academically-minded friends*
  • More difficult courses*
  • More enjoyable classes**
  • Teachers who were encouraging*
  • A stronger desire to attend class*
  • Opportunities to engage in critical thinking*

Students also reported that it was just as easy to make friends, be encouraged by teachers and feel liked both at their school and at SAVY. Parents also found the overall SAVY experience to be positive and reported that the courses are a good academic fit for their child.

FOR VSA

Vanderbilt Summer Academy provides intense and accelerated academic programs during the summer for students going into grades 8-12. Vanderbilt faculty and scholars teach these advanced courses, designed similar to undergraduate college classes. Vanderbilt students serve as proctors and host these middle and high school students. Proctors share experiences about college life on the Vanderbilt campus. Parents are encouraged to meet with faculty members upon conclusion of each summer academy. Faculty members provide an assessment for each student outlining their ability to perform in a fast-paced, accelerated course and how each student exhibits the intrapersonal skills necessary for success in a university setting.

When asked to compare their VSA experience with their typical school, students reported that at VSA:

  • They were more comfortable interacting with other students in their grade*
  • The instructors better understood their academic needs*
  • They were more engaged in the classes*
  • The classes were more interesting*
  • They were well-liked by others*
  • The faculty had higher expectations*
  • The courses were appropriately challenging*
  • Their opinions mattered*
  • They could be themselves*
  • They experienced encouraging peers*
  • They were excited about learning*
  • They found it easier to make friends*
  • They were motivated to learn more*

Students at VSA also reported that at their home school they:

  • Were more likely to be bored*
  • Felt more confident in their academic abilities*
  • Felt more pressure to be the smartest in the class*

There were no differences between school and VSA in their belief in their own academic abilities as well as their perceptions of others’ beliefs in their academic abilities.

All courses at VSA are consistently rated above 3.5 in all areas on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being exceptional. Student ratings on other aspects of the VSA including activities, proctors, professors and the overall VSA experience average approximately 3.5 on a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 being the highest. The overwhelming majority of students suggest that VSA is a worthwhile experience and they would attend again.

FOR WAVU

Weekend Academy at Vanderbilt University provides accelerated and innovated laboratory opportunities for advanced students in grades 7-10 during one intensive Saturday experience. Students explore advanced academic and professional careers in a hands-on, lab environment. Courses are taught by Vanderbilt faculty, professionals in their field, and doctoral students for approximately 7 hours of course engagement, which culminate in a parent-invited open house for the final 30 minutes. 

While the format of WAVU has changed for the 2016-2017 academic year, the foundation of WAVU remains the same. When asked to compare their previous WAVU experience with their typical school, students reported that at WAVU:

  • They were more comfortable interacting with other students in their grade/class*
  • They were less bored**
  • The instructors better understood their academic needs**
  • They were more engaged in the classes**
  • The classes were more interesting**
  • They felt more popular*
  • The faculty had higher expectations**
  • The courses were appropriately challenging**
  • Their opinions mattered**
  • They could be themselves*
  • They experienced encouraging peers*
  • They were excited about learning**
  • They were comfortable expressing their thoughts and ideas*

There were no differences between students’ ratings of WAVU and their school when examining confidence in their academic abilities, how smart they feel, and how comfortable they are in planned social activities.

All courses at WAVU are consistently rated above 3.6 in all areas on a scale of 1 to 4 with 4 being exceptional.  Almost 100 percent of students say they would return again. With the new WAVU format and structure, we look forward to gathering data that specifically reflects the evolution of WAVU and its continued impact on our students and families. 

*p<.05  **P<.001