Managing Big-fish-little-pond effect: counselling support for facilitation of positive outcomes


Transition from elementary to secondary education in Slovenia happens at the age 15. Academically successful students often choose to continue their education in gymnasia programmes. They change their social environment and the same time are faced with new classmates and an increased learning load. The situation is typical for big-fish-little-pond social phenomena to take place. Many gifted students, especially if they choose a school with high admission criterion, develop less favourable academic self-concept then they probably would in peer groups, which can lead to motivational difficulties and underachievement or even more severe social and emotional issues. The author argues negative effects of peer comparison within groups of gifted students can be moderated and even used as learning experience for personal growth. She presents a few practice examples of how school counsellors can contribute to facilitation of positive social and personal outcomes. In some cases, support with reframing and other counselling techniques is sufficient. In others, school counsellors may use their in-school position to influence social context of individual students to some extent. Combination of influencing the individual and their social context within a school seems to be most efficient. School counsellors in Slovenia have a unique position of communicating with the child and parents on one side and the class master and other teachers on the other. Additionally they get to communicate with the child’s peers and can customize preventive group activities for the whole class to facilitate inclusion and cooperation.