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Published: July 13, 2011

Longitudinal study

A long-term research project that measures certain characteristics of a specific group of subjects over many years. Enormously difficult to conduct and often of questionable validity, longitudinal studies have, from time to time, been used by educators to measure the effects of various types of education. One of the first, and still among the most renowned, longitudinal studies was by LEWIS M. TERMAN and his associates, who followed a group of 1,528 gifted children (with I.Q.s above 140) from 1922 until 1962, six years after Terman’s death. The study attempted to investigate the connections between I.Q. and a large assortment of other characteristics, including intellectual and academic achievement, occupation, family income, marital status, health, general adjustment and feelings of accomplishment. A second renowned longitudinal study was “The EIGHT-YEAR STUDY” of the effects of progressive education on the academic, artistic and extracurricular achievements between 1930 and 1938 of 1,475 students from 30 selected high schools. It compared their achievements with those of 1,475 matched students who had not experienced progressive education.
The furthest reaching longitudinal study ever conducted in the field of education is called PROJECT TALENT, a study that began in 1960 with 440,000 students in grades 9 through 12 in more than 1,300 high schools—about 5% of all the schools in the United States. The study assessed student talents, aptitudes, abilities and interests every year the students remained in high school, and then one, five, 10 and 20 years after they graduated.