is an educational
label applied to students
, who perform better than their peers when normalized for the instructor's perceptions of background, intelligence
. The implicit presumption is that the "overachiever" is achieving superior results through excessive effort.
Overachievers are generally contrasted with underachievers who perform less well than the instructor thinks they should given their intelligence.
While the concept of over- and underachievers has wide acceptance among practicing teachers, it remains a controversial topic on several points:
- Both are labels which implicitly affect teacher behavior. This frequently leads the labels to become self-fulfilling prophecies.
- The labels are based on a static and incomplete understanding of the nature of intelligence. The ability to concentrate and to work in a dedicated manner can not be separated from a person's "native" or "raw" intelligence in any meaningfully testable way.
The term "overachievement" is occasionally applied in other contexts; for example, a country with an unsustainably high per capita income might be described as "overachieving". In sports, players or teams that significantly exceed the general preseason expectations for them are called "overachievers."