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THE EFFECT OF A STUDENT-DEVELOPED PERSONAL
TRANSITION PORTFOLIO ON STUDENT
SELF-EFFICACY RELATED TO TRANSITION READINESS
ELIZABETH HERMAN GIBBS
A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL
OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA
UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA LiBRARES
I believe it takes a network of support to see a
dissertation to completion and most of my support was in
place for years prior to my dissertation. What I treasure
the most is that I owe my appreciation not just to people,
but to friends.
I am grateful to my committee chairperson, Dr. Stuart
E. Schwartz; my committee cochairperson, Dr. Jeanne Repetto;
and my committee members, Dr. Cecil Mercer, Dr. Cary
Reichard, and Dr. David Miller. I also appreciate the
service of Dr. James Hensel on my committee until his
retirement. Each one, at different times and in unique ways
during my program, has guided and supported me through a
demanding and rigorous program.
I want to acknowledge and thank the many people that
were so helpful in the three school districts where the
study was conducted. Without the administrators and
department directors who opened their schools to research
and the teachers who took the time to learn a new program
and made the effort to implement it in their classrooms and
take the extra steps that research involves, this study
would not have been possible.
I am very grateful for the assistance and friendship of
my comrades at the Florida Network and in the Department of
Special Education. Dr. Kristine Webb knew exactly when to
inspire and when to allow freedom. Vicki Tucker has always
made me look good ever since the very beginning when she
encouraged me to enter Project LITE: Leaders in Transition
Education. My thank you goes to Sharry Knight, Patty
LeFevers, and Sabrina Thomson and the other support staff
for being there with a smile and an encouraging word,
willing to help. I also want to thank Sybil Brown for her
friendly and knowledgeable assistance.
Without my fellow doctoral students it just would not
have been the same. Many friends have offered words of
encouragement and support. The comradery of all the Florida
"Networkers" was very valuable to me. Dollean and I have
had great adventures. Laura and I have shared tears,
laughter, fears, and success. LuAnn has provided motivation
and confidence many times at just the right moments. She
convinced me I belonged in the first place and stood by me
every step of the way. Special thanks go to all my fellow
doctoral students. We have persevered together and that has
made it all the better.
I think the world would be a happier place if everyone
had a family like mine. I truly have been blessed. My
parents, Carl and Jo Herman, have always been there for me.
They have inspired me and guided by example, but most
importantly they have taught me to care for others. My
brothers, Richard and Daniel, and their families have been
encouraging and supportive always. My uncle and aunt, Bob
and Nancy Ernst, make me feel very special and seem to know
just when to call. What a joy my husband's grandmother is.
She has motivated me to succeed. I appreciate the support
of the entire Gibbs family.
My greatest love and appreciation go to my husband,
James Harrison Gibbs, my son, Carl, and my daughter, Liza.
The people who ask me how I can be a doctoral candidate and
manage a family do not understand. It is the love of my
family that gives me the assurance and strength of
conviction to continue. I do not have the words to express
how much I appreciate my best friend, James Harrison.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ... ii
LIST OF TABLES ... v ii
ABSTRACT . ix
1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM ... .. 1
Transition Planning ... .. 2
Educational Planning ... .. 2
Postschool Success ... .. 3
Empowering Students ... .. 4
Portfolios ... .. 4
Self-Efficacy .. .. 5
Statement of the Purpose ... .... 5
Statement of the Problem ... ... 6
Rationale .. ... 9
Involving Students in Transition Planning 9
Transition Portfolios as a Tool .. 11
Definition of Terms ... 13
Delimitations ... .. 16
Limitations . 17
Summary . 17
2 REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE ... .. 19
Criteria for Selection of Relevant Literature 19
Transition Issues .. 21
An Outcome-Oriented Process .. .22
Student-Centered .. 25
Empower Students . 26
Five Transition Focus Areas .. .31
Successful Adults with Disabilities and Goal
Setting . 35
Successful Adults with Mild Disabilities 35
Goal Setting in the Classroom .. .39
Self-Efficacy . 42
Self-Efficacy Theory .............. 42
Self-Efficacy Change Strategies .. .45
Portfolios . 49
A Format for Student and Family
As Assessment Tools .
Effective Transition Programs
3 METHOD . .
Hypotheses . .
Subjects and Setting .
Research Instrumentation .
Pretest and Posttest .
Portfolio Evaluation .
Materials . .
Personal Transition Portfolio Strategy
Phase One: Pilot Study .
Phase Two: Portfolio Intervention
Education . .
Phase Three: Portfolio Intervention
Phase Four: Final Evaluation .
Experimental Design and Analysis of Data .
4 RESULTS . .
Introduction . .
Interrater Reliability for Portfolio Grading .
Portfolio Content Validation and Measurement
Criteria . .
Demographic Characteristics of Participants .
Univariate Analyses .
Correlation Coefficients .
Hypotheses . .
Hypothesis 1 . .
Hypothesis 2 . .
Hypothesis 3 . .
Related Findings . .
Gender . .
Ethnicity . .
Age . .
Grade . .
Summary . .
5 DISCUSSION .
Summary of the Hypotheses .
Hypothesis 1 . .
Hypothesis 2 . .
Hypothesis 3 .
Theoretical Implications of the Research
Findings . .
i i i I
Hypothesis 1 . 109
Hypothesis 2 . .. 113
Hypothesis 3 . .. 118
Additional Results .. 120
Feedback From Students and Staff .. .122
Limitations to the Present Study .. .124
Suggestions for Future Research .. .126
Summary . 127
A PARENTAL CONSENT FORM .. .131
B SUMMARY OF THE PERSONAL TRANSITION PORTFOLIO
GUIDE ... .. 132
C PERSONAL TRANSITION PORTFOLIO OUTLINE OF
TEACHER INSERVICE .. .135
D PANEL OF EXPERTS .. 138
E PORTFOLIO EVALUATION .. .139
REFERENCES . ... 140
BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH . .. 149
LIST OF TABLES
1 Descriptive Information for Research Groups 90
2 Chi-Square Analysis by Grade Range ... .92
3 Group Means on Pretest, Posttest, and Portfolio .93
4 Pearson Correlation Coefficients ... .94
5 Repeated Measures ANOVA for Pretest to Posttest .95
6 T-test for the Portfolio Evaluation .96
7 Source Table of the Multiple Regression Analysis 97
8 Variable Table of the Multiple Regression Analysis
of Hypothesis 3 ... .97
9 Source Table of the Multiple Regression Analysis
of Hypothesis 3 by Treatment Group (Comparison
Group) . ... .99
10 Variable Table of the Multiple Regression Analysis
of Hypothesis 3 by Treatment Group (Comparison
Group . ... .99
11 Source Table of the Multiple Regression Analysis
of Hypothesis 3 by Treatment Group (Experimental
Group) . ... 100
12 Variable Table of the Multiple Regression Analysis
of Hypothesis 3 by Treatment Group (Experimental
Group) . ... 100
13 Means on Pretest, Posttest, and Portfolio by
Category . ... 101
Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate School of
the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy
THE EFFECT OF A STUDENT-DEVELOPED PERSONAL
TRANSITION PORTFOLIO ON STUDENT
SELF-EFFICACY RELATED TO TRANSITION READINESS
Elizabeth Herman Gibbs
Chairman: Stuart E. Schwartz, Ed.D.
Major Department: Special Education
The purpose of this investigation was (a) to determine
the effectiveness of teaching high school students with mild
disabilities to develop transition portfolios and (b) to
compare the effects of two different methods of developing
portfolios on the students' self-efficacy related to
Portfolios supplied the framework for teaching high
school students with mild disabilities to identify and
explore their own transition goals. The subjects in the
study were students in varying exceptionalities classes in
five high schools.
The study included a pretest, an implementation phase,
and a posttest. A comparison was made among the students in
three different groups (a) experimental, (b) comparison, and
(c) control. In both the experimental and comparison groups
the students received instruction in personal transition
portfolio development. Additionally, the students in the
experimental group initiated contact with community members
to gather information for their transition portfolios. The
students in the comparison group used traditional classroom
activities and materials to gather information for their
Analyses of the results included (a) a repeated
measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) to determine
differences among the treatment groups between the pretest
and the posttest, (b) a t test to investigate group
differences in the final evaluation scores of the transition
portfolios, and (c) a regression analysis to test the
relationship between treatment groups of the portfolio
evaluation score and the final self-efficacy. Additional
regression analysis investigated the relationship among the
pretest, posttest, and portfolio score within treatment
The performance on the posttest was significantly
higher than performance on the pretest for all groups, even
though no significant differences were found among the
research groups between the initial and final self-efficacy.
Comparison of the final evaluation score of the transition
portfolios revealed no significant differences between
treatment groups. No significant differences were found
between treatment groups when examining the relationship
between final self-efficacy and final portfolio evaluation
score. However, further analysis revealed a significant
relationship among the pretest, posttest, and final
portfolio evaluation within the experimental group. The
results of this investigation provide practical implications
for classroom instruction and future research.
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM
Portfolios have been implemented in education in
numerous ways. Educational portfolios have been
demonstrated to increase communication and to involve
students in the educational process. Both communication and
student involvement are vital to successful transition
planning. The intention of transition planning is to design
individualized, educational programs based on the unique,
dreams, interests, and desires of each student with a
This study explores the potential of transition
portfolios as a framework to involve high school students
with mild disabilities in the transition planning process.
The transition portfolio is a format for students to
identify their transition goals, express their dreams,
explore their options, discover their educational needs, and
reflect on the results.
The purpose of this chapter is to present issues
critical to the present study and provide a rationale for
the study. This section addresses issues that relate to
secondary students with mild disabilities and to their
involvement in the transition planning process as part of
their preparation for postsecondary life.
The enactment of Pubic Law 101-476, the Individuals
with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), in 1990 broadened
the focus of transition planning for high school students
with disabilities. Transition services, as described by
IDEA (1990), provide a coordinated set of activities which
facilitate movement from school to postschool activities.
The transition services are designed within an outcome-
oriented process and are individualized for each student as
part of his or her individualized education plan (IEP). The
intent of the IDEA legislation is for transition services to
be based on the dreams, interests, and desires of the
student with a disability.
In the case of students with disabilities it is not
uncommon for the parents, family members, teachers, or
service providers, with the best of intentions, to move
forward with the decisions that will impact the student's
future (Halpern, 1994). Teachers and parents decide about
current programs and postschool plans. In many situations,
the students with disabilities have limited options to learn
how to make choices about their futures and to explore
potential opportunities. Still, transition services are to
be based on individual needs and take into account the
students' preferences and interests. "Students must be
taught, whenever possible, how to examine and evaluate their
own academic, vocational, independent living, and
personal/social skills" (Halpern, 1994, pp. 118-119).
Students with disabilities must be encouraged to identify
postschool goals. Additionally, they need to be involved in
the selection of appropriate educational options to prepare
for those goals.
Researchers have indicated that students with
disabilities traditionally do not fare as well after
graduation as their nondisabled peers in terms of transition
to adult life (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996; Edgar, 1987; Rusch
& Phelps, 1987). The researchers found that, after
completing high school, many young adults with mild
disabilities were unemployed or underemployed (Blackorby &
Wagner, 1996; Rusch & Phelps, 1987), not involved in their
community (Mithaug, Horiuchi, & Fanning, 1985), not living
independently (Benz & Halpern, 1987; Blackorby & Wagner,
1996; Edgar, 1987), or not very satisfied with their post
high school lives (Menchetti, English, Burkhead, Leach, &
Johnson, 1991; Rusch & Phelps, 1987).
When asked about their situations after high school,
the majority of the young adults with disabilities who were
not working indicated they would prefer to be working
(Rusch & Phelps, 1987). These students did not know how to
plan for change or explore their options. Johnson and Rusch
(1993), in their review of the literature on transition
services to identify areas for future research on parent and
student involvement, found that "none of the studies during
this review measured or addressed the extent of student
involvement in planning their exit from school" (p. 6).
Students with disabilities must be empowered (Clark,
Field, Patton, Brolin, & Sitlington, 1994; Field & Hoffman,
1994; Martin, Marshall, & Maxson, 1993). They need the
opportunity to set goals, explore them, and reflect on them.
Sands, Adams, and Stout (1995) found that "teachers believe
the IEP constitutes the curriculum for students with
disabilities" (p. 68). As such, "educational programs for
all students should be determined according to students'
unique interests, needs, and capabilities" (Falvey, Coots,
Bishop, & Grenot-Scheyer, 1989, p. 146). To be successful,
the transition process must help students gain a sense of
empowerment over their transition planning (Halpern, 1994).
Students need "opportunities to explore options and take
responsibility for choices, either for their present or
future lives" (Halpern, 1994, p.118).
Portfolios have been implemented in a variety of areas
in education in conjunction with the authentic assessment
trend. Some professionals consider them effective teaching
tools (Vavrus, 1990). Portfolios contribute unique
information as part of an assessment package. One of the
advantages is that the students are actively involved in the
Portfolios are a format where students can be given
responsibility. Portfolios have been found to (a) provide a
vehicle for communication, (b) involve students in goal
setting, (c) allow students to contribute to decisions about
required components and evaluation criteria, and (d) help
students learn to self-evaluate and reflect (Stiggins, 1994;
Vavrus, 1990; Wiggins, 1990).
Self-efficacy refers to the student's judgment of his
or her ability in the given area. As Bandura (1977b)
stated, "efficacy is the conviction that one can
successfully execute the behavior required to produce the
outcomes" (p. 79). Self-efficacy and goal setting are
closely related. Locke and Latham suggested that self-
efficacy "affects goal choice, goal commitment, and response
to feedback, and it also has a direct effect on performance"
(1990, p. 24).
According to Bandura's theory of self-efficacy (1977a),
a person's self-efficacy can be increased or influenced in a
positive way. Bandura highlighted performance
accomplishments as the most influential factor in terms of
changing a person's self-efficacy. Personal accomplishments
are also referred to as personal mastery experiences. Self-
instructed performance is one example of a personal mastery
Statement of the Purpose
The purpose of this research undertaking was twofold.
The first was to ascertain whether teaching high school
students with mild disabilities to develop their own
personal transition portfolios was an effective method of
increasing self-efficacy of transition readiness. The
second was to determine if, as Bandura's theory of self-
efficacy suggests, there is a difference in the final self-
efficacy score between two methods of instruction in
portfolio development. For the first method (experimental
group), in addition to classroom instruction, students
developed an action plan to contact and interview community
members. This method was designed to involve a personal
mastery experience. In the second method (comparison
group), students received traditional classroom instruction
and used classroom resources to develop personal transition
portfolios but did not contact community members.
Statement of the Problem
The problem investigated in this study was the
effectiveness of teaching students to develop a personal
transition portfolio. Additionally, this study was designed
to ascertain if there is a difference between the
effectiveness of two methods of personal transition
portfolio instruction. The effectiveness measure was based
on the students' self-efficacy of their transition
readiness, which is their judgement of their abilities in
the transition area. A comparison was made between the
final self-efficacy of the students in three different
groups after controlling for the initial self-efficacy. The
three groups were (a) experimental, (b) comparison, and (c)
In both the experimental and comparison groups students
received instruction in personal transition portfolio
development. Additionally, the students in the experimental
group received strategy instruction that involves an action
plan to initiate direct community contact. For each of the
five transition areas in the portfolio, the students in the
experimental group developed and implemented an action plan
to personally contact and interview at least two community
members. In addition, each student initiated a discussion
about each transition area with his or her parent or
The students in the comparison group also received
general instruction about the development of a personal
transition portfolio. The students in the comparison group
did not have the community contact component but discussed
issues about the five areas of transition with a parent or
guardian and researched the answers to questions using
traditional classroom procedures and resources.
The third group was the control group. The students in
the control group took the pretest and posttest but did not
develop a transition portfolio.
To address these research objectives the researcher
(a) developed and implemented a curriculum guide for
teaching students with disabilities to complete a personal
transition portfolio, (b) implemented a pretest-posttest
measure of the students' self-efficacy of transition
readiness, and (c) completed a final evaluation of the
student developed personal transition portfolios. Through
these activities the following research questions were
1. Is there a difference in the final self-efficacy
of transition readiness between (a) the students in the
experimental group who receive strategy instruction in
developing personal transition portfolios that involves an
action plan for direct community contact, (b) the students
in the comparison group who receive general instruction in
portfolio development, and (c) the students in the control
group who do not receive instruction in portfolio
2. Will students in the experimental group who
receive the strategy instruction in developing personal
transition portfolios receive higher evaluations on their
transition portfolios than students in the comparison group
who receive general instruction in portfolio development?
3. Is there a relationship between the final
evaluation score of the transition portfolio and the final
The effect of instruction in developing a personal
transition portfolio on the students' self-efficacy is
important for several reasons. First, the study expands the
current research data on student self-efficacy of transition
readiness. Second, the study investigates the effectiveness
of personal transition portfolios on the self-efficacy of
students with disabilities. Third, the study adds to the
limited research data on using transition planning
portfolios as an intervention with high school students with
The 1990 reauthorization of Public Law 94-142, the
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), mandated
that a transition plan be designed for each student in
special education by the age of 16 or by age 14 if
considered appropriate. Moreover, directives resulting from
the legislation are intended to ensure that students with
disabilities are invited to their IEP meeting and that the
educational planning components that address transition
planning be grounded in the needs, desires, and preferences
of the student with a disability.
Involving Students in Transition Planning
Since the reauthorization of IDEA (1990), many
researchers in transition education across the United States
(Clark & Patton, in press; Halpern et al., 1995; Martin &
Marshall, 1995; Perkins, Bailey, Repetto, & Schwartz, 1995;
Van Reusen, Bos, Schumaker, & Deshler, 1994) have responded
to the challenge of empowering students to identify and
express their future aspirations. The research has
progressed from different perspectives. Some researchers
have addressed self-evaluation (Clark & Patton, in press).
Others have developed curricula to guide educators in
empowering students with disabilities to identify goals
(Halpern et al., 1995; Perkins et al., 1995). Still others
have focused on involving the students in their own
transition planning (Martin & Marshall, 1995; Van Reusen et
al., 1994). Ideally, the students are learning to identify
their strengths and areas that need to be strengthened,
express their goals, and advocate for themselves, even to
the extent of leading their own IEP meetings.
In theory, the transition plan is very logical. The
student sets goals for the future. The individualized
transition plan is then developed to help best prepare the
student during high school to be able to achieve those goals
or prepare him or her for the next step in achieving those
goals. Gerber, Ginsberg, and Reiff (1992), from their
research with successful adults with learning disabilities,
suggested teaching students with learning disabilities how
to set a goal and how to identify discrete steps to
accomplish it. Spekman, Goldberg, and Herman (1992) also
reported that successful young adults with disabilities
frequently referred to the importance of the step-by-step
process of reaching goals and obtaining necessary skills.
Another important component in goal selection is the ability
to honestly assess one's strengths and weaknesses so the
goals are realistic and achievable (Gerber et al., 1992).
Moreover, when a student accomplishes one goal, it "becomes
the wellspring for self-efficacy and the inspiration for
setting a new goal" (Vogel, Hruby, & Adelman, 1993 p. 42).
Transition Portfolios as a Tool
Teaching students to develop and explore their goals is
a step in the transition planning process that can still be
expanded (Martin & Marshall, 1995). Transition portfolios
developed during high school can provide to students with
disabilities an opportunity to break their goals into
smaller steps and explore their goals within a supportive
environment. Portfolios are increasing in use in general
education and may be the vehicle to help students with
disabilities assess their strengths and weaknesses, explore
their potential goals, and practice the steps necessary to
take responsibility for finding information about
postsecondary options and opportunities.
While some researchers in special education have
focused on developing transition curricula (Halpern et al.,
1995), other researchers in education have been implementing
portfolios in new and interesting ways (Vavrus, 1990; Bloom
& Bacon, 1995). In general education, portfolios have been
introduced in the areas of (a) assessment, (b) program and
course modification, (c) program evaluation, (d) program
planning, and (e) career development. Portfolios help the
students reflect about their strengths and areas that need
to be addressed (Wolf, 1989). Wiggins (1989) reported that
portfolios teach students self-discipline, self-regulation,
The American School Counselor Association (ASCA) in
conjunction with the National Occupational Information
Coordinating Committee (NOICC) (1993) developed a school-to-
work planner, Get A Life: Your Personal Planner for Career
Development, and a planning portfolio, Get A Life: Your
Personal Planning Portfolio for Career Development (Van
Zandt, Perry, & Brawley, 1995). The planner is designed to
help students make career choices and develop an appropriate
educational plan. The portfolio is more comprehensive and
addresses the additional areas of self-knowledge and life
Guidance counselors use the portfolio with large groups
of students in general education as a structure within which
students can develop responsibility and ownership for short-
and long-term goals. However, during the pilot study by the
ASCA and the NOICC, the personal planning portfolio was not
found to be as effective in classes for students with
disabilities, since it was designed and used as a
presentation to large groups without individualized
instruction (personal communication, Nancy Perry, September
20, 1995). As the authors of the Personal Planning
Portfolio Facilitator's Manual stated (Van Zandt et al.,
1995), "some students may need individualized implementation
plans to derive the greatest benefit from the portfolio" (p.
48). Another limitation to using the personal planning
portfolio with students with disabilities is that it targets
career development (i.e., employment and personal
interests). It does not specifically address other
postschool areas considered important in transition planning
such as independent living, adult services, and community
involvement (Halpern, 1985).
The present study combines the research of transition
planning and student portfolio development. Information
from the study will add to the existing knowledge on
transition planning and portfolio development. The
additional aspect of assessing self-efficacy as a component
of transition readiness may determine each student's
conviction that they can execute the necessary behaviors for
successful postschool experiences. Bandura (1986)
demonstrated the importance of self-efficacy when he found
that "a strong sense of self-efficacy enables people to make
the most of their capabilities" (p. 465). The findings from
a systematic evaluation of personal transition portfolios
and their relationship to self-efficacy can inform
preservice and inservice teachers about effective techniques
in transition planning for students with disabilities.
Students are likely to benefit from their instructors'
increased knowledge in effective teaching strategies.
Definition of Terms
Career development "is a process which facilitates
responsible and satisfying life roles--that is, student,
worker, consumer, family member, and citizen--through the
utilization of teaching, counseling, and community
interventions" (Greene, 1995, inside front cover).
Empowering students "means teaching them to make
effective learning and development decisions and to advocate
for themselves" (Van Reusen et al., 1994, p.1).
A goal is described as an idea (Locke & Latham, 1990).
Additionally, "a goal is at the same time a target to aim
for and a standard by which to evaluate the adequacy of
one's performance" (Locke & Latham, p. 77).
Goal setting theory refers to "the relationship between
goals and action, or more specifically, goals and task
performance" (Locke & Latham, 1990, p. 9) and the factors
that influence the relationship (e.g. cognitive factors like
feedback, self-efficacy, and task strategies).
Goal selection is the basis of the transition planning
process. "Student needs and interests should be the primary
determinant in selecting those goals" (Halpern, 1994, p.
Portfolio as defined by Paulson, Paulson, and Meyer
a purposeful collection of student work that exhibits
the student's efforts, progress, and achievement in one
or more areas. The collection must include student
participation in selecting [portfolio] contents, the
criteria for selection, the criteria for judging merit,
and evidence of student self-reflection. (p. 60)
Self-advocacy "refers to an individual's ability to
effectively communicate, convey, negotiate or assert his or
her own interests, desires, needs, and rights. It involves
making informed decisions and taking responsibility for
those decisions" (Van Reusen, Bos, Schumaker, & Deshler,
Self-assessment is when people "take charge and
ownership of their own evaluations within the context of
customary assessment activities" (Halpern, 1994, p. 118).
Self-determination "is the ability to define and
achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing
oneself" (Field & Hoffman, 1994, p. 164).
Self-efficacy "is defined as people's judgements of
their capabilities to organize and execute courses of action
required to attain designated types of performances"
(Bandura, 1986, p. 391).
Self-regulation is the "process by which people
regulate their behavior through internal standards and self-
evaluative reactions to their behavior" (Bandura, 1986, p.
Strategy instruction involves teaching students to use
a strategy or method to plan, execute, and evaluate their
actions (e.g., the transition action plan) when they
approach a task as well as to acquire the needed information
(Mercer, 1992). The transition action plan provides a
format that directs students to identify a person as a
source of information, determine how to contact that person,
establish a list of questions, initiate contact, and reflect
on the interaction.
Transition was defined by IDEA (1990) as an outcome-
oriented process which facilitates movement from school to
post-school activities in many aspects of adult life. These
include employment, postsecondary education, vocational
training, adult and continuing education, adult services,
independent living, or community participation.
Transition planners are workbooks designed to help
students make career choices and develop appropriate
Transition portfolios include a collection of student
work within the areas of transition (postsecondary training
or education, employment, independent living, community
involvement, and adult services) which exhibits effort and
progress toward transition readiness. A transition
portfolio must include examples of goal setting and the
exploratory steps to achieve those goals. The transition
portfolio is a tool. As a student-developed resource guide,
it provides a structure that can be revisited over the
Transition readiness refers to a person's state or
quality of being prepared for the transition or movement
from high school to postsecondary life.
The scope of this study is delimited in three ways.
First, this study is delimited by geographical restriction
to Levy County, Gilchrist County, and Alachua County--three
counties located in north central Florida. Second, only
high school students in classes for students with varying
exceptionalities in public high schools were included in the
sample pool. Third, no consideration was given to
disability category, race, gender, age, or socioeconomic
level during assignment to treatment groups.
Since this study only included high school students
with mild disabilities the findings should not be
generalized to students who have finished high school or to
students still in middle school. In addition, the findings
should not be generalized to students without disabilities
or to students with more severe disabilities. One should
also exercise caution in extrapolating the results of this
study to students outside of Levy, Gilchrist, or Alachua
Counties. Finally, the use of a testing instrument
(Transition Planning Inventory) submitted as yet only to
limited field testing as a measure of self-efficacy may
inhibit the results of the measurement.
Although the transition provisions in IDEA were
designed to help students with disabilities prepare for
postschool life, researchers have found that the majority of
people with disabilities are still not satisfied with life
after graduation. Clearly, further research is needed in
instructional methods that empower students and involve them
in their curriculum planning so they are better prepared for
independent adult living. The intent of this study was to
contribute to the existing research of effective instruction
in transition planning. The relationship between self-
efficacy of transition readiness and student developed
personal transition portfolios was examined specifically.
The results of this study have direct implications for
teachers of high school students with mild disabilities.
Chapter 2 presents a review of research and related
literature relevant to this study. Chapter 3 describes the
methodology used to implement this study. The results are
reported in Chapter 4, and the implications are presented in
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE
The purpose of this chapter is to review, analyze, and
synthesize the professional literature related to teaching
secondary students with mild disabilities to develop
personal transition portfolios. Specific areas that are
relevant to transition portfolios include (a) transition
planning, (b) the use of portfolios, and (c) students' self-
efficacy of transition readiness.
The chapter is divided into five major sections.
First, criteria for the selection and inclusion of
literature are presented. Second, transition issues are
described. Third, research on the relationship between goal
setting and successful adults with mild disabilities is
addressed. Fourth, an analysis of research on self-efficacy
is presented. Finally, portfolios are discussed. Chapter 2
concludes with a summary and the implications of previous
research on the present study.
Criteria for Selection of Relevant Literature
An initial step in the review of the literature was to
determine the criteria for inclusion. To be considered for
the review, studies were required to meet the following
1. Research questions addressed (a) transition, (b)
portfolios, (c) self-efficacy, (d) self-determination or
self-advocacy, or (e) successful adults with disabilities
and goal setting.
2. Middle school, high school, or college students or
adults were the subjects in the studies.
3. Studies were data based, published, and detailed
enough to permit replication, and the findings were
consistent with the results.
Studies were considered for inclusion if they met the
previous criteria and were completed in the last eight years
(1988-1995). In addition, any notable research cited in the
literature prior to 1988 and doctoral dissertations were
examined for relevant findings. Professional literature,
other than empirical investigations, were also included that
provided valuable information about teaching students to
develop transition portfolios. Additionally, information
was collected in person at the International Division of
Career Development and Transition Conference (1995). At the
conference, professionals in the field of transition
presented papers on current transition issues.
Descriptors used in this literature search included
transition, transition planning, portfolios, transition
portfolios, self-efficacy, self-advocacy, self-
determination, goal setting, and successful adults with
Sources of databased resources used for the literature
review included Dissertation Abstracts International,
Educational Resources Information Clearinghouse (ERIC), and
Current Index to Journals in Education (CIJE).
The review of the literature that follows is intended
to demonstrate that research into transition portfolios is a
logical next step in the area of transition research. These
findings are based on the research and professional opinions
of experts in the fields of transition, successful adults
with disabilities, self-efficacy, and portfolios.
The enactment of the Individuals with Disabilities
Education Act (IDEA) in 1990 broadened the focus of
transition. The intention of the legislation was to
facilitate the movement of students with disabilities from
high school into successful involvement in postschool
activities. Transition was defined in the final IDEA
regulation in the 1992 Federal Register in the following
Transition services means a coordinated set of
activities for a student, designed within an outcome-
oriented process, which promotes movement from school
to post-school activities, including post-secondary
education, vocational training, integrated employment
(including supported employment), continuing and adult
education, adult services, independent living or
community participation. (USOE, 1992, p. 44804)
In addition to defining transition, IDEA stipulated
that the Individualized Education Program (IEP) must
address transition planning for all students with a
disability by age 16. Moreover, transition planning was
to be based on the needs and interests of each individual
An Outcome-Oriented Process
The IDEA legislation (1990) responded to the concerns
of many professionals in the field of transition about the
need for transition planning for students with disabilities.
According to IDEA, transition planning should be designed
within an outcome-oriented process. In other words,
transition planning should be based on the desired outcomes
or postschool interests and preferences of each student.
Prior to the enactment of IDEA, research evaluations
showed that students with disabilities did not fare as well
as their nondisabled peers in terms of successful transition
to adult life (Edgar, 1987; Rusch & Phelps, 1987).
Researchers in the 1980s played an integral role in
expanding the parameters of transition to include outcomes
in postsecondary education, community participation,
independent living, and awareness of adult services in
addition to employment.
Edgar (1987) found that while some 75% of the adults
with disabilities have had jobs, only 18% earned more than
minimum wage. Moreover, the majority of people with
disabilities who were not working indicated that they wanted
to work (Rusch & Phelps, 1987). Rusch and Phelps suggested
that, "without better preparation, the likelihood of
improving their employment prospects and successful
adjustment to living in their home communities will be
minimal at best" (p. 488).
Benz and Halpern (1987) in a statewide follow-up study
in Oregon found that only 7% of the youth with mild
disabilities were living independently. Mithaug et al.
(1985) reported the results of a Colorado Department of
Education follow-up study. Their research data showed that
two-thirds of the respondents lived with their parents or
guardians. Additionally, the data indicated that the
respondents had relatively little activity in terms of
social activities. Their respondents expressed the need for
the skills to participate in social/community activities.
Chadsey-Rusch, Rusch, and O'Reilly (1991) reviewed the
literature on transition outcomes. They reported that
students need to be empowered to make decisions and be
prepared to make important postsecondary service
connections. Additionally, Chadsey-Rusch et al. stated,
"some parents had not thought seriously about where their
children would be living after school, were not aware of the
options, and did not know how to answer questions of this
type" (p. 25).
Hasazi, Gordon, and Roe (1985) followed-up 462 former
students. Their findings indicated that, while a majority
of their former students were in the labor market either
full- or part-time, only a minority had accessed adult
service agencies. Most of the employed youth with
disabilities (84%) had found their jobs through the "self-
family-friend network" (Hasazi et al., p. 467). They
suggested, based on their research results, that information
on locating jobs through the network could be a valuable
component of high school curricula for students with
Burns, Armistead, and Keys (1990) conducted a district-
wide needs assessment and found that it was difficult for
youth with disabilities to take advantage of available
educational opportunities. The data indicated that the
students with disabilities lacked self-confidence and had an
incomplete awareness of career and job opportunities. To
address this issue the educators at John Wood Community
College established the Transition Initiative Program to
better prepare eligible students for vocational training and
employment (Burns et al.).
In one respect, White et al. (1982) summarized the
perspective of special education students. They concluded
that many of the students who leave special education
programs lack a sense of destiny or vision for the future.
The research findings in the areas of employment,
postsecondary education, community participation,
independent living, and adult services have supported the
intent of the IDEA legislation: Transition programs must be
outcome oriented. The importance of preparing students to
be successfully involved in all aspects of adult life was
also emphasized in the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of
Disability is a natural part of the human
experience and in no way diminishes the right of
an individual to--
A. Live independently;
B. Enjoy self-determination;
C. Make choices;
D. Contribute to society;
E. Pursue meaningful careers;
F. Enjoy full inclusion and integration in the
economic, political, social, cultural, and educational
mainstream of American society. (Section 2.3a,
In addition to being outcome oriented, transition
planning was to be individualized and based on the needs,
desires, and interests of each student. The student must be
invited to any IEP that addresses transition planning (IDEA,
1990). The 1992 Federal Register specifically addresses the
issue of student involvement, "If the student does not
attend, the public agency shall take other steps to ensure
that the student's preferences and interests are considered"
(USOE, 1992, p. 44814).
One indication of the importance of insuring that the
student's interests and preferences are considered in the
IEP was demonstrated by the findings of Sands et al. (1995).
Their data, from a statewide study of elementary and
secondary special education teachers, indicated, "teachers
believe that the IEP constitutes the curriculum for students
with disabilities" (p. 68). This research contradicted
Smith's (1990) findings that suggested teachers did not
consider the IEP useful when planning instruction. The
research results of Sands et al. may indicate that since the
enactment of IDEA, teachers' attitudes about using the IEP
to plan instruction have changed.
Clark and Kolstoe (1995) advocated for student
involvement in curriculum planning for additional reasons.
"Moral, ethical, and legal issues are involved in imposing
any curriculum option on a person. The school should not
make the decision for any students; the students themselves
and their families have that right and responsibility"
(Clark & Kolstoe, p. 163). The students need the
opportunities to learn how to make those decisions and
evaluate what the outcomes of those decisions will be.
Johnson and Rusch (1993), in their review of the primary
transition research for the previous ten years, noted the
small number of studies that have addressed transition
planning services. They recommended assessing the impact of
student participation in the transition planning process.
Moreover, the researchers found that students "exiting from
school without sufficient or clear goals" (Johnson & Rusch,
p. 11) was one of the barriers to achieving program goals in
secondary education and transition services.
It is not uncommon for parents and teachers to move
forward with decisions for youth with disabilities, yet when
decisions are made for students, they can "diminish that
person's ability and opportunity for assuming responsibility
with respect to important life decisions" (Halpern, 1994, p.
118). In a position statement of the Division on Career
Development and Transition (DCDT), Halpern (1994) emphasized
that for transition planning to be successful, students must
feel empowered to practice transition skills such as self-
assessment and identification of future goals.
Mithaug, Martin, and Agran (1987) designed the
Adaptability Instruction Model to help high school students
with disabilities succeed in community employment
situations. They advocated teaching students with
disabilities "(a) decision making, (b) independent
performance, (c) self-evaluation, and (d) adjustment"
(Mithaug et al., p. 500). The goal was to move the
responsibility for problem solving to the students to help
them learn to self-assess and plan new strategies.
Self-assessment. Assessment procedures have to be
expanded to identify the interests and preferences of each
student in terms of their present and future needs (Clark et
al., 1994). Traditional assessments provide valuable
information, but it is important to help students learn how
to examine, evaluate, and communicate their own transition
skills (Halpern, 1994; Martin et al., 1993).
Miller, La Follette, and Green (1990) identified five
self-advocacy tools for students to be active participants
in their transition planning. The first is that students
must have a realization of their strengths and weaknesses.
The students should also have the skills and abilities to
formulate goals, be assertive, make decisions, and use
appropriate social skills. The researchers referred to
these skills as the tools for self-advocacy.
Wandry and Repetto (1993) listed self-assessment as the
first of the four transition skills fundamental to all
students with disabilities. These four skills or knowledge
areas include the "ability to assess themselves .;
awareness of the accommodations they need .; knowledge
of their civil rights to these accommodations .; and
self-advocacy skills" (Wandry & Repetto, p. 10).
In addition to self-assessment and awareness of their
strengths and weaknesses, students also need to apply this
information in their transition planning. The definition of
transition adopted by the DCDT concluded, "Transition
planning should begin no later than age 14, and students
should be encouraged, to the full extent of their
capabilities, to assume a maximum amount of responsibility
for such planning" (Halpern, 1994, p. 117).
An example of one assessment perspective was presented
by Salembier and Furney (1994). They described a
qualitative study with one student who applied a modified
version of the McGill Action Planning System (MAPS) (Forest
& Pearpoint, 1992) to transition planning. In using the
MAPS approach, they included family members and friends in
the transition assessment and planning process. "Parents and
other family members have an understanding of the student
that provides rich information and perspectives on the
student's past, present, and future. This information is
useful in identifying and clarifying the student's needs,
preferences, and personal goals" (Salembier & Furney, pp.
12-13). The adapted MAPS process helped the student assess
his history, dreams, fears, personal qualities, and needs.
It was a holistic assessment that focused on strengths and
identified current needs as well as future dreams and
preferences. The MAPS information did provide direction for
developing the transition component of the IEP. The
student, parents, and peers were active participants in the
assessment process, rather than feeling like the objects of
the assessment. The active participation of the parents and
the student appeared to give them a sense of control.
Student choices. To empower students also means giving
them opportunities to make choices and express those
opinions. Van Reusen, Deshler, and Schumaker (1989)
investigated the effectiveness of teaching youth with
disabilities to use self-advocacy procedures to increase
their participation in the IEP meetings. The students
inventoried their needs and interests, asked and responded
to questions during the meeting, and summarized their
educational planning goals. The results indicated that
students can contribute important and relevant information
about their choices and thereby influence their educational
goals. The potential impact is that students can be
empowered to gain influence over their own learning and
increase their motivation for achievement and success (Van
Reusen, Deshler, & Schumaker).
Van Reusen and Bos (1994) provided further evidence
that a participation strategy is an effective method for
involving students and their parents in educational
planning. They applied the strategy intervention to a group
instruction setting with students and parents. In the first
step the students and their parents inventoried "learning
strengths, weaknesses to improve, goals and interests, and
preferences for classroom learning and studying" (Van Reusen
& Bos, p. 469). Later, the students and parents presented
that information at the educational planning meeting.
Van Reusen et al. (1994) also adapted the strategy to
address the transition component of educational planning.
In this version, the students completed a transition skills
inventory. At the meeting the students followed the steps
of the self-advocacy strategy: IPLAN.
Inventory your strengths, areas to improve or learn,
goals, choices for learning or accommodations
Provide your inventory information
Listen and respond
Name your goals. (Van Reusen et al., 1994, p. 130)
Other researchers (Martin et al., 1993) have broadened
the concept of student involvement in the educational
planning process to include students directing their own
educational planning meetings. The Adaptability Model
(Mithaug et al., 1987) provided the foundation in self-
management that was later expanded to address student
management of the planning process. The self-directed
transition concept was implemented at the Academy School
District in Colorado Springs and applied the same four
components as the Adaptability Model: (a) decision making,
(b) independent performance, (c) self-evaluation, and (d)
adjustment to transition planning.
The philosophy is that when students direct their
meetings they get the opportunity to develop self-
determination skills. Martin et al. (1993) stated that,
"Self-determination is when individuals define goals for
themselves and then take the initiative needed to achieve
their goals" (1993, p. 55). The researchers challenged
educators to develop a curriculum to teach self-
determination as an outcome of transition programs.
Five Transition Focus Areas
Transition has been defined as a coordinated set of
activities that involve employment, postsecondary education
or training, community involvement, independent living, and
adult services (Wandry & Repetto, 1993). The transition
focus areas parallel those in IDEA except that the
postsecondary education, vocational training, and continuing
and adult education have been collapsed into one area.
Employment. Employment is usually the first area that
comes to mind with transition, but it is only one of many
transition components. Even though many people with
disabilities are successfully employed, the research data
revealed that a higher percentage of young adults with
disabilities are unemployed than their nondisabled peers
(Menchetti et al., 1991). Menchetti and his colleagues
reported that, "the majority (52%) of young adults with
disabilities, age range 16-26, who recently left high school
are unemployed" (p. 18).
Employment issues refer to paid employment in the
community whenever possible, job benefits, and possible
subsidies. Employment skills include (a) occupational
choices, (b) appropriate work behaviors, and (c) finding and
maintaining employment (Kokaska & Brolin, 1985).
Postsecondarv education and training. There are a
variety of possibilities for continuing education and
training. Youth with disabilities may be interested in
community colleges or universities, vocational training
programs, technical training programs, or apprenticeship
opportunities. The students can take remedial classes,
graduation equivalency courses, or adult interest classes.
Today's educational goals highlight continuing educational
opportunities or life-long learning. Skills that would be
beneficial include (a) identification of appropriate
programs, (b) awareness of needed accommodations, and (c)
location of support services (Wandry & Repetto, 1993).
Community participation. As transition models
developed and the concept of transition expanded to include
more than employment and education in preparation for
employment, "successful community adjustment" became the
goal of transition programming (Halpern, 1985, p.486).
"A person's community can be either a resource or a
barrier, depending upon how well that person becomes
involved in the community" (Halpern, 1994, p. 120). It is
vital for youth with disabilities to be involved in the
community to (a) enjoy recreational and leisure activities,
(b) accept civic responsibilities, and (c) exhibit
appropriate social behaviors. "Part of the transition
planning process should include teaching people with
disabilities to learn the landscape of these community
organizations and then help them to gain access to such
organizations" (Halpern, 1994, p. 123). Moreover, Miller,
Snider, and Rzonca (1990) reported that young adults with
disabilities who use community resources participate more in
Independent living. Living in the community is
possible with a variety of levels of support that range from
complete independence to group homes with 24 hour
supervision. There are many skills involved in independent
living that begin with locating a place to live and
arranging for utilities such as electricity and telephone
services. Students need to have daily living skills such
as (a) health and hygiene, (b) money management,
(c) transportation, and (d) household maintenance. Many
of these skills are taught throughout the educational
system, but some may best be learned in the community
(Wandry & Repetto, 1993).
Adult services. One of the results of the IDEA
legislation is the involvement of representatives from adult
service agencies in transition planning. The goal is to
make the connection with adult service providers as smooth
as possible. While students are in school they are entitled
to many services, but after they leave the school system
they have to prove their eligibility for many of those same
services (Wandry & Repetto, 1993).
For some youth with disabilities, successful transition
depends upon accessing the adult service delivery system
(DeStefano & Snauwaert, 1989). The services include generic
services (e.g., employment agencies, health departments, or
public education programs) and specialized services (e.g.,
vocational rehabilitation, developmental disabilities,
social security). Hasazi et al. (1985) indicated that one
of the advantages of the generic service system is the lack
of "stigma" associated with it because anyone can use the
generic service agencies. Liebert, Lutsky, and Gottlieb
(1990) reported that while over half the subjects in their
study of post-secondary experiences of young adults with
disabilities found employment through personal networks, the
ones who used rehabilitation agencies were more likely to be
employed. As a result, Liebert et al. recommended that
students learn how to use personal networks and community
Research and professional opinions have been presented
that demonstrated that transition planning includes many
areas pertinent to successful community adjustment.
Researchers have highlighted the importance of a transition
program that (a) empowers the students, (b) is outcome-
oriented, and (c) is individualized to meet unique goals.
The following section will address successful adults with
disabilities and goal setting and the relevance and
importance to transition planning.
Successful Adults with Disabilities and Goal Setting
The intention of this section is to present research-
based evidence about people with disabilities who are
considered successful adults. Ginsberg, Gerber, and Reiff
(1994) focused on systems of interaction and variables
considered alterable or behaviors that could be learned.
They reported that the most important factor was that
successful adults took control of their lives.
Successful Adults with Mild Disabilities
An analysis of the research on successful adults with
learning disabilities concurs with the importance of the
theme of control of one's life. Spekman et al. (1992)
reported that successful adults adapted to their life
circumstances through an awareness and acceptance of their
learning disabilities, a proactive approach to events,
perseverance, and coping strategies. Secondly, successful
adults emphasized the importance of planning and goal
setting that includes the step-by-step process necessary to
acquire the skills and to reach the goals. Finally, the
successful adults realized and appreciated the value of
effective support systems. For many, this support came from
individuals outside their family, and as their interests or
needs changed, they would actively seek new support. This
support network was most important during transition times.
Control is the key to the model for vocational success
developed by Gerber et al. (1992) which is divided into
internal and external components. The internal decisions
included a desire to excel, a commitment to setting and
achieving goals, and reframing. Reframing refers to
recognizing that they have a disability, accepting and
understanding it, and taking action to do something about
it. The other component, external, addressed the external
adaptations of being persistent, locating an environment
that accented their strengths, using strategies to
compensate for any deficiencies, and creating support
These two perspectives (Gerber et al., 1992; Spekman et
al., 1992) paralleled each other on the factors related to
success in adults with disabilities. Successful adults
understood and accepted their disabilities, yet they had a
desire to excel and believed they could take control and
make positive things happen through a proactive approach to
life. Successful people set goals, identified the steps to
achieve those goals, and persevered. Additionally, the
characteristics included valuing and seeking out a support
network, using coping strategies to deal with stress, and
finding an environment and career that emphasized their
strengths and allowed them to creatively compensate for
their particular disability.
Affleck, Edgar, Levine, and Kortering (1990) reported
the results of a study on the postschool status of students
with mild mental retardation, students with learning
disabilities, and students without disabilities. These
researchers also indicated the importance of setting
specific goals and access to an effective support system to
attain success and independence.
The research provides a framework for teaching students
behaviors that can lead to success. Vogel et al. (1993)
researched factors related to successful college students
and their findings supported the results of other
researchers (Gerber et al., 1992; Spekman et al., 1992).
They recommended an environment where students can practice
characteristics of successful adults (e.g., set goals and
determine the steps to achieve them). "Accomplishing a goal
becomes the wellspring for self-efficacy and the inspiration
for setting a new goal" (Vogel et al., 1993 p. 42).
In 1993, Spekman, Goldberg, and Herman presented a
model on risk and resilience that indicated students should
be provided with a climate "in which risk-taking is safe and
perseverance is encouraged" (p. 16). As defined by Gerber
and Reiff (1994) the degree of resilience is strongly
related to the extent people feel they can guide their lives
to match their capabilities and interests.
Effective instructional interventions that foster
success and are founded in models about risk and resilience
should address the whole individual from a life-span
perspective, not just the current academic component
(Spekman, Herman, & Vogel, 1993). These programs need to
(a) involve the broader community, (b) teach students how to
access community services, and (c) also teach students to
expand their support networks. Moreover, students and
teachers have to realize that success is relative and
evaluate it on an individual basis. Outcomes can be
evaluated on different definitions of success, at different
periods of time, and span different components (e.g.,
employment, education/training, and community involvement).
Programs should foster goal setting and the necessary
planning processes as well as encourage perseverance and
"The provision of authentic experiences at every level
allows us to plant the seed of success in each individual
while also providing a safety net to give encouragement and
to help deal with and process failure experiences and
disappointments" (Spekman et al., 1993, p. 64). Teachers
can instill in students that striving for success is a
lifelong process, and help them realize that even adults are
not finished products (Bassett, Polloway, & Patton, 1994).
An evaluation of the research on successful adults with
disabilities identified goal setting as a major variable.
The following section presents information on how goal
setting instruction is being applied in educational
Goal Setting in the Classroom
Locke and Latham (1990) summarized their findings on
goal choice as follows, "goal choice is a function of what
the individual thinks can be achieved and what he or she
would like to achieve or thinks should be achieved. Hoffman
and his colleges (Hoffman, et al., 1987) reported that one
of the difficulties experienced by adults with learning
disabilities is learned helplessness. One explanation was
their dependence upon their parents and teachers to make
decisions for them when they were students. "Removing the
right to make decisions also takes away the right to seek
what one desires, to learn how to make decisions, and to
anticipate the consequences of decisions and learn from
mistakes" (Hoffman & Field, 1995, p. 134). Since the
enactment of IDEA, educators and researchers have been
developing transition programs and curricula designed to
empower students and involve them in the transition planning
At the International DCDT conference held in 1995,
Martin (1995) presented an overview of the Choicemaker Self-
Determination Transition Curriculum. At that time only two
components had been completed ("Choosing Employment Goals"
and "The Self-Directed IEP"). The Choicemaker curriculum is
divided into three sections: (a) choose goals, (b) express
goals, and (c) take action on goals. The students identify
their goals in the different transition areas (e.g.,
employment, community participation, and post high school
education) in the first section. The second section is
where the students express their goals and direct their IEP
meetings. In the final section the students take action on
their goals. To take action the students follow the model
of Plan, Action, Evaluate, and Adjust. The Adaptability
Model (decision making, independent performance, self-
evaluation, and adjustment) of Mithaug et al. (1987) is the
foundation for the Choicemaker curriculum.
Martin, Oliphint, and Weisenstein (1994) reported on
the Self-Directed Employment Model. This model is designed
to prepare students to become empowered workers. The
students are empowered to make their own decisions about
employment based on a 10- to 12-week vocational assessment
and a 3- to 4-month vocational placement. The steps to the
Self-Directed Employment Model are (a) choose, (b) manage,
(c) evaluate, and (d) adjust. The model helps students
match their strengths, skills, and preferences to community
Halpern also presented a transition curriculum at the
DCDT Conference (Halpern et al., 1995). The objectives of
the NEXT S.T.E.P.: Student Transition and Educational
Planning curriculum are twofold: "to teach students the
skills they need to do transition planning, and to engage
students successfully in this process" (p. 1).
The curriculum designed by Halpern and his colleagues
(1995) focuses on goal selection. The students explore and
self-evaluate, select transition goals, identify activities
to pursue goals, conduct the transition meeting, and monitor
and adjust when needed. In the NEXT S.T.E.P curriculum the
students choose goals from a list of goal choices.
Hoffman and Field (1995) provided a third example of a
transition planning curriculum. They developed a self-
determination curriculum around their model of self-
determination. The model has five stages (a) know yourself,
(b) value yourself, (c) plan, (d) act, and (e) experience
outcomes and learn. In most respects, the curriculum
parallels the literature on teaching the variables deemed
effective for successful adults. There are sessions that
address self-awareness and self-acceptance and accessing
support networks. The curriculum additionally targets
setting long- and short-term goals, planning steps and
activities to reach goals, and taking risks.
Educators and researchers agree that goal setting is
important in most areas of education. Mercer (1992) stated,
"Basically, goals provide the basis on which instruction is
planned" (p. 211). Goals are the major statements at the
IEP meetings and to change goals, teachers need the parent's
permission. The current focus in education is to involve
students in the goal setting process. Wang (1987) included
self-regulation as one of the features that can help promote
student success. Under self-regulation Wang cited (a)
student participation in goal setting and the planning of
some activities, (b) students self-monitoring the progress
toward their goals, and (c) opportunities for students to
work independently. The effective teaching literature
(Christenson, Ysseldyke, & Thurlow, 1989) also indicated
that the effective classroom managers teach students to be
responsible and accountable for their own learning.
In their research, Spekman et al. (1992) analyzed the
variables related to success in adults with disabilities
from three perspectives. Success was evaluated on (a) an
individual's achievements, (b) the individual's self-
perception of accomplishment and satisfaction, and (c) the
match between current experiences and self-perceptions and
aspirations. The following section focuses on that match
between goal setting and self-perception or perceived self-
Self-efficacy is one's perception of "how well one can
execute courses of action required to deal with prospective
situations" (Bandura, 1982, p. 122). Locke and Latham
(1990) asserted that self-efficacy is highly interrelated
with goal setting. "It affects goal choice, goal
commitment, and response to feedback, and it also has a
direct effect on performance" (p. 24).
Efficacy expectation is the person's belief that he or
she is capable of accomplishing the necessary behavior to
produce the outcome. Bandura's (1977a) self-efficacy theory
stated, "that psychological procedures, whatever their form,
alter the level and strength of self-efficacy" (p.191).
Therefore, according to the theory, a person's self-efficacy
can be influenced or increased in a positive way.
In the self-efficacy theory Bandura (1977a) highlighted
four factors or sources of information that influence or
change efficacy expectations or beliefs in themselves or
their capabilities. Performance accomplishments were listed
first and as the most influential factor. Vicarious
experience, verbal persuasion, and emotional arousal were
listed as the other three factors. Personal accomplishments
are considered the most influential because they entail
personal mastery experiences. Bandura (1977a) cited four
examples of the types of personal accomplishments that can
change efficacy expectations. They are (a) participant
modeling, which uses successful performances in a structured
environment; (b) performance desensitization, where the
participant progresses through a step-by-step process with
each step closer to the desired behavior; (c) performance
exposure, where the subject performs the behavior, but not
alone or independently; and (d) self-instructed performance,
where an independent performance of the behavior allows the
subject the opportunity to cope with the stress of the
situation. Bandura reported that successes raise efficacy
expectations. "After strong efficacy expectations are
developed through repeated success, the negative impact of
occasional failures is likely to be reduced" (Bandura,
1977a, p. 195).
The fact that the subjects are actively involved in the
process (performance accomplishments) allows the opportunity
for them to practice and refine their behaviors and coping
skills. The most significant factor for research into
transition skills is self-instructed performance. The
independent performance can help increase efficacy
expectations because students have had opportunities to
perfect skills important to successful transition.
Moreover, the successful experiences reinforce feelings of
Bandura (1986) cited athletic competition as an example
where people might recognize the impact of self-efficacy on
success. "After capabilities are perfected and practiced
extensively, perceived self-efficacy can be the difference
between a good or poor showing" (p.433).
Self-efficacy refers to an individual's overall
judgement of their capacity to perform that includes the (a)
self-assessed ability, (b) intended effort, (c) problem
solving capabilities, and (d) strategies for dealing with
stress. It is appropriate and important to apply the
concepts of self-efficacy theory when working with students
with disabilities for several reasons. First, as Bandura
reported, "a strong sense of self-efficacy enables people to
make the most of their capabilities" (1986, p. 465).
Second, the efficacy expectation affects the amount of
effort people will use and the length of time they will
persist when facing obstacles and aversive experiences
(Bandura, 1977b). Third, personal efficacy affects a
persons' decisions about their choice of activities,
especially in areas where they are unsure of their
capabilities. Fourth, "once established, enhanced self-
efficacy tends to generalize to other situations in which
performance was self-debilitated by preoccupation with
personal inadequacies" (Bandura, 1977a, p. 195). Finally,
"one's level of perceived self-efficacy in these skills [the
ability to communicate well, to relate effectively to
others, to plan and manage the demands of one's job, to
exercise leadership, and to cope with stress effectively]
can aid or impede career advancement quite apart from the
technical skills one possesses" (Bandura, 1986, p. 433).
Self-Efficacy Change Strategies
Researchers have applied the concepts of self-efficacy
theory to education. Bandura and Schunk (1981) reported
that "Children who set themselves attainable subgoals
progressed rapidly in self-directed learning and
heightened their perceived self-efficacy and interest in
activities that initially held little attraction for them"
(p. 595). Additionally, Zimmerman and Martinez-Pons (1990)
suggested that self-efficacy measures could provide teachers
unique insights into students with little motivation.
Although transition planning is a broader concept,
career development is a very important aspect of it.
Researchers have studied the relationship between self-
efficacy and career decision making from different
perspectives. The following studies applied self-efficacy
theory to career development decision making.
Hackett and Betz (1981) developed a model of career
development based on Bandura's (1977a) self-efficacy theory.
They followed the premise that low self-efficacy ratings
restricted women to concentrating on low-status, low-paying
occupations. Their model was designed to help people,
especially women, strengthen their career-related efficacy
expectations in order to make more informed choices that
allowed them to use their talents, interests, and
Taylor and Betz (1983) studied self-efficacy theory and
its application in regard to treating career indecision.
Their findings suggested that self-efficacy theory provides
a useful framework to understand or influence an
individual's attitudes and behaviors in the career
Career decision-making self-efficacy as a variable of
students' overall, academic, and social integration in
college was also researched (Peterson, 1993). The research
involved underprepared college students and their perceived
self-efficacy to plan and accomplish vocational tasks while
in an educational setting. Peterson's data indicated a
relationship between self-efficacy and integration into the
Luzzo (1995) compared self-efficacy theory to the locus
of control model in terms of predicting college students'
career decision-making attitudes. In a study with 113
undergraduate students the results indicated self-efficacy
theory was more effective. Luzzo interpreted the results as
evidence that Bandura's (1977a) self-efficacy change
strategies (e.g., performance accomplishments) could be
effective career decision-making strategies for students.
These research findings (Hackett & Betz, 1981; Luzzo,
1995; Peterson, 1993; Taylor & Betz, 1983) demonstrated the
importance of perceived self-efficacy in the career
development area. Self-efficacy was found to pertain to
career decision making and integration into educational
institutions for underprepared students. Moreover, data
indicated that self-efficacy change strategies such as
performance accomplishments should be further investigated
as strategies for students.
One example is the research of Wehmeyer and Lawrence
(1995). They examined changes in self-determination, locus
of control, and self-efficacy related to a student-directed
transition planning program. The program was field tested
with 53 students. The subjects were students with mild
mental retardation and students with learning disabilities.
The results were analyzed for self-efficacy and outcome
expectancy for transition planning meetings. The efficacy
and outcome expectancy questionnaires focused on the
student's perceived preparation for the IEP meeting. The
research findings indicated significant changes in self-
efficacy scores for educational planning. There were no
significant changes in the self-determination or locus of
control ratings which, according to the authors, may have
been because (a) they were only focusing on the school
environment and (b) there were no robust changes in the
students' circumstances or learning experiences. Wehmeyer
and Lawrence suggested that further validation of the
efficacy of student involvement in transition planning is
needed, although their findings indicated that self-efficacy
is both beneficial and achievable.
The research on effective strategies to change self-
efficacy parallels the variables associated with successful
adults in the area of transition planning. They both
address the same objective which is to increase self-
efficacy through performance accomplishments. The
transition curricula that have been presented (Halpern et
al., 1995; Hoffman & Field, 1995; Martin & Marshall, 1995)
highlighted involving students in each aspect of the
planning process. The students look over options and
personal preferences to set the goals and the steps to
attain the goals. They have the opportunity to take risks,
recognize opportunities, and explore the goals in a secure
environment. Moreover, students can experience success and
thereby increase their belief that they can successfully
carry out the behaviors necessary to attain personal goals.
Goal setting and self-efficacy are highly interrelated
if, as Locke and Latham (1990) suggested, "a goal is at the
same time a target to aim for and a standard by which to
evaluate the adequacy of one's performance" (p. 77). In the
next section an evaluation of the research and professional
opinions on portfolios will be presented. Portfolios are an
example of an old concept applied to a new situation. They
may prove to be an excellent vehicle for students to learn
A portfolio, going back to its roots in art and
architecture, is a sample of work representing two
perspectives. First, it holds what the students judge
to be their best work. Second, from the assessor's
perspective, the portfolio represents evidence of
student performance on a given range of categories or
genres of work. (Wiggins, 1990, p. 51)
The intention of this section is to demonstrate the
potential role of portfolios in transition programs.
Portfolios can provide a framework for students to discover,
develop, and document their transition skills and thereby
empower them in their transition planning. Portfolios have
been demonstrated to increase communication and to involve
students in the educational process. Moreover they can help
students (a) improve self-evaluation skills, (b) learn
responsibility and goal setting, (c) gain ownership of their
education, and (d) develop an understanding of the
relationship between school and future outcomes.
A Format for Student and Family Participation
Portfolios allow students the opportunity to express
their interests and desires. Moreover, portfolios can serve
as a vehicle for the vital communication about transition
plans among students and parents and teachers as well as
between teachers and parents. Within the portfolio format,
students identify the goals and then share them with their
parents and teachers. In this way, transition portfolios
can facilitate the advisement process.
Communication. Morningstar, Turnbull, and Turnbull
(1995) stated, "In fact, parent participation is considered
to be one of the most important elements of transition
programs" (p. 249). They also reported that most students
felt their families should be involved in helping them plan
for their futures, but at its best the planning was very
informal. The researchers indicated that as a result of the
lack of formal planning (a) none of the students in their
study had discussed IEP goals with their families prior to
the IEP meetings, and consequently, (b) there was no sense
of agreement on important issues between the parents and the
students prior to their attendance at the meetings.
Empowerment. In addition to being a vehicle for
communication, transition portfolios may meet the principles
of intervention for empowerment within both the life-space
and life-span considerations that Szymanski (1994)
identified. According to Szymanski, interventions must
empower the students and the families to take responsible
control of the transition process and facilitate
independence or interdependence. Portfolios also parallel
other life-space considerations that Szymanski presented as
vital to transition planning. First, portfolio development
can involve the family at the decision-making level and
allow for culturally diverse influences in transition
planning process. Second, a focus on planning within the
context of the community labor markets and available network
and community supports is also possible with transition
portfolios. Finally, portfolios can impact the life-span
aspect of transition planning when introduced in elementary
school as part of career development process.
Portfolios can provide a format and strategy for the
students to explore their own transition skills. Teachers
may have to learn to relinquish some of their control in
order to empower the students in transition planning. "Some
teachers may need to do some soul searching about whether
students are too dependent on them for direction, standards,
or judgement. The whole point is to put the student in a
self-disciplined, self-regulating, self-assessing position"
(Wiggins, 1990, p. 51). The students help determine the
components, after the guidelines for a portfolio have been
established. The portfolios are also a format where the
students can express their dreams, explore options, make
community contacts, and reflect on the results. Portfolios
allow students the important opportunity to learn to operate
from both a performance and reflection perspective
As Assessment Tools
Portfolios can give students the opportunities to
develop assessment skills. In the first place, portfolios
can serve as an effective vehicle for communication, and
personal communication with students is an excellent way for
teachers to gather information about their students'
achievement and growth (Stiggins, 1994). A section of the
portfolio can be designated just for communication and
feedback between students, peers, teachers, and family
members. Still, as an assessment tool, Vavrus (1990)
reported a portfolio can do much more. A portfolio "reveals
a range of skills and understandings, supports instructional
goals, values student and teacher reflection, shows changes
and growth over a period of time, and provides for
continuity in education from one year to the next" (p. 48).
With portfolios the students can be involved in the
assessment process rather than the object of the assessment.
Peer evaluation of portfolios can widen the audience
and help to ensure that portfolios are part of the everyday
activities in the classroom. More importantly, through peer
review the students can learn from each others' experiences
and open channels of communication between students (Hill,
Kamber, & Norwick, 1994).
Belanoff and Elbow (1991) listed advantages they found
from their work when using a portfolio format. The teachers
became more like allies than umpires when their feedback on
portfolios encouraged the students to improve. They also
felt that the students' thinking processes were enhanced by
the opportunities to talk with peers and teachers about
Portfolios have been implemented in numerous areas in
education as part of an authentic assessment trend. Vermont
and Kentucky have moved to statewide portfolio assessment
and the United Kingdom is moving toward performance-based
assessment on a national level. Portfolios, as authentic
assessment, can be a unique source for a variety of
information about students. Wesson and King (1996) made the
analogy that "a portfolio is like a videotape, as opposed to
a snapshot of the student" (p. 46).
Transition portfolios could be an important component
of the total assessment package, especially for students in
special education programs. "The high school diploma, by
remaining tied to no standard other than credit accrual and
seat time, provides no useful information about what
students have studied or what they can actually do with what
was studied" (Wiggins, 1989, p. 43). On the other hand,
through a comprehensive assessment program, students,
parents, and faculty could have an accurate evaluation of
the student's strengths and areas that need improvement for
a successful adult transition. The transition skills
portfolio evaluates the overall transition concept. The
student, teacher, or parent can get an in-depth description
of the skills the student has mastered. Transition
portfolios, used in conjunction with an employability skills
portfolios or career portfolios and other assessment tools,
could provide a more comprehensive assessment picture.
Employability skills portfolios. Employability skills
portfolios, career portfolios, and career development
portfolios fulfill an important aspect of transition
programming. Employability skills portfolios (ESP) have
been implemented in the schools in Michigan. The goal was
to teach students to develop an accurate display of their
accomplishments (Stemmer, Brown, & Smith, 1992). The ESP
had four components: (a) an academic, personal management,
and teamwork folder; (b) a parent guide; (c) an information
guide for students and teachers; and (d) a summary sheet of
employability skills for job interviews. The ESP was based
on the premise of lifelong learning. The goal was that
students would continue to update the information in their
ESP. The teachers involved in the project reported that
students showed "increased motivation, more interest in
school, and increased self-esteem" (Stemmer et al., p. 33).
Stemmer et al. (1992) identified issues that needed to
be addressed. They wanted more parent and business
community involvement and a more standardized evaluation
system that could be meaningful across the districts and the
state. They also needed a method to more successfully
integrate the existing assessment programs with the
portfolios because many students did not understand the test
results they included in their portfolios. Still, the
overall findings were positive and the results indicated
that "the portfolio project encourages students to recognize
successes, seek opportunities to fill in gaps in skills, and
gain confidence in preparing for work" (p. 33).
Smith, (1993) the Coordinator of Employability Skills
Assessment for the Michigan Department of Education,
highlighted additional advantages to the ESP. First,
according to Smith, students learned improved self-
evaluation skills and became more involved in their own
development as lifelong learners and citizens. Second, the
students gained a sense of how the lessons in the classroom
apply to life in the community. As an example of the effect
of the ESP, Smith shared the comment of a student. After
his portfolio demonstration, one ninth grade student shared
that "this was the first validation he got that school fits
his own goals" (p. 27).
Career portfolios. In Texas, a career portfolio was
the end product of a state project to identify a validated
list of competencies for successful transition. The
competencies focus on careers but include employability
skills, work related social skills, self help/independent
living skills, generalizable skills, and job specific
skills. Sarkees-Wircenski and Wircenski (1994) organized
these competencies into a career portfolio designed for
students with disabilities in vocational education programs.
The career portfolio is designed as an assessment tool
for the vocational education or special education personnel.
It can be used to evaluate each student individually. Each
item is evaluated on a scale of mastery from no experience
to independent competency. The resulting information can be
useful for any of the following applications (a) as an
informal vocational assessment, (b) as the basis for
academic objectives, (c) to identify specific job
competencies, (d) as a vocational counseling tool, (e) as
documentation, and (f) employment portfolio contents.
Career development portfolios. One of the areas where
portfolios have been implemented in the schools is in career
development (Van Zandt, Perry, & Brawley, 1994; Bernhardt,
Cole, & Ryan, 1993). Van Zandt et al. reported that
portfolios are effective as intrinsic motivators. The
students are focused on education. They also provide
students an opportunity to feel ownership of their work and
to reflect on their accomplishments.
Career development portfolios require documentation of
the steps and skills to locate, evaluate, and interpret
career information. The key concepts for career development
portfolios are "education, self-development, and career
information as it relates to short- and long-term planning"
(Bernhardt, Cole, & Ryan, 1993, p. 71).
Sormunen (1994) found, "the portfolio concept is one
method that encourages the kind of teacher planning, student
processing, and collaborative evaluation that assists the
transition process" (p. 10). Teachers can use portfolios to
guide their instruction. Each evaluation of the portfolios
can help teachers identify specific areas that need
remediation, receive feedback on the effectiveness of their
teaching, and get insights into the most effective
strategies for each student. Teachers can use the
information gleaned from portfolios to individualize their
instruction to address each student's needs.
Sormunen (1994) reported that the experience of using
portfolios was beneficial to both students and teachers.
The greatest benefit was that students became aware of the
learning process and felt ownership in it. The students
took responsibility and set the goals. "It's clear that the
more students are aware of their own learning processes, the
more likely they are to establish goals for their education
and the more deeply engaged they are in those processes"
(Mills-Courts & Amiran, 1991, p. 103).
An additional advantage of portfolios is the
continuity from year to year and teacher to teacher.
Portfolios can provide a wealth of information on each
student. Students should select the examples of their
accomplishments, special awards, interests, and dreams to
include. Portfolios could also document the steps and the
strategies that students used to achieve the final products.
Portfolios in teacher education. Teacher education is
another area that has been exploring the process of
portfolio assessment. The portfolios are applauded by
researchers for encompassing diversity, while demonstrating
and documenting personal strengths. The portfolios have
also given educators insights into program effectiveness.
In 1995, Bloom and Bacon discussed a program that had
implemented portfolios in teacher education. In their
program, the students submitted a proposal to their
committee for approval early in their educational program.
The evaluation criteria for each portfolio must be included
in the original proposal. Scheduled appointments for
reviews and revisions were also an important component.
Evaluation criteria might include overall appearance,
sequential design, and established content and objectives.
There were also scheduled opportunities for reviews and
Bloom and Bacon (1995) discussed advantages and
disadvantages of portfolios they noted in their program.
Advantages included the increased ability to individualize
their program, the variety of applications, and the
opportunities for the students to learn self-evaluation. On
the other hand, the portfolios were more subjective than the
traditional program assessment, some areas were harder to
evaluate, and there was no guarantee of standardization
across mastery of skills.
Barton and Collins (1993) also reported on implementing
teacher portfolios in a teacher education program. Through
their experience they identified most of the same advantages
to using portfolios in general. The authors appreciated (a)
the students' reflection and ownership, (b) the faculty
insight into individual's skills, (c) the opportunity for
faculty and peer review, and (d) the fact that the students
became more articulate which was demonstrated in the
portfolio rationale statements.
Ryan and Kuhs (1993) described their use of portfolios
in assessing elementary and early childhood graduate level
preservice teachers and targeted the assessment component as
the greatest advantage. They wanted a formative assessment
and self-evaluation components. They listed the following
advantages as evaluational advantages: (a) flexibility,
(b) multiple sources of information, (c) longitudinal
information collection, and (d) an holistic perspective.
The results of the programs that have implemented
portfolio assessment in preservice teacher education
supported the same general advantages. The advantages have
included successful self-evaluations, allowance for
diversity, formative and summative evaluations, and the
increasing number of applications for portfolios. One of
the most important outcomes of using portfolios in teacher
education programs may be how that directly increases their
use in the public school classroom. If the teachers found
portfolios to be successful, innovative teaching and
assessment techniques, they may be more likely to apply them
in their own classrooms.
Evaluation standards. Valencia and Calfee (1991)
categorized portfolios into three different, but not
necessarily distinct, models: showcase, documentation, and
evaluation. These portfolio models highlight different
standards, methods, and audiences but share the same
overriding concept of empowering the students.
In the showcase portfolio, students' selection,
evaluation, and reflection of the contents to demonstrate
student progress or growth take precedence over
standardization. The evaluation criteria are usually
discussed in the beginning, at the same time as the required
components. Showcase portfolios are generally evaluated
according to components such as organization, content,
presentation, and overall effect.
The second model, a documentation portfolio, uses a
variety of informal assessment techniques to establish an
ongoing record of student progress. This model may
demonstrate growth but does not evaluate against a set of
standards. The focus of the documentation portfolios is to
provide evidence of accomplishment.
The third model describes the evaluation portfolio.
These are the most standardized and usually contain a
predetermined selection of entries and required activities.
The showcase portfolio is conceptually the closest to
the transition portfolio because of the self-reflection,
self-selection, and self-evaluation. Even though the
transition portfolio has a number of required activities,
the students have freedom of choice within each activity.
The showcase portfolio also uses the most appropriate
evaluation system for personal transition portfolios.
The evaluation of the personal transition portfolio is
based on the components outlined by Paulson, Paulson, and
Meyer (1991) and adaptations from Sornumen (1994). Within
an organized framework, the contents exhibit evidence of the
student's work on developing transition skills. The
portfolios also demonstrate self-reflection, self-selection,
self-evaluation, and progress toward the goals.
Transition portfolios address the six elements that
Salvia and Ysseldyke (1995) identified to define portfolio
assessment. The six elements include
targeting valued outcomes for assessment, using tasks
that mirror the work in the real world, encouraging
cooperation among learners, and between teacher and
student, using multiple dimensions to evaluate student
work, encouraging student reflection, and integrating
assessment and instruction. (p. 265)
Effective Transition Programs
The portfolio concept may be an effective strategy to
prepare students for their transition from secondary special
education programs. Portfolios can be designed to parallel
the instructional variables associated with successful
adults with disabilities, as well as factors identified with
self-efficacy change. The transition portfolio format can
involve the student in planning, exploring, and assessing.
Successful adults with disabilities. Transition
portfolios can teach students how to take a proactive
approach to life. Portfolios are a format where students
can reflect on their strengths and identify areas that need
to be addressed (Wolf, 1989). The students can learn to
establish long- and short-term goals within the portfolio
framework and identify careers that accent their strengths.
The students can work toward an understanding and acceptance
of their unique situations as they focus on the steps to
achieving their goals. Importantly, the short-term goals
and the steps to attain them may serve as opportunities for
students to take risks in a secure environment, experience
success, and learn to cope with stress and disappointments.
One of the most realistic aspects about portfolios may be
the commitment to complete a long-term project. Students
can practice the perseverance necessary to accomplish many
adult experiences. Most of the responsibilities of adult
life are long-term tasks (e.g., postsecondary education,
employment, marriage, and child rearing).
Self-efficacy change. The portfolios, as personal
accomplishments, follow the factors that have been found to
influence self-efficacy scores. The students can experience
success and attain goals through a step-by-step process. In
a safe environment, students can explore and discover their
own strengths. The teachers can set up role modeling
activities so students can discuss, analyze, observe, and
practice proactive behaviors. The accomplishment of short-
term goals and the support of peers may be enough to
encourage students to attempt other new experiences.
Transition skills development. The transition
portfolio concept addresses a broader set of components than
does a career development portfolio or an employability
skills portfolio. A transition portfolio also encompasses
community involvement, independent living, and access to
adult service providers. More importantly, the unique
factor of the transition portfolio is that it is student-
driven. Transition portfolios put the students in control.
The students (a) discover and explore goals, (b) document a
checklist of skills that need to be learned or improved, and
(c) develop those skills. Portfolio development can prepare
the students to present their findings at the transition IEP
meeting. Moreover, portfolios are an excellent method to
establish annual goals and short-term academic objectives.
A unique aspect is that the transition portfolios may
serve as a student-developed transition resource for the
students after they leave the secondary school setting. As
research has shown (Rusch & Phelps, 1987; Burns et al.,
1990) many young adults who were unemployed, not going to
school, and not involved in their communities indicated the
desire to be involved but lacked the skills. A completed
transition portfolio should contain the step-by-step
procedure to initiate community contact in each transition
area. Brown (1989) stated that, "Students who have to
perform or exhibit their knowledge and skills get learning
in their bones: active learners become lifetime learners"
The importance of transition planning in the areas of
employment, postsecondary education/training, community
involvement, independent living, and awareness of adult
services to the successful integration of students with
disabilities in the community has been demonstrated in the
literature. The research on transition reveals that while
provisions were made to help students prepare for postschool
life, many students do not have the skills necessary to make
that transition successfully. Many students have not had
the opportunity to acquire the skills necessary to take a
proactive role in their lives and their transition planning.
Clearly, research is needed on instructional methods that
will foster student empowerment and acquisition of
Research data have indicated variables that have
contributed to the success of adults with disabilities.
These factors relate to being in control of one's life.
They involve acceptance and understanding of one's
disability, taking a proactive approach to life, setting
goals and determining the steps to meet those goals,
establishing support networks, and accessing an environment
where one can emphasize his or her strengths and seek
assistance in weaker areas. The same factors apply to
Research and professional opinions on portfolios
maintain that portfolios are an effective teaching and
assessment tool. Portfolios provide a format where students
can evaluate their own strengths and areas that need to be
addressed. Professionals who have worked with portfolios
have reported that portfolios are an excellent vehicle to
empower students, encourage student involvement, and put
students in charge of their own learning. Additionally, a
portfolio framework can enhance communication between
students and their parents and teachers. The students,
while still in a supportive environment, have the
opportunity to explore and perhaps fail, only to be
encouraged to try again.
Self-efficacy refers to a person's perception of their
ability to accomplish a given task. Research into self-
efficacy has suggested that a person's belief that they can
accomplish a task is as important or in some situations even
more important than the skills, especially when comparing
two people with equivalent ability.
Self-efficacy has been used as an outcome measure for
students with disabilities in regard to contributing
information to their IEP meeting. The results have
indicated that instruction is effective in influencing self-
efficacy scores in that one aspect of transition planning.
Research has demonstrated that specific variables associated
with success can be targeted to enhance transition readiness
skills. These same factors can be addressed in a portfolio
Bandura's (1977a) Self-Efficacy Theory supplied a
framework for further research in transition planning.
Research that applies findings gleaned from two different
areas (a) studies on factors associated with transition
readiness skills and (b) studies on factors that influence a
person's perceived self-efficacy.
Perhaps transition portfolios can accomplish the goals
of teaching students transition readiness skills within a
framework designed to increase the variables that
researchers have associated with successful adults.
Therefore, this study on the effect of student-developed
transition portfolios on self-efficacy may add to the
existing data in both areas.
This chapter presents the methods and procedures that
were used for this study to investigate three experimental
questions about teaching high school students with mild
disabilities to develop personal transition portfolios. For
the purpose of presentation, the chapter has been divided
into six sections. The sections of this chapter include
descriptions of (a) the hypotheses, (b) the subjects and the
setting, (c) the research instrumentation, (d) the
materials, (e) the procedure, and (f) the experimental
design and analysis of data.
This study was designed to (a) examine the difference
between two approaches to teaching high school students with
mild disabilities in Varying Exceptionalities (VE) classes
to develop personal transition portfolios and (b)
investigate the effect of developing personal transition
portfolios on the self-efficacy of transition readiness of
high school students with mild disabilities. The research
questions for this study are expressed in the null
hypotheses that follow.
H1: There will be no statistically significant
difference between the initial and final self-efficacy of
transition readiness among the three research groups: (a)
the experimental group (strategy instruction in developing
personal transition portfolios), (b) the comparison group
(presentation of general instructions in portfolio
development), and (c) the control group.
H2: There will be no statistically significant
difference in the final evaluation scores of the personal
transition portfolios between the experimental group
(strategy instruction in developing personal transition
portfolios) and the comparison group (presentation of
general instructions in portfolio development).
H3: There will be no statistically significant
relationship between the final evaluation score of the
transition portfolio and the final self-efficacy of
transition readiness after controlling for initial self-
efficacy between the experimental group (strategy
instruction in developing personal transition portfolios)
and the comparison group (presentation of general
instructions in portfolio development).
Rejection of the null hypothesis was based on the .05
level of significance.
Subjects and Setting
The research study was conducted with 66 students in 13
high school varying exceptionalities (VE) classrooms for
students with mild disabilities. The pool of subjects
included students eligible for placement in VE classes
according to criteria required in Florida for the following
mild disabilities: (a) specific learning disabilities, (b)
mild emotional handicaps, and (c) mild developmental
disabilities. The subjects attended three high schools in
Levy County and two in Alachua County, Florida. Initially,
the researcher contacted either the Director of Exceptional
Student Education or the Director of Transition Programming
in each district, described the study, and invited
participation. Each director was given a copy of the
Personal Transition Portfolio Guide. The directors provided
the names of teachers whose classes fit the parameters of
the study (high school, varying exceptionalities classes).
The researcher contacted the teachers, described the study
and personal transition portfolios, and gave the teachers
copies of the Personal Transition Portfolio Guide. After
permission was received from the district offices, the
researcher met with either the principal or the assistant
principal at each school where a teacher indicated interest
in participating in the study. The purpose was to (a)
describe the transition portfolio concept and the study and
(b) get permission to include the school in the research
project. Schools were selected whose staff indicated a
willingness to participate. A description of the subjects
is presented in Chapter 4.
The subjects initially were contacted through a letter
that requested their participation in this study. The
letter included a parental consent form (see Appendix A).
The consent form described the proposed study and requested
approval by the student's parent or legal guardian. The
students also gave their verbal assent to participate in
For this study, two Personal Transition Portfolio
Guides (PTP-G) (see Appendix B) for teachers were designed
and implemented, one for the experimental group and one for
the comparison group. The PTP-G provided teachers with
lesson plans to teach students to develop their own Personal
Transition Portfolios (PTP).
The goal of the personal transition portfolio (PTP) was
to give students the opportunity, support, and motivation to
explore their post-school dreams. The overriding concept
was to teach students how to explore options for themselves.
The PTP presented transition planning within a
portfolio structure. Students made the decisions on (a)
what to research, (b) what to include, and (c) how to
present the results and their reflections. The PTP was
designed to be used alone or within an existing curriculum.
The portfolio was designed to serve as a template or
resource guide. The portfolios can provide an opportunity
for the subject to practice, record, and reflect on the
necessary steps to find a job, attend post-secondary school
or apprenticeship training, become involved in the
community, live independently, and develop awareness of
pertinent adult services and the eligibility requirements of
each. Upon the completion of the PTP the students will have
developed their own transition resource guide that includes
the procedures for transition as well as the student's
reflections on each area of transition planning.
Halpern et al. (1995) described two main components to
transition planning. These two components are learning
about transition planning and learning how to do transition
planning. The transition portfolio concept addresses how to
do transition planning. As a student-developed resource
guide, the portfolio can serve as a strategy for how to do
transition planning (Halpern et al., 1995).
Two measurement procedures were used for the purpose of
this study. First, the Transition Portfolio Inventory (TPI)
was administered in a pretest-posttest format to assess the
students' self-efficacy of transition readiness. The
pretest allowed the researcher to gather information about
individual differences among subjects before the onset of
treatment. Second, the dependability of scoring student
developed personal transition portfolios (PTPs) was
evaluated based on an interscorer reliability index.
Pretest and Posttest
The instrument that was used for the pretest-posttest
was the Transition Planning Inventory (TPI) developed by
Clark and Patton (in press). The TPI has three forms. The
student completes the first form. The other two forms can
be completed by the parent and the teacher using knowledge
about the student. For the purpose of this study only the
student form was used.
The student form of the TPI assessed the student's
self-efficacy of transition readiness with one overall
score. The student responded to a Likert-type scale. The
instructions were to "Rate yourself based on what you think
you can do right now in each of the areas below" (Clark &
Patton, in press, p.1). The scale ranges from "strongly
disagree" (0 points) to "strongly agree" (5 points) with
additional choices of "don't know" (DK) and "not applicable"
The TPI was field tested during the 1994-95 school year
(Clark & Patton, in press). Data were collected from 288
students with disabilities, 227 parents/guardians, and 329
school based personnel in Alabama, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas,
Missouri, New Mexico, New York, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and
Canada. The results indicated a high degree of reliability.
For content sampling (internal consistency reliability) 18%
of the coefficient alphas were .90 or higher, 52% were
between .80 and .89 and 30% between .70 and .79. The
coefficients for the time sampling (test-retest reliability)
range from .78 to .92.
Two types of validity were considered for the TPI:
content and criterion-related. The format selected allowed
for self-assessment in an informal manner that did not
require highly specific knowledge. Family ratings and
professional ratings also were included. The
appropriateness of the content for use as a transition
inventory was determined in several stages. The item
selection was based on transition skills, a review of the
literature, and the adult adjustment of persons with
disabilities (Clark & Patton, in press). The items then
were reviewed by experts in the field. Finally, the
instrument was revised based on an additional survey of the
purpose and utility on the TPI. According to the survey
respondents, the TPI appears to be appropriate for
interpreting the self-assessment of transition planning
skills of students with disabilities as outlined in IDEA.
While the ability of the TPI to predict the future
performance remains to be established, the criterion-related
validity was derived by comparing the TPI with other
measures that assess transition needs. The data are limited
in this area for the TPI, but the existing results suggest
the instrument is valid in terms of concurrent validity.
The TPI, as a self-assessment tool of transition
skills, is a measure of perceived self-efficacy of
transition readiness. Self-efficacy refers to a person's
belief in his or her ability to perform a given task
(Bandura, 1977a). Hackett and Betz (1981) reported that
"subjects' ratings of the level and strength of expectations
of behavioral performance in related domains could be used
to assess the generality of efficacy expectations" (p. 335).
The personal transition portfolio assessment was a
posttest only evaluation. The PTP evaluation criteria was
reviewed by a panel of experts in the field of transition
for secondary students with mild disabilities. The panel of
experts (see Appendix D) was comprised of a doctoral
candidate and a doctoral student in special education/
transition, a secondary Exceptional Student Education (ESE)
teacher, an ESE resource specialist, an ESE administrator,
and a professor of special education/transition.
This diverse panel provided feedback on three aspects
of the transition portfolio. First, the panel considered
the five transition areas included in the portfolios (a)
employment, (b) further education/training, (c) community
involvement, (d) independent living, and (e) adult services.
The second aspect the panel reviewed was the list of
suggested components included within each of the five
transition areas. The last aspect was the final portfolio
evaluation procedure which included the point value assigned
to each area (see Appendix E).
The essential areas for the transition portfolio and
the guidelines for evaluation given to the panel were based
on the current literature on transition and portfolios. As
with any portfolio, the final decision on specific
components to be included in the portfolio rested with the
person developing the portfolio (Paulson et al., 1991; Van
Zandt et al., 1995).
The portfolio evaluation procedure suggested to the
panel was adapted from a portfolio assessment method
developed by Sormunen (1994). Scores for each portfolio
were recorded on a scorer sheet. For a final evaluation
score with a total of 50 points, the points were allocated
as follows: organization (15 points), content (20 points),
presentation (5 points), and overall effect (10 points).
The names of subjects were kept confidential by
recording data using a numerical coding system. Each
subject was randomly assigned a coded number upon agreement
to participate in the study. After the portfolios were
completed, they were coded with the same number assigned to
Fifteen portfolios were evaluated by two independent
scorers to obtain an interscorer reliability index. Once
the reliability was established to be reasonably high, one
rater was used to evaluate the portfolios. The portfolios
were evaluated according to the 50-point evaluation
criterion approved by the panel of experts based on
organization, content, presentation, and overall effect.
The panel of experts involved in the study received
copies of the materials produced by the researcher. These
included the Personal Transition Portfolio Guide developed
for the teachers as lesson plans for portfolio development
and the materials provided for the students.
The teachers who participated in the research each
received their own copies of the Personal Transition
Portfolio Guide for the experimental group. This guide was
designed along the framework of a teacher's manual and
contains an overview, five units of step-by-step lesson
plans, and a final evaluation section. The teachers who had
classes in the comparison groups also received the Personal
Transition Portfolio Guide for the comparison group.
All the students participating in the study were given
a three-ring portfolio notebook with pockets. This was
divided into five sections, one for each of the transition
areas addressed during portfolio development. There were 18
activity sheets for the students that provided a format for
the students to follow. The students were given suggestions
for items to be included in the portfolio, but the final
decision for the contents of the portfolio was left up to
each individual student. The students were expected to use
their imaginations and be creative. The students' ideas
could include but were not limited to written entries,
drawings or paintings, pictures from magazines or brochures,
photographs, or cassette or video recordings.
The procedure for this study consisted of four phases.
Phase one was a pilot study to test the Personal Transition
Portfolio Guide (PTP-G) as a portfolio strategy intervention
in a classroom setting. Additionally, the content review of
the Personal Transition Portfolio strategy was done in phase
one to establish the validity of the PTP. Phase two
consisted of training inservice teachers in the use of the
PTP-G for portfolio development for the experimental,
comparison, and control groups. Phase three was the large
group study in which the portfolio intervention developed in
the PTP-G was implemented with 5 classes as the experimental
group, 4 classes as the comparison group, and 4 classes as
the control group. After the interscorer reliability was
established, the fourth phase was the final evaluation of
the personal transition portfolios. In the next section,
each procedure will be explained in more detail.
Prior to the implementation of any training, permission
was received from the University of Florida Institutional
Review Board (UFIRB) to conduct research with human
subjects. Upon approval from the UFIRB, permission was
obtained from Gilchrist County School District, Levy County
School District, and Alachua County School District to
conduct research with students in their districts.
Permission was obtained through personal contact with the
Directors of Exceptional Student Education in Levy and
Gilchrist Counties. The applications for permission to do
research in Alachua County were filed with the Office of
Extended Services at the University of Florida and then
forwarded to the Alachua County School Board. After
permission was received at the district level, permission
was obtained from the principals at each individual school.
Consent for permission to work with the students was
obtained from the parents of all the students in the study
(see Appendix A). The students also gave their verbal
assent to participate in the study.
Personal Transition Portfolio Strategy Intervention
The portfolio strategy was presented in five units, one
for each transition area: (a) employment, (b) further
education/training, (c) community involvement, (d)
independent living, and (e) adult services. Prior to the
presentation of the first unit there was an introduction to
portfolios and an overview of transition.
Each unit contains four parts: (a) advance organizer,
(b) discussion of the task, (c) supervised practice, and (d)
independent practice (adapted from Mercer & Miller, 1992 and
Van Reusen et al., 1994).
Advance organizer. The advance organizer serves
several purposes. First, it aids the student in accessing
prior knowledge about the concept to be introduced. Second,
it presents an overview of the information to be addressed.
Finally, it provides a rationale for why the information is
important to the student.
Discussion of the Task. The discussion time provides
the opportunity for the teacher to explain the concept and
present examples about the assignment. The teacher and the
student have the opportunity to ask and answer questions,
especially about the steps involved in accomplishing the
Supervised Practice. The supervised practice can be
started on the day of the introduction to the task at hand
and continued at a small group session during the next
discussion session. In the small groups the students and
the teacher can provide feedback as each student shares his
or her initial ideas and intended steps or accomplishments.
The supervised practice helps prepare the students for the
Independent Practice. The students explore their
individual interests on an independent basis. Based on
their unique needs, the students in the experimental group
make contact with people in the community, record the
information, and reflect on their findings. The students in
the comparison group use classroom materials and activities
for their portfolio information. At this point the
portfolios should show progress toward the goals and
demonstrate growth. Feedback from the teacher is important
at this step.
For the purpose of this study students were given
assignments when each lesson was introduced. There was time
for small group meetings. Assignments were to be completed
by the time the students met in groups again to discuss
Phase One: Pilot Study
The pilot study was conducted in Gilchrist County,
Florida. It is a rural school district with a small
Subjects. The 9 subjects who participated in the pilot
study were in a mixed-grade high school varying
exceptionalities (VE) class. There were 5 females and 4
males with 2 students in the 9th grade, 3 students in the
10th grade, 3 students in the 11th grade, and 1 student in
the 12th grade. Of these subjects, 7 were identified with
specific learning disabilities and 2 with mild developmental
Design. The purpose of the pilot study was to test the
personal transition portfolio intervention as designed by
the Transition Portfolio Guide in a classroom setting. A
pretest-posttest design with the Transition Planning
Inventory was employed to determine self-efficacy of
transition readiness. Additionally, there was a posttest-
only evaluation of the student-developed personal transition
Training of scorers for reliability. The scorers
received information on transition planning, a description
of the transition portfolio concept, and general
instructions for portfolio development. Additionally, the
scorers were instructed in the use of the personal
transition portfolio evaluation form. Fifteen portfolios
were evaluated by two independent scorers to obtain an
interscorer reliability index. Once the reliability was
established to be reasonably high, one rater was used to
evaluate the Personal Transition Portfolios.
Content validation. The results of the content review
by the panel of experts was used to establish the content
validity of the Personal Transition Portfolio Guide and
Portfolio Evaluation. The content of the five units and the
guidelines of evaluation were based on the current
literature on transition and portfolios. The panel of
experts reviewed the PTP-G to ensure that it addressed the
transitions areas. Additionally, the panel examined the
posttest only evaluation of the personal transition
portfolio to determine that it measured what it was designed
Phase Two: Portfolio Intervention Education
The portfolio intervention education consisted of
providing the teachers with instruction in personal
transition portfolio development. The six teachers who
taught classes for students with varying exceptionalities at
the five study sites and the pilot study site attended an
inservice training prior to the beginning of the large group
study. Each training lasted approximately 90 minutes. The
teachers were provided information on transition planning,
the transition portfolio strategy, and general instructions
for portfolio development (see Appendix C).
The teachers were provided separate lesson plans for
the experimental groups and the comparison groups. During
the inservice, specific emphasis was placed on the
significance of two concepts. First, how important it was
to adhere to the lesson plans for each separate treatment
group. Second, how important it was not to discuss the
experimental methodology with the comparison groups or the
portfolio concept with the control groups. The teachers
were told that the researcher would stop in at random to
observe class presentations and peruse the portfolio
Additionally, the teachers' lesson plan books were
color coordinated. The lesson plan books for the
experimental groups were blue and the lesson plan books for
the comparison groups were gray. The students' notebooks
were also color coordinated by group. For each class the
notebooks were a different color and every student in that
class had the same color notebook. For example, all the
students in the 2nd period comparison group had purple
notebooks, all the students in the 3rd period experimental
group had blue notebooks, and all the students in the 5th
period experimental group had green notebooks.
Phase Three: Portfolio Intervention Implementation
The intervention phase consisted of the pretest, the
implementation of the intervention, and the final evaluation
Pretest and posttest. The student form of the
Transition Planning Inventory was administered as the
pretest and the posttest. The self-efficacy ratings are
presented in Chapter IV. After the students completed the
pretest, portfolio instruction began in both the
experimental and comparison groups.
Experimental group. Instruction in the experimental
group followed the portfolio strategy outlined in the
Personal Transition Portfolio Guide. The students received
approximately 45 minutes of instruction or small group time,
three times for each of the five lessons. The major focus
of the strategy instruction was the community contact
Comparison group. The students in the comparison group
received general instruction for transition portfolio
development from the second Personal Transition Portfolio
Guide. The students received approximately 45 minutes of
instruction or small group time, three times for each of the
five lessons. The students developed the portfolio using
classroom activities, materials, and focus groups without
the community contact component.
Control group. The students in the control group took
the pretest and the posttest. They did not receive
instruction in transition portfolio development.
Phase Four: Final Evaluation
The final evaluation of the personal transition
portfolios was ascertained using the criteria in the
evaluation form. The students had the final decision on
what to include in the portfolio and how to present the
material, but they had to meet the basic requirements. The
requirements addressed portfolio (a) organization (logical
presentation, coordination throughout, and coherence); (b)
content (met requirements, demonstrated communication, and
showed individuality); (c) presentation (appearance); and
(d) overall effect (impact of the portfolio).
Experimental Design and Analysis of Data
The design of this study was a pretest-posttest
comparison group statistical design. The subject pool
consisted of students in secondary classes in Levy and
Alachua Counties. Thirteen classes that offered programming
for students with varying exceptionalities at the high
schools were involved in the study. The classes at each
school were generally divided in the following way (a) one
ninth grade class, (b) one class of ninth and tenth graders,
and (c) one class of eleventh and twelfth graders. The
intact classes were assigned to either the experimental
group, the comparison group, or the control group. The
classes were matched as closely as possible on the basis of
(a) the teacher (each teacher who had two or more research
groups had diverse groups--e.g., one experimental and one
comparison group), (b) the grade level (each grade level was
represented in the experimental, comparison, and control
groups), and (c) the number of subjects (the classes were
assigned for equality in the number of subjects and the
number of classes per research group; e.g., experimental,
comparison, and control groups). Five classes received
instruction in the personal transition portfolio strategy
(experimental group), four classes received general
instruction in transition portfolio development (comparison
group), and four classes served as the control group.
Chapter 4 includes the descriptive statistics for all
the variables. A repeated measures analysis of variance
(ANOVA) was computed to address Hypothesis 1 and determine
if any significant differences were present between the
experimental treatments on the final self-efficacy. For
Hypothesis 2 the researcher completed a t-test to
investigate group differences in the final evaluation scores
of the transition portfolios. For Hypothesis 3 a
regresssion analysis addressed the relationship between the
final evaluation score of the transition portfolios and the
final self-efficacy of transition readiness after
controlling for initial self-efficacy. A .05 level of
confidence was used to determine if the differences were
significant and whether or not to reject the null
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect
on self-efficacy related to transition readiness of teaching
high school students with mild disabilities to develop
personal transition portfolios. The general question of
this study was as follows: Does instruction in developing
personal transition portfolios that involves an action plan
for community contact affect the student's self-efficacy of
transition readiness? In order to examine this question,
the researcher compared the final self-efficacy of an
experimental group, whose members established an action plan
to contact and interview community members, in addition to
classroom instruction in portfolio development to the final
self-efficacy of two additional groups, one a comparison
group and the other a control group. The students in the
comparison group received traditional classroom instruction
and used classroom resources to develop personal transition
portfolios but did not contact community members. The
students in the control group received neither instruction
in transition portfolios nor developed transition
portfolios. The effects of both types of instruction in
portfolio development and no portfolio development on self-
efficacy of transition readiness of high school students
with mild disabilities were measured and compared.
This chapter is divided into seven sections and
presents data acquired in the study that addresses the
experimental questions. First, results are presented from
measures taken to insure interrater reliability. Second,
the results from the panel of experts on the content
validity of the Personal Transition Portfolio Guide are
discussed. Third, demographic characteristics of the
students in the study are described. Fourth, the results
are reported of the repeated measures analysis of variance
to determine if any significant differences of final self-
efficacy between experimental treatments were present.
Fifth, the results of a t-test to investigate group
differences in the final evaluation scores of the transition
portfolios are discussed. Sixth, the results of a
regression analysis to address the relationship between the
final evaluation score of the transition portfolios and the
final self-efficacy of transition readiness after
controlling for initial self-efficacy are reported.
Finally, the results of additional related findings are
Interrater Reliability for Portfolio Grading
The following procedures were implemented during the
study to insure reliability of measurement (a) portfolio
graders received a key to standardize the evaluations and
(b) fifteen portfolios were scored independently using the
same scoring procedures to establish interrater agreement.
Interscorer reliability was calculated using the Pearson
correlation coefficient. Interrater reliability on the
portfolio evaluation for the two independent scores was
Portfolio Content Validation and Measurement Criteria
Both the content of the personal transition portfolio
and evaluation criteria for the transition portfolio were
reviewed by a panel of six experts in the field of
transition for secondary students with mild disabilities.
The panel members (see Appendix D) were asked to rate the
content of the transition portfolio from three perspectives.
All panel members indicated the portfolio guide included the
necessary information and correctly addressed (a) the five
transition areas, (b) the goals and objectives for those
areas, and (c) the final portfolio evaluation procedure.
Demographic Characteristics of Participants
A total of 13 classrooms from five high schools
participated in the study. The total number of subjects
equaled 66. The experimental group totaled 30 subjects, the
comparison group totaled 15 subjects, and the control group
totaled 21 subjects. Of the total number of students, 17
(26%) were female and 49 (74%) were male. The racial makeup
of the total included 43 (65%) white students, 21 (32%)
African-American students, and 2 (3%) Hispanic students.
All the students were enrolled in high school varying
exceptionality (VE) classes for students with mild
disabilities. Thirty-eight (58%) of the students were
identified with learning disabilities, 13 (20%) students
were identified with mild emotional handicaps, 13 (20%)
students were identified with mild developmental
disabilities, one (1%) student was identified as having a
speech impairment and one (1%) student was identified as
having a hearing impairment. Table 1 presents a descriptive
summary of students in the experimental, comparison, and
Preexisting differences among the three groups were
determined by conducting chi-square analyses by gender,
ethnicity, age, and grade. For each analysis the .05 level
of significance was used.
Chi-square (X2) tests were used to compare the three
groups by gender, ethnicity, age, and grade. The X2
revealed no significant differences among the groups by
gender (X2 = 3.572, 2, p = .17). The percentage of females
in the control group (14.3%) was not significantly different
from the percentage of females in the comparison group (20%)
or the percentage of females in the experimental group
The X2 revealed no statistically significant
differences among the groups by ethnicity (X2 = 5.617, 2, E
= .06). The minority populations (African-American and
Hispanic) were grouped into one category for ethnicity
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