The effect of a student-developed personal transition portfolio on student self-efficacy related to transition readiness


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The effect of a student-developed personal transition portfolio on student self-efficacy related to transition readiness
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xi, 151 leaves : ; 29 cm.
Gibbs, Elizabeth Herman, 1953-
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Special Education thesis, Ph. D
Dissertations, Academic -- Special Education -- UF
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non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis (Ph. D.)--University of Florida, 1996.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 140-148).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Elizabeth Herman Gibbs.
General Note:
General Note:

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University of Florida
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aleph - 023810122
oclc - 35737221
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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.








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


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
Participation .
As Assessment Tools .
Effective Transition Programs
Summary .

3 METHOD . .

Hypotheses . .
Subjects and Setting .
Research Instrumentation .
Pretest and Posttest .
Portfolio Evaluation .
Materials . .
Procedure ........
Personal Transition Portfolio Strategy
Intervention .
Phase One: Pilot Study .
Phase Two: Portfolio Intervention
Education . .
Phase Three: Portfolio Intervention
Implementation .
Phase Four: Final Evaluation .
Experimental Design and Analysis of Data .


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 . .


Summary of the Hypotheses .
Hypothesis 1 . .
Hypothesis 2 . .
Hypothesis 3 .
Theoretical Implications of the Research
Findings . .

i i i I

. 106












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



GUIDE ... .. 132




REFERENCES . ... 140



Table page

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



Elizabeth Herman Gibbs

August 1996

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

transition readiness.

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

transition portfolios.

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.


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.

Transition Planning

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.

Educational Planning

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.

Postschool Success

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).

Empowering Students

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

mild disabilities.


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,

and self-assessment.

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

(1991) means

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,

1994, p.l).

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

educational plans.

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

Chapter 5.


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.

Transition Issues

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,
p. 1)


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.

Empower Students

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
Ask questions
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

postsecondary education.

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).

Self-Efficacy Theory

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

development process.

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

educational setting.

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

transition skills.


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

(Dickinson, 1993).

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

their ideas.

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"

(p. 33).


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

transition skills.

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

successful transition.

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

this study.

Research Instrumentation

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).

Portfolio Evaluation

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

the subject.

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.

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

their findings.

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

to assess.

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

and posttest.

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

control groups.

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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