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A study of the relationship between personal and environmental factors bearing on self-determination and the academic success of university students with learning disabilities

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A study of the relationship between personal and environmental factors bearing on self-determination and the academic success of university students with learning disabilities
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Sarver, Mary Duran, 1947-
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xii, 177 leaves : ; 29 cm.

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Academic achievement ( jstor )
College students ( jstor )
Community colleges ( jstor )
Disabilities ( jstor )
Educational research ( jstor )
High school students ( jstor )
Higher education ( jstor )
Learning disabilities ( jstor )
Special needs students ( jstor )
Universities ( jstor )
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Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Florida, 2000.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 171-176).
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Printout.
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Vita.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Mary Duran Sarver.

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A STUDY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSONAL AND
ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS BEARING ON SELF-DETERMINATION
AND THE ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF UNIVERSITY
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES









By

MARY DURAN SARVER


A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT
OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF
DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA


2000

























Copyright 2000 by

Mary Duran Sarver














ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

I wish to acknowledge the members of my committee for their support and

guidance. Dr. Dave Miller has been most helpful with every phase of the quantitative investigation, assisting with data analysis and interpretation. Dr. Ellen Amatea has been supportive in her comments regarding the investigation of personal characteristics of persons with learning disabilities. Dr. Jeanne Repetto and Dr. Stuart Schwartz provided the benefit of their wisdom about the literature on transition. Dr. Cary Reichard has been a stalwart mentor throughout the process. His patient encouragement of my effort as well as his insistence on precise and comprehensive analysis contributed immensely to this dissertation. Dr. Cynthia Griffin, above all others, exhibited resolute and focused attention to the entire research effort. Dr. Griffin shared this writer's conviction that education of persons with learning disabilities is both worthwhile and misunderstood. She patiently guided this writer along the path to better understanding of persons with learning disabilities, and I thank her.

I would like to acknowledge others for their assistance. Dr. Robert Sherman reviewed the design for the qualitative research, and his comments helped shape that process. Dr. Karen Kilgore assisted with framing the questions on the SS-DDF and designing a pilot instrument. The reference librarians of Norman Library were of invaluable assistance in gathering and verifying research. Barbara Smerage was of immense help in typing, editing, and persevering with the writer throughout the entire process. I thank Ms. Sybil Brown for her assistance with statistical analysis. I also thank









Richard Nelson and many students and volunteers in the Office for Students with Disabilities.

I would like to acknowledge four people from other universities for their

assistance in the form of comments, suggestions, and critiques. Dr. Stan Shaw of the University of Connecticut provided the impetus for this research in his comments about self-determination and university students with learning disabilities during his presentation at the University of Florida. Dr. Loring Brinckerhoff of Tufts University suggested questions regarding self-awareness and social support systems of university students with learning disabilities. Dr. Shlomo Sawilkowsky of Wayne State University provided information about the quantitative analysis of the S-DSS. Dr. Sharon Field, also of Wayne State University, offered comments about the subscales of the S-DSS, the research design of this dissertation, and the use of S-DSS scores as criteria for participant selection for the qualitative investigation.

On a personal note, I would like to acknowledge my friends and family. I wish to acknowledge many friends from many years who have modeled for me resolute and steadfast effort toward their goals. There have been many friends who have sustained me through difficult times and shared with me some good times. There are too many to name them all, so I will only acknowledge by name three persons--my friend and neighbor, Marjorie Zander, and my friends and classmates, Ann Geary and Nadia Bamieh. Their friendship has been invaluable throughout the years.

I wish to acknowledge my family. My mother, first, because she believed

education is a lifelong process and that each individual is unique and worthy of respect. I would like to acknowledge my father for his confidence in me. I want to acknowledge








my brother and sister-in-law who have demonstrated the determination and creativity needed to raise a family when one child has a disability. I wish to acknowledge my sister who has a learning disability and whose childhood educational experiences were to shape my professional career.

I wish to acknowledge my daughters. Their support for my research has never wavered. They have been the source of much joy and satisfaction for me. My pride in them is the only thing that eclipses my satisfaction in completing this project. I want to acknowledge my husband who has fulfilled and exceeded his promise 30 years ago to love and care for me. He has assisted me in every phase of my work, from conceptual analysis through final revision. Without his encouragement and assistance this dissertation could not have been written.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge the students with learning disabilities I have

known throughout the years. I want to thank them for what they have taught me. I wrote this dissertation in an effort to help other teachers and counselors understand students with learning disabilities better in order to serve them better. It is my hope that my model for services for students with learning disabilities could be incorporated into service delivery systems and improve the lives of students with learning disabilities.














TABLE OF CONTENTS

Page

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ....................................................................... iii

A B ST R A C T ...................................................................................... x

CHAPTERS

INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM ......................................... 1

Developmental Challenges for Young Adults with Learning
D isabilities .............................................................. .... 2
Academic Success in Postsecondary Education and Support
Services to Achieve Success ........................................... 2
Lifelong Trends for Adults with Learning Disabilities ................... 2
A cadem ic Success ............................................................... 4
Programs for Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities ........ 4
Self-D eterm ination .................................................................. 5
Historical Importance of Self-Determination ............................... 6
Educational Research on Self-Determination ................................ 7
Model of Self-Determination ................................................... 9
The Field and Hoffman Model of Self-Determination:
A Quantitative Approach .................................................. 10
Quantitative and Qualitative Model of Self-Determination ............... 11
Definition of Self-Determination ........................................... 12
Statement of the Problem ..........................................................13
R ationale of the Study .............................................................. 13
Definition of Terms ................................................................ 14
Delimitations of the Study ....................................................... 15
Limitations of the Study ......................................................... 16

2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE ....................................... 17

Criteria for Selection of Relevant Literature ................................... 17
Theoretical Foundations ......................................................... 19
Human Development Theories ............................................. 19
Bronfenbrenner ................................................................ 20
E rikson ............................................................................ 25
Chickering ..................................................................... 29









Characteristics of Persons with Learning Disabilities .......................... 33
Children with Learning Disabilities .......................................... 33
Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities ......................... 34
Adults with Learning Disabilities ........................................... 38
Self-D eterm ination .................................................................. 39
D efi nition ......................................................................... 39
Educational Research ......................................................... 40
Further Research Regarding Self-Determination ............................... 42

3 METHODOLOGY .................................................................. 45

Introduction ........................................................................... 45
Subjects .......................................................................... .... 46
S ettin g ................................................................................. 4 8
Instrum ents .......................................................................... 49
Self-determination Student Scale ............................................. 49
Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors .................... 51
P rocedure ............................................................................ 52
Quantitative Research Procedures and Hypotheses Tested ............... 52
Qualitative Research Procedures ............................................. 55

4 R E SU L T S ............................................................................ 58

Introduction .......................................................................... 58
Internal Consistency of the Quantitative Measures ............................ 59
Demographic Analysis of the Participants ...................................... 59
Results of Quantitative Investigation ............................................. 62
Descriptive Statistics ........................................................... 62
Statistical Analysis of Hypotheses ........................................... 63
Comparison of Students by Gender ........................................... 68
Qualitative Investigation ........................................................... 68
Description of Participants in the Qualitative Study ........................ 70
Thematic Analysis of the Qualitative Investigation ........................ 77
Features of Institutional Support Related to Academic Success .......... 77 Institutional Infrastructures .................................................... 77
Personality Markers for Academic Success .................................. 91
A utonom y ....................................................................... 92
L ocus of Identity ................................................................ 96
Goal Selection and Implementation .......................................... 98
Resilience in Response to Failure ........................................... 103

5 D ISC U SSIO N ........................................................................ 109

Discussion of the Results of the Quantitative Investigation .................... 109
Discussion of the Results of the Qualitative Investigation ..................I II









Salient Features of Institutional Support Related to Academic Success..... 111
Institutional Infrastructure ..................................................... 111
Social Support Systems ........................................................ 114
R ole of Faculty .................................................................. 115
Personality Markers for Academic Success ...................................... 117
A utonom y ........................................................................ 117
L ocus of Identity ................................................................ 118
Goal Selection and Implementation .......................................... 119
Resilience in Response to Failure ............................................. 122
Practical Implications for the Research Findings ................................ 124
A Model of Coordinated Services for University Students with
Learning Disabilities ....................................................... 125
U niversity System s .................................................................. 127
T ransition In ..................................................................... 127
C ounseling ....................................................................... 128
Academic Advisement ......................................................... 129
Learning Strategies ............................................................. 130
Faculty and Staff ................................................................ 130
A ccom m odations ................................................................ 131
Transition Out .................................................................. 132
The Role of Coordinator ........................................................ 132
Limitations on the Generalizability of the Study ................................ 133
Recommendations for Further Research ......................................... 1341
Longitudinal Study of Adults with Learning Disabilities .................. 134
Use of Accommodations ....................................................... 135
Communication Skills .......................................................... 135
Transition to the University Environment ................................... 136
Qualities of Peer Mentoring ................................................... 136
L ocus of Identity ................................................................ 136
Selection of Academic Fields ................................................. 137
Types of Postsecondary Institutions .......................................... 137

APPENDICES

A SELF-DETERMINATION STUDENT SCALE ................................ 139

B SELF-DETERMINATION STUDENT SCALE: PSYCHOMETRIC
INFORMATION .............................................................. 14

C SURVEY OF SELF-DETERMINATION DEVELOPMENTAL
FA C T O R S ....................................................................... 158

D IRB APPROVAL .................................................................... 163

E COVER LETTER/INFORMED CONSENT FOR PARTICIPATION
IN QUANTITATIVE INVESTIGATION ................................... 166









F PERMISSION TO USE SELF-DETERMINATION STUDENT
S C A L E ............................................................................ 168
G INFORMED CONSENT FOR PARTICIPATION IN
QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION ......................................... 170

REFERENCES .................................................................................... 171

BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................................................... 177














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

A STUDY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSONAL AND
ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS BEARING ON SELF-DETERMINATION
AND THE ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF UNIVERSITY
STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES By

Mary Duran Sarver

August 2000

Chair: Cary L. Reichard
Cochair: Cynthia C. Griffin
Major Department: Special Education

This study examined the relationship between personal and environmental factors bearing on self-determination and the academic success of university students with learning disabilities.

Subjects (n = 88) of the study were students with learning disabilities who

attended the University of Florida during the spring semester of the 1998-1999 school year, were registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities at the time, and had completed at least 30 hours of college credit but had not received a bachelor's degree.

A two-part research design was employed. Under the first part, all of the subjects were administered Hoffman and Field's (1994) Self-Determination Student Scale (SDSS), yielding a quantitative measure of the extent to which the students in the study were self-determined. In the second part, four of these students were administered the









Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF), a questionnaire specifically designed for this study to gather information about environmental and personal factors which may have influenced developmental progress in the area of selfdetermination. Responses to this latter instrument provided a qualitative foundation for discussion of themes reported by the subjects to have a bearing on self-determination and academic success.

Results from the administration of the S-DSS were compared with subjects* grade point averages (GPAs) at the time of the study, which were taken as a measure of their academic success, and with the number of disability accommodations granted them by the university. Subjects' total scores on the S-DSS were found to be positively and significantly correlated with their GPAs (Pearson's Correlation Coefficient = 0.2859, p = 0.0069). No significant correlation was found to exist between their GPAs and the number of disability accommodations granted them by the university.

It was concluded that the most parsimonious interpretation of these results appears to be that undergraduate students at a large university, who have learning disabilities which they have registered with the institution, and who are inclined to complete and return survey instruments, are likely to be academically successful as a function of the extent of their self-determination and that the number of accommodations granted them by the institution does not predict the extent to which they are selfdetermined.

Results from the administration of the SS-DDF were found to yield a variety of themes reflecting the importance of disability awareness, the impact of environmental factors within the institutional infrastructure, and the contribution of social support








systems external to the institution, as well as personality markers for academic success. including autonomy, locus of identity, goal selection and implementation, and resilience in response to failure.

Practical implications of these results are discussed in the study. and a model of coordinated services for university students with learning disabilities is proposed.














CHAPTER 1
INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM This chapter provides a rationale for, and relates issues that are central to, the study that is described. Specifically, the relationship between personal and environmental factors bearing on self-determination and the academic success of university students with learning disabilities is discussed.

Developmental Challenges for Young Adults with Learning Disabilities

Young adults confront several developmental challenges related to a growing

awareness of their own uniqueness, their autonomy (Chickering, 1969; Erikson 1950), and the importance of the environment in their lives (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Persons with learning disabilities may be more seriously challenged in these areas as young adults than peers without learning disabilities (Gerber, Reiff, & Ginsberg, 1996; Rosenthal, 1992). Young adults with learning disabilities typically remain in the parental home longer and may not involve themselves socially with same-age students as often as young adults without learning disabilities (Maughan & Hagell, 1996; Ryan, 1994). They also experience greater social isolation within their home communities than peers without learning disabilities (Patton & Palloway, 1992). This results in a different constellation of behaviors which could, in turn, influence many aspects of their lives (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Lehmann, Deniston, Tobin, & Howard, 1996; Rosenthal, 1992). This study investigated the degree to which college students with learning disabilities manifest








evidence of self-determination and whether or not this bears a relationship to the extent of academic success they have achieved in postsecondary education. In addition, identifiable factors in an individual's environment are examined to determine if they are indicators of self-determination and academic success.

Academic Success in Postsecondarv Education and Support Services to Achieve Success

Lifelong Trends for Adults with Learning Disabilities

Adults with learning disabilities have lower employment rates than do their peers without learning disabilities, and they are also less involved in their communities (Patton & Palloway, 1992). They are often underemployed, working part-time, or working at low-paying jobs (Haring & Lovett, 1990; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997). Their social skills are considered to be less developed than those of adults without learning disabilities (Maughan & Hagell, 1996). In part, these career-related discrepancies may be a reflection of the fewer numbers of these adults who have attended postsecondary education (Sitlington & Frank, 1990). Until recently, there were very few students with learning disabilities in higher education. Minskoff and DeMoss (1993) and Brinckerhoff, Shaw, and McGuire (1993) offered several reasons for the recent increase in the numbers of students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education. Factors they identified as causal include (a) the impact of Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and PL 94142 over the past 20 years, (b) schools complying with the "least restrictive environment" condition of IDEA which has allowed students with learning disabilities in one area to participate in classes with peers who do not have learning disabilities, (c)








public awareness of the rights of students with disabilities to a free and appropriate public education, and (d) the advent of assistive technology which enhances opportunities for students with disabilities to participate more actively in higher education (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1993; Minskoff & DeMoss. 1993).

With more students with learning disabilities enrolled in postsecondary education than ever before, questions have been raised regarding the efficacy of interventions which are designed to enhance the success of these students. Many of these questions include those that are related to outcome measures. They tend to focus on academic success within the university experience and often serve to evaluate educators' contribution to the academic careers of students with learning disabilities. Included among these questions are the following:

1. How do students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education vary as a group regarding academic success?

2. How do universities and colleges address the needs of these students?

3. In what ways can universities and colleges improve the services they deliver to their students with learning disabilities?

4. What does the research indicate to be the most salient characteristics of

successful students with learning disabilities, as compared to less successful students with learning disabilities?

5. Does self-determination have a predictive value for, or influence, academic success?


6. Historically, how has self-determination been viewed?








7. What does educational research reveal about self-determination?

8. What model and definition of self-determination seems most appropriate for understanding students with learning disabilities in higher education?

In the following sections each of these questions is addressed. Academic Success

Students enrolled in postsecondary education earn grades for their efforts and are awarded credits for completed courses. The completion of a predetermined number of credits, while maintaining certain grades, is, of course, an essential element of earning a college degree. Students with learning disabilities often experience difficulties due to their disabilities and require interventions in order to complete their coursework and earn the grades necessary to be awarded their degrees (Brinckerhoff, 1993; Shaw, 1995, 1996; Sitlington & Frank, 1990). Within this context, academic success may be plausibly viewed as a reflection of a student's grade point average and the number of courses completed within a specific time.

Programs for Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities

The question of which interventions are most effective is a subject of debate. For many researchers in the field of services for postsecondary students with learning disabilities, the most appropriate support services are those that include counseling (Byrne & Crawford, 1990; Miller & Cabell, 1989; Rosenthal, 1992). These programs typically include individual counseling and group approaches to counseling. The focus is frequently on altering the behaviors of students with learning disabilities and improving their self-esteem, self-awareness, and organizational and communication skills.








There are also programs to assist students with learning disabilities through

academic tutoring. These programs may be content-based or focused on instruction of learning strategies. Many postsecondary programs offer both types of academic assistance (Forness & Kavale, 1996). Some emphasize one type more than the other, and some programs are exclusively either content-based or focused on tutoring strategies (Shaw, 1995, 1996). Many researchers have emphasized the importance of assessing long range benefits of interventions toward enhancing success in postsecondary years and have turned their attention to measuring the outcomes of their efforts in fostering independence and self-determination (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1993; Shaw, 1996). One of the most compelling reasons given for preferring tutoring strategies over content-based tutoring is the importance of self-determination in the lives of students and adults with and without learning disabilities (Hayden & Abery, 1994; Brinckerhoff, 1993).

Self-Determination

A clear understanding of the concept of self-determination is fundamental to this study. In the opinion of many experts in the field of postsecondary services for students with learning disabilities, the most appropriate intervention is one which focuses on the enhancement of self-determination (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1993; Lehman, Deniston, Tobin, & Howard, 1996; Shaw, 1995). Students with learning disabilities benefit more from the interpersonal skills which are considered to be indicators of selfdetermination and are necessary for success in the world of work and social venues than from specific academic achievement (White, 1992). Self-determination has been a topic of interest for philosophers, educators, researchers, and writers through the years. The








following is a review of some of the philosophical discussion of self-determination as well as recent educational research in this area. These topics are expanded in Chapter 2. An operational definition of self-determination is also presented. Historical Importance of Self-Determination

The centrality of self-determination in the lives of all humans has been discussed since Greek antiquity. Mallory (1996), in a text devoted to service delivery systems for people with disabilities, quoted Aristotle as saying that the ability to make choices about one's own life is the most important feature of human existence. Hayden and Abery (1994), who also quoted Aristotle, similarly asserted that self-determination is an essential quality of human life. This point of view is consistent with a notion that has guided western thought for centuries, namely, that freedom and responsibility are essential qualities of a fulfilled human life. The ability to make choices and implement plans consistent with them is fundamental to this way of thinking. Much of western thought has focused on the ability to process information in order to make good decisions and on how to evaluate decisions once they are made. Being empowered to make decisions and act on them effectively is an essential element of self-determination as it is employed in this study.

The concept of self-determination is roughly synonymous with that of autonomy. The word "autonomy" is derived from two Greek words, autos (=self) and nomos (=law). A person who is autonomous is one who is a law unto herself/himself, answering to her or his own moral understanding and acting according to internalized principles (Kant, 1981). The question of whether a person reaches a suitable level of autonomy is








significant for philosophers. The question of whether autonomy, or self-determination. is directly linked to academic success for university students with learning disabilities is an important question for educators.

Educational Research on Self-Determination

Educators interested in human development throughout the lifespan have

investigated self-determination as a predictor of success in adult life after the completion of formal education. They have also been interested in pedagogical methods which enhance the qualities, traits, and behaviors associated with the enhancement of selfdetermination. The ability to make choices about important matters in one's own life is particularly important for students with learning disabilities. One of the paradoxes of educational interventions for students with disabilities in elementary and middle school is that these same educational interventions risk creating dependence rather than independence (Wall & Datillo, 1995). This poses an interesting dilemma for students, parents, and educators: Short-term academic success is purchased at the cost of long-tern developmental difficulties in the form of a diminished capacity for self-determination. Some students with learning disabilities begin their postsecondary education less mature and less independent than peers without learning disabilities (Ryan, 1994). It may be that the diminished self-determination of these students renders them particularly vulnerable to the vicissitudes of postsecondary education.

This study investigated the implications of self-determination as it relates to academic success for college students with learning disabilities. Some educational researchers consider that students with learning disabilities need to develop self-








determination as they progress through their formal education because it is a major factor in their success as independent adults (Shaw, 1996). Shaw considered self-determination to be so important that he developed his model of interventions for postsecondary students with learning disabilities with the goal of enhancing self-determination. Lynch and Gussel (1996) reported that their research indicated that self-advocacy, a component of self-determination, was a skill necessary for female college students with learning disabilities and needs to be encouraged and supported by appropriate interventions in order to enhance the success of these students after college.

Although the need for self-determination continues past college, the necessity of developing it begins much earlier. Wall and Datillo (1995) discussed the processes involved in teaching self-determination to students when they are very young. Their report on the integration of self-determination curricula for students in elementary and middle school suggested that self-determination is, in part, comprised of decision-making skills. Their report further suggested that components of self-determination can be analyzed in themselves and considered as separate lifeskills.

Sands and Doll (1996) also reported on the components of self-determination and the importance of fostering it early in the education of youth with learning disabilities. For them, the most significant element of self-determination is that of distinguishing between dependence and independence. The concept of self-determination as a developmental quality, one that has to be formally taught and contextually supported, is shared by Wall and Datillo, Sands and Doll, and other researchers.








Van Reusen and Bos (1990) also considered that self-determination was both

essential and amenable to direct instruction. They developed an entire curriculum based on the theory that self-advocacy was important to adult life and that students with disabilities could benefit from a planned approach to learning this skill. Their concern was with students who were in secondary school and who needed assistance with the transition to postsecondary education.

Another researcher who was concerned with the transition of students with

disabilities from secondary education to adult life or postsecondary education and who saw the importance of independence for these young adults was Wehmeyer. Wehmeyer (1992) wrote about the importance of self-determination for students with disabilities in terms of their success in personal relationships, independent living, and financial independence. His concern about the lack of preparation for independence among these students led him, with a colleague, to develop a scale to measure self-determination in young adults who have completed secondary education. Wehmeyer and Schwartz (1997) reported that young adults with disabilities who had higher levels of self-determination exhibited greater financial stability, better social skills, and a higher level of academic performance than peers with learning disabilities who had lower levels of selfdetermination.

Model of Self-Determination

Self-determination has been defined in terms of the qualities it embodies, the qualities it is most like, and the characteristics of people who are said to possess it. Although there are several components of self-determination, the two most important








ones are those that relate to the individual's ability to establish goals and make decisions that are effective in pursuit of them. In the case of people with learning disabilities, the components may not have had opportunity to develop in ways comparable to those without learning disabilities. One consequence of this could be a delay in the development of the independence necessary for the assertion of individuality (Rosenthal, 1992). The emphasis of researchers on developmental programs regarding self-determination for children and adolescents suggests that self-determination could be conceptualized in terms of a model (Sands & Doll, 1996; Van Reusen & Bos, 1990; Wall & Datillo, 1995; Wehmeyer, 1992; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997). In what follows, a model of selfdetermination, influenced by Field and Hoffman's research-based model of selfdetermination and by the developmental theories of Bronfenbrenner, Erikson, and Chickering, is presented.

The Field and Hoffman Model of Self-Determination: A Quantitative Approach

Researchers at Wayne State University have provided a model of selfdetermination that has been applied to adolescents and adults both with and without disabilities. Their five-part model was founded on their definition of self-determination. Field and Hoffman (1994) defined self-determination as "the ability to identify and achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing oneself' (p. 164). The importance of self-determination for human development can be seen in this definition which suggests how pivotal its development can be to actualizing human potential.

In this study, self-determination is investigated through quantitative analysis of data employing Hoffman and Field's Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) (1995), a








92-item instrument that addresses respondents' beliefs about self-determination. The SDSS consists of five separate subscales that correspond to the five components that Field and Hoffman considered to be essential to their model of self-determination. These essential components are (a) self-knowledge, (b) self-esteem, (c) planning, (d) acting on plans, and (e) evaluating outcomes. All five of these components are assessed for participants in the study.

Field and Hoffman (1994) considered self-determination to represent a dynamic attribute, which indicates the development of a set of skills and behaviors which are practiced over a lifetime. The guiding premise for this study is that self-determination is a lifelong process which can be described both quantitatively, as Field and Hoffman did, and qualitatively, through an analysis of environmental influences on the development of self-determination.

Quantitative and Qualitative Measures of Self-Determination

This study employs the Field and Hoffman model to investigate quantitative

questions about self-determination and academic success and uses a qualitative approach to investigate some of the environmental influences that may have had an impact on the individual student's self-determination. Because the components present in selfdetermination are developed over time and in response to many and varied experiences, consistent with Bronfenbrenner's (1979) construct of "contextual" influences, the course of each student's growing self-determination may vary from that of her/his peers. The resulting patterns and tendencies may lead to different levels of academic success for students with learning disabilities. The qualitative part of this study explores the








possibility of a relationship between past and current contextual elements and the levels of self-determination and academic success for students with learning disabilities. Definition of Self-Determination

Self-determination goes by many names. It is sometimes called autonomy.

sometimes embodied in the phrase, "freedom of choice," and sometimes referred to as the ability to exercise one's own will. It is often considered to be synonymous with independence. Self-determination could be defined as the ability to make and implement choices about ones' own life. Consequently, in the qualitative analysis for this study, there is a dual focus on self-selected goals and behaviors undertaken to achieve these goals. These two constructs correspond to two of the components of the SelfDetermination Knowledge Scale, "planning" and "acting on plans," and reflect the influence of another component, that of "self-knowledge."

The importance of isolating and studying self-selection of goals, and behavior directed toward achieving those goals, arises from the definition of self-determination which provides the organizing principle for this study. Self-determination is defined as a pattern of behavior by an individual which exhibits a tendency to set goals for oneself and to execute strategies for attaining them. As the definition is behavioral, and refers to patterns of behavior and tendencies to act in certain ways, it is consistent with the approach taken by Field and Hoffman in their research, as well as other theoretical foundations for this study (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Erikson, 1950).








Statement of the Problem

The problem investigated in this study is the relationship between selfdetermination and academic success for students with learning disabilities who are enrolled in a major university, The following experimental questions provide a framework for the study:

1. What is the relationship, if any, between self-determination and academic

success for students with learning disabilities who are highly successful, especially when comparing these students to those who are less successful?

2. Is there any relationship between self-determination and the number of interventions requested by, and approved for, students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education?

3. What factors in the environment of students with learning disabilities influence the degree to which they are self-determined?

Rationale of the Study

The importance of a college education for adults in terms of their career options and personal happiness has been well documented in the literature. The significantly low proportion of students with learning disabilities who have, in the past, been involved in higher education has also been documented in the literature (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996; Sitlington & Frank, 1990; Weiss, 1997). The comparatively greater number of students with learning disabilities in higher education today has been established as well (Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997; Minskoff & DeMoss, 1993). The lifelong discrepancy








between the achievement of adults with learning disabilities and those without learning disabilities has also been reported (Patton & Palloway, 1992).

What have not been established through research are the factors that contribute to the academic success of students with learning disabilities (Levine & Edgar, 1995: Lynch & Gussel, 1996). The present study addresses that issue by exploring the relationship between self-determination and academic success. Findings from this study may provide useful information for postsecondary administrators, secondary program administrators, faculty, and the students themselves, as well as their families.

Definition of Terms

For the purposes of this study, use of the term learning disabilities is understood to accord with the definition given by the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (1998):

Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group
of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous
system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in selfregulatory behaviors, social perception, and social interaction may exist with learning disabilities, but do not by themselves constitute a learning disability.
Although learning disabilities may occur concomitantly with other handicapping
conditions (for example, sensory impairment. mental retardation, serious
emotional disturbance ), or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences,
insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of these
conditions or influences. (p. 183)

In this study self-determination is defined as a pattern of behavior which

exhibits the tendency to set goals for oneself, and to execute strategies for attaining them.








Self-determination is a lifelong process which can be assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively.

The term university students refers to persons who were registered at the

University of Florida and entered in the university's database at the time of the study.

The term students with learning disabilities refers to university students who were registered with the University of Florida Office for Students with Disabilities office as having learning disabilities at the time of the study. Criteria for registration with this office will be explained in Chapter 3.

The term academic success is a reflection of adequate completion of coursework, as indicated by the final grades assigned and reported to the registrar. For the purposes of this study, extent of academic success is measured by the grades recorded for coursework completed, as reflected in the student's grade point average (GPA).

The term interventions refers to accommodations provided for students with

disabilities by the Office for Students with Disabilities. Each of these interventions must be requested by the student, and approved by the Office for Students with Disabilities.

Delimitations of the Study

This study is delimited by demographic features specific to the University of Florida, a large, Division I, research institution in the southeastern United States. Subjects in the study are students who have already met the highly competitive admission requirements of the University of Florida, as well as specific criteria for qualification as students with learning disabilities established by the university.








Limitations of the Study

Because this study includes only university students, the findings may not be relevant for populations of younger students or adults in the workforce. In addition, caution should be exercised when generalizing results to students enrolled in postsecondary institutions, where the enrollment patterns are very different from those at the University of Florida. Further limitations result from the selective admissions procedures of this institution and from the stringent criteria for qualification for registration with the Office for Students with Disabilities. Also, the population for the study does not include any students at the university who may have learning disabilities but are not registered with the Office for Student Services. Finally, the study includes only students who have completed 30 or more credit hours of undergraduate study. Caution should be exercised, therefore, when generalizing the results of this study to populations of students with fewer credit hours and to those who are graduate students.

Chapter 2 presents a review of the literature relevant to this study. Methodology used is discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 contains a presentation of the results, and Chapter 5 discusses these results and develops their implications for current practice and further research.














CHAPTER 2
REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE

The purpose of this chapter is to review, analyze, and synthesize the professional literature regarding human development, self-determination, and programs and services designed to enhance the academic success of university students with learning disabilities. These topics relate directly to the central issue of this study: Is there a relationship between self-determination and academic success for university students with learning disabilities, and, if so, does this relationship vary among university students with learning disabilities?

The chapter is divided into five sections. First, the criteria for selection and

inclusion of the research literature are described. Second, the theoretical foundations for this study are discussed. Third, characteristics of persons with learning disabilities are described. Fourth, self-determination is defined and discussed. Finally, research related to future applications regarding self-determination and students with learning disabilities is presented.

Criteria for Selection of Relevant Literature

To be considered for inclusion in the literature review, studies were required to meet the following criteria:








1. Research questions addressed child/human development, learning disabilities, postsecondary support programs, self-determination, ecological approaches to educational research and services, and/or academic success of postsecondary students.

2. Persons with disabilities, their families, or programs that serve them were the subjects of the research.

3. Data-based studies have been published in refereed professional journals and include adequate descriptions of subjects, procedures, and results.

4. Theoretical writings were selected because of their prominence in the field of educational research.

In addition to these criteria, studies were considered for inclusion only if they were published between 1984 and 1998. In the selection of the theoretical research, recency was deemed less important than the seminal value of the work for future research. The rationale for limiting the review of research to that which has been published since 1984 relates to trends in publication in the field of learning disabilities. The earlier literature seems to report primarily on interventions for young children with learning disabilities. By 1984, there was a substantial knowledge base on elementary school-age children with learning disabilities. In the mid-1980s some of this literature had been synthesized (Fish & Jain, 1985; Spacone & Hanson, 1984; Wilchelsky & Reynolds, 1986). At this point, the literature yielded more research on college-age adolescents with learning disabilities (Byrne & Crawford, 1990; Rosenthal, 1992). This trend has continued and research reported in the literature since 1984 would appear to encompass the essential research relevant to this study.








Theoretical Foundations

The conceptual framework for this study was one of human development as it relates to university students with learning disabilities. A central premise was that university students with learning disabilities engage their environments differently than their peers without learning disabilities. Their patterns of engagement are consistent with the lifelong development of persons with learning disabilities, and, of particular importance, they encounter additional stress when they are students in higher education. Here, the individual's ability to interact successfully with her/his environment is uniquely challenged. The difficulties of this challenge for students with learning disabilities differ from that of students without learning disabilities. In order to understand these issues, an understanding of human development as it relates to students with learning disabilities is essential.

Human Development Theories

Bronfenbrenner (1979), Erikson (1950), and Chickering (1969) have advanced theories about human development that converge to illuminate the particular questions posed by this study. Each of these researchers considered the environment to be of pivotal importance to the development of the human being; yet, each of them had different thoughts about the interaction of the individual with the environment. Bronfenbrenner wrote about the social systems that work and influence development. Erikson offered the concept that lifelong development fell in stages and that important issues were revisited several times. Chickering described the phenomena of college








student development. The theories of these three researchers provide a framework for this study.

Bronfenbrenner

Bronfenbrenner (1979) wrote about the importance of dyadic relationships between people and the impact of different ecological systems on individuals who function in these systems as well as their impact on the systems themselves. Bronfenbrenner's work is important to the understanding of this study because of its relevance to human development. Bronfenbrenner's theory of human development as a complex and dynamic process involving dyadic relationships that are influenced by larger group relationships and systems has particular importance for persons with learning disabilities. As Rosenthal (1992) stated, the dyadic relationship between young children with learning disabilities and their primary caregivers is shaped by the disabilities the children may have in perception and interpersonal communication, as well as by the views caregivers may have of these children.

As the young child progresses through other systems such as elementary school, learning disabilities arise in communications and interpersonal relationships in school as well as in the home (Fish & Jain, 1985; Wilchelsky & Reynolds, 1986). Bronfenbrenner's (1979) theoretical concept of systems interacting and influencing child development pertains in specific and unique ways to the childhood development of persons with learning disabilities and to the developmental challenges they face as young adults. These young people enter dyadic relationships with some differences in perception and communication skills that impinge on their relationships with family members. In school,








children with learning disabilities may have difficulties that are both academic and behavioral, and the family systems problems may be transformed into school-related systems problems.

With regard to older students with learning disabilities, Bronfenbrenner's (1979) theories of complex, interconnected systems may be used to describe (a) university students' ecologies, (b) family systems, (c) social group systems, (d) cohort groups systems, (e) academic department systems, (f) college systems, (g) university systems. and (h) state, regional, or national educational systems. Bronfenbrenner's theories of systems and how they influence individual behavior provide insight into the unique difficulties confronted by students with learning disabilities who are in postsecondary education. University students with learning disabilities confront significant challenges because they must function in many novel systems that require sophisticated and dynamic behaviors (Ryan, 1994). These students arrive at their universities with significantly different developmental histories than their peers without learning disabilities (Rosenthal, 1992). Therefore, Bronfenbrenner's theories lead to a better understanding of university students with learning disabilities because his theories serve to assess individual development within complex systems. Constructs from Bronfenbrenner's (1979) work that relate most directly to this study include (a) nested systems, (b) reciprocity, (c) the ripple effect, and (d) ecological niche. Each of these is briefly discussed.








Nested systems refers to the idea that smaller systems are included within larger

systems. This would include dyadic relationships within nuclear families, nuclear families within extended families, and extended families within cultural groups.

Reciprocity is the concept of individuals and systems influencing each other. Bronfenbrenner illustrated this in his discussion of infant/mother bonding. As infants responded to their mothers, the mothers responded to their infants. Each influenced the other over time. The ripple effect is the idea that changes which impact one individual within one system also affect individuals or systems that interact with them.

Another Bronfenbrenner construct that has informed the design of this study is that of an ecological niche. Ecological niche is the term he coined to describe a situation which may provide what is necessary for optimal human development through the appropriate functioning and interaction of the systems which influence the person. An example of a supportive ecological niche would be a proactive system of support for families with young children with special needs. Such a system would provide adequate housing, medical care, educational services, recreational services, and coordination of these for the child and the child's family.

Each of these constructs sheds light on the development of people with learning disabilities and the experience these people have when they are university students. Further elaboration of these ideas follows.

Nested ecosystems. In The Ecology of Human Development Bronfenbrenner

(1979) described complex systems within other systems. Ecosystems involving dyads or small numbers of members are viewed as embedded within mesosystems or larger








systems. In the case of university students, some ecosystems could include dyadic systems with people significant to them, including social group systems, living group systems, classroom/cohort group systems, and sports/recreational group systems. Each of these systems may function within larger systems such as residential housing systems, sports league systems, academic departments, colleges, universities, and statewide university systems. Events which influence any of these nested systems may affect individuals within the other systems which are included in the nested system. For example, University of Florida students with and without learning disabilities are influenced by the policy decisions of those people in the larger system of the State University System (SUS) which regulates 10 state-supported universities in the state of Florida. The SUS establishes the academic requirements for all students in the system. These academic requirements influence the selection of courses offered by different academic departments in colleges and universities throughout the SUS. When individual students select courses from among those offered by their academic departments, they are then confronted with important decisions regarding their academic careers. Individuals in other systems (academic departments, the university, and SUS) initiate the choices confronted by these students. Thus, the actions of larger systems influence the actions of individuals in smaller systems contained within the larger systems.

Reciprocity. Bronfenbrenner (1979) provided researchers with another useful concept for understanding the unique and dynamic quality of relationships between young people and significant others in their lives. This concept is that of reciprocity. In dyadic relationships, each member influences the other. They both change in response to








the other. Bronfenbrenner illustrated this concept by describing the involvement of mothers with their newborn infants. As the infants grow and change, their responses evoke responses from their mothers who also grow and change. Over time both members of the dyadic relationship alter their behavior in response to their environments and in response to each other. Bronfenbrenner's emphasis on understanding reciprocity is evidenced in his argument for inclusion of significant figures in any research about individual subjects over time. In this study of university students with learning disabilities, an attempt was made to understand how these changing dyadic relationships have influenced the academic success of the students.

Ripple effect. Bronfenbrenner suggested that any event that has an impact on an individual also influences others who are involved with that individual. For example, Bronfenbrenner described his interest in the impact of psychological laboratory experiments on people other than the participants in the experiments. In its application to this study, the ripple effect would arise as a function of the impact of the university experience, not just on the university student but also on the family and friends of the university student.

Ecological niche. An ecological niche is a place where a group of people locate in a particular environment, whether conducive or not to their psychosocial development. "There are ecological niches which are terrible and others which are very benign for development of competence and character," (Bronfenbrenner, personal communication, September 3, 1998). For students with learning disabilities, the concept of an ecological niche is particularly important because these students may have different responses to








their environments than peers without learning disabilities (Rosenthal. 1992). As infants. children, and youth, persons with learning disabilities may react to and interact with environments with unusual and often ineffective perceptual fields. Their ecological niches may require different elements than those of their peers without learning disabilities. An understanding of the construct of the ecological niche provides a frame of reference for assessing the quality of the total university experience for students with learning disabilities.

Erikson

Stages of development. Erikson's (1950) theory of human development over the lifespan holds that each developmental stage presents the possibility of significant personal growth through the accomplishment of specific developmental tasks which typically occur for the first time at that particular stage. Three of the ideal synchronous outcomes of early life stages in Erikson's theory recur in ever increasing complexity in later stages. These three are autonomy, industry, and identity. In Erikson's theory the developmental tasks confronting many university students can be categorized in these terms.

It is also significant to note that Erikson's construct describes human development occurring in stages, with incomplete resolution of the issues of one stage resulting in difficulties which are experienced at later stages. Additionally, it should be noted that Erikson (1950) charted eight stages of human development and the interpersonal contexts in which these developmental stages were successfully negotiated. Later, he added a ninth stage to describe the developmental stage that comes when a person is in his/her 80s or








90s. Autonomy continued to merit a place of importance for people in this ninth stage (Erikson, 1997). A discussion of Erikson's theory of autonomy, industry, and identity follows.

Autonomy. A closely related concept to self-determination is that of autonomy which is sometimes used synonymously for self-determination. For university students, the developmental tasks involved in this stage of their lives (whatever age they may be while they are university students) focus on achieving independence (autonomy) and furthering the competence they have in academic fields, as demonstrated by their academic success. This study investigated the impact of self-determination, or autonomy, on both the thoughts and behaviors of students in a university as indicated by their academic achievement. Erikson (1997) referred to autonomy as "cherished" and considered it to be a lifelong value. He described the establishment of autonomy as a primary developmental task of young children who must accomplish this in order to establish their identity as they relate to the world beyond their families. Erikson regarded autonomy as a continuing thread throughout one's lifetime, a significant issue for people of all ages. The freedom to choose and to act in accordance with one's choices is essential to fulfilled human existence from infancy until death.

For university students, the challenge of self-determination is one of

understanding and asserting self, while interacting with others in ways that reflect increasing sophistication. The level of self-determination could be considered to be, in Erikson's terms, the level of autonomy at which the person functions within a specific context. Just as Erikson (1997) wrote of the elder's need for autonomy in terms of








the context in which the elder functioned, for the university student, the need for autonomy must be considered within the context in which the university student functions.

The practical import of knowing the level of self-determination experienced by university students with learning disabilities can be understood in light of Erikson's theory. Specifically, Erikson (1950) claimed that each individual proceeds through life moving at her/his own pace and advancing toward greater autonomy, integration with others, and satisfaction with self. If the study of self-determination could reveal any ways in which the level of self-determination indicates the level of success with which a person negotiates the significant challenges of her/his life according to Erikson's construct of autonomy, this could lead to a better understanding of appropriate interventions to support university students with learning disabilities.

Industry. Erikson (1950) considered work to be a primary component of a

person's satisfaction in life. His view of human development held that a person needs to acquire competence in her/his work, as well as satisfaction in interpersonal relationships, in order to have a good life. Erikson (1997) wrote that industry leads to competence. In his earlier work, Erikson stated, "Many a child's development is disrupted when family life may not have prepared him for school life, or when school life may fail to sustain the promises of earlier stages" (p. 227). This provides insight into the etiology of the difficulties experienced by many university students with learning disabilities. For these students, the development of academic and interpersonal competence is more challenging than for students without learning disabilities (Rosenthal, 1992). Students with learning








disabilities more commonly experience school failure (Lichtenstein & Blackorby. 1995): their parents more frequently are described as inadequately preparing them for school (Wilchelsky & Reynolds, 1986); and their hopes for success in academic arenas are less likely to be realized (Brinckerhoff, 1993). For children with learning disabilities, a sustaining version of Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological niche may never materialize. Arriving at the university, these students' histories are often of industry not resulting in competence but in frustration and self-doubt (Fish & Jain, 1985; Rosenthal, 1992).

Thus, the optimal model of human development presented by Erikson is one of

increasing competence in the interactions with others and in the assertion of self. In terms of Erikson's theory of human development, adults with learning disabilities could be considered to be particularly challenged in higher education. These students have achieved competence through industrious behaviors in high school. They have adapted their personal behaviors to respond to the social demands of secondary education, and now, in the university, they must adapt their academic endeavors and their social behaviors to the more stringent demands of the postsecondary institution.

Identity. For Erikson (1950). identity formation is an evolving process. The

identity of a person begins to form when the person is very young. This identity takes shape as the person grows older and experiences more and different surroundings and learns about herself/himself from interpersonal encounters. The identity with which a person begins her/his university education could be very different from that with which that person completes a university education. This change in identity is, in part, an objective of higher education. Years of study in formal programs, which lead to the








awarding of diplomas, are expected to influences changes in students. For students with learning disabilities, the intense and demanding programs of major universities may provide incentive for the student to evaluate herself/himself and assess the impact of learning disability issues on the total life experience. This self-evaluation, with its potential for change and expanded identity, can be difficult for postsecondary students with learning disabilities, but it is essential for successful transition from college to the working world (Field and Hoffman, 1994; Lynch & Gussel, 1996; Shaw, 1996).

Erikson's theory of identity formation, along with Bronfenbrenner's theory on

reciprocal dyadic relationships and ecological systems, offer a conceptual framework for understanding identity formation for university students with learning disabilities. These students build on the foundation of their earlier identities by responding to the demands placed on them as university students (Erikson, 1950; Rosenthal, 1992). The student with learning disabilities, according to Bronfenbrenner's (1979) construct, interacts with others within complex systems and reacts to the responses of other people who view her/him within the role of university student. Thus, a student's identity is further sculpted and enhanced by her/his experiences within the university community. Chickering

For Chickering (1969), the focus of his research is entirely on young adults in higher education. Bronfenbrenner (1979) concerned himself with the ecology of human development in the broadest possible construction of the term. Erikson (1950) studied the psychosocial development of children and expanded the concept of human development to include the entire lifespan, providing the specific challenges which








confront the developing individual for the first time at specific stages of development. Because Chickering focused on the development of college students, his work is particularly relevant to this study.

According to Chickering (1969), the development of young adults falls into categories or global areas. These categories have the characteristics of distance and direction, therefore, Chickering called them "vectors." Chickering's vectors include (a) competence, (b) emotions, (c) autonomy, (d) interpersonal relationships, (e) purpose. (f) identity, and (g) integrity. When one considers the components of self-determination, the similarity between Chickering's vectors and the component parts of self-determination becomes evident. These vectors correspond closely to the areas encompassed in the selfdetermination concept as it is described by Field and Hoffman (1994) in their SelfDetermination Scale. The emphasis on understanding self and changing relationships with others, while acquiring the necessary skills to succeed independently in the adult world, is evident in both Chickering's theory and Field and Hoffman's model of self-determination. Chickering stressed the concepts of identity and autonomy, key elements of selfdetermination. He also discussed competence and interpersonal relationships which play an important role in self-determination.

The importance of Chickering's work to this study is that his theory was directed toward college students and based on the underlying assumption that college is an experience which results in personal change along predictable patterns. Chickering's contribution was also that he presented university-age students as a unique developmental group.








Other writers expanded this concept after Chickering, and the literature now

includes specialty journals that reflect the importance this area of human development has earned. Chickering's designation of college-age students as a group provides a framework for researchers to study many issues specifically related to people this age. For example. Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological niche concept could be applied to students in the university as their total environmental support systems are assessed. The ecological niche for students with learning disabilities may be different than that of students without learning disabilities. In Erikson's terms, the resolution of developmental issues for students with learning disabilities could be different than the resolution of these developmental challenges for students without learning disabilities. Yet, all of these people have the common experience of being students in a university.

In summary, the theoretical constructs suggested by Bronfenbrenner, Erikson, and Chickering form a web of patterns that help us understand human development and how the development of self-determination impacts university students with learning disabilities, thus indicating possible intervention strategies for supporting the academic efforts of these students. The concepts of these researchers could be viewed as closely related because they offer different perspectives on issues of human development. A unifying theme of all their theories is the importance each places on the environment in shaping human development.

One could visualize the relationship among the ideas of these writers in terms of a continuum of ideas becoming more directly focused on the development of university students. Bronfenbrenner's ecological niche bears similarity to Erikson's and Chickering's








descriptions of appropriate environments. Erikson's industry and identity compare closely to Chickering's vectors. The overriding concepts of the importance of interacting with the environment, common to Erikson and Chickering, are consistent with Bronfenbrenner's ripple effect and reciprocity.

Bronfenbrenner viewed the interaction among many systems and the individuals in these systems as essential to human development. Erikson considered the resolution of stage-specific developmental tasks as pivotal to human development. Chickering focused on the developmental tasks of college age students. Yet, all of them placed the individual within an environment, confronting developmental issues.

The relevance of the concepts of these three writers for this study is that each emphasized autonomy, or self-determination, as an important part of human development. Each suggested that the value of human life is enhanced by the degree to which the person is autonomous or self-determined. Each of them referred to autonomy or self-determination in their writing as a quality that could be enhanced or thwarted by the environment in which the individual exists. Finally, they all suggested that autonomy, or self-determination, is a trait which can be evaluated.

This study was an attempt to evaluate self-determination as it relates to academic success for university students with leaming disabilities, and the concepts of Bronfenbrenner, Erikson, and Chickering inform, structure, and guide the study. The impact of the environment at specific times in human development determines, to a degree, the level of autonomy the individual displays. Students with learning disabilities interact with their environments in ways which differ from those of peers without








learning disabilities (Rosenthal, 1992). This study sought to understand better the relationship between autonomy, or self-determination, and academic success for students with learning disabilities.

Characteristics of Persons with Learning Disabilities Children with Learning Disabilities

Persons with learning disabilities have been the subject of research for many years. The literature has developed in a manner that parallels the developmental chronology of persons with learning disabilities. The literature focused on the characteristics of children with learning disabilities long before it reflected interest in adults with learning disabilities. By the 1980s the professional literature on persons with learning disabilities included reports by researchers who considered that children with learning disabilities behaved in ways that differed from the behavior of children without learning disabilities. The observations of these writers led them to describe children with learning disabilities as having persistent academic difficulties, poor school behaviors, and inadequate social skills (Wilchelsky & Reynolds, 1986). Spacone and Hanson (1984) described children with learning disabilities as "anxious, easily distracted, depressed, aggressive, having poor selfesteem" (p. 48). Pfeiffer, Gerber, and Reiff (1985) also commented on children with learning disabilities in terms of their poor school performance and limited social skills. In describing adults with learning disabilities, Byrne and Crawford (1990) included mention of the childhood experiences of persons with learning disabilities regarding problems they may have with fragile self-image. Interestingly, many of theses writers suggested family interventions as the remedy for academic problems experienced by children with learning








disabilities. Fish and Jain (1985) and Pfeiffer et al. (1986) suggested family systems approaches to interventions for families with children who have learning disabilities. This would appear to be consistent with an ecological approach to understanding these people.

Postsecondarv Students with Learning Disabilities

Postsecondary students with learning disabilities have been the subject of research more frequently in recent years because they have been present on college campuses in greater numbers. Their presence in higher education is the subject of research about the environmental and ecological factors that contributed to this phenomenon. Brinckerhoff, Shaw, and McGuire (1993) wrote that the increased numbers of students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education could be attributed to several factors: (a) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973; (b) PL 94-142, which guaranteed free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities including those with learning disabilities; (c) the least restrictive environment condition of PL 94-142 which led to greater enrollment in regular academic classes in high school, thus better preparing them for college entrance requirements; (d) public advocacy groups which provided education for parents and students with disabilities; (e) the favorable way in which college admissions officers sometimes view students with learning disabilities; (f) and the advent of assistive technology devices.

Ryan (1994) described postsecondary students with learning disabilities as less mature than peers without learning disabilities. She wrote that students with learning disabilities were less independent of their families and less involved with peers than








students without learning disabilities in postsecondary education. Ryan (1994) later wrote that postsecondary students with learning disabilities have social skills deficits that inhibit relationships. Rudolph and Luckner (1991) supported this line of thinking and used supportive therapeutic environments to address the social skills problems of college students with learning disabilities.

Rosenthal (1992) wrote that the self-image of students with learning disabilities was less positive than that of peers without learning disabilities. He described this phenomenon in terms of Kohut's theory of the self. Rosenthal suggested that the perception of the developing child with learning disabilities of her/his primary caregiver's response to him/her was distorted. This would lead to impairments in relationships and in self-awareness. Thus, the child with learning disabilities would arrive at young adulthood with less secure primary relationships, and poorer self esteem, disadvantaged by a developmental pattern of misunderstanding and self-deprecation.

Miller and Cabell (1989) reported that postsecondary students with learning disabilities may have difficulty fulfilling psychological needs for relationships in both personal and school-related arenas. They described this as the continuation of incomplete psychological development during childhood which later interferes with adult living. This view has been shared by other researchers (Van Reusen & Bos, 1990; Wehmeyer, 1995).

Byrne and Crawford (1990) stated that college students with learning disabilities have social skills deficits that inhibit relationships, a view that was shared by Grasso (1994). They suggested a comprehensive approach to intervention which addressed these concerns through individual and group counseling. This emphasis on both individual and








group interventions reflected earlier research into effective interventions (Corbin-Sicoli. 1986). Corbin-Sicoli (1986) also reported that adult students with learning disabilities have a need to understand and accept themselves and to see learning disabilities as only part of themselves.

Lynch and Gussel (1996) researched the issues of self-esteem, self-advocacy, and self-disclosure for women with learning disabilities in postsecondary education. Their research led them to conclude that women's long-term career potential could be enhanced if self-disclosure were more readily accomplished. Lynch and Gussel's work on the impact of self-esteem on career-planning and career-related issues led them to conclude that low self-esteem presented a barrier to women with learning disabilities in higher education.

Perosa (1996) and colleagues studied women college students with learning disabilities with reference to their personal development. Their focus was on the difficulties that these women experienced regarding personal development in the area of self-individuation. This issue is particularly relevant to young adults who must find their own identity as members of the adult world, and it appears to be a particular challenge for women with learning difficulties. Perosa and her colleagues concluded that the quality of relationships within the families of origin of these women was the deciding factor in their ability to resolve issues of self-individuation.

Field and Hoffman (1994) researched the importance of self-determination in the lives of university students with learning disabilities. Their studies led them to consider self-determination as a composite of many characteristics which could be evaluated and








enhanced through direct instruction and other means. They developed a battery of instruments to assess the level of self-determination of students. One of these instruments assesses students' self-report of knowledge about the components of selfdetermination.

Perhaps no researcher has been more influential in the field of postsecondary students with learning disabilities than Stan Shaw of the University of Connecticut. Shaw's theory of the needs of postsecondary students with learning disabilities embraces the view that the student with learning disabilities needs to develop self-determination more than anything else. Shaw (1996) directed a program at the University of Connecticut which focuses on enhancing students' self-determination because that appears to be the key variable influencing the level of success the person with learning disabilities experiences after college.

Shaw's (1996) emphasis was on the individual student, the development of selfdetermination, and interventions to increase self-determination. His contention was that postsecondary students with learning disabilities lack self-determination. For Shaw, the appropriate direction of change was toward greater self-determination, which would allow the student with learning disabilities to participate in the mainstream of education. Shaw described the student with learning disabilities first as a student and then as a person with learning disabilities. He challenged the postsecondary learning disability specialists to find ways to integrate students with learning disabilities into the educational mainstream.








Adults with Learning Disabilities

A review of the literature revealed a wealth of research in many diverse areas

related to adults with learning disabilities. For the purpose of this study, literature that described characteristics of adults with learning disabilities was reviewed in order to understand better university students with learning disabilities. Some researchers considered learning disabilities to be significant factors which affect the success with which people adjust to adult life. Patton and Palloway (1992) viewed older adults with learning disabilities as less connected with their families and their communities. They described adults with learning disabilities as being significantly less satisfied with their careers than peers without learning disabilities.

Other researchers have noted discrepancies in employment satisfaction between people with and those without learning disabilities. Sitlington and Frank (1990) noted that persons with learning disabilities were employed less frequently in full-time positions than were persons without learning disabilities. Haring and Lovett (1990) reported that adults with learning disabilities were employed in full time jobs only 67% of the time. As a consequence, these people often have lower income, fewer opportunities to move into higher paying positions, less job security, and limited or nonexistent fringe benefits (e.g., insurance and paid leave to be with their families).

Some researchers have studied the interpersonal implications of learning

disabilities. Maughan and Hagell (1996) described the limited community involvement of adults with learning disabilities and their restricted social activities. These researchers considered this to be a manifestation of problems with childhood social skills transferred








to adulthood. For adults with learning disabilities, the limitations appear to cover a broad spectrum of life events.

Self-Determination

Definition

Self-determination has been defined in terms of the features it embodies, the qualities it is most like, and the characteristics of people who are said to possess selfdetermination. To appreciate the full meaning and importance of self-determination, a review of its position in literature throughout the ages is provided.

Self-determination goes by many names. It is sometimes called autonomy;

sometimes embodied in the phrase, "freedom of choice"; and sometimes referred to as the ability to exercise one's own will, which is often considered synonymous with independence. Self-determination could be defined, then, as the ability to make and implement choices about ones' own life. Field and Hoffman (1994) defined selfdetermination as "the ability to identify and achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing oneself' (p. 164). The importance of self-determination for human development can be seen in the way it is described as pivotal to actualizing human potential.

Hayden and Abery (1994) wrote that self-determination is an essential quality of human life and quoted Aristotle in saying that the ability to make choices about one's own life is the essential characteristic of human existence. This is consistent with the notion that has guided western thought for centuries, namely, that freedom and responsibility are essential qualities of a fulfilled human life.








Educational Research

Educators interested in human development throughout the lifespan have

investigated self-determination as a predictor of success after formal education, and these educators advocate enhancing the qualities, traits, and behaviors associated with selfdetermination. An important concept here is that students with learning disabilities need to develop self-determination as they progress through their formal education because self-determination is a major factor in their success as independent adults (Shaw, 1996). Shaw considered self-determination to be so important that he developed his model of interventions for postsecondary students with learning disabilities with the goal of enhancing self-determination. Lynch and Gussel (1996) reported that their research indicated that self-advocacy, a component of self-determination, was a skill necessary for female students with learning disabilities in college, a skill that needs to be developed and supported by appropriate interventions in order to enhance the success of these students after college. The need for self-determination continues past college, and the necessity of developing it begins before college.

Wall and Datillo (1995) discussed the processes involved in teaching selfdetermination to students when they are very young. Their report on the integration of self-determination curricula for students in elementary and middle school suggests that self-determination is, in part, comprised of decision-making skills. Their report also proposes that components of self-determination can be analyzed in themselves and considered as separate lifeskills.








Sands and Doll (1996) also reported on the components of self-determination and the importance of fostering self-determination early in the education of youth with learning disabilities. For Sands and Doll, one highly significant element of selfdetermination is the distinction between dependence and independence. Selfdetermination as a developmental quality, one that has to be formally instructed and contextually supported, is a concept shared by Wall and Datillo, Sands and Doll, and other researchers.

Van Reusen and Bos (1990) also considered that self-determination was both essential to successful transition to adult life and amenable to direct instruction. They developed an entire curriculum based on the theory that self-advocacy was important to adult life and that students with disabilities could benefit from a planned approach to learning self-advocacy. Their concern was with students who were in secondary school and who needed assistance with the transition to postsecondary education.

Another researcher who was concerned with the transition of students with

disabilities from secondary education to adult life or postsecondary education, and who saw the importance of independence for these young adults. was Wehmeyer. Wehmeyer (1995) wrote of the importance of self-determination for students with disabilities in terms of their success in personal relationships, independent living, and financial independence. His concern about the lack of preparation for independence led him to develop, with a colleague, a scale to measure self-determination in young adults who have completed secondary education. Wehmeyer and Schwatrz (1997) reported that young








adults with disabilities who had higher levels of self-determination were more advanced in terms of financial stability, social skills, and academic proficiency.

In summary, self-determination is for students with learning disabilities, as for everyone, an essential element of a full, satisfying, and productive life. For the purpose of this study, the definition of self-determination is informed by the research reviewed in this chapter, particularly that of Field and Hoffman (1994).

Further Research Regarding Self-Determination

The ecological approach offers possibilities for research in the area of services for all persons with disabilities (Sontag, 1996). Using this approach to assess the services now provided for students with disabilities and their families could lead to greater understanding of how better to serve these persons. The interplay of systems and the roles of individuals in different contexts may be difficult to research, but there are ways to do this. Although Bronfenbrenner's (1979) model did not involve postsecondary students, it can be adapted for use with this population.

Mallory (1996) wrote of the value of ecological concepts informing decisions about services for persons with disabilities. One of the ideas expressed by Mallory is that systems have a history, or lifespan, of their own. If policymakers regard systems as dynamic, they can be better utilized to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. Mallory also viewed inclusive educational practices as beneficial for all students, particularly students with disabilities. This concept, inclusion, is more salient when considered in the light of the temporal and systemic concepts proposed by Mallory. The thematic content is that the person with disabilities who participates in complex,








multisystemic environments which change over time, is better served by her/his environment than she/he would be if limited in participation and planning for her/his environment.

Grasso's (1994) research about students with learning disabilities and their families linked the contextual setting for individual students with the students' ability to function well in different academic environments. Grasso reported that, although the students with learning disabilities she studied were less involved with the systems that are part of the postsecondary education institution than their counterparts without learning disabilities, they had equivalent academic success. The lasting question from Grasso's research is how do students with learning disabilities function when they finish their education and join the world of work? Do the behaviors that had sustained them through postsecondary education continue to sustain them throughout adulthood?

This concern for the transition from postsecondary education to the world of

work was central to the research of Lynch and Gussel (1996). Their focus was on female students with learning disabilities and the self-esteem of these women. Lynch and Gussel discovered that self-esteem related to the students' career-planning and career-related behaviors. Self-esteem is an essential component of self-determination. In this study the question of whether self-determination relates to academic success is explored. Lynch and Gussel reported that self-esteem relates to career-related behaviors. Perhaps selfesteem, as part of self-determination, relates to academic success for students with learning disabilities.








Areas for additional study suggested by the literature review of this chapter include further research of personal characteristics such as self-advocacy, efficacy beliefs, selfawareness, and the possible impact of these characteristics on self-determination and academic success for students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education (Lynch & Gussel, 1996; Rosenthal, 1992; Van Reusen & Bos, 1990).

The approach of this study, which employs both quantitative and qualitative

methods, and builds on the research cited in this chapter, may yield recommendations for further study of postsecondary students with learning disabilities, recommendations that are focused in a balanced way on self-determination, with attention to both individual development and environmental influences as they affect academic success and educational achievement. These recommendations could potentially impact several important research areas, including program planning in postsecondary education, support service delivery systems, and postsecondary disabilities services personnel training.














CHAPTER 3
METHODOLOGY

Introduction

This investigation addresses issues of functional competence and personal development as these issues apply to students with learning disabilities in higher education. The possibility is explored that the degree to which a person with learning disabilities manifests self-determination affects the extent of academic success that person attains in postsecondary education, and the possibility, also, that different factors in their environment are indicators of self-determination and academic success.

The purpose of this chapter is to describe the methodology employed in this

study which consists of a two-part research design. The first part is an analysis of (a) the grade-point averages (GPAs) of university students with learning disabilities and (b) the number of accommodations approved for them by the Office for Students with Disabilities, as a function of their scores on Hoffman and Field's Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS). The second part is an analysis of the responses of a smaller number of these students to the Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF), a questionnaire developed specifically for this study to explore environmental factors that may have influenced these students' personal development in the area of selfdetermination. A discussion of selection criteria for the subjects in the sample, setting for








the study, instruments employed, procedures followed, hypotheses tested, and assessment protocols utilized follows.

Subjects

The subjects of this study were students who attended the University of Florida during the spring semester of the 1998-1999 school year, were registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities, and had completed at least 30 hours of college credit but had not received a bachelor's degree.

A student may be registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities only if the following criteria are satisfied: The student must self-identify as having a learning disability and must provide documentation of a formal psychological examination by a credentialed professional. For some students this represents a continuation of services begun in other educational settings, while other students recognize their learning disabilities for the first time while they are enrolled at the university. For students who have not been diagnosed as having learning disabilities prior to their postsecondary experience, the University of Florida relies on standards established by The Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD, 1997). The following is a summary of these standards.

Evaluations must be conducted by a credentialed professional and must include three components: (a) an assessment of aptitude or intelligence, (b) an assessment of academic achievement, and (c) an assessment of information processing.

For the first component, recommended tests include the Weschler Adult

Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R), the Woodcock Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-











Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability, the Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (4th ed.).

For the second component, Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SATA). the Stanford Test of Academic Skills, the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational BatteryRevised: Tests of Achievement, and the Weschler Individual Achievement Test (WIAT) are among the recommended tests.

For the third component, the Nelson-Denny Reading Skills Test, the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test, the Test of Written Language-3 (TOWL-3). and the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised may be used.

Evaluations also include semi-structured clinical interviews and educational and psychosocial histories. The purpose of the semi-structured clinical interview is to establish that the student's learning difficulties are the result of a learning disability and not the result of other factors in her/his life, such as environmental deprivation, poor educational opportunities, physical or psychological trauma, or sensory problems. The psychosocial and educational histories provide information that may establish a pattern of learning difficulties which, in turn, could support the diagnosis of learning disabilities. Educational and psychosocial histories are taken to clarify the course of the student's development and academic progress. The evaluator is required to include a clinical summary of the results of the tests, including an interpretation of how the tests relate to the impact of the disability on the student's academic career.

It is recommended that the evaluation include two additional features, a diagnosis and recommendations for practice. The diagnosis, if provided, should be based on the











Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (41 ed.) (1994) of the American Psychiatric Association.

Finally, the evaluator must provide license or certificate numbers. area of

specialization, academic credentials, and her/his professional address. It is suggested that the evaluator be either a medical doctor, a clinical or school psychologist, a neuropsychologist, or a learning disabilities specialist (AHEAD, 1997). It is important to note that students at the University of Florida must be evaluated by professionals who are not affiliated with the Office for Students with Disabilities.

Once registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities, students may request specific accommodations, which must be approved by the Assistant Dean for Student Services. These accommodations, sometimes viewed as interventions, include extended time on examinations and assignments, quiet test environments, auditory presentation of class and examinations materials, the services of notetakers. individualized learning strategies instruction, and priority arrangements for course registrations and classroom seating. Students and their approved accommodations are then entered on the database of the Office for Students with Disabilities, with the specific accommodations listed for each student. This information, although confidential, was available for this study.

Setting

The University of Florida is a land grant institution, the oldest public university in the state and the largest, with a student population of 42,000. It is highly selective in its undergraduate admission policy in comparison to other public institutions of higher








education in the state and closely monitors its students' academic progress. Students are accepted directly from high school and as transfer students from community colleges and other 4-year institutions. Acceptance is determined by high school or college grade-point average (GPA) and by scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) or the American College Test (ACT).

Instruments

In order to investigate the influence of self-determination on academic success for university students with learning disabilities, the study employed both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The quantitative research compared students' scores on the Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) (Hoffinan & Field, 1995) with the students' grade-point average (GPA) and the number of accommodations approved by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). The S-DSS is described in detail later in this section.

The qualitative research utilized a schedule of open-ended questions, the Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF). Students' responses were analyzed to ascertain their perception of significant themes related to self-determination and academic success. The procedure and content of the qualitative research component of the investigation are described later in this section. Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS)

The Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) consists of 92 statements derived from Field and Hoffman's (1994) model of self-determination. The respondent is asked to indicate about each of the statements whether or not it is consistent with her/his beliefs.








Field and Hoffman proposed a five-component model of self-determination which corresponds to the five subscales of their S-DSS. The model has been validated with other populations, including students in the 11 th and 12th grades (Harrison, 1994) and people age 20 to 35 and over the age of 60 (Aranha, 1998). The subscales of beliefs are labeled as follows: (1) Know Yourself (K), (2)Value Yourself (V), (3) Plan (P), (4) Act

(A), and (5) Experience Outcomes and Learn (0). Additionally, the S-DSS, described as a crossed semantic differential, has four categories: positive, negative, general, and specific. The SDSS is part of a battery of instruments developed by Field and Hoffman which includes curriculum material for teaching self-determination skills, parent and teacher inventories, and student self-evaluation instruments. The instrument is available for review in Appendix A.

The S-DSS was normed in a study of 416 students whose ages ranged from 14 to 22, with a mean age of 16.3 and a standard deviation of 1.6 years. These students were classified according to whether or not they had disabilities, and, if so, they were further classified in terms of their specific disabilities. The authors also reported the ethnicity of the participants, and these data suggest their sample was drawn from an ethnically diverse population.

The reliability of the instrument was established through analysis of internal

consistency using Cronbach's Alpha. The Cronbach's Alpha for the SDSS in their study was .91. For the five subscales, K, V, P, A, and 0, the Cronbach's Alphas were .70, .13, .66, .32, and .70, respectively.








Construct validity of the S-DSS was established through an apriori method using multimethod multitrait analysis, divergent/convergent correlations, factor analysis. and confirmatory factor analysis. The factor analysis involved four main subscales--general positive, specific positive, general negative, and specific negative--and revealed that negative subscales have a high negative loading and the positive factors have a high positive loading. Divergent/convergent validity was established through correlation with other instruments which measure the same constructs including the battery of instruments and the curriculum based on the theoretical model for the S-DSS (Hoffman & Field. 1995). Validity and reliability data provided by the authors of the instrument are presented in Appendix B. The reader is referred to this appendix for more detailed information about the statistical evaluation of this instrument. Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF)

The Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF) is an openended questionnaire designed for this study for use with selected participants. It was developed by the author in consultation with faculty from the College of Education. The instrument has been reviewed by experts in the field of qualitative research and, in its final form, reflects the recommendations for improvement by these experts. The (SS-DDF) is attached to this study as Appendix C.

The purpose of the SS-DDF is to investigate contextual factors that influence the development of self-determination in persons with learning disabilities. These contextual factors were examined to explore how the student with learning disabilities perceives her/his university environment and how earlier environments may have affected self-








determination. The questions for this instrument were formulated in accordance with several of Bronfenbrenner's constructs, including the importance of dyadic relationships. reciprocity, the ripple effect, and ecological niche. The questions also focus on the topics of personal development researched by Erikson and Chickering, including personal autonomy and responsibility, commitment to mature relationships, and identity formation.

Procedure

The procedures for this study required approval by the University of Florida

Institutions Research Board (IRB) prior to commencing. The IRB approval was secured by the author. The document from the IRB, dated January 29, 1999, is attached as Appendix D.

Quantitative Research Procedures and Hypotheses Tested

The S-DSS, which is a forced-choice instrument with 92 items, was mailed to 180 students, all of whom satisfied the criteria articulated at the beginning of this chapter. Moreover, no students satisfying these criteria were omitted from this study. Accompanying the survey instrument was a cover letter which included a release form and a postage-paid return envelope. Additionally, each participant receiving materials in auditory format from the Office for Students with Disabilities, as a consequence of a print-related disability, was provided the instrument on auditory tape as well as in print format. After two weeks, those participants who had not returned the S-DSS were telephoned. A second mailing was sent to those participants who agreed to receive it and complete it. Several participants stated that they had the instrument and would complete








it and return it. The instruments and the enclosures were sent in plain envelopes. Some students elected to complete the S-DSS in the Office for Students with Disabilities, one of them completed it with the principal investigator reading the questions to him. The instrument and the cover letter that accompanied it are included in Appendices A and E. In this study a response rate of roughly 50% or better was sought (Yammarino, Skinner, & Childers, 1991).

Intensity of use of accommodations provided through the Office for Students with Disabilities at the University of Florida was measured in two ways. The first method was to assign one point for each area of academic life for which an accommodation was approved and a second point for each accommodation area that was accessed through the Office for Students with Disabilities. This method gave a possible range of scores from

0.00 through 6.00. The possible points could be awarded for three categories: technology accommodations, testing accommodations, and learning strategies. Intensity of usage of accommodations was calculated by a second method with an additional category of classroom accommodations, which could earn a potential point for any student who was assigned a classroom accommodation. The possible range of scores for this method of assessing usage of accommodations is from 0.00 to 7.00.

After students had completed and returned the S-DSS, their responses were

analyzed for the purpose of identifying any statistically significant relationships between their S-DSS scores and their grade-point averages and between their S-DSS scores and the accommodations approved for the student by the Office for Students with Disabilities. There were four hypotheses investigated in the study. Each hypothesis is independent of








the others, and each addresses an aspect of the relationship between self-determination and academic success.

HI: No relationship will be found between the student's score

on the SDSS and her/his grade-point average (GPA) at the

time the SDSS is administered.

H2: No relationship will be found between the student's score on

any of the subscales of the SDSS and her/his grade-point average (GPA)

at the time the SDSS is administered.

H3: No relationship will be found between the student's score on

the SDSS and the number of accommodations approved for the

student by the Office for Students with Disabilities at the time the

SDSS is administered.

H4: No relationship will be found between the student's score on

the subscales of the SDSS and the number of accommodations

approved for the student by the Office for Students with Disabilities

at the time of the investigation.

Rejection of the null hypotheses required a correlation at the .05 level of

significance. Analyses of data for all hypotheses were done using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) computer program for Regression Analysis. Additionally, the Chronbach's Alpha was run to determine internal validity of the instrument for this population. Presentation and discussion of the results of these analyses appear in later chapters.








The investigator secured permission for use from the first author of the SelfDetermination Student Scale (S-DSS) prior to data collection. The letter conveying permission is attached as Appendix F.

Qualitative Research Procedures

Students' responses to the S-DSS and their GPAs were divided into four

categories: (a) high academic achievement/high self-determination, (b) high academic achievement/low self-determination, (c) low academic achievement/high selfdetermination, and (d) low academic achievement/low self-determination. These divisions were generated in the following manner. The mean and the standard deviation for the grade-point average (GPA) of the sample was computed. Students whose scores were at least one standard deviation above the sample mean were designated as having "high academic achievement." Students whose scores were at least one standard deviation below the mean were designated as having "low academic achievement."

The process was repeated for self-determination scores. Students whose scores were at least one standard deviation above the mean were designated as having "high selfdetermination," while those whose scores were at least one standard deviation below the mean were designated as having "low self-determination."

Finally, based on these results, students were placed in one of the four categories described above (see Figure 1), after which students were randomly selected from these groups for participation in the SS-DDF. Each of the people selected was contacted by telephone for an interview. Each participant received, signed, and returned a consent form








approved by the Institutional Review Board. This form and its accompanying letter are attached as Appendix G.

For the convenience of the participants interviews were conducted in person or on the telephone. Each interview was done by the author who tape-recorded the conversations (with prior consent of the participant).


HIGH LOW



GPA = or > +1 SD S-DSS = or > -1 SD


LOW LOW



GPA = or > -1 SD S-DSS = or > - 1 SD


U


HIGH HIGH




GPA= or>+ 1 SD S-DSS = or > + 1 SD


Y


LOW HIGH



GPA = or > -1 SD S-DSS =or> + 1 SD


Figure 1. Categories of Qualitative Study Participants








The tape-recorded interviews were transcribed to written documents. These documents and the tape-recordings were reviewed for accuracy by the author in consultation with faculty.

The qualitative assessment of these documents consisted of an evaluation of the content of the transcribed tapes. The investigator reviewed them for accuracy and then reviewed the protocol several times, coding and categorizing for themes. When sufficient themes were identified and saturation had been reached, the process of reducing these themes to those of overriding significance began. The purpose of this process was to identify three or four themes that subsumed the others, leading to a description of the environmental factors which appear to have influenced the development of selfdetermination in the participants.













CHAPTER 4
RESULTS

Introduction

The purpose of this study was to investigate the personal and environmental

factors that bear on self-determination and academic success for university students with learning disabilities. The general questions posed in the study were as follows: Is there a relationship between self-determination as indicated by students' scores on the SelfDetermination Student Scale (S-DSS) and academic success as indicated by students' grade point average (GPA)? Is self-determination a predictor of academic success? Is there a relationship between intensity of use of accommodations and self-determination and academic success? To examine these questions, a quantitative analysis of the scores on the S-DSS, GPAs, and intensity of usage of accommodations was conducted, and a qualitative investigation of the personal and environmental factors perceived by students themselves as significant to their academic performance was also done.

This chapter is divided into four sections that include presentation of the data collected to address the experimental questions. First, the internal consistency of the quantitative measures is reported. Second, the demographics of the study participants are described. Third, the results of the quantitative analysis are presented. Finally, the results of the qualitative investigation are described.








Internal Consistency of the Quantitative Measures

The results of the S-DSS survey were analyzed using Cronbach's alpha to

establish the internal consistency of the S-DSS as it was used with this sample in this study (see Table 1). The internal consistency of the S-DSS as a whole was .9131. The Cronbach's alpha's for the subscales ranged from .5265 for the Know Yourself subscale to .8560 for the Act subscale.



Table 1

Internal Consistency


Scale Cronbach's alpha


S-DSS Total .9131 Know Subscale .5265 Value Subscale .6206 Plan Subscale .6330 Act Subscale .8560 Outcomes Subscale .5654


Demographic Analysis of the Participants

The participants were all students enrolled at the University of Florida and registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities during the spring term of the 1998-1999 school year. They all carried the diagnosis of learning disabilities, conferred by a psychologist or educational specialist qualified to do so. They all were enrolled in undergraduate programs, and they all had completed at least 30 credit hours of college








courses. All of the 180 students who met the above criteria were sent the S-DSS. A total of 88 returned completed surveys 7 weeks after the initial mailing, yielding a return rate of 49%.

Age of the participants ranged from 19 years, 0 months, to 53 years, 5 months. and the mean age was 24.1 years, with a standard deviation of 4.5 years (see Table 2). Of these 88 participants, 43 were female (48.9%) and 45 (5 1.1%) were male. Table 2

Age and Gender of Participants

Variable n % Ape*
Under 20 5 5.68
20-24 61 69.32 25-29 13 14.77
Over 29 9 10.23 Gender
Male 45 51.14 Female 43 48.86

*m = 24.1, SD = 4.5, range: 19-53.


Seventy-five of the participants (85.2%) began their academic careers at another institution, either a community college or smaller 4-year college, while the remaining 13 participants had matriculated at the University of Florida directly after high school (see Table 3).








Table 3

Academic Characteristics of Participants


Variable n % Academic Career Path
College Transfer 75 85.23 Admitted from High School 13 14.77


Credit Hours Completed*
Under 60 10 11.36 60-90 35 39.77 91-120 28 31.82 Over 120 15 17.05


Grade Point Average**
0.00-1.00 0 0.00 1.01-2.00 7 7.95 2.01-3.00 45 51.14 3.01-4.00 36 40.91

*m = 93.15, SD = 30.98, range: 31-202. **m = 2.81, SD = 0.59, range: 1.56-4.00.


The range of credit hours completed was from 31 to 202, and the mean number of credit hours completed by the participants was 93.15. The range of GPAs was from 1.56 to 4.00. The mean of the GPAs for the group was 2.81. The standard deviation from the mean was 0.59.








Results of Quantitative Investigation

Descriptive Statistics

The range of the total S-DSS scores for the group was from 46 to 92. The mean SDSS score for the group was 78.93. The standard deviation from the mean was 10.64 (see Table 4).

Scores of the participants of this study were heavily clustered. All fell in the

upper half of possible scores on the S-DSS, and approximately two-thirds of the scores fell between 68 and 88 out of a maximum possible score of 92. Among the subscale scores, the broadest range occurred for the Act subscale where scores ranged from 5 to 25 with a standard deviation of 4.3. Other subscales exhibited more narrow ranges and smaller standard deviations.


Table 4

Descriptive Statistics for Quantitative Investigation (S-DSS)

Range Mean Standard Total Deviation Possible
Score

S-DSS Total Score 46-92 78.93 10.635 92 Know Subscale Score 9-16 14.69 1.537 16 Value Subscale Score 7-16 13.92 2.031 16 Plan Subscale Score 12-19 16.42 2.279 19 Act Subscale Score 5-25 20.30 4.434 25 Outcomes Subscale Score 8-16 14.49 1.697 16








Regarding Accommodation Usage, under Method 1, the mean score for intensity of use for the group was just under 2; under Method 2, the mean score for intensity of usage was just above 2 (see Table 5).


Table 5

Descriptive Statistics for Quantitative Investigation (Intensity of Accommodations
Usage)

Range Mean Standard Number Deviation of Items Accommodations
Usage (Method 1) 0-6 1.86 1.533 6 Accommodations
Usage (Method 2) 0-7 2.39 1.784 7


Statistical Analysis of Hypotheses

Hypothesis 1

H 1: No relationship will be found between the student's score on the S-DSS and her/his grade point average (GPA)

at the time the S-DSS is administered.

Pearson's Correlation Coefficient (0.2859, p-value = 0.0069, n = 88) indicates a significant positive relationship between S-DSS and GPA; thus, the null hypothesis is rejected. Table 6 displays the correlation of S-DSS and GPA, and Table 7 displays the results of the regression analysis. The scatterplot graph which results from these findings appears in Figure 2.








Table 6

Pearson Correlation Coefficient for S-DSS Total Score and GPA

Correlation with GPA p-value S-DSS Total Score 0.2859 0.0069*

*0.05 level of significance.


Table 7


egression Analysis for S-DSS and GPA ource df SS [odel 1 2.4952 rror 86 28.0263 Parameter
ariable df Estimate tercept 1 1.554

-DSS 1 0.159


F-value

7.657


p-value 0.0069


t-value p-value

3.391 0.001 2.767 0.006


Hypothesis 2

H2: No relationship will be found between the student's

score on any of the subscales of the S-DSS and his/her grade point average (GPA) at the time the S-DSS is administered.

Pearson's Correlation Coefficients indicate a significant positive relationship between both the subscale Plan (0.34297, p-value = 0.0017, n = 81), and the subscale Act (0.2971, p-value = 0.0071, n=81) of the S-DSS and GPA; thus, the null


R Sc

N

Ez


V In S-











4.00 3.50
3.00 2.50
GPA 2.00 . . . . . . .
1.50 1.00 0.50
0.00
0 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80
S-DSS Scores

Figure 2. GPA and S-DSS Correlation Graph


hypothesis can be rejected. Table 8 presents the correlation data for the Subscale scores and GPA.


Table 8

Pearson Correlation Coefficients for S-DSS Subscale Scores and GPA S-DSS Subscale Scores Correlation with GPA p-value

Know Yourself 0.2088 0.0582 Value Yourself 0.2043 0.0623 Plan 0.3430 0.0017 * Act 0.2971 0.0071 * Evaluate Outcomes 0.1620 0.1411

* 0.05 level of significance


90 100


IV








Hypothesis 3

H3: No relationship will be found between the student's

score on the S-DSS and the number of accommodations approved for the student by the Office for Studies with with Disabilities at the time the S-DSS is administered.

Pearson's Correlation Coefficient for accommodation usage computed

under Method 1 for six possible accommodations (-0.05628, p-value = 0.60251, n = 88) does not indicate a significant relationship between the S-DSS and Accommodation Usage. The same is true of the coefficient computed under Method 2 for seven possible accommodations (-0.03979, p-value = 0.7128, n = 88). Accordingly, the null hypothesis cannot be rejected. Table 9 displays the correlation data for the S-DSS and Accommodation Usage under both methods.


Table 9

Pearson Correlation Coefficients for S-DSS Total Score and Accommodation
Usage

Correlation with p-value Accommodation Usage

Method 1

S-DSS Total Score -0.0563 0.6025 Method 2

S-DSS Total Score -0.0398 0.7128








Hypothesis 4

H4: No relationship will be found between the student's

score on the subscales of the S-DSS and the number of

accommodations approved for the student by the

Office for Students with Disabilities at the time of the

investigation.

The fourth hypothesis was not rejected because there was no significant

correlation between scores on the S-DSS and any of the Subscales of the S-DSS under Method One or Method Two. Tables 10 and 11 display the correlation between each of the subscales and accommodation usage. Table 10

Correlation Between S-DSS Subscales and Accommodation Usage Calculated for
Six Possible Accommodations

Independent Variable Correlation with p-value Accommodation Usage

Subscale Know Score (n = 83) 0.0672 0.5461 Subscale Value Score (n = 84) -0.0542 0.6245 Subscale Plan Score (n = 81) 0.0223 0.8431 Subscale Act Score (n - 81) -0.0517 0.6465 Subscale Outcomes Score (n = 84) 0.0084 0.9396








Table 11

Correlation Between S-DSS Subscales and Accommodation Usage Calculated for
Seven Possible Accommodations

Independent Variable Correlation with p-value Accommodation Usage

Subscale Know Score 0.0516 0.6430 Subscale Value Score -0.0552 0.6183 Subscale Plan Score 0.0879 0.4353 Subscale Act Score -0.0271 0.8100 Subscale Outcomes Score 0.0291 0.7931



Comparison of Students by Gender

Table 12 presents the S-DSS score and subscale scores by gender for the 88

participants in the study. In addition, the GPA and number of credit hours are presented by gender. Comparison of scores on the S-DSS does not reveal significant differences between students on the basis of gender.

Qualitative Investigation

In order to identify the most salient environmental and personal variables which affect self-determination and academic success, a qualitative investigation was conducted. This section reports the results of that investigation. A description of the participants is provided followed by a report of the themes that emerged from the interviews.

Each participant in the study was asked all nine of the questions appearing in the interview schedule (see Appendix C). Follow-up questions, or probes, were then asked, at the discretion of the interviewer, whenever clarification or elaboration of








Table 12

Gender Comparisons By S-DSS Scores, GPA, and Number of Credit Hours Completed

Female Male

S-DSS Total Score

Mean 77.9 79.91
Standard Deviation 11.524 9.742 Know Yourself Subscale Score

Mean 14.30 14.82
Standard Deviation 1.641 1.669 Value Yourself Subscale Score

Mean 14.02 13.67
Standard Deviation 1.958 2.164 Plan Subscale Score

Mean 16.28 16.24
Standard Deviation 2.510 2.197 Act Subscale Score

Mean 19.49 20.60
Standard Deviation 5.189 3.872 Outcome Subscale Score

Mean 14.21 14.60 Standard Deviation 1.909 1.573 Grade Point Average (GPA)

Mean 2.85 2.78
Standard Deviation 0.573 0.615 Number of Credit Hours Completed

Mean 93.87 92.49
Standard Deviation 28.588 33.419








responses to the initial questions appeared warranted. It should be noted that students did not always answer the questions as they were posed. This did not, however. suppress the emergence of relevant themes. Students often wove ideas related to one question into answers for other questions. Description of Participants in the Qualitative Study

In order to understand more precisely the experiences of students with learning disabilities and the impact of these experiences on them, highly successful students were compared to marginally successful students through a qualitative investigation. The first task was to determine which participants in the quantitative investigation would be included in this qualitative investigation. Any of the 88 participants in the quantitative investigation whose GPAs or S-DSS scores fell inside one standard deviation of the mean were initially eliminated from consideration for the qualitative investigation. This procedure left nine students: one with high GPA (= or > +1 SD), low S-DSS (= or > 1 SD), one with high GPA (= or > +1 SD), high S-DSS (= or > +1 SD), and seven with low GPA (= or > -I SD), low S-DSS (= or > -1 SD). No one qualified under this procedure with low GPA (= or > -1 SD), high S-DSS (= or > +1 SD) (see Figure 3). This latter result is consistent with the findings of the quantitative investigation which reported a significant correlation between GPAs and S-DSS scores.

The High GPA/Low S-DSS category had only one student, and he agreed to participate in the qualitative study.

The only student who qualified for placement in the High GPA/High S-DSS

category was unavailable for participation in the qualitative study, as she had graduated from the university and left to attend medical school in another country. As a






















LOW LOW LOW HIGH n=7 n=0


GPA =or > -1 SD GPA =or> -1 SD S-DSS = or > -1 SD S-DSS = or >+1 SD


Figure 3. Participants Satisfying Criteria for Qualitative Study


consequence of this, placement criteria for this category were lowered to three-fourths standard deviation from the mean for both GPA and S-DSS, and five students qualified. Of these five, the only one available for participation was selected.

Of the seven participants who qualified for placement in the Low GPA/Low SDSS category, the first two contacted were available and agreed to participate. One female and one male were selected in this manner.

There were no students who qualified for placement in the Low GPA/High S-DSS category. Accordingly, as with the High GPA/High S-DSS category, the criteria for placement were lowered to three-fourths standard deviation for both GPA and S-DSS scores. One student qualified but he was not available for interview. Because no students were available under the lowered criteria, none were selected from this category for


HIGH LOW HIGH HIGH


n=1 n=l


GPA=or>+ISD GPA=or>+ 1 SD S-DSS = or > - 1 SD S-DSS = or > +1 SD








participation in the study. In this manner, then, the four participants for the qualitative study were selected.

A description of the four participants in the qualitative study and the results from their interviews follow. Whenever content from the students' responses appears, the question asked is cited in parentheses following the quotation (see Appendix C).

Participant A. Participant A was a 42-year-old male enrolled in the College of

Engineering. This student had begun his postsecondary education at a community college and transferred to the University of Florida as a junior. His GPA was 3.75 and his score on the S-DSS was 65. He was the only person who met criteria for placement in the High GPA/Low S-DSS category.

Participant A described himself as "hardworking, dedicated, [and] very punctual." He explained, "I care, [am] loving,.., eccentric, I live in the past as much as in the future, willing, [and] willing to learn, willing to do what it takes to get there, willing to put in the effort" (7.4). He told of a childhood affected by parental discord and continual turmoil, with little emphasis on formal education. He reported that in his youth he had no mentors who encouraged him to complete his high school education, much less continue to postsecondary education. He described memories of active discouragement of academic pursuit. He said, "They always figured I was too dumb to succeed, and that's not encouraging. But I guess in a way it could be. [It] makes me more determined" (9.5).

Participant A described his later life very differently. He reported that his wife

had actively encouraged him to enroll in college, and this encouragement had sustained him as an adult. He stated, "I have home support now" (5.4).








This student described his awareness of the complexities of university systems and the importance of assuming responsibility for one's own academic planning. He referred to the process of academic decision making at the university as -making your own road map" (4.2). He also related the process of accessing different faculty and staff members who provided necessary services for him. Participant A described university faculty as neither supportive of, nor knowledgeable about, students with learning disabilities, asserting, "They don't know what to do with you" (5.3). His comments about community college faculty were generally more positive.

In terms of autonomy, this student was at a different life stage than the other three participants in the qualitative study, who were all in their early 20s. In his early 40s. Participant A had accepted his role as an adult years earlier, including the responsibility for supporting his wife and children.

Participant B. Participant B was a 25-year-old male enrolled in the College of

Engineering. He had matriculated at the University of Florida after attending community college. His GPA was 3.61 and his score on the S-DSS, 88. He had a total of 151 credit hours on his transcript. He qualified for placement the High GPA/High S-DSS category.

This participant described himself as "intelligent, having a good sense of humor, trustworthy, loyal, and thrifty" (7.4). He reported close dyadic relationships with family members as a child, as well as with these same relatives and fellow students later as an adult. However, he was not married and did not carry the responsibility for supporting a family.

He portrayed his road to success as an arduous one. Initial difficulties adjusting to living arrangements off-campus were reported. He also expressed dissatisfaction with








academic advisement, especially with regard to rules and scholarship requirements. He reported one experience of being advised to take certain courses, and only later learning that they were not needed. He blamed inaccurate advice on this occasion, and others, for his receiving low grades and losing his scholarship. His discouragement, in this respect, was compounded by financial difficulties which led him to consider leaving the university. In spite of these reported hardships, he remained at the university and, at the time of this interview, he was working three jobs in addition to being a full-time student.

Having persevered in the face of these difficulties, Participant B viewed his recent experiences in a more positive light. He described great personal satisfaction in his recently achieved financial independence, reporting, "I'm like, wow. I'm really, I'm actually on my own right now" (9.4).

Participant C. Participant C was a male student, age 22, who had earned 68 hours of college credit. He began his postsecondary education at a community college and transferred to the University of Florida as a junior. He was enrolled in the College of Health and Human Performance and his GPA was 2.00. His score on the S-DSS was 53. He qualified for placement in the Low GPA/Low S-DSS category.

Participant C described himself as "impatient, hardworking, a little controlling of situations, and pretty generous" (7.4). On his report, his awareness of his learning difficulties as a young child coincided with his parents' divorce and his mother's remarriage. He reported having both positive and negative role models in people with whom he had close dyadic relationships. At the time of this study, he was involved in a significant, positive relationship but was not married or supporting a family. He claimed that his father and his girlfriend served as positive role models, while his stepfaiher was a








negative role model. "I saw what can happen," he explained, "I saw what will happen if you do bad things, whatever, if you don't go to school, if you don't at least try" (9.8).

While this student appeared to accept full responsibility for academic and financial decisions, he nevertheless related some difficulties in these areas. His ambivalence in these matters finds expression in the following comments:

Actually, I'd say I do it on my own.... This is something I can tell my kids
about. I hope that I don't have to make them do it, but this is something I feel
good about. Because no one else I know is doing it on their own. They get some
support. So, it makes me feel good. I feel really independent. I just feel ...
really, I'm broke, in debt. (9.6)

Participant C characterized his complex relationships with university faculty and staff in terms no less ambivalent. About student access to instructors, he generalized. "You don't have a chance to talk to your teachers and certain things are just too big for students... who have to ask questions" (3). He noted a marked improvement in access when he changed majors, saying, "So, then, I switched and I started taking more of a, like a liberal arts type of schedule and I found it made a world of difference" (5.1). He found this second group of university faculty comparable to community college faculty. He said, "All the teachers.., here.., have been awesome. [They are] nice. And I thought that that was only a community college thing" (5.1). By changing majors, this student believed he had moved decisively to improve his educational experience.

Participant D. The final participant in the qualitative investigation was a 21-year old female student. This student had begun her postsecondary education at the University of Florida and experienced significant academic failure. She then returned to her family home and attended community college. At the time of the study, she was enrolled in the College of Journalism, and her GPA was 2.10. She had earned 89 credit








hours. Her score on the S-DSS was 49, placing her in the Low GPA/Low S-DSS category.

Participant D described her initial experience at the university in these terms: "I wasn't doing very well up here and I figured it would be best if I went home.... I wasn't ready to be on my own yet" (2). She felt that she had learned from this early failure. She said, "I really grew from that. Just to be able to know... I'm not doing well. I have to fail out or take myself out and get myself regrouped to the point I can come back" (3).

This participant described herself as "friendly but shy, reserved, happy, and more confident [than she was a few years ago]" (7.4). She described close interpersonal relationships that had been both positive and negative. At the time of this study, this student had established a network of friends to sustain her as she navigated the complexities of the university environment. She was not married, however, and did not bear responsibility for supporting a family.

Participant D also described her dissatisfaction with the academic advising she had received at the university. She reported that university faculty were not as "personal" as faculty at the community college (5.1). She described some negative experiences with academic advising which she believed had had a detrimental impact on her academic career.

Regarding autonomy, this student described herself as still dependent on her

family financially and, therefore, not fully autonomous. She expressed satisfaction with her progress toward controlling her own life through improving her money management skills. She said, "I found that just actually having... [a] wallet... would help me keep track of... [money]" (2.3). She stated that she valued autonomy as important in life and that she was working to increase her level of independence.








Thematic Analysis of the Qualitative Investigation

The qualitative investigation yielded significant and recurrent themes which are

presented in this section. These themes are identified in Table 13 and appear in the same sequence as they are discussed. The themes presented are organized into two categories-"Features of Institutional Support Related to Academic Success," with an emphasis on environmental factors, and "Personality Markers for Academic Success," with an emphasis on personal characteristics of the participants. Within each of these two broad categories, subcategories have been presented which delineate the specific themes that emerged from the qualitative interviews.

Features of Institutional Support Related to Academic Success

The environmental factors which influence self-determination and academic success for university students with learning disabilities were discussed during the qualitative investigation. These factors are arranged in three subcategories: (a) institutional infrastructures, (b) social support systems, and (c) the role of faculty. Students indicated in their interviews that these three areas of institutional support were influential in their academic success. Each of these areas is discussed. Institutional Infrastructures

The participants in the qualitative investigation reported that the university

system with its complex infrastructure had significant bearing on their experiences. Their comments are arranged according to three themes: (a) transition from the community college, (b) communication protocols vital to students, and (c) adequacy of academic advising. In the next section the theme of transition from community college to the university is discussed.








Table 13

Thematic Analysis of the Qualitative Investigation


Features of Institutional Support Related to Academic Success
Institutional Infrastructures
Transition from Community College
Communication Protocols Vital to Students
Adequacy of Academic Advisement
Social Support Systems
Family, Friends, Roommates
Significant Others
Role of Faculty
Class Size and Faculty Accessibility
Student Perception of Instructors' Assessment
Knowledge and Attitudes of Faculty Regarding Learning
Disabilities

Personality Markers for Academic Success
Autonomy
Importance of Autonomy for Student Development of Autonomy over Time
Locus of Identity
Understanding and Acceptance of Learning Disabilities
Taking Responsibility for Self-Assessment
Rebounding from Negative Appraisals by Others
Goal Selection and Implementation
Commitment to Self-Selected Goals
Organization of Work and Time Management
Execution of Plans
Resilience in Response to Failure
Accurate Assessment of Success/Failure
Overcoming Negative Experiences
Flexible Thinking
Persistence Leading to Success



Transition from community college. All four of the participants in the qualitative

investigation had transferred to the university from community colleges. Their academic

career paths, in this regard, were representative of students in the quantitative study,

most of whom had arrived at the university by this route. They all noted differences








between their community college and university experiences. The students generally reported that the community college environment was somewhat more supportive than that of the university. Themes gleaned from the interviews focused on their initial impressions of the university experience, perceived differences in accessibility between community college and university faculty, perceived failures of institutional support, reports of competition among students, and difficulties attributed to the sheer enormity of the institution, including unpleasant experiences with large classes. Participant C described the change from community college to the university in these terms:

Yeah, I was in high school [a] slacker. But then, in community college I did pretty
good. I don't know why I didn't come here. I didn't know why my GPA was a
little higher, but in community college I was very sure. I was confident, I came here and realized, Wow, you know, I'm competing with a lot of people here and
it's a little different. (7)

This student also echoed the sentiments of the other participants when he spoke of the trepidation he felt upon encountering the enormity of the university environment after leaving the more familiar and much smaller setting of the community college. The theme of confronting a challenge by enrolling in the university is evident in this comment:

And, mainly, the uh, the size. The student body, I mean the size of the school
really. And, uh, I am a transfer student. So, going from a community college
which had about 29 to 30 students a class to business courses that had thousands
broken up into hundreds, it was scary. (1.3)

Participant D used the community college as a platform for regrouping after initial difficulties with university life. She noted that she had felt abandoned when she was first at the university. She reported,

Um, they just, I felt just sort of thrown out there [at the university]. Yeah, even after, after community college it was still, it was like a step between high school
and UF. And like, they didn't baby-sit you there [at the community college], you know, as far as picking out your schedule or anything. You had to find them, but
they helped you out a lot more. And, I didn't feel such at a loss. (5.4)








Participant B offered this summary of his experience, in the form of advice to future students with learning disabilities, as they transition to the university:

If you come to school [at this university], you better plan for the worst so that
you make sure you know who to ask because you're not going to get information
unless you go to the right people, because I wasn't given.... You just have to
prepare yourself to ask questions because if you don't ask the right question, you're not going to get an answer that will help you. So don't assume that all
they're telling you is everything, is all that you [need to] know. Because in my
experience, it hasn't been what I needed to know. (9.8)

Communication protocols vital to students. Students reported that they had

difficulty accessing accurate information in a timely manner. They related often learning of important deadlines from conversations with their peers rather than from university employees. On those occasions when they did receive information from university personnel, they often recounted harms suffered because they were not given correct information. The enormity of the institution and the variety and reliability of sources of information all appear to have contributed to a sense of exasperation best described in this statement from Participant B, who placed in the High GPA/High S-DSS category.

The biggest negative thing was ... losing my scholarship over something like, as., as ridiculous as an Incomplete. And then talking with people to try to figure out
what to do and then I even called the Department of Education to find out how do
I appeal it? And they told me, "Oh you don't have any grounds to appeal it.
Don't even bother," and that's what they told me. So then. I believed them and then, when I went and talked to someone here, they said, "Oh no, they can't do that." And, it's like, well, when's the deadline? Like, oh, it was yesterday. You
can't do anything about it. So, it's just, no one ever gave me the proper
information. (3)

Adequacy of academic advisement. Regarding academic advisement, some

students had serious criticisms of the services of the university and what they viewed as limited accessibility to accurate and timely information. Participant B echoed the words of other students when he stated,








Well, I think another bad thing I had when I first got here was I went to [see] the
advisors.., and they signed me up for these, the math and the calculus science
classes, chemistry. And it was very hard. And they said, "Oh you can go ahead and do this." And they set me up with this stuff. It was too hard. Well. because,
I guess, of the assessment test.., that you do. It doesn't, it didn't really. they put me in a higher class and, um, I guess at the time I didn't know that I needed
time to finish all these things and how much work actually went into these classes compared to high school. So, I didn't succeed at all. I had to drop chemistry class
and it was, it was really crazy. So, I said, "I'm not going to see advisors again.
They really screwed up my schedule." So, after that, I didn't see anybody....
So, it was all based on, you know, my stuff. I wish I had more guidance. (9)

Another student considered that her academic advisor had provided services of

uneven quality to her, sometimes providing accurate information, and, then, at other

times, misinformation. When asked to identify any person at the university who had

been particularly helpful to her in planning and achieving her goals, she replied, "I guess

my advisor, sort of." When asked if her advisor provided services regarding scheduling,

the student continued, "Yes, they, she, she helped me pick out the classes and just made

sure I was on track. I was a little disappointed with, uh, with her. I expected more

guidance, I guess" (4). Further probes to clarify her expectations for her advisor brought

forth the following report:

Well, she told me that, um, that I had to take a whole bunch of classes I didn't
have to take, it turns out. And I was, I got very frustrated at that .... She told me
to take a math class last summer and I didn't do well in it, so [I] ended up
dropping it. So, I overloaded myself with summer classes. And I ended up
dropping it, and it turns out I didn't even have to take it. So, I lost the money,
plus used one of my drops. And I was annoyed, or a little frustrated that I, I ...
that happened. But, um, it was, I mean, she, I guess, I couldn't have done it without her. You know, I mean, I couldn't have figured any of this out at all
without her. (4)

In this report of one student's view of the institutional infrastructure and how it

hindered her in her academic efforts, three unsatisfactory consequences of one incidence

of misinformation can be discerned. This student allegedly suffered harm because the








advice she received led her to (a) overload herself during the summer term, thereby diminishing her time for other courses, (b) spend money for a course that did not earn her any credit, and (c) use one of her course drops, which left her with only one for the remainder of her undergraduate career. Clearly, the theme of the university infrastructure negatively affecting a student's academic progress is emergent here.

Social support systems. A major theme discernible in the participants' interviews is that of the importance of their social support systems. All of them reported that they often enjoyed some of their personal relationships and that they depended on them for emotional sustenance and for practical advice and direction. They also revisited earlier unhappy personal relationships, which were viewed as emotionally unsettling and detrimental to their academic careers.

Family, friends, and roommates. All of the participants reported supportive interpersonal relationships. Some of them described their relationships in terms of the impact on their lives. Unhappy interpersonal relationships related were usually in the past.

Two students told of friendships which led them to discovery of their learning disabilities. None of the teachers or advisors of these two students had suggested the possibility of a learning disability, but their friends had noticed their distress and suggested resources for them to explore. These explorations led to the realization that they had learning disabilities. Participant B provided the following account.

Well I didn't know, didn't know what a learning disability was until.., a friend of
mine that I went to high school with roomed with another student .... I explained
[to him] how I had trouble finishing stuff sometimes. He's like, "Oh, well." He
was registered with Student Services and he explained what, what it does and why it's helpful for him .... [Hie explained that he got extra time to finish things. It's like, well, if I had that I would be fine. I wouldn't worry about not completing a








course because the work was too much.... And it was because he said it [to me].
This guy just told me about it. I would never have known about it without him saying that. So, I thanked him for letting me know, because it has really helped
me out a lot. (8.1)

Another student, participant D, noted that a personal friend had suggested that she may have a learning disability and referred her to the Office for Students with Disabilities. The friend's suggestion had been the impetus for this student's beginning to understand her learning disability. When asked if she knew any other university students with learning disabilities, she responded with the following words: "Yes I do. I know my roommate's boyfriend who was the other person who directed me here. He's actually the one who recommended that I get tested for it because he had just gotten tested" (8).

As the participants described their childhood and adolescence, they portrayed a range of family relationships. Two of the participants remembered their early years in a positive light, and two alluded to some measure of discord and upheaval in their early lives.

Participant B remembered his childhood as happy and his family as nurturing.

This student mentioned male role models who were family members employed in the area of his major (engineering). He described as solid and supportive earlier interpersonal relationships which continued into adolescence, particularly one with his twin brother: "I was always more of attached to him,.., we had our own room, we shared a room and then my older brother moved out so [my twin brother] could move in the other room" (9.8).

In a contrast, participant A told of a tumultuous early life where disruptions to

family life were frequent. This was consistent with his report of demeaning comments by his parents about his abilities and devaluation of education, portraying it as a waste of time. He stated,








Dad had, a really big farm, and he had a lot of cattle. And all of a sudden, all of
my brothers and sisters were gone. And I was eight years old. So we worked all
the time. We didn't go hunting, we didn't go fishing, because there was too much
work to get out. And Mom and Dad fought all the time, and they were either divorced or married together. And that's how I went all the way through high
school. (9.8)

This participant, age 42, noted the vast improvement in his personal life at the time of the study. He was then married and had his own family. His focus was on his wife and children, not on his parents and siblings.

When asked how his family helped him succeed, he said, "Uh, when I'm down, my wife [helps me to be] refocused. And when I'm down a lot of times, some of the kids'll give me a hug" (9.5).

Several students mentioned that they had learned from negative interpersonal

experiences since coming to the university. One participant told of his first roommate at the university and the impact this unpleasant association had on his life. He answered in response to a question about adjustment to university life:

Just that I was, well, by myself and I didn't know anybody.... That was the
biggest thing. And the environment that I moved into when I got here, ... I...
they didn't [have] a room on campus so I had to live off campus. And I ended up
being in a room with this, this drug addict.., and that was really bad and I, I
hated going home. I mean, it was just a really bad semester .... And after that, I got out of there and.., and then things started looking better. So... Because I
couldn't take it. I ... I couldn't just sit there and be annoyed by this person.
(1.3)

Significant others. Close and committed interpersonal relationships appear to have had a significant bearing on the students' opinions of the quality of the university experience. Apparently, these relationships directly influenced these students' study habits and their ability to function academically. Two examples of this finding are provided in this section. The first is a participant's report of a supportive interpersonal








relationship with a significant other. The second describes another's perception of close interpersonal relationships which were destructive in their effects, hampering her ability to function in the university setting.

Participant C described his girlfriend in terms that reflected his admiration of her successful characteristics.

Oh, yeah, I have a girlfriend who came straight into the University of Florida from high school. And, she was an overachiever and a half. Over four point something GPA from high school and SAT scores sky high. Anyway, [she] was really smart
and we had the same attitude about school. We study first. You know, we
always study. (2.1)

The students who reported earlier less successful relationships in their lives

described them in equally vivid terms. Participant D, for example, linked difficulties with failed relationships to her unsuccessful first attempt at university life. She stated,

But I definitely had a lot of disappointments and stuff, as far as, uh, friendships and relationships, and, you know, dating wise and stuff like that. And it would,
it's a lot to handle, you know, between school and then, you know, meeting all these people, then, you know, dating, and then it's, it's hard. It was hard. (3) Role of faculty. Another subcategory from the qualitative study identifies one

group of people in the university community who wield enormous influence on students' lives, namely, the faculty. Students reported that they looked to their instructors for support in both cognitive and affective areas, seeking information about the content of their courses and validation of their worth as learners. The participants' responses to questions provided insight into the student-faculty relationship and its bearing on their academic careers.

Class size and faculty accessibility. Another theme that emerged from the

qualitative investigation was that of participants' dissatisfaction with their relationships with faculty whom they often described as distant and inaccessible. The students often








linked inaccessibility to the larger classes they took, indicating that their instructors in

these classes had difficulty establishing helpful relationships with so many students.

Participant C, whose earlier description of his transition to the university

encapsulated the thoughts of many students, offered these comments about his resolution

of the difficulties involved in taking the larger classes.

So then, I switched [from business courses] and I started taking more of a. like a liberal arts type of schedule and I found it made a world of difference. That was
for me. The size of the class was reduced. I mean, it was like half or less than half
the size. And the teachers, all the staff in all the departments that I've [had], all
the different classes that I've taken in the different departments here at school
have been awesome. Nice. And I thought that that was only a community college thing. One of the pro's of going to community college, but it's here, too. Believe
it or not. (5.1)

Faculty accessibility appears to be of great importance to this student, as it is for the

others.

Participant A, the student who was significantly older than the others, reported

his perception of the student-teacher relationship and his method of accessing faculty in

response to a question about the supportive quality of his educational environment.

I'm not sure I understand your question. But if I do,... this is... the answer.
I think my saving grace is I want to learn. I have found that professors teach you
a variety of things once they get to know you. Not only do they teach you, like
my chemistry professor, not only did he teach me chemistry and how it impacted
my life and even down to the nuts and bolts of that, but he also taught me testtaking skills and a lot of other things. Even though they [i.e., the test-taking skills]
don't work as well as I'd like 'em to, but they work a lot better than when I started this class. It's like the professors don't mind me going to their office
because I want to learn. You can teach me anything. And that's one of the things
that they say is, you know it is a pleasure to [teach] you because you want to
learn. (3)

Participant D related difficulties communicating with university faculty in


comparison to communicating with other teachers in the past.








It's not as personal. I'm actually very, very scared of my professors. I try to
avoid talking to them at all costs. Um, well, in high school and community college.
they make a point of talking to you. You know, we had conferences and stuff like
that. It, it varies here on whether it's a large class or, you know, a thirty-student
class, you know. But, uh, definitely, it's more personal, personal with smaller classes. I mean, it's.., way too difficult, you know, with large classes. (5.1)

Student perception of instructors' assessment. The next theme presented is that

of the participants' perception of how their instructors assess students' abilities. These

students reported that their instructors frequently belittled them because of their learning

disabilities. When the students encountered an instructor who validated their worth as

capable learners, while acknowledging their learning disabilities, they reported a sense of

tremendous relief.

Participant D articulated the theme of faculty sending students the message of

expected failure solely on the basis of a learning disability when she remembered one

instructor telling her, "You know, you can't do this. You know this is just going to

inhibit you. You can't do it. You know, you, you're gonna have to leave. You know, we

don't think you should... go through this any more" (5.3).

In marked contrast, participant B described the exhilaration he felt when he realized

that one of his instructors held him in high esteem.

I took a medical terminology class, College of Health Science and this professor,
Dr. P [name deleted]. He was very encouraging. I was really amazed by his
teaching technique. And he's, he's always, I could ask him for a letter of
recommendation, he always gave me very high- like complimentary letters, and
when I, one time he didn't seal it, so I just read it. It's like, wow, this is amazing.
Yeah, I was like, he put in that I was the top of the class and I didn't know I was.
Yeah, he said that I was, out of all these like, medical, like pre-med students, an engineering student is the top of the class.... I don't know how I did that, but I knew I did well in it... So he has been someone that's really encouraging. Just
by, you know, reading what he said. It's like, wow, I am capable of
accomplishing, really, you know, marvelous things, if I really like what I'm doing
and I can stick to it. (4)








Both participant D and participant B exemplified in their comments the

importance they attached to faculty assessment, whether negative or positive. In the next

section, the theme of faculty attitudes and knowledge of students with learning

disabilities is explored.

Knowledge and attitudes of faculty regarding learning disabilities. Just as these

successful university students reported basking in the glow of their instructors" approval.

they also shuddered in the chill of their instructors' allegedly demeaning remarks.

The topic of faculty understanding of learning disabilities brought forth intense

responses from some of the participants. Although one student, participant D. described

an instructor who had been very supportive and understanding, she and the other

participants all related encounters with faculty who did not seem to understand or value

them as students with learning disabilities. The experiences of participant B, retold

below, illustrate a recurring theme present in the accounts of all the participants. This

student was asked if University of Florida faculty understood learning disabilities:

No. They have no clue. And, that's what annoys me, because, um, last semester
I had a professor who, who told me, he's like, well, he says, "It's inconvenient for
me to have a TA [teaching assistant] stay after or me to stay after for you to
finish your test." It was "inconvenient," it's like, "What are you talking about?"
you know, "Isn't, isn't your goal to have every student treated fairly and this
would, this is what will allow me to be treated fairly and, you know, when did it
become a nuisance for, you know, you to finish your commitment as a teacher?
... I wrote this letter to him.... It was just very direct, and I said, I don't
appreciate, you know, you saying that, because I didn't choose to have this
disability.... I brought him the [accommodation] letter at the beginning of the
semester, and he said, "Oh, we'll worry about it later." So, he put it off. Yeah, then turned around on me, "It's inconvenient because he didn't deal with it. Oh,
and it's the last minute, so what is he gonna do? And then I called here [the Office
for Students with Disabilities] and they [said], it was too late. So, the midterm
that we had, he didn't do anything about it, either. I asked the TA.... Yeah, I got the accommodation because I told the TA, but the teacher didn't get it for me....
Well, you know, surprisingly, with my accommodations. I ended up third in the
class. (5.2)




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/ • • _.' . • A STUDY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS BEARING ON SELF-DETERMINATION AND THE ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES • By MARY DURAN SARVER A DISSERTATION PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2000 •

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Copyright 2000 by Mary Duran Sarver • •

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• ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I wish to acknowledge the members of my committee for their support and guidance. Dr. Dave Miller has been most helpful with every phase of the quantitative investigation, assisting with data analysis and interpretation. Dr. Ellen Amatea has been supportive in her comments regarding the investigation of personal characteristics of persons with learning disabilities. Dr. Jeanne Repetto and Dr. Stuart Schwartz provided the benefit of their wisdom about the literature on transition. Dr. Cary Reichard has been a stalwart mentor throughout the process. His patient encouragement of my effort as well as his insistence on precise and comprehensive analysis contributed immensely to this dissertation. Dr. Cynthia Griffin, above all others, exhibited resolute and focused attention to the entire research effort. Dr. Griffin shared this writer's conviction that education of persons with learning disabilities is both worthwhile and misunderstood. She patiently guided this writer along the path to better understanding of persons with learning disabilities, and I thank. her. I would like to acknowledge others for their assistance. Dr. Robert Sherman reviewed the design for the qualitative research, and his comments helped shape that process. Dr. Karen Kilgore assisted with framing the questions on the SS-DDF and designing a pilot instrument. The reference librarians of Norman Library were of invaluable assistance in gathering and verifying research. Barbara Smerage was of ilmnense help in typing, editing, and persevering with the writer throughout the entire process. I thank. Ms. Sybil Brown for her assistance with statistical analysis. I also thank ... 111

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Richard Nelson and many students and volunteers in the Office for Students with Disabilities. I would like to acknowledge four people from other universities for their assistance in the form of comments, suggestions, and critiques. Dr. Stan Shaw of the University of Connecticut provided the impetus for this research in his comments about self-determination and university students with learning disabilities during his presentation at the University of Florida. Dr. Loring Brinckerhoff of Tufts University suggested questions regarding self-awareness and social support systems of university students with learning disabilities. Dr. Shlomo Sawilkowsky of Wayne State University provided information about the quantitative analysis of the S-DSS. Dr. Sharon Field , also of Wayne State University, offered conunents about the subscales of the S-DSS , the research design of this dissertation, and the use of S-DSS scores as criteria for participant selection for the qualitative investigation. On a personal note, I would like to acknowledge my friends and family. I wish to acknowledge many friends from many years who have modeled for me resolute and steadfast effort toward their goals. There have been many friends who have sustained me through difficult times and shared with me some good times. There are too many to name them all, so I will only acknowledge by name three persons--my friend and neighbor, Marjorie Zander, and my friends and classmates, Ann Geary and Nadia Bamieh. Their friendship has been invaluable throughout the years. I wish to acknowledge my family. My mother, first, because she believed education is a lifelong process and that each individual is unique and worthy of respect. I would like to acknowledge my father for his confidence in me. I want to acknowledge • IV

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• my brother and sister-in-law who have demonstrated the determination and creativity needed to raise a family when one child has a disability. I wish to acknowledge my sister who has a learning disability and whose childhood educational experiences were to shape my professional career. I wish to acknowledge my daughters. Their support for my research has never wavered. They have been the source of much joy and satisfaction for me. My pride in them is the only thing that eclipses my satisfaction in completing this project. I want to acknowledge my husband who has fulfilled and exceeded his promise 30 years ago to love and care for me. He has assisted me in every phase of my work, from conceptual analysis through final revision. Without his encouragement and assistance this dissertation could not have been written. Finally, I wish to acknowledge the students with learning disabilities I have known throughout the years. I want to thank them for what they have taught me. I wrote this dissertation in an effort to help other teachers and counselors understand students with leaming disabilities better in order to serve them better. It is my hope that my model for services for students with learning disabilities could be incorporated into service delivery systems and improve the lives of students with learning disabilities. v

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• .. • • TABLE OF CONTENTS Page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ....................................................................... iii ABSTRACT................................. .......................................... ... ... ..... x CHAPTERS 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM........................... ... ... ........ 1 Developmental Challenges for Young Adults with Learning Disabilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 2 Academic Success in Postsecondary Education and Support Services to Achieve Success..................... ................... ...... 2 Lifelong Trends for Adults with Leallling Disabilities.................... 2 Academic Success..................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .... . . . . . . .. 4 Programs for Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities..... ... 4 SelfDetel'Inination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Historical Importance of Self-Determination.................. .............. 6 Educational Research on Self-Determination................................ 7 Model of Self-Determination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 9 The Field and Hoffman Model of Self-Determination: A Quantitative Approach...... ............ ... ... ... ... ......... ........... 10 Quantitative and Qualitative Model of Self-Determination ............... 11 Definition of Self-Determination ............................................. 12 Statement of the Problem ........................................................... 13 Rationale of the Study..................... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 13 Definition ofTenns ................................................................. 14 Delimitations of the Study............ . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 15 Limitations of the Study ............................................................ 16 2 OF RELATED LITERATURE ....................................... 17 Criteria for Selection of Relevant Literature.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 17 Theoretical Foundations ............................................................ 19 H uman Development Theories. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 1 9 Bronfenbrenner .............................................................. ' ... . 20 Erikson ............................................................................ 25 Chickering ........................................................................ 29 • VI

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Characteristics of Persons with Learning Disabilities.......................... 33 Children with Learning Disabilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 33 Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities......................... 34 Adults with Learning Disabilities. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38 Self-Determination. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 39 Definition. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39 Educational Research. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 40 Further Research Regarding Self-Detelmination................................ 42 3 METHODOLOGy.................................................................. 45 Introduction... ......... ............ ...... ............................. . ... ... ... ... ... 45 Subjects..................... ........................... ... ...... ...... .. ....... ....... 46 Setting................................................... ............... . .. ... .... ..... 48 Instruments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49 Self-determination Student Scale... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 49 Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors..................... 51 Procedure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 52 Quantitative Research Procedures and Hypotheses Tested................ 52 Qualitati ve Research Procedures. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 55 4 RESULTS ............................................................................. 58 Introduction........................................................................... 58 Internal Consistency ofthe Quantitative Measures............................. 59 Demographic Analysis of the Participants....................................... 59 Results of Quantitative Investigation... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 62 Descriptive Statistics............................................................ 62 Statistical Analysis of Hypotheses...... ......... ... ... ...... . .. ........... ... 63 Comparison of Students by Gender. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 68 Qualitative Investigation.............................. ... ............ ... ...... ...... 68 Description of Participants in the Qualitative Study........................ 70 Thematic Analysis of the Qualitative Investigation... ... ...... ......... .... 77 Features oflnstitutional Support Related to Academic Success.......... 77 Institutional Infrastructures.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 77 Personality Markers for Academic Success .................................. 91 Autonomy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 92 Locus of Identity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 96 Goal Selection and Implementation................................. ...... ... 98 Resilience in Response to Failure ............................................. 103 5 DISCUSSION ........................................................................ 109 Discussion of the Results of the Quantitative Investigation .................... 109 Discussion of the Results of the Qualitative Investigation ..................... III .. Vll

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Salient Features ofInstitutional Support Related to Academic Success..... 111 Institutional Infrastructure.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... III Social Support Systems........................................................ 114 Role of Faculty .................................................................. 115 Personality Markers for Academic Success ...................................... 117 Autonomy ..... .................................................................. 117 Locus of Identity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 118 Goal Selection and Implementation .......................................... 119 Resilience in Response to Failure ............................................. 122 Practical Implications for the Research Findings ................................ 124 A Model of Coordinated Services for University Students with Learning Disabilities ....................................................... 125 University Systems .. o ................................................................ 127 Transition In. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 127 Counseling. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 128 Academic Advisement.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 129 Learning Strategies........................ ......... ... ... ... ......... ... ... . ... 130 Faculty and Staff ................................................................ 130 ACCOI1Ullodations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 13 1 Transition Out .................................................................... 132 The Role of Coordinator ........................................................ 132 Limitations on the Generalizability of the Study............... . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 13 3 Recommendations for Further Research ......................................... Q}4") Longitudinal Study of Adults with Learning Disabilities .................. 134 Use of AcconmlOdations ....................................................... 135 Communication Skills .......................................................... 135 Transition to the University Environment...... ............ ......... ........ 136 Qualities of Peer Mentoring.................. ... ............ ... ............ ... 136 Locus of Identity ................................................................ 136 Selection of Academic Fields.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. 137 Types of Postsecondary Institutions .......................................... 137 APPENDICES A SELF-DETER.MINATION STUDENT SCALE ................................ 139 B SELF-DETERMINATION STUDENT SCALE: PSYCHOMETRIC INFORMATION ................................................................ 14 C SURVEY OF SELF-DETERMINATION DEVELOPMENTAL FACTORS ....................................................................... 158 D IRB APPROVAL. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ... 163 E COVER LETTER/INFORMED CONSENT FOR PARTICIPATION IN QUANTITATIVE INVESTIGATION ................................... 166 ••• Vlll

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F PERMISSION TO USE SELF-DETERMINATION STUDENT SCALE ............................................................................ 168 G INFORMED CONSENT FOR PARTICIPATION IN QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION ......................................... 170 REFERENCES ....... o ••••• o •• o ••••••••• o ••••••• o ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• 171 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH .................................................................... 177 • IX

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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 A STUDY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN PERSONAL AND ENVIRONMENTAL FACTORS BEARING ON SELF-DETERMINATION AND THE ACADEMIC SUCCESS OF UNIVERSITY STUDENTS WITH LEARNING DISABILITIES Chair: Cary L. Reichard Cochair: Cynthia C. Griffin By Mary Duran Sarver August 2000 Major Department: Special Education This study examined the relationship between personal and environmental factors bearing on self-detellllination and the academic success of university students with learning disabilities. Subjects (n = 88) of the study were students with learning disabilities who attended the University of Florida during the spring semester of the 1998-1999 school year, were registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities at the time , and had completed at least 30 hours of college credit but had not received a bachelor's degree. A two-part research design was employed. Under the first part, all of the subjects were administered Hoffman and Field's (1994) Self-Determination Student Scale (SDSS), yielding a quantitative measure of the extent to which the students in the study were self-detelmined. In the second part, four of these students were administered the x

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Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF), a questionnaire specifically designed for this study to gather information about environmental and personal factors which may have influenced developmental progress in the area of selfdetermination. Responses to this latter instrument provided a qualitative foundation for discussion ofthemes reported by the subjects to have a bearing on self-determination and academic success. Results from the administration of the S-DSS were compared with subjects ' grade point averages (GPAs) at the time of the study, which were taken as a measure of their academic success, and with the number of disability accommodations granted them by the university. Subjects' total scores on the S-DSS were found to be positively and significantly correlated with their GPAs (Pearson's Correlation Coefficient = 0.2859 , p = 0.0069). No significant correlation was found to exist between their GPAs and the number of disability accommodations granted them by the university. It was concluded that the most parsimonious interpretation of these results appears to be that undergraduate students at a large university, who have learning disabilities which they have registered with the institution, and who are inclined to complete and return survey instmments, are likely to be academically successful as a function of the extent of their self-determination and that the number of accommodations granted them by the institution does not predict the extent to which they are selfdetermined. Results from the administration ofthe SS-DDF were found to yield a variety of themes reflecting the importance of disability awareness, the impact of environmental factors within the institutional infrastructure, and the contribution of social support • Xl

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systems external to the institution, as well as personality markers for academic success , including autonomy , locus of identity , goal selection and implementation , and resilience in response to failure. Practical implications ofthese results are discussed in the study , and a model of coordinated services for university students with learning disabilities is proposed. • • Xll

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CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO THE PROBLEM This chapter provides a rationale for, and relates issues that are central to, the study that is described. Specifically, the relationship between personal and environmental factors bearing on self-determination and the academic success of university students with learning disabilities is discussed. Young adults confront several developmental challenges related to a growing awareness of their own uniqueness, their autonomy (Chickering, 1969; Erikson 1950), and the importance of the environment in their lives (Bronfenbrenner, 1979). Persons with learning disabilities may be more seriously challenged in these areas as young adults than peers without learning disabilities (Gerber, Reiff, & Ginsberg, 1996; Rosenthal, 1992). Young adults with leal lung disabilities typically remain in the parental home longer and may not involve themselves socially with same-age students as often as young adults without leal ning disabilities (Maughan & Hagell, 1996; Ryan, 1994). They also experience greater social isolation within their home communities than peers without learning disabilities (Patton & Palloway, 1992). This results in a different constellation of behaviors which could, in tum, influence many aspects of their lives (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Lehmann, Deniston, Tobin, & Howard, 1996; Rosenthal, 1992). This study investigated the degree to which college students with leaming disabilities manifest 1

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') evidence of self-determination and whether or not this bears a relationship to the extent of academic success they have achieved in postsecondary education. In addition, identifiable factors in an individual's environment are examined to determine if they are indicators of self-determination and academic success. Academic Success in Postsecondary Education and Support Services to Achieve Success Lifelong Trends for Adults with Learning Disabilities Adults with learning disabilities have lower employment rates than do their peers without learning disabilities, and they are also less involved in their cornmunities (Patton & Palloway, 1992). They are often underemployed, working part-time, or working at low-paying jobs (Haring & Lovett, 1990; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997). Their social skills are considered to be less developed than those of adults without learning disabilities (Maughan & Hagell, 1996). In part, these career-related discrepancies may be a reflection of the fewer numbers of these adults who have attended postsecondary education (Sitlington & Frank, 1990). Until recently, there were very few students with learning disabilities in higher education. Minskoff and DeMoss (1993) and Brinckerhoff, Shaw, and McGuire (1993) offered several reasons for the recent increase in the numbers of students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education. Factors they identified as causal include (a) the impact of Section 504 ofthe Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and PL 94142 over the past 20 years, (b) schools complying with the "least restrictive environment" condition ofIDEA which has allowed students with leaming disabilities in • one area to participate in classes with peers who do not have learning disabilities, (c)

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public awareness of the rights of students with disabilities to a free and appropriate public education, and (d) the advent of assistive technology which enhances opportunities for students with disabilities to participate more actively in higher education (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1993; Minskoff & DeMoss, 1993). With more students with learning disabilities enrolled in postsecondary education than ever before, questions have been raised regarding the efficacy of interventions which are designed to enhance the success of these students. Many of these questions include those that are related to outcome measures. They tend to focus on academic success within the university experience and often serve to evaluate educators' contribution to the academic careers of students with leaming disabilities. Included among these questions are the following: 1. How do students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education vary as a group regarding academic success? 2. How do universities and colleges address the needs of these students? 3. In what ways can universities and colleges improve the services they deliver to their students with learning disabilities? 4. What does the research indicate to be the most salient characteristics of successful students with learning disabilities, as compared to less successful students with learning disabilities? 5. Does self-determination have a predictive value for, or influence, academic success? 6. Historically, how has self-determination been viewed?

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7. What does educational research reveal about self-determination? 8. What model and definition of self-determination seems most appropriate for understanding students with learning disabilities in higher education? In the following sections each of these questions is addressed. Academic Success 4 Students enrolled in postsecondary education earn grades for their efforts and are awarded credits for completed courses. The completion of a predetermined number of credits, while maintaining certain grades, is, of course, an essential element of earning a college degree. Students with learning disabilities often experience difficulties due to their disabilities and require interventions in order to complete their coursework and earn the grades necessary to be awarded their degrees (Brinckerhoff, 1993; Shaw , 1995 , 1996; Sitlington & Frank, 1990). Within this context, academic success may be plausibly viewed as a reflection of a student's grade point average and the number of courses completed within a specific time. Programs for Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities The question of which interventions are most effective is a subject of debate. For many researchers in the field of services for postsecondary students with learning disabilities, the most appropriate support services are those that include counseling (Byrne & Crawford, 1990; Miller & Cabell, 1989; Rosenthal, 1992). These programs typically include individual counseling and group approaches to counseling. The focus is frequently on altering the behaviors of students with learning disabilities and improving their self-esteem, self-awareness, and organizational and communication skills.

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5 There are also programs to assist students with learning disabilities through academic tutoring. These programs may be content-based or focused on instruction of learning strategies. Many postsecondary programs offer both types of academic assistance (Forness & Kavale, 1996). Some emphasize one type more than the other. and some programs are exclusively either content-based or focused on tutoring strategies (Shaw, 1995, 1996). Many researchers have emphasized the importance of assessing long range benefits of interventions toward enhancing success in postsecondary years and have turned their attention to measuring the outcomes of their efforts in fostering independence and self-detelmination (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1993; Shaw, 1996). One of the most compelling reasons given for preferring tutoring strategies over content-based tutoring is the importance of self-determination in the lives of students and adults with and without learning disabilities (Hayden & Abery, 1994; Brinckerhoff, 1993). Self-Determination A clear understanding of the concept of self-determination is fundamental to this study. In the opinion of many experts in the field of postsecondary services for students with learning disabilities, the most appropriate intervention is one which focuses on the enhancement of self-determination (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1993; Lehman, Deniston, Tobin, & Howard, 1996; Shaw, 1995). Students with learning disabilities benefit more from the interpersonal skills which are considered to be indicators of self detelmination and are necessary for success in the world of work and social venues than from specific academic achievement (White, 1992). Self-determination has been a topic of interest for philosophers, educators, researchers, and writers through the years. The

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6 following is a review of some of the philosophical discussion of self-determination as well as recent educational research in this area. These topics are expanded in Chapter 2. An operational definition of self-determination is also presented. Historical Importance of Self-Determination The centrality of self-determination in the lives of all humans has been discussed since Greek antiquity. Mallory (1996), in a text devoted to service delivery systems for people with disabilities, quoted Aristotle as saying that the ability to make choices about one's own life is the most important feature of human existence. Hayden and Abery (1994), who also quoted Aristotle, similarly asserted that self-determination is an essential quality of human life. This point of view is consistent with a notion that has guided western thought for centuries, namely, that freedom and responsibility are essential qualities of a fulfilled human life. The ability to make choices and implement plans consistent with them is fundamental to this way of thinking. Much of western thought has focused on the ability to process information in order to make good decisions and on how to evaluate decisions once they are made. Being empowered to make decisions and act on them effectively is an essential element of self-determination as it is employed in this study. The concept of self-determination is roughly synonymous with that of autonomy. The word "autonomy" is derived from two Greek words, autos (=self) and nomos (=law). A person who is autonomous is one who is a law unto herselflhimself, answering to her or his own moral understanding and acting according to internalized principles (Kant, 1981). The question of whether a person reaches a suitable level of autonomy is

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7 significant for philosophers. The question of whether autonomy , or self-determination. is directly linked to academic success for university students with learning disabilities is an important question for educators. Educational Research on Self-Determination Educators interested in human development throughout the lifespan have investigated self-determination as a predictor of success in adult life after the completion of fOImal education. They have also been interested in pedagogical methods which enhance the qualities, traits, and behaviors associated with the enhancement of self determination. The ability to make choices about important matters in one's own life is particularly important for students with learning disabilities. One of the paradoxes of educational interventions for students with disabilities in elementary and middle school is that these same educational interventions risk creating dependence rather than independence (Wall & Datillo, 1995). This poses an interesting dilemma for students, parents, and educators: Short-term academic success is purchased at the cost of long-ternl developmental difficulties in the fOIm of a diminished capacity for self-determination. Some students with learning disabilities begin their postsecondary education less mature and less independent than peers without learning disabilities (Ryan , 1994). It may be that the diminished self-determination of these students renders them particularly vulnerable to the vicissitudes of postsecondary education. This study investigated the implications of self-determination as it relates to academic success for college students with leaming disabilities. Some educational researchers consider that students with learning disabilities need to develop self-

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8 determination as they progress through their formal education because it is a major factor in their success as independent adults (Shaw, 1996). Shaw considered self-determination • to be so important that he developed his model of interventions for postsecondary students with learning disabilities with the goal of enhancing self-determination. Lynch and Gussel (1996) reported that their research indicated that self-advocacy, a component of self-determination, was a skill necessary for female college students with learning disabilities and needs to be encouraged and supported by appropriate interventions in order to enhance the success of these students after college. Although the need for self-determination continues past college , the necessity of developing it begins much earlier. Wall and Datillo (1995) discussed the processes involved in teaching self-determination to students when they are very young. Their report on the integration of self-determination curricula for students in elementary and middle school suggested that self:'detennination is, in part, comprised of decision-making skills. Their report further suggested that components of self-determination can be analyzed in themselves and considered as separate lifeskills. Sands and Doll (1996) also reported on the components of self-determination and the importance of fostering it early in the education of youth with leaming disabilities. For them, the most significant element of self-determination is that of distinguishing between dependence and independence. The concept of self-determination as a developmental quality, one that to be formally taught and contextually supported, is shared by Wall and Datillo, Sands and Doll, and other researchers. •

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Van Reusen and Bos (1990) also considered that self-determination was both essential and amenable to direct instruction. They developed an entire curriculum based on the theory that self-advocacy was important to adult life and that students with disabilities could benefit from a planned approach to learning this skill. Their concern was with students who were in secondary school and who needed assistance with the transition to postsecondary education. 9 Another researcher who was concerned with the transition of students with disabilities from secondary education to adult life or postsecondary education and who saw the importance of independence for these young adults was Wehmeyer. Wehmeyer (1992) wrote about the importance of self-determination for students with disabilities in terms of their success in personal relationships, independent living , and financial independence. His concern about the lack of preparation for independence among these students led him, with a colleague, to develop a scale to measure self-determination in young adults who have completed secondary education. Wehmeyer and Schwartz ( 1997) reported that young adults with disabilities who had higher levels of self-determination exhibited greater financial stability , better social skills, and a higher level of academic performance than peers with learning disabilities who had lower levels of self determination. Model of Self-Determination Self-determination has been defined in terms of the qualities it embodies, the qualities it is most like , and the characteristics of people who are said to possess it. Although there are several components of self-determination, the two most important

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10 ones are those that relate to the individual's ability to establish goals and make decisions that are effective in pursuit of them. In the case of people with learning disabilities. the components may not have had opportunity to develop in ways comparable to those without leaming disabilities. One consequence of this could be a delay in the development of the independence necessary for the assertion of individuality (Rosenthal, 1992). The emphasis of researchers on developmental programs regarding self-determination for children and adolescents suggests that self-determination could be conceptualized in terms of a model (Sands & Doll, 1996; Van Reusen & Bos, 1990; Wall & Datillo , 1995; Wehmeyer, 1992; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997). In what follows, a model of self determination, influenced by Field and Hoffman's research-based model of self determination and by the developmental theories of Bronfenbrenner, Erikson, and Chickering, is presented. The Field and Hoffman Model of Self-Determination: A Quantitative Approach Researchers at Wayne State University have provided a model of self determination that has been applied to adolescents and adults both with and without disabilities. Their five-part model was founded on their definition of self-determination. Field and Hoffman (1994) defined self-determination as "the ability to identify and achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing oneself' (p. 164). The importance of self-determination for human development can be seen in this definition which suggests how pivotal its development can be to actualizing human potential. In this study, self-determination is investigated through quantitative analysis of data employing Hoffman and Field's Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) (1995), a

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I 1 92-item instrument that addresses respondents' beliefs about self-determination. The S DSS consists of five separate subscales that correspond to the five components that Field and Hoffman considered to be essential to their model of self-determination. These essential components are (a) self-knowledge , (b) self-esteem , (c) planning , ( d ) acting on plans , and (e) evaluating outcomes. All five of these components are assessed for participants in the study. Field and Hoffman (1994) considered self-determination to represent a dynamic attribute , which indicates the development of a set of skills and behaviors which are practiced over a lifetime. The guiding premise for this study is that self-determination is a lifelong process which can be described both quantitatively , as Field and Hoffman did , and qualitatively, through an analysis of environmental influences on the development of self-deter mination. Quantitative and Qualitative Measures of Self-Determination This study employs the Field and Hoffman model to investigate quantitative questions about self-determination and academic success and uses a qualitative approach to investigate some of the environmental influences that may have had an impact on the individual student's self-determination. Because the components present in self determination are developed over time and in response to many and varied experiences , consistent with Bronfenbrenner's (1979) construct of "contextual" influences , the course of each student's growing self-determination may vary from that of her / his peers. The resulting patterns and tendencies may lead to different levels of academic success for students with learning disabilities. The qualitative part of this study explores the

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12 possibility of a relationship between past and current contextual elements and the levels of self-determination and academic success for students with learning disabilities. Definition of Self-Determination Self-determination goes by many names. It is sometimes called autonomy , sometimes embodied in the phrase, "freedom of choice," and sometimes referred to as the ability to exercise one's own will. It is often considered to be synonymous with independence. Self-determination could be defined as the ability to make and implement choices about ones' own life. Consequently, in the qualitative analysis for this study, there is a dual focus on self-selected goals and behaviors undertaken to achieve these goals. These two constructs correspond to two of the components of the SelfDetermination Knowledge Scale, "planning" and "acting on plans," and reflect the influence of another component, that of "self-knowledge." The importance of isolating and studying self-selection of goals, and behavior directed toward achieving those goals, arises from the definition of self-determination which provides the organizing principle for this study. Self-determination is defined as a pattern of behavior by an individual which exhibits a tendency to set goals for oneself and to execute strategies for attaining them. As the definition is behavioral, and refers to patterns of behavior and tendencies to act in certain ways, it is consistent with the approach taken by Field and Hoffman in their research, as well as other theoretical foundations for this study (Bronfenbrenner, 1979; Erikson, 1950).

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13 Statement of the Problem The problem investigated in this study is the relationship between self determination and academic success for students with learning disabilities who are enrolled in a major university , The following experimental questions provide a framework for the study: 1. What is the relationship , if any , between self-determination and academic success for students with leaming disabilities who are highly successful , especially when comparing these students to those who are less successful ? 2. Is there any relationship between self-determination and the number of interventions requested by, and approved for, students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education? 3. What factors in the environment of students with learning disabilities influence the degree to which they are self-determined? Rationale of the Study The importance of a college education for adults in terms of their career options and personal happiness has been well documented in the literature. The significantly low proportion of students with learning disabilities who have , in the past, been involved in higher education has also been documented in the literature (Blackorby & Wagner, 1996 ; Sitlington & Frank , 1990; Weiss, 1997). The comparatively greater number of students with learning disabilities in higher education today has been established as well (Wehmeyer & Schwartz , 1997; Minskoff & DeMoss , 1993). The lifelong discrepancy

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14 between the achievement of adults with learning disabilities and those without learning disabilities has also been reported (Patton & Palloway, 1992). What have not been established through research are the factors that contribute to the academic success of students with leaming disabilities (Levine & Edgar, 1995; Lynch & Gussel, 1996). The present study addresses that issue by exploring the relationship between self-determination and academic success. Findings from this study may provide useful information for postsecondary administrators, secondary program administrators, faculty, and the students themselves, as well as their families. Definition of Terms For the purposes of this study, use of the term learning disabilities is understood to accord with the definition given by the National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities (1998): Learning disabilities is a general term that refers to a heterogeneous group of disorders manifested by significant difficulties in the acquisition and use of listening, speaking, reading, writing, reasoning, or mathematical abilities. These disorders are intrinsic to the individual, presumed to be due to central nervous system dysfunction, and may occur across the life span. Problems in self regulatory behaviors, social perception , and social interaction may exist with lear ning disabilities, but do not by themselves constitute a learning disability. Although leaming disabilities may occur concomitantly with other handicapping conditions (for example, sensory impairment, mental retardation , serious emotional disturbance ), or with extrinsic influences (such as cultural differences , insufficient or inappropriate instruction), they are not the result of these conditions or influences. (p. 183) In this study self-determination is defined as a pattern of behavior which exhibits the tendency to set goals for oneself, and to execute strategies for attaining them . •

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Self-determination is a lifelong process which can be assessed both qualitatively and quantitatively. The term university students refers to persons who were registered at the University of Florida and entered in the university's database at the time of the study. 15 The term students with learning disabilities refers to university students who were registered with the University of Florida Office for Students with Disabilities office as having learning disabilities at the time of the study. Criteria for registration with this office will be explained in Chapter 3. The tenn academic success is a reflection of adequate completion of coursework, as indicated by the final grades assigned and reported to the registrar. For the purposes of this study, extent of academic success is measured by the grades recorded for coursework completed, as reflected in the student's grade point average (GPA). The term interventions refers to accommodations provided for students with disabilities by the Office for Students with Disabilities. Each of these interventions must be requested by the student, and approved by the Office for Students with Disabilities. Delimitations of the Study This study is delimited by demographic features specific to the University of Florida, a large, Division I, research institution in the southeastern United States. Subjects in the study are students who have already met the highly competitive admission requirements of the University of Florida, as well as specific criteria for qualification as students with learning disabilities established by the university.

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16 Limitations of the Study Because this study includes only university students , the findings may not be relevant for populations of younger students or adults in the workforce. In addition. caution should be exercised when generalizing results to students enrolled in postsecondary institutions, where the enrollment patterns are very different from those at the University of Florida. Further limitations result from the selective admissions procedures of this institution and from the stringent criteria for qualification for registration with the Office for Students with Disabilities. Also , the population for the study does not include any students at the university who may have learning disabilities but are not registered with the Office for Student Services. Finally, the study includes only students who have completed 30 or more credit hours of undergraduate study. Caution should be exercised, therefore, when generalizing the results of this study to popUlations of students with fewer credit hours and to those who are graduate students. Chapter 2 presents a review of the literature relevant to this study. Methodology used is discussed in Chapter 3. Chapter 4 contains a presentation of the results, and Chapter 5 discusses these results and develops their implications for current practice and further research.

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CHAPTER 2 REVIEW OF RELATED LITERATURE The purpose of this chapter is to review, analyze, and synthesize the professional literature regarding human development, self-determination , and programs and services designed to enhance the academic success of university students with learning disabilities. These topics relate directly to the central issue of this study: Is there a relationship between self-determination and academic success for university students with learning disabilities, and, if so, does this relationship vary among university students with learning disabilities? The chapter is divided into five sections. First, the criteria for selection and inclusion of the research literature are described. Second, the theoretical foundations for this study are discussed. Third, characteristics of persons with learning disabilities are described. Fourth, self-determination is defined and discussed. Finally , research related to future applications regarding self-determination and students with learning disabilities is presented. Criteria for Selection of Relevant Literature To be considered for inclusion in the literature review, studies were required to meet the following criteria: 17

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• 1. Research questions addressed child/human development , learning disabilities, postsecondary support programs , self-determination , ecological approaches to educational research and services , and/or academic success of postsecondary students. 2. Persons with disabilities, their families, or programs that serve them were the subjects of the research. 3. Data-based studies have been published in refereed professional journals and include adequate descriptions of subjects , procedures , and results. 4. Theoretical writings were selected because of their prominence in the field of educational research. 18 In addition to these criteria, studies were considered for inclusion only if they were published between 1984 and 1998. In the selection of the theoretical research , recency was deemed less important than the seminal value of the work for future research. The rationale for limiting the review of research to that which has been published since 1984 relates to trends in publication in the field of learning disabilities. The earlier literature seems to report primarily on interventions for young children with learning disabilities. By 1984 , there was a substantial knowledge base on elementary school-age children with leaming disabilities. In the mid-1980s some of this literature had been synthesized (Fish & Jain, 1985; Spacone & Hanson , 1984; Wilchelsky & Reynolds , 1986). At this point, the literature yielded more research on college-age adolescents with learning disabilities (Byrne & Crawford, 1990; Rosenthal , 1992). This trend has continued and research reported in the literature since 1984 would appear to encompass the essential research relevant to this study.

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19 Theoretical Foundations The conceptual framework for this study was one of human development as it relates to university students with leaming disabilities. A central premise was that university students with learning disabilities engage their environments differentl y than their peers without leaming disabilities. Their patterns of engagement are consistent with the lifelong development of persons with learning disabilities. and , of particular importance , they encounter additional stress when they are students in higher education. Here , the individual's ability to interact successfully with her / his environment is uniquel y challenged. The difficulties of this challenge for students with learning disabilities differ from that of students without learning disabilities. In order to understand these issues , an understanding of human development as it relates to students with learning disabilities is essential. Human Development Theories Bronfenbrenner (1979), Erikson (1950) , and Chickering (1969) have advanced theories about human development that converge to illuminate the particular questions posed by this study. Each of these researchers considered the environment to be of pivotal importance to the development of the human being; yet , each of them had different thoughts about the interaction of the individual with the environment. Bronfenbrenner wrote about the social systems that work and influence development. Erikson offered the concept that lifelong development fell in stages and that important issues were revisited several times. Chickering described the phenomena of college

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20 student development. The theories of these three researchers provide a framework for this study. Bronfenbrenner Bronfenbrenner (1979) wrote about the importance of dyadic relationships between people and the impact of different ecological systems on individuals who function in these systems as well as their impact on the systems themselves. Bronfenbrenner's work is important to the understanding of this study because of its relevance to human development. Bronfenbrenner's theory of human development as a complex and dynamic process involving dyadic relationships that are influenced by larger group relationships and systems has particular importance for persons with learning disabilities. As Rosenthal (1992) stated, the dyadic relationship between young children with learning disabilities and their primary caregivers is shaped by the disabilities the children may have in perception and interpersonal communication , as well as by the views caregivers may have of these children. As the young child progresses through other systems such as elementary school , learning disabilities arise in communications and interpersonal relationships in school as well as in the home (Fish & Jain, 1985; Wilchelsky & Reynolds, 1986). Bronfenbrenner's (1979) theoretical concept of systems interacting and influencing child development pertains in specific and unique ways to the childhood development of persons with learning disabilities and to the developmental challenges they face as young adults. These young people enter dyadic relationships with some differences in perception and • communication skills that impinge on their relationships with family members. In school,

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children with learning disabilities may have difficulties that are both academic and behavioral, and the family systems problems may be transformed into school-related systems problems. 21 With regard to older students with learning disabilities, Bronfenbrenner's (1979) theories of complex, interconnected systems may be used to describe (a) university students' ecologies, (b) family systems, (c) social group systems, (d) cohort groups systems, (e) academic department systems, (f) college systems, (g) university systems, and (h) state, regional, or national educational systems. Bronfenbrenner's theories of systems and how they influence individual behavior provide insight into the unique difficulties confronted by students with learning disabilities who are in postsecondary education. University students with learning disabilities confront significant challenges because they must function in many novel systems that require sophisticated and dynamic behaviors (Ryan, 1994). These students arrive at their universities with significantly different developmental histories than their peers without learning disabilities (Rosenthal, 1992). Therefore, Bronfenbrenner's theories lead to a better understanding of university students with lea] lung disabilities because his theories serve to assess individual development within complex systems. Constructs from Bronfenbrenner's (1979) work that relate most directly to this study include (a) nested systems, (b) reciprocity, (c) the ripple effect, and (d) ecological niche. Each of these is briefly discussed.

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')') -Nested systems refers to the idea that smaller systems are included within larger systems. This would include dyadic relationships within nuclear families , nuclear families within extended families , and extended families within cultural groups. Reciprocity is the concept of individuals and systems influencing each other. Bronfenbrenner illustrated this in his discussion of infant / mother bonding. As infants responded to their mothers, the mothers responded to their infants. Each influenced the other over time. The ripple effect is the idea that changes which impact one individual within one system also affect individuals or systems that interact with them. Another Bronfenbrenner construct that has informed the design of this stud y is that of an ecological niche. Ecological niche is the tenn he coined to describe a situation which may provide what is necessary for optimal human development through the appropriate functioning and interaction of the systems which influence the person. An example of a supportive ecological niche would be a proactive system of support for families with young children with special needs. Such a system would provide adequate housing , medical care , educational services , recreational services , and coordination of these for the child and the child's family. Each of these constructs sheds light on the development of people with learning disabilities and the experience these people have when they are university students. Further elaboration of these ideas follows. Nested ecosystems . In The Ecology of Human Development Bronfenbrenner (1979) described complex systems within other systems. Ecosystems involving dyads or small numbers of members are viewed as embedded within mesosystems or larger

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systems. In the case of university students , some ecosystems could include dyadic systems with people significant to them, including social group systems , living group 7" --' systems, classroom/cohort group systems , and sports / recreational group systems. Each of these systems may function within larger systems such as residential housing systems, sports league systems, academic departments , colleges, universities , and statewide university systems. Events which influence any of these nested systems may affect individuals within the other systems which are included in the nested system. For example, University of Florida students with and without learning disabilities are influenced by the policy decisions of those people in the larger system of the State University System (SUS) which regulates 10 state-supported universities in the state of Florida. The SUS establishes the academic requirements for all students in the system. These academic requirements influence the selection of courses offered by different academic departments in colleges and universities throughout the SUS. When individual students select courses from among those offered by their academic departments, they are then confronted with important decisions regarding their academic careers. Individuals in other systems (academic departments, the university, and SUS) initiate the choices confronted by these students. Thus, the actions of larger systems influence the actions of individuals in smaller systems contained within the larger systems. Reciprocity . Bronfenbrenner (1979) provided researchers with another useful concept for understanding the unique and dynamic quality of relationships between young people and significant others in their lives. This concept is that of reciprocity. In dyadic relationships , each member influences the other. They both change in response to

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24 the other. Bronfenbrenner illustrated this concept by describing the involvement of mothers with their newborn infants. As the infants grow and change , their responses evoke responses from their mothers who also grow and change . Over time both member s of the dyadic relationship alter their behavior in response to their environments and in response to each other. Bronfenbrenner's emphasis on understanding reciprocit y is evidenced in his argument for inclusion of significant figures in any research about individual subjects over time. In this study of university students with learning disabilities , an attempt was made to understand how these changing dyadic relationships have influenced the academic success of the students. Ripple effect. Bronfenbrenner suggested that any event that has an impact on an individual also influences others who are involved with that individual. For example , Bronfenbrenner described his interest in the impact of psychological laboratory experiments on people other than the participants in the experiments. In its application to this study , the ripple effect would arise as a function of the impact of the university experience, not just on the university student but also on the family and friends of the university student. Ecological niche. An ecological niche is a place where a group of people locate in a particular environment, whether conducive or not to their psychosocial development. "There are ecological niches which are terrible and others which are very benign for development of competence and character ," (Bronfenbrenner , personal communication , September 3, 1998). For students with learning disabilities, the concept of an ecological niche is particularly important because these students may have different responses to

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their environments than peers without learning disabilities (Rosenthal , 1992). As infants. children, and youth, persons with learning disabilities may react to and interact with environments with unusual and often ineffective perceptual fields. Their ecological niches may require different elements than those of their peers without learning disabilities. An understanding of the construct of the ecological niche provides a frame of reference for assessing the quality of the total university experience for students with learning • disabilities. Erikson Stages of development. Erikson's (1950) theory of human development over the lifespan holds that each developmental stage presents the possibility of significant personal growth through the accomplishment of specific developmental tasks which typically occur for the first time at that particular stage. Three of the ideal synchronous outcomes of early life stages in Erikson's theory recur in ever increasing complexity in later stages. These three are autonomy, industry, and identity. In Erikson's theory the developmental tasks confronting many university students can be categorized in these terms. It is also significant to note that Erikson's construct describes human development occllning in stages, with incomplete resolution of the issues of one stage resulting in difficulties which are experienced at later stages. Additionally, it should be noted that Erikson (1950) charted eight stages of human development and the interpersonal contexts in which these developmental stages were successfully negotiated. Later, he added a ninth stage to describe the developmental stage that comes when a person is in hislher 80s or

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90s. Autonomy continued to merit a place of importance for people in this ninth stage (Erikson, 1997). A discussion of Erikson's theory of autonomy , industry , and identit y follows. 26 Autonomy. A closely related concept to self-determination is that of autonom y which is sometimes used synonymously for self-determination. For universit y students , the developmental tasks involved in this stage of their lives (whatever age the y ma y be while they are university students) focus on achieving independence ( autonomy ) and furthering the competence they have in academic fields , as demonstrated b y their academic success. This study investigated the impact of self-determination , or autonom y, on both the thoughts and behaviors of students in a university as indicated b y their academic achievement. Erikson (1997) referred to autonomy as "cherished" and considered it to be a lifelong value. He described the establishment of autonom y as a primary developmental task of young children who must accomplish this in order to establish their identity as they relate to the world beyond their families. Erikson regarded autonomy as a continuing thread throughout one's lifetime, a significant issue for people of all ages. The freedom to choose and to act in accordance with one ' s choices is essential to fulfilled human existence from infancy until death. For university students , the challenge of self-determination is one of understanding and asserting self, while interacting with others in ways that reflect increasing sophistication. The level of self-determination could be considered to be , in Erikson's terms , the level of autonomy at which the person functions within a specific context. Just as Erikson (1997) wrote of the elder's need for autonomy in terms of

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the context in which the elder functioned, for the university student, the need for autonomy must be considered within the context in which the university student functions. 27 The practical import of knowing the level of self-determination experienced by university students with leaming disabilities can be understood in light of Erikson's theory. Specifically, Erikson (1950) claimed that each individual proceeds through life moving at herlhis own pace and advancing toward greater autonomy, integration with others, and satisfaction with self. If the study of self-determination could reveal any ways in which the level of self-determination indicates the level of success with which a person negotiates the significant challenges of herlhis life according to Erikson's construct of autonomy, this could lead to a better understanding of appropriate interventions to support university students with learning disabilities. Industry. Erikson (1950) considered work to be a primary component of a person's satisfaction in life. His view of human development held that a person needs to acquire competence in herlhis work, as well as satisfaction in interpersonal relationships, in order to have a good life. Erikson (1997) wrote that industry leads to competence. In his earlier work, Erikson stated, "Many a child's development is disrupted when family life may not have prepared him for school life, or when school life may fail to sustain the promises of earlier stages" (p. 227). This provides insight into the etiology of the difficulties experienced by many university students with learning disabilities. For these students, the development of academic and interpersonal competence is more challenging than for students without learning disabilities (Rosenthal, 1992). Students with learning

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• disabilities more cOllunonly experience school failure (Lichtenstein & Blackorby. 1995): their parents more frequently are described as inadequately preparing them for school (Wilchelsky & Reynolds, 1986); and their hopes for success in academic arenas are less likely to be realized (Brinckerhoff , 1993). For children with learning disabilities. a sustaining version of Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological niche may never materialize. Arriving at the university , these students' histories are often of industry not resulting in competence but in frustration and self-doubt (Fish & Jain, 1985; Rosenthal , 1992). 28 Thus, the optimal model of human development presented by Erikson is one of increasing competence in the interactions with others and in the assertion of self. In terms of Erikson's theory of human development , adults with learning disabilities could be considered to be particularly challenged in higher education. These students have achieved competence through industrious behaviors in high school. They have adapted their personal behaviors to respond to the social demands of secondary education , and now, in the university, they must adapt their academic endeavors and their social behaviors to the more stringent demands of the postsecondary institution. Identity. For Erikson (1950) , identity formation is an evolving process. The identity of a person begins to form when the person is very young. This identity takes shape as the person grows older and experiences more and different surroundings and learns about herselflhimselffrom interpersonal encounters. The identity with which a person begins herlhis university education could be very different from that with which that person completes a university education. This change in identity is , in part, an objective of higher education. Years of study in formal programs , which lead to the

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29 awarding of diplomas, are expected to influences changes in students. For students with learning disabilities, the intense and demanding programs of major universities may provide incentive for the student to evaluate herselflhimself and assess the impact of learning disability issues on the total life experience. This self-evaluation , with its potential for change and expanded identity, can be difficult for postsecondary students with leat ning disabilities, but it is essential for successful transition from college to the working world (Field and Hoffman, 1994; Lynch & Gussel , 1996; Shaw , 1996). Erikson's theory of identity formation, along with Bronfenbrenner's theory on reciprocal dyadic relationships and ecological systems, offer a conceptual framework for understanding identity formation for university students with learning disabilities. These students build on the foundation of their earlier identities by responding to the demands placed on them as university students (Erikson, 1950; Rosenthal, 1992). The student with learning disabilities, according to Bronfenbrenner's (1979) construct, interacts with others within complex systems and reacts to the responses of other people who view herlhim within the role of university student. Thus, a student's identity is further sculpted and enhanced by herlhis experiences within the university community. Chickering For Chickering (1969), the focus of his research is entirely on young adults in higher education. Bronfenbrenner (1979) concerned himself with the ecology of human development in the broadest possible construction of the tenn. Erikson (1950) studied the psychosocial development of children and expanded the concept of human • development to include the entire lifespan, providing the specific challenges which

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confront the developing individual for the first time at specific stages of development. Because Chickering focused on the development of college students , his work is particularly relevant to this study. 30 According to Chickering (1969) , the development of young adults falls into categories or global areas. These categories have the characteristics of distance and direction ; therefore, Chickering called them "vectors." Chickering's vectors include (a ) competence, (b) emotions, (c) autonomy, (d) interpersonal relationships , (e) purpose , ( f) identity, and (g) integrity. When one considers the components of self-determination , the similarity between Chickering's vectors and the component parts of self-determination becomes evident. These vectors correspond closely to the areas encompassed in the self determination concept as it is described by Field and Hoffman (1994) in their Self Determination Scale. The emphasis on understanding self and changing relationships with others , while acquiring the necessary skills to succeed independently in the adult world , is evident in both Chickering's theory and Field and Hoffman's model of self-determination. Chickering stressed the concepts of identity and autonomy , key elements of self determination. He also discussed competence and interpersonal relationships which play an important role in self-determination. The importance of Chickering's work to this study is that his theory was directed toward college students and based on the underlying assumption that college is an experience which results in personal change along predictable patterns. Chickering's contribution was also that he presented university-age students as a unique developmental group.

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31 Other writers expanded this concept after Chickering , and the literature now includes specialty journals that reflect the importance this area of human development has earned. Chickering'S designation of college-age students as a group provides a framework for researchers to study many issues specifically related to people this age. For example , Bronfenbrenner's (1979) ecological niche concept could be applied to students in the university as their total environmental support systems are assessed. The ecological niche for students with learning disabilities may be different than that of students without learning disabilities. In Erikson's terms , the resolution of developmental issues for students with learning disabilities could be different than the resolution of these developmental challenges for students without learning disabilities. Yet, all of these people have the common experience of being students in a university. In swmnary, the theoretical constructs suggested by Bronfenbrenner , Erikson , and Chickering form a web of patterns that help us understand human development and how the development of self-determination impacts university students with learning disabilities, thus indicating possible intervention strategies for supporting the academic efforts of these students. The concepts of these researchers could be viewed as closely related because they offer different perspectives on issues of human development. A unifying theme of all their theories is the importance each places on the environment in shaping human development. One could visualize the relationship among the ideas of these writers in terms of a continuum of ideas becoming more directly focused on the development of university students. Bronfenbrenner's ecological niche bears similarity to Erikson's and Chickering's

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descriptions of appropriate environments. Erikson's industry and identity compare closely to Chickering's vectors. The overriding concepts of the importance of interacting • with the environment, common to Erikson and Chickering, are consistent with Bronfenbrenner's ripple effect and reciprocity. Bronfenbrenner viewed the interaction among many systems and the individuals in these systems as essential to human development. Erikson considered the resolution of stage-specific developmental tasks as pivotal to human development. Chickering focused on the developmental tasks of college age students. Yet, all of them placed the individual within an environment, confronting developmental issues. The relevance of the concepts of these three writers for this study is that each emphasized autonomy, or self-determination, as an important part of human development. Each suggested that the value of human life is enhanced by the degree to which the person is autonomous or self-determined. Each of them referred to autonomy or self-determination in their writing as a quality that could be enhanced or thwarted by the environment in which the individual exists. Finally, they all suggested that autonomy, or self-determination, is a trait which can be evaluated. This study was an attempt to evaluate self-determination as it relates to academic success for university students with leaming disabilities, and the concepts of Bronfenbrenner, Erikson, and Chickering inform, structure, and guide the study. The impact of the environment at specific times in human development determines, to a degree, the level of autonomy the individual displays. Students with learning disabilities interact with their environments in ways which differ from those of peers without

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learning disabilities (Rosenthal, 1992). This study sought to understand better the relationship between autonomy, or self-determination , and academic success for students with learning disabilities. Characteristics of Persons with Lea rning Disabilities Persons with learning disabilities have been the subject of research for many years. The literature has developed in a manner that parallels the developmental chronology of persons with leaming disabilities. The literature focused on the characteristics of children with learning disabilities long before it reflected interest in adults with learning disabilities. By the 1980s the professional literature on persons with learning disabilities included . reports by researchers who considered that children with leaming disabilities behaved in ways that differed from the behavior of children without learning disabilities. The observations of these writers led them to describe children with learning disabilities as having persistent academic difficulties, poor school behaviors , and inadequate social skills (Wilchelsky & Reynolds, 1986). Spacone and Hanson (1984) described children with learning disabilities as "anxious, easily distracted, depressed, aggressive, having poor selfesteem" (p. 48). Pfeiffer, Gerber, and Reiff (1985) also commented on children with leaming disabilities in tenllS of their poor school performance and limited social skills. In describing adults with learning disabilities, Byrne and Crawford (1990) included mention of the childhood experiences of persons with learning disabilities regarding problems they may have with fragile self-image. Interestingly, many of theses writers suggested family interventions as the remedy for academic problems experienced by children with learning

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34 disabilities. Fish and Jain (1985) and Pfeiffer et al. (1986) suggested family systems approaches to interventions for families with children who have learning disabilities. This would appear to be consistent with an ecological approach to understanding these people. Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities Postsecondary students with learning disabilities have been the subject of research more frequently in recent years because they have been present on college campuses in greater numbers. Their presence in higher education is the subject of research about the environmental and ecological factors that contributed to this phenomenon. Brinckerhoff , Shaw, and McGuire (1993) \\-Tote that the increased numbers of students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education could be attributed to several factors: (a) Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 ; (b) PL 94-142, which guaranteed free and appropriate public education for students with disabilities including those with learning disabilities; (c) the least restrictive environment condition of PL 94-142 which led to greater enrollment in regular academic classes in high school, thus better preparing them for college entrance requirements; (d) public advocacy groups which provided education for parents and students with disabilities; (e) the favorable way in which college admissions officers sometimes view students with learning disabilities; (f) and the advent of assistive technology devices. Ryan (1994) described postsecondary students with learning disabilities as less mature than peers without learning disabilities. She wrote that students with learning disabilities were less independent of their families and less involved with peers than

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35 students without learning disabilities in postsecondary education. Ryan (1994) later wrote that postsecondary students with learning disabilities have social skills deficits that inhibit relationships. Rudolph and Luckner (1991) supported this line of thinking and used supportive therapeutic environments to address the social skills problems of college students with learning disabilities. Rosenthal (1992) wrote that the self-image of students with learning disabilities was less positive than that of peers without learning disabilities. He described this phenomenon in terms of Kohut's theory of the self. Rosenthal suggested that the perception of the developing child with learning disabilities ofherlhis primary caregiver's response to himlher was distorted. This would lead to impairments in relationships and in self-awareness. Thus, the child with learning disabilities would arrive at young adulthood with less secure primary relationships, and poorer self esteem, disadvantaged by a developmental pattern of misunderstanding and self-deprecation. Miller and Cabell (1989) reported that postsecondary students with learning disabilities may have difficulty fulfilling psychological needs for relationships in both personal and school-related arenas. They described this as the continuation of incomplete psychological development during childhood which later interferes with adult living. This view has been shared by other researchers (Van Reusen & Bos, 1990; Wehmeyer, 1995). Byrne and Crawford (1990) stated that college students with learning disabilities have social skills deficits that inhibit relationships, a view that was shared by Grasso (1994). They suggested a comprehensive approach to intervention which addressed these • concerns through individual and group counseling. This emphasis on both individual and

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36 group interventions reflected earlier research into effective interventions (Corbin-Sicoli. 1986). Corbin-Sicoli (1986) also reported that adult students with learning disabilities have a need to understand and accept themselves and to see leaming disabilities as only part of themselves. Lynch and Gussel (1996) researched the issues of self-esteem , self-advocacy , and self-disclosure for women with leaming disabilities in postsecondary education. Their research led them to conclude that women's long-term career potential could be enhanced if self-disclosure were more readily accomplished. Lynch and Gussel's work on the impact of self-esteem on career-planning and career-related issues led them to conclude that low self-esteem presented a barrier to women with learning disabilities in higher education. Perosa (1996) and colleagues studied women college students with learning disabilities with reference to their personal development. Their focus was on the difficulties that these women experienced regarding personal development in the area of self-individuation. This issue is particularly relevant to young adults who must find their own identity as members of the adult world, and it appears to be a particular challenge for women with learning difficulties. Perosa and her colleagues concluded that the quality of relationships within the families of origin of these women was the deciding factor in their ability to resolve issues of self-individuation. Field and Hoffman (1994) researched the importance of self-determination in the . • lives of university students with lea l'1ling disabilities. Their studies led them to consider self-determination as a composite of many characteristics which could be evaluated and

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enhanced through direct instruction and other means. They developed a battery of instruments to assess the level of self-determination of students. One of these instruments assesses students' self-report of knowledge about the components of selfdetelmination. 37 Perhaps no researcher has been more influential in the field of postsecondary students with learning disabilities than Stan Shaw of the University of Connecticut. Shaw's theory of the needs of postsecondary students with learning disabilities embraces the view that the student with leaming disabilities needs to develop self-determination more than anything else. Shaw (1996) directed a program at the University of Connecticut which focuses on enhancing students' self-determination because that appears to be the key variable influencing the level of success the person with leaming disabilities experiences after college. Shaw's (1996) emphasis was on the individual student, the development of self detelmination, and interventions to increase self-detennination. His contention was that postsecondary students with learning disabilities lack self-determination. For Shaw , the appropriate direction of change was toward greater self-determination, which would allow the student with leaming disabilities to participate in the mainstream of education. Shaw described the student with learning disabilities first as a student and then as a person with leaming disabilities. He challenged the postsecondary leaming disability specialists to find ways to integrate students with learning disabilities into the educational mainstream.

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Adults with Leaming Disabilities A review of the literature revealed a wealth of research in many diverse areas related to adults with leaming disabilities. For the purpose of this study, literature that described characteristics of adults with leaming disabilities was reviewed in order to understand better university students with learning disabilities. Some researchers considered leaming disabilities to be significant factors which affect the success with which people adjust to adult life. Patton and Palloway (1992) viewed older adults with learning disabilities as less connected with their families and their communities. They described adults with learning disabilities as being significantly less satisfied with their careers than peers without leaming disabilities. Other researchers have noted discrepancies in employment satisfaction between people with and those without learning disabilities. Sitlington and Frank (1990) noted that persons with leaming disabilities were employed less frequently in full-time 38 positions than were persons without leaming disabilities. Haring and Lovett (1990) reported that adults with learning disabilities were employed in full time jobs only 67% of the time. As a consequence, these people often have lower income, fewer opportunities to move into higher paying positions, less job security, and limited or nonexistent fringe benefits (e.g., insurance and paid leave to be with their families). Some researchers have studied the interpersonal implications ofleaming disabilities. Maughan and Hagell (1996) described the limited community involvement of adults with leaming disabilities and their restricted social activities. These researchers considered this to be a manifestation of problems with childhood social skills transferred

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39 to adulthood. For adults with learning disabilities , the limitations appear to cover a broad spectnun of life events. Self-Determination Definition Self-determination has been defined in terms of the features it embodies , the qualities it is most like , and the characteristics of people who are said to possess self determination. To appreciate the full meaning and importance of self-determination , a review of its position in literature throughout the ages is provided. Self-determination goes by many names. It is sometimes called autonomy; sometimes embodied in the phrase, "freedom of choice"; and sometimes referred to as the ability to exercise one's own will , which is often considered synonymous with independence. Self-determination could be defined , then , as the ability to make and implement choices about ones' own life. Field and Hoffman (1994) defined self determination as "the ability to identify and achieve goals based on a foundation of knowing and valuing oneself' (p. 164). The importance of self-determination for human development can be seen in the way it is described as pivotal to actualizing human potential. Hayden and Abery (1994) wrote that self-determination is an essential quality of human life and quoted Aristotle in saying that the ability to make choices about one's own life is the essential characteristic of human existence. This is consistent with the notion that has guided western thought for centuries , namely , that freedom and responsibility are essential qualities of a fulfilled human life.

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40 Educational Research Educators interested in human development throughout the lifespan have investigated self-determination as a predictor of success after formal education , and these educators advocate enhancing the qualities , traits , and behaviors associated with self determination. An important concept here is that students with learning disabilities need to develop self-determination as they progress through their formal education because self-determination is a major factor in their success as independent adults (Shaw , 1996 ) . Shaw considered self-determination to be so important that he developed his model of interventions for postsecondary students with learning disabilities with the goal of enhancing self-determination. Lynch and Gussel (1996) reported that their research indicated that self-advocacy, a component of self-determination , was a skill necessary for female students with learning disabilities in college , a skill that needs to be developed and supported by appropriate interventions in order to enhance the success of these students after college. The need for self-determination continues past college , and the necessity of developing it begins before college. Wall and Datillo (1995) discussed the processes involved in teaching self determination to students when they are very young. Their report on the integration of self-determination curricula for students in elementary and middle school suggests that self-determination is , in part , comprised of decision-making skills. Their report also proposes that components of self-determination can be analyzed in themselves and considered as separate lifeskills.

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41 Sands and Doll (1996) also reported on the components of self-determination and the importance of fostering self-determination early in the education of youth with learning disabilities. For Sands and Doll, one highly significant element of selfdetermination is the distinction between dependence and independence. Selfdetermination as a developmental quality, one that has to be formally instructed and contextually supported, is a concept shared by Wall and Datillo, Sands and Doll. and other researchers. Van Reusen and Bos (1990) also considered that self-determination was both essential to successful transition to adult life and amenable to direct instruction. They developed an entire curriculum based on the theory that self-advocacy was important to adult life and that students with disabilities could benefit from a planned approach to learning self-advocacy. Their concern was with students who were in secondary school and who needed assistance with the transition to postsecondary education. Another researcher who was concerned with the transition of students with disabilities from secondary education to adult life or postsecondary education, and who saw the importance of independence for these young adults, was Wehmeyer. Wehmeyer (1995) wrote of the importance of self-determination for students with disabilities in terms of their success in personal relationships, independent living, and financial independence. His concern about the lack of preparation for independence led him to develop, with a colleague, a scale to measure self-determination in young adults who have completed secondary education. Wehmeyer and Schwatrz (1997) reported that young •

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42 adults with disabilities who had higher levels of self-determination were more advanced in terms of financial stability , social skills , and academic proficiency. In summary, self-determination is for students with leal ning disabilities , as for everyone, an essential element of a full , satisfying. and productive life. For the purpose of this study, the definition of self-determination is informed by the research reviewed in this chapter, particularly that of Field and Hoffman (1994). Further Research Regarding Self-Determination The ecological approach offers possibilities for research in the area of services for all persons with disabilities (Sontag, 1996). Using this approach to assess the services now provided for students with disabilities and their families could lead to greater understanding of how better to serve these persons. The interplay of systems and the roles of individuals in different contexts may be difficult to research , but there are ways to do this. Although Bronfenbrenner's (1979) model did not involve postsecondary students , it can be adapted for use with this population. • Mallory (1996) wrote of the value of ecological concepts informing decisions about services for persons with disabilities. One of the ideas expressed by Mallory is that systems have a history , or lifespan, of their own. If policymakers regard systems as dynamic, they can be better utilized to meet the needs of persons with disabilities. Mallory also viewed inclusive educational practices as beneficial for all students , particularly students with disabilities. This concept , inclusion , is more salient when considered in the light of the temporal and systemic concepts proposed by Mallory. The thematic content is that the person with disabilities who participates in complex ,

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multisystemic environments which change over time, is better served by herlhis environment than shelhe would be if limited in participation and planning for herlhis environment. 43 Grasso's (1994) research about students with learning disabilities and their families linked the contextual setting for individual students with the students' ability to function well in different academic environments. Grasso reported that, although the students with leaming disabilities she studied were less involved with the systems that are part of the postsecondary education institution than their counterparts without learning disabilities, they had equivalent academic success. The lasting question from Grasso's research is how do students with learning disabilities function when they finish their education and join the world of work? Do the behaviors that had sustained them through postsecondary education continue to sustain them throughout adulthood? This concern for the transition from postsecondary education to the world of work was central to the research of Lynch and Gussel (1996). Their focus was on female students with learning disabilities and the self-esteem of these women. Lynch and Gussel discovered that self-esteem related to the students' career-planning and career-related behaviors. Self-esteem is an essential component of self-determination. In this study the question of whether self-determination relates to academic success is explored. Lynch and Gussel reported that self-esteem relates to career-related behaviors. Perhaps self esteem, as part of self-detetmination, relates to academic success for students with learning disabilities.

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44 Areas for additional study suggested by the literature review of this chapter include further research of personal characteristics such as self-advocacy , efficacy beliefs , self awareness, and the possible impact of these characteristics on self-determination and academic success for students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education (Lynch & Gussel , 1996; Rosenthal , 1992; Van Reusen & Bos , 1990). The approach of this study , which employs both quantitative and qualitative methods, and builds on the research cited in this chapter , may yield recommendations for further study of postsecondary students with learning disabilities , recommendations that are focused in a balanced way on self-determination , with attention to both individual development and environmental influences as they affect academic success and educational achievement. These recOlnmendations could potentially impact several important research areas, including program planning in postsecondary education , support service delivery systems , and postsecondary disabilities services personnel training.

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CHAPTER 3 METHODOLOGY Introduction This investigation addresses issues of functional competence and personal development as these issues apply to students with learning disabilities in higher education. The possibility is explored that the degree to which a person with learning disabilities manifests self-determination affects the extent of academic success that person attains in postsecondary education, and the possibility, also, that different factors in their environment are indicators of self-determination and academic success. The purpose of this chapter is to describe the methodology employed in this study which consists of a two-part research design. The first part is an analysis of (a) the grade-point averages (GP As) of university students with learning disabilities and (b) the number of accOImnodations approved for them by the Office for Students with Disabilities, as a function of their scores on Hoffman and Field's Self-Detellnination Student Scale (S-DSS). The second part is an analysis of the responses of a smaller number of these students to the Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF), a questionnaire developed specifically for this study to explore environmental factors that may have influenced these students' personal development in the area of selfdetelmination. A discussion of selection criteria for the subjects in the sample, setting for 45

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46 the study, instruments employed, procedures followed, hypotheses tested, and assessment protocols utilized follows. Subiects • The subjects of this study were students who attended the University of Florida during the spring semester of the 1998-1999 school year, were registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities, and had completed at least 30 hours of college credit but had not received a bachelor's degree. A student may be registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities only if the following criteria are satisfied: The student must self-identify as having a learning disability and must provide documentation of a formal psychological examination by a credentialed professional. For some students this represents a continuation of services begun in other educational settings, while other students recognize their learning disabilities for the first time while they are enrolled at the university. For students who have not been diagnosed as having leaming disabilities prior to their postsecondary experience, the University of Florida relies on standards established by The Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD, 1997). The following is a summary of these standards. Evaluations must be conducted by a credentialed professional and must include three components: (a) an assessment of aptitude or intelligence, (b) an assessment of academic achievement, and (c) an assessment of information processing. For the first component, recommended tests include the Weschler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised (WAIS-R), the Woodcock Johnson Psychoeducational Battery-

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47 Revised: Tests of Cognitive Ability, the Kaufman Adolescent and Adult Intelligence Test. and the Stanford-Binet Intelligence Scale (4th ed.). For the second component, Scholastic Abilities Test for Adults (SAT A). the Stanford Test of Academic Skills, the Woodcock-Johnson Psychoeducational Battery Revised: Tests of Achievement, and the Weschler Individual Achievement Test (WIA n are among the recommended tests. For the third component, the Nelson-Denny Reading Skills Test, the Stanford Diagnostic Mathematics Test, the Test of Written Language-3 (TOWL-3). and the Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests-Revised may be used. Evaluations also include semi-stluctmed clinical interviews and educational and psychosocial histories. The purpose of the semi-!'.tI uctured clinical interview is to establish that the student's lem lung difficulties are the result of a leaming disability and not the result of other factors in herlhis life. such as environmental deprivation. poor educational oppollunities. physical or psychological trallma. or sensory problems. The psychosocial and educational histories provide infolmation that may establish a pattern ofleallling difficulties which. in nUll, could support the diagnosis oflealiling disabilities. Educational and psychosocial histories are taken to clarify the course of the student's development and academic progress. The evaluator is required to include a clinical sUIlunary of the results of the tests. including an interpretation of how the tests relate to the impact of the disability on the student's academic career. It is recollunended that the evalllation include two additional featmes. a diagnosis and reconunendations for practice. The diagnosis. if provided. should be based on the

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48 (4th ed.) (1994) of the American Psychiatric Association. Finally, the evaluator must provide license or certificate numbers. area of specialization. academic credentials, and herlhis professional address. It is suggested that the evaluator be either a medical doctor, a clinical or school psychologisL a neuropsychologist, or a disabilities specialist (AHEAD, 1997). It is important to note that students at the University of Florida must be evaluated by professionals who are not affiliated with the Office for Students with Disabilities. Once registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities, students may request spec.ific accollunodations, which must be approved by the Assistant Dean for Student Services. These accollullodations, sometimes viewed as interventions. include extended time on examinations and assignments. quiet test environments, auditory presentation of class and examinations materials, the services of notetakers . individualized leaming strategies instruction, and priority arrangements for course registrations and classroom seating. Students and their approved accol1ullodations are then entered on the database of the Office for Students with Disabilities, with the specific acconunodations listed for each studenL This information, although confidential, was available for this study. Settini: The University of Florida is a land gIant institution, the oldest public university in the state and the largest, with a student population of 42,000. It is highly selective in its undergraduate admission policy in comparison to other public institutions of higher

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49 education in the state and closely monitors its students' academic progress. Students are accepted directly from high school and as transfer students from community colleges and other 4-year institutions. Acceptance is determined by high school or college grade-point average (GPA) and by scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT ) or the American College Test (ACT). Instruments In order to investigate the influence of self-determination on academic success for university students with learning disabilities , the study employed both qualitative and quantitative research methodologies. The quantitative research compared students' scores on the Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) (Hoffinan & Field , 1995) with the students' grade-point average (GPA) and the number of accommodations approved by the Office for Students with Disabilities (OSD). The S-DSS is described in detail later in this section. The qualitative research utilized a schedule of open-ended questions, the Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF). Students ' responses were analyzed to ascertain their perception of significant themes related to self-determination and academic success. The procedure and content of the qualitative research component of the investigation are described later in this section. Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) The Self-Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) consists of 92 statements derived from Field and Hoffman's (1994) model of self-determination. The respondent is asked to indicate about each of the statements whether or not it is consistent with her / his beliefs.

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50 Field and Hoffman proposed a five-component model of self-determination which corresponds to the five subscales of their S-DSS. The model has been validated with other populations , including students in the 11 th and 12th grades (Harrison , 1994) and people age 20 to 35 and over the age of 60 (Aranha , 1998). The subscales of beliefs are labeled as follows: (1) Know Yourself (K) , (2) Value Yourself (V) , (3) Plan (P ), ( 4) Act (A), and (5) Experience Outcomes and Learn (0). Additionally , the S-DSS , described as a crossed semantic differential , has four categories: positive , negative , general , and specific. The SDSS is part of a battery of instruments developed by Field and Hoffman which includes curriculum material for teaching self-determination skills , parent and teacher inventories, and student self-evaluation instruments. The instrument is available for review in Appendix A. The S-DSS was nonned in a study of 416 students whose ages ranged from 14 to 22 , with a mean age of 16.3 and a standard deviation of 1.6 years. These students were classified according to whether or not they had disabilities , and , if so , they were further classified in terms of their specific disabilities. The authors also reported the ethnicity of the participants, and these data suggest their sample was drawn from an ethnically diverse population. The reliability of the instrument was established through analysis of internal consistency using Cronbach's Alpha. The Cronbach's Alpha for the SDSS in their study was .91. For the five subscales, K, V , P , A , and 0, the Cronbach's Alphas were .70 , .13 , .66, .32 , and .70, respectively.

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51 Construct validity of the S-DSS was established through an apriori method using multimethod multitrait analysis, divergent/convergent correlations , factor analysis, and confirmatory factor analysis. The factor analysis involved four main subscales--general positive, specific positive, general negative, and specific negative--and revealed that negative subscales have a high negative loading and the positive factors have a high positive loading. Divergent/convergent validity was established through correlation with other instruments which measure the same constructs including the battery of instruments and the curriculum based on the theoretical model for the S-DSS (Hoffman & Field , 1995). Validity and reliability data provided by the authors of the instrument are presented in Appendix B. The reader is referred to this appendix for more detailed information about the statistical evaluation of this instnnnent. Survey of Self-Determination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF) The Survey ofSelf-Detennination Developmental Factors (SS-DDF) is an open ended questionnaire designed for this study for use with selected participants. It was developed by the author in consultation with faculty from the College of Education. The instrument has been reviewed by experts in the field of qualitative research and, in its final form, reflects the recormnendations for improvement by these experts. The (SS-DDF) is attached to this study as Appendix C. The purpose of the SS-DDF is to investigate contextual factors that influence the development of self-determination in persons with leaming disabilities. These contextual factors were examined to explore how the student with learning disabilities perceives herlhis university environment and how earlier environments may have affected self-

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52 determination. The questions for this instrument were formulated in accordance with several of Bronfenbrenner's constructs, including the importance of dyadic relationships, reciprocity, the ripple effect, and ecological niche. The questions also focus on the topics of personal development researched by Erikson and Chickering, including personal autonomy and responsibility, commitment to mature relationships , and identit y fOlmation. Procedure The procedures for this study required approval by the University of Florida Institutions Research Board (IRB) prior to commencing. The IRB approval was secured by the author. The document from the IRB , dated January 29 , 1999 , is attached as Appendix D. Quantitative Research Procedures and Hypotheses Tested The S-DSS, which is a forced-choice instrument with 92 items, was mailed to 180 students, all of whom satisfied the criteria articulated at the beginning of this chapter. Moreover, no students satisfying these criteria were omitted from this study. Accompanying the survey instrument was a cover letter which included a release form and a postage-paid return envelope. Additionally , each participant receiving materials in auditory fOlmat from the Office for Students with Disabilities , as a consequence of a print-related disability, was provided the instrument on auditory tape as well as in print format. After two weeks, those participants who had not returned the S-DSS were telephoned. A second mailing was sent to those participants who agreed to receive it and complete it. Several participants stated that they had the instrument and would complete

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it and return it. The instruments and the enclosures were sent in plain envelopes. Some students elected to complete the S-DSS in the Office for Students with Disabilities ; one of them completed it with the principal investigator reading the questions to him. The instrument and the cover letter that accompanied it are included in Appendices A and E. In this study a response rate of roughly 50% or better was sought (Yammarino , Skinner, & Childers , 1991). Intensity of use of accommodations provided through the Office for Students with Disabilities at the University of Florida was measured in two ways. The first method was to assign one point for each area of academic life for which an accommodation was approved and a second point for each accommodation area that was accessed through the Office for Students with Disabilities. This method gave a possible range of scores from 0.00 through 6.00. The possible points could be awarded for three categories: technology accommodations, testing acconunodations, and learning strategies. Intensity of usage of acconunodations was calculated by a second method with an additional category of classroom acconunodations, which could earn a potential point for any student who was assigned a classroom accommodation. The possible range of scores for this method of assessing usage of accommodations is from 0.00 to 7.00. After students had completed and returned the S-DSS , their responses were analyzed for the purpose of identifying any statistically significant relationships between their S-DSS scores and their grade-point averages and between their S-DSS scores and the accommodations approved for the student by the Office for Students with Disabilities. There were four hypotheses investigated in the study. Each hypothesis is independent of

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54 the others, and each addresses an aspect of the relationship between self-determination and academic success. HI: No relationship will be found between the student's score on the SDSS and herlhis grade-point average (GPA) at the time the SDSS is administered. H2: No relationship will be found between the student's score on any of the subscales of the SDSS and herlhis grade-point average (GPA) at the time the SDSS is administered. H3: No relationship will be found between the student's score on the SDSS and the number of accommodations approved for the student by the Office for Students with Disabilities at the time the SDSS is administered. H4: No relationship will be found between the student's score on the subscales of the SDSS and the number of accommodations approved for the student by the Office for Students with Disabilities at the time of the investigation. Rejection of the null hypotheses required a correlation at the .05 level of significance. Analyses of data for all hypotheses were done using the Statistical Analysis System (SAS) computer program for Regression Analysis. Additionally , the Chronbach's Alpha was run to determine internal validity of the instrument for this population. Presentation and discussion of the results of these analyses appear in later • chapters.

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The investigator secured permission for use from the first author of the Self Determination Student Scale (S-DSS) prior to data collection. The letter conveying permission is attached as Appendix F. Qualitative Research Procedures 55 Students' responses to the S-DSS and their GPAs were divided into four categories: (a) high academic achievementlhigh self-determination, (b) high academic achievement/low self-determination, (c) low academic achievementlhigh self determination, and (d) low academic achievement/low self-determination. These divisions were generated in the following manner. The mean and the standard deviation for the grade-point average (GPA) of the sample was computed. Students whose scores were at least one standard deviation above the sample mean were designated as having "high academic achievement." Students whose scores were at least one standard deviation below the mean were designated as having "low academic achievement." The process was repeated for self-determination scores. Students whose scores were at least one standard deviation above the mean were designated as having "high self determination," while those whose scores were at least one standard deviation below the mean were designated as having "low self-determination." Finally, based on these results, students were placed in one of the four categories described above (see Figure 1), after which students were randomly selected from these groups for participation in the SS-DDF. Each of the people selected was contacted by telephone for an interview. Each participant received, signed, and returned a consent form

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56 approved by the Institutional Review Board. This form and its accompanying letter are attached as Appendix G. For the convenience of the participants interviews were conducted in person or on the telephone. Each interview was done by the author who tape-recorded the conversations (with prior consent of the participant). IDGH LOW GPA=or>+1 SD S-DSS = or> -1 SD LOW LOW GPA=or>-1 SD S-DSS = or > -1 SD IDGHIDGH GPA = or> + 1 SD S-DSS = or > + 1 SD LOWIDGH GPA=or>-1 SD S-DSS = or > + 1 SD Figure 1. Categories of Qualitative Study Participants

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The tape-recorded interviews were transcribed to written documents. These documents and the tape-recordings were reviewed for accuracy by the author in consultation with faculty. 57 The qualitative assessment of these documents consisted of an evaluation of the content of the transcribed tapes. The investigator reviewed them for accuracy and then reviewed the protocol several times, coding and categorizing for themes. When sufficient themes were identified and saturation had been reached, the process of reducing these themes to those of overriding significance began. The purpose of this process was to identify three or four themes that subsumed the others, leading to a description of the environmental factors which appear to have influenced the development of self determination in the participants.

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CHAPTER 4 RESULTS Introduction The purpose of this study was to investigate the personal and environmental factors that bear on self-determination and academic success for university students with learning disabilities. The general questions posed in the study were as follows: Is there a relationship between self-determination as indicated by students ' scores on the SelfDetermination Student Scale (S-DSS) and academic success as indicated by students ' grade point average (GPA)? Is self-determination a predictor of academic success? Is there a relationship between intensity of use of accOlmnodations and self-determination and academic success? To examine these questions, a quantitative analysis of the scores on the S-DSS, GPAs, and intensity of usage ofaccOlmnodations was conducted , and a qualitative investigation of the personal and environmental factors perceived by students themselves as significant to their academic performance was also done. This chapter is divided into four sections that include presentation of the data collected to address the experimental questions. First, the internal consistency of the quantitative measures is reported. Second, the demographics of the study participants are described. Third, the results of the quantitative analysis are presented. Finally, the results of the qualitative investigation are described. 58

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59 Internal Consistency of the Quantitative Measures The results of the S-DSS survey were analyzed using Cronbach ' s alpha to establish the internal consistency of the S-DSS as it was used with this sample in this study (see Table 1). The internal consistency of the S-DSS as a whole was .9131. The Cronbach's alpha's for the subscales ranged from .5265 for the Know Yourself subscale to .8560 for the Act subscale. Table 1 Internal Consistency Scale S-DSS Total Know Subscale Value Subscale Plan Subscale Act Subscale Outcomes Subscale Cronbach ' s alpha .9131 .5265 .6206 .6330 .8560 .5654 Demographic Analysis of the Participants The participants were all students enrolled at the University of Florida and registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities during the spring term of the 1998-1999 school year. They all carried the diagnosis ofleaming disabilities, conferred by a psychologist or educational specialist qualified to do so. They all were enrolled in undergraduate programs, and they all had completed at least 30 credit hours of college

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60 courses. All of the 180 students who met the above criteria were sent the S-DSS. A total of 88 returned completed surveys 7 weeks after the initial mailing , yielding a return rate of 49%. Age of the participants ranged from 19 years, 0 months , to 53 years , 5 months, and the mean age was 24.1 years , with a standard deviation of 4.5 years (see Table 2 ) . Of these 88 participants , 43 were female (48.9%) and 45 (51.1%) were male. Table 2 Age and Gender of Participants Variable Age* Under 20 20-24 25-29 Over 29 Gender Male Female n 5 61 13 9 45 43 *m = 24.1 , SD = 4.5 , range: 19-53. % 5.68 69.32 14.77 10.23 51.14 48.86 Seventy-five of the participants (85.2%) began their academic careers at another institution, either a community college or smaller 4-year college, while the remaining 13 participants had matriculated at the University of Florida directly after high school (see Table 3). •

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Table 3 Academic Characteristics of Participants Variable Academic Career Path College Transfer Admitted from High School Credit Hours Completed* Under 60 60-90 91-120 Over 120 Grade Point Average * * 0.00-1.00 1.01-2.00 2.01-3.00 3.01-4.00 n 75 13 10 35 28 15 o 7 45 36 % 85.23 14.77 11.36 39.77 31.82 17.05 0.00 7.95 51.14 40.91 61 *m = 93.15, SD = 30.98, range: 31-202. **m = 2.81, SD = 0.59, range: 1.56-4.00. The range of credit hours completed was from 31 to 202, and the mean number of credit hours completed by the participants was 93.15. The range of GPAs was from 1.56 to 4.00. The mean of the GPAs for the group was 2.81. The standard deviation from the mean was 0.59.

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62 Results of Quantitative Investigation Descriptive Statistics The range of the total S-DSS scores for the group was from 46 to 92. The mean SDSS score for the group was 78.93. The standard deviation from the mean was 10.64 (see Table 4). Scores of the participants of this study were heavily clustered. All fell in the upper half of possible scores on the S-DSS, and approximately two-thirds of the scores fell between 68 and 88 out of a maximum possible score of 92. Among the subscale scores, the broadest range occurred for the Act subscale where scores ranged from 5 to 25 with a standard deviation of 4.3. Other subscales exhibited more narrow ranges and smaller standard deviations. Table 4 Descriptive Statistics for Quantitative Investigation CS-DSS) Range Mean S-DSS Total Score 46-92 78.93 Know Subscale Score 9-16 14.69 Value Subscale Score 7 -16 13.92 Plan Subscale Score 12-19 16.42 Act Subscale Score 5-25 20.30 Outcomes Subscale Score 8-16 14.49 Standard Deviation 10.635 1.537 2.031 2.279 4.434 1.697 Total Possible Score 92 16 16 19 25 16

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63 Regarding Accommodation Usage, under Method I, the mean score for intensity of use for the group was just under 2; under Method 2, the mean score for intensity of usage was just above 2 (see Table 5). Table 5 Descriptive Statistics for Quantitative Investigation (Intensity of Accommodations Usage) Accommodations U sage (Method 1) Accommodations Usage (Method 2) Range 0-6 0-7 Statistical Analysis of Hypotheses Hypothesis I Mean 1.86 2.39 Standard Deviation 1.533 1.784 Number ofItems 6 7 HI: No relationship will be found between the student's score on the S-DSS and herlhis grade point average (GPA) at the time the S-DSS is administered. Pearson's Correlation Coefficient (0.2859, p-value = 0.0069, n = 88) indicates a significant positive relationship between S-DSS and GP A; thus, the null hypothesis is rejected. Table 6 displays the correlation ofS-DSS and GPA, and Table 7 displays the results of the regression analysis. The scatterplot graph which results from these findings appears in Figure 2.

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64 Table 6 Pearson Correlation Coefficient for S-DSS Total Score and GPA Correlation with GPA p-value S-DSS Total Score 0.2859 0.0069* *0.05 level of significance. Table 7 Regression Analysis for S-DSS and GPA Source df SS F-value p-value Model 1 2.4952 7.657 0.0069 Error 86 28.0263 Parameter Variable df Estimate t-value p-value Intercept 1 1.554 3.391 0.001 S-DSS 1 0.159 2.767 0.006 Hypothesis 2 H2: No relationship will be found between the student's score on any ofthe subscales of the S-DSS and hislher grade point average (GPA) at the time the S-DSS is administered. Pearson's Correlation Coefficients indicate a significant positive relationship between both the subscale Plan (0.34297 , p-value = 0.0017, n = 81) , and the subscale Act (0.2971 , p-value = 0.0071 , n=81) of the S-DSS and GPA; thus , the null

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65 1 .00 0 .50 0 .00 o 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 S-DSS Scores Figure 2. GPA and S-DSS Correlation Graph hypothesis can be rejected. Table 8 presents the correlation data for the Subscale scores and GP A. Table 8 Pearson Correlation Coefficients for S-DSS Subscale Scores and GPA S-DSS Subscale Scores Correlation with GP A p-value Know Yourself 0.2088 0.0582 Value Yourself 0.2043 0.0623 Plan 0.3430 0.0017 * Act 0.2971 0.0071 * Evaluate Outcomes 0.1620 0.1411 * 0.05 level of significance

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Hypothesis 3 H3: No relationship will be found between the student ' s score on the S-DSS and the number of accommodations approved for the student by the Office for Studies with with Disabilities at the time the S-DSS is administered. Pearson ' s Correlation Coefficient for accOImnodation usage computed under Method 1 for six possible accommodations (-0.05628 , p-value = 0.60251 , n = 88) does not indicate a significant relationship between the S-DSS and AccOImnodation Usage. The same is true of the coefficient computed under Method 2 for seven possible accommodations (-0.03979 , p-value = 0.7128 , n = 88). Accordingly , the null hypothesis cannot be rejected. Table 9 displays the correlation data for the S-DSS and Accommodation Usage under both methods. Table 9 Pearson Correlation Coefficients for S-DSS Total Score and Accommodation Usage Method 1 S-DSS Total Score Method 2 S-DSS Total Score Correlation with AccOImnodation Usage -0.0563 -0.0398 p-value 0.6025 0.7128 • • 66

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67 Hypothesis 4 H4: No relationship will be found between the student ' s score on the subscales of the S-DSS and the number of accommodations approved for the student by the Office for Students with Disabilities at the time of the investigation. The fourth hypothesis was not rejected because there was no significant correlation between scores on the S-DSS and any of the Subscales of the S-DSS under Method One or Method Two. Tables 10 and 11 display the correlation between each of the subscales and accommodation usage. Table 10 COlTelation Between S-DSS Subscales and Accommodation Usage Calculated for Six Possible Accommodations Independent Variable Subscale Know Score (n = 83) Subscale Value Score (n = 84) Subscale Plan Score (n = 81) Subscale Act Score (n = 81) Subscale Outcomes Score (n = 84) Correlation with Accommodation Usage 0.0672 -0.0542 0.0223 -0.0517 0.0084 p-value 0.5461 0.6245 0.8431 0.6465 0.9396

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Table 11 Correlation Between S-DSS Subscales and AccOImnodation Usage Calculated for Seven Possible Accommodations Independent Variable Subscale Know Score Subscale Value Score Subscale Plan Score Subscale Act Score Subscale Outcomes Score Comparison of Students by Gender Correlation with AccOImnodation Usage 0.0516 -0.0552 0.0879 -0.0271 0.0291 p-value 0.6430 0.6183 0.4353 0.8100 0 . 7931 Table 12 presents the S-DSS score and subscale scores by gender for the 88 68 participants in the study. In addition , the GP A and number of credit hours are presented by gender. Comparison of scores on the S-DSS does not reveal significant differences between students on the basis of gender. Qualitative Investigation In order to identify the most salient environmental and personal variables which affect self-detenuination and academic success, a qualitative investigation was conducted. This section reports the results of that investigation. A description of the participants is provided followed by a report of the themes that emerged from the interviews. Each participant in the study was asked all nine of the questions appearing in the interview schedule (see Appendix C). Follow-up questions , or probes , were then asked , at the discretion ofthe interviewer , whenever clarification or elaboration of

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Table 12 Gender Comparisons By S-DSS Scores, GPA, and Number of Credit Hours Completed S-DSS Total Score Mean Standard Deviation Know Yourself Sub scale Score Mean Standard Deviation Value Yourself Subscale Score Mean Standard Deviation Plan Subscale Score Mean Standard Deviation Act Subscale Score Mean Standard Deviation Outcome Subscale Score Mean Standard Deviation Grade Point Average (GPA) Mean Standard Deviation Number of Credit Hours Completed Mean Standard Deviation Female Male 77.9 11.524 14.30 1.641 14.02 1.958 16.28 2.510 19.49 5.189 14.21 1.909 2.85 0.573 93.87 28.588 79.91 9.742 14.82 1.669 13.67 2.164 16.24 2.197 20.60 3.872 14.60 1.573 2.78 0.615 92.49 33.419 69

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70 responses to the initial questions appeared warranted. It should be noted that students did not always answer the questions as they were posed. This did not , however , suppress the emergence of relevant themes. Students often wove ideas related to one question into answers for other questions. Description of Participants in the Qualitative Study In order to understand more precisely the experiences of students with learning disabilities and the impact of these experiences on them , highly successfuJ students were • , compared to marginally successful students through a qualitative investigation. The first task was to determine which participants in the quantitative investigation would be included in this qualitative investigation. Any of the 88 participants in the quantitative investigation whose GP As or S-DSS scores fell inside one standard deviation of the mean were initially eliminated from consideration for the qualitative investigation. This procedure left nine students: one with high GPA (= or> + 1 SD) , low S-DSS (= or> 1 SD), one with high GPA (= or > + 1 SD) , high S-DSS (= or > + 1 SD) , and seven with low GPA (= or> -1 SD), 10'liiS-DSS (= or> -1 SD). No one qualified under this procedure with low GPA (= or > -1 SD) , high S-DSS (= or > + 1 SD) (see Figure 3). This latter result is consistent with the findings of the quantitative investigation which reported a significant correlation between GPAs and S-DSS scores. The High GPAlLow S-DSS category had only one student , and he agreed to participate in the qualitative study. The only student who qualified for placement in the High GP AlHigh S-DSS category was unavailable for participation in the qualitative study , as she had graduated < . '-<. ' from the university and left to attend medical school in another country. As a

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HIGH LOW 0=1 OP A = or >+ 1 SD S-DSS = or> -1 SD LOW LOW 0=7 OPA =or > -1 SD S-DSS = or> -1 SD HIGH HIGH 0=1 OPA = or >+ 1 SD S-DSS = or> +1 SD LOW HIGH 0=0 OPA=or>-1 SD S-DSS = or >+ 1 SD Figure 3. Participants Satisfying Criteria for Qualitative Study consequence of this, placement criteria for this category were lowered to three-fourths standard deviation from the mean for both GPA and S-DSS, and five students qualified. Of these five, the only one available for participation was selected. Of the seven participants who qualified for placement in the Low GP AlLow SDSS category, the first two contacted were available and agreed to participate. One female and one male were selected in this manner. 71 There were no students who qualified for placement in the Low GPA/High S-DSS category. Accordingly, as with the High GPAlHigh S-DSS category, the criteria for placement were lowered to three-fourths standard deviation for both GPA and S-DSS scores. One student qualified but he was not available for interview. Because no students were available under the lowered criteria, none were selected from this category for

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T2 participation in the study. In this manner, then, the four participants for the qualitative study were selected. A description of the four participants in the qualitative study and the results from their interviews follow. Whenever content from the students ' responses appears, the question asked is cited in parentheses following the quotation (see Appendix C). Participant A. Participant A was a 42-year-old male enrolled in the College of Engineering. This student had begun his postsecondary education at a community college and transferred to the University of Florida as a junior. His GPA was 3.75 and his score on the S-DSS was 65. He was the only person who met criteria for placement in the High GPAlLow S-DSS category. Participant A described himself as "hardworking, dedicated , [and] very punctual. " He explained, "I care, [am] loving, ... eccentric, I live in the past as much as in the future, willing, [and] willing to leal'll, willing to do what it takes to get there, willing to put in the effort" (7.4). He told of a childhood affected by parental discord and continual turmoil, with little emphasis on formal education. He reported that in his youth he had no mentors who encouraged him to complete his high school education, much less continue to postsecondary education. He described memories of active discouragement of academic pursuit. He said, "They always figured I was too dumb to succeed , and that's not encouraging. But I guess in a way it could be. [It] makes me more determined" (9.5). Participant A described his later life very differently. He reported that his wife had actively encouraged him to enroll in college, and this encouragement had sustained him as an adult. He stated, "I have home support now" (5.4).

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73 This student described his awareness of the complexities of university systems and the importance of assuming responsibility for one's own academic planning. He referred to the process of academic decision making at the university as "making your own road map" (4.2). He also related the process of accessing different faculty and staff members who provided necessary services for him. Participant A described university faculty as neither supportive of, nor knowledgeable about, students with learning disabilities, asserting, "They don't know what to do with you" (5.3). His comments about community college faculty were generally more positive. In terms of autonomy, this student was at a different life stage than the other three participants in the qualitative study, who were all in their early 20s. In his early 40s, Participant A had accepted his role as an adult years earlier, including the responsibility for supporting his wife and children. Participant B. Participant B was a 25-year-old male enrolled in the College of Engineering. He had matriculated at the University of Florida after attending community college. His GPA was 3.61 and his score on the S-DSS, 88. He had a total of 151 credit hours on his transcript. He qualified for placement the High GPAlHigh S-DSS category. This participant described himself as "intelligent, having a good sense of humor, trustworthy, loyal, and thrifty" (7.4). He reported close dyadic relationships with family members as a child, as well as with these same relatives and fellow students later as an adult. However, he was not married and did not cany the responsibility for supporting a family. He portrayed his road to success as an arduous one. Initial difficulties adjusting to living arrangements off-campus were reported. He also expressed dissatisfaction with

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I I • J I • I , , I 74 academic advisement , especially with regard to rules and scholarship requirements. He reported one experience of being advised to take certain courses, and onl y later learning that they were not needed. He blamed inaccurate advice on this occasion, and others, for his receiving low grades and losing his scholarship. His discouragement , in this respect , was compounded by financial difficulties which led him to consider leaving the universit y . In spite of these reported hardships, he remained at the university and , at the time of this interview , he was working three jobs in addition to being a full-time student. Having persevered in the face of these difficulties , Participant B viewed his recent experiences in a more positive light. He described great personal satisfaction in his recently achieved financial independence , reporting , "I'm like , wow, I'm really , I'm actually on my own right now" (9.4). Participant C. Participant C was a male student, age 22 , who had earned 68 hours of college credit. He began his postsecondary education at a community college and transferred to the University of Florida as a junior. He was enrolled in the College of Health and Human Performance and his GPA was 2.00. His score on the S-DSS was 53. He qualified for placement in the Low GP AlLow SDSS category. • Participant C described himself as "impatient , hardworking , a little controlling of situations , and pretty generous" (7.4). On his report , his awareness of his learning difficulties as a young child coincided with his parents ' divorce and his mother ' s remarriage. He reported having both positive and negative role models in people with whom he had close dyadic relationships. At the time of this study , he was involved in a significant , positive relationship but was not married or supporting a family. He claimed that his father and his girlfriend served as positive role models , while his stepfather was a

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, , 75 negative role model. "I saw what can happen ," he explained , " I saw what will happen if you do bad things, whatever, if you don ' t go to school , if you don ' t at least try " ( 9.8) . While this student appeared to accept full responsibility for academic and financial decisions , he nevertheless related some difficulties in these areas. His ambivalence in these matters finds expression in the following conunents: Actually , I'd say 1 do it on my own .... This is something 1 can tell m y kids about. 1 hope that 1 don ' t have to make them do it , but this is something 1 feel good about. Because no one else 1 know is doing it on their own. They get some support. So , it makes me feel good . 1 feel really independent. 1 just feel ... really, I'm broke, in debt. (9.6) Participant C characterized his complex relationships with university faculty and staff in terms no less ambivalent. About student access to instructors , he generalized , "You don't have a chance to talk to your teachers and certain things are just too big for students ... who have to ask questions" (3). He noted a marked improvement in access when he changed majors, saying, " So, then, 1 switched and 1 started taking more of a , like a liberal arts type of schedule and 1 found it made a world of difference " (5.1). He found this second group of university faculty comparable to community college faculty. He said , "All the teachers ... here ... have been awesome. [They are] nice. And 1 thought that that was only a community college thing " (5.1). By changing majors , this student believed he had moved decisively to improve his educational experience. Participant D. The final participant in the qualitative investigation was a 2l-y ear old female student. This student had begun her postsecondary education at the University of Florida and experienced significant academic failure. She then returned to her family home and attended community college. At the time of the study , she was enrolled in the College of Journalism , and her GPA was 2.10. She had earned 89 credit

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hours. Her score on the S-DSS was 49, placing her in the Low GPAlLow S-DSS category. 76 Participant D described her initial experience at the university in these terms: "I wasn't doing very well up here and 1 figured it would be best if! went home .... 1 wasn ' t ready to be on my own yet" (2). She felt that she had learned from this early failure. She said , "I really grew from that. Just to be able to know ... I'm not doing well. 1 have to fail out or take myself out and get myself regrouped to the point 1 can come back " (3). This participant described herself as "friendly but shy, reserved , happy , and more confident [than she was a few years ago]" (7.4). She described close interpersonal relationships that had been both positive and negative. At the time of this study , this student had established a network of friends to sustain her as she navigated the complexities of the university environment. She was not married, however , and did not bear responsibility for supporting a family. Participant D also described her dissatisfaction with the academic advising she had received at the university. She reported that university faculty were not as " personal" as faculty at the community college (5.1). She described some negative experiences with academic advising which she believed had had a detrimental impact on her academic career. Regarding autonomy , this student described herself as still dependent on her family financially and , therefore, not fully autonomous. She expressed satisfaction with her progress toward controlling her own life through improving her money management skills. She said, "I found that just actually having ... [ a] wallet ... would help me keep track of ... [money]" (2.3). She stated that she valued autonomy as important in life and that she was working to increase her level of independence.

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77 Thematic Analysis of the Qualitative Investigation The qualitative investigation yielded significant and recurrent themes which are presented in this section. These themes are identified in Table 13 and appear in the same sequence as they are discussed. The themes presented are organized into two categories"Features of Institutional Support Related to Academic Success, " with an emphasis on environmental factors, and "Personality Markers for Academic Success , " with an emphasis on personal characteristics of the participants. Within each of these two broad categories, subcategories have been presented which delineate the specific themes that emerged from the qualitative interviews. Features ofInstitutional Support Related to Academic Success The environmental factors which influence self-determination and academic success for university students with leaming disabilities were discussed during the qualitative investigation. These factors are arranged in three subcategories: (a) institutional infrastructures, (b) social support systems, and (c) the role of faculty. Students indicated in their interviews that these three areas of institutional support were influential in their academic success. Each of these areas is discussed. Institutional Infrastructures The participants in the qualitative investigation reported that the university system with its complex infrastructure had significant bearing on their experiences. Their comments are ananged according to three themes: (a) transition from the community college, (b) communication protocols vital to students, and (c) adequacy of academic advising. In the next section the theme of transition from community college to the university is discussed.

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Table 13 Thematic Analysis of the Qualitative Investigation Features ofInstitutional Support Related to Academic Success Institutional Infrastructures Transition from Community College Communication Protocols Vital to Students Adequacy of Academic Advisement Social Support Systems Family , Friends , Roommates Significant Others Role of Faculty Class Size and Faculty Accessibility Student Perception of Instructors ' Assessment Knowledge and Attitudes of Faculty Regarding Learning Disabilities Personality Markers for Academic Success Autonomy Importance of Autonomy for Student Development of Autonomy over Time Locus of Identity Understanding and Acceptance of Learning Disabilities Taking Responsibility for Self-Assessment Rebounding from Negative Appraisals by Others Goal Selection and Implementation Commitment to Self-Selected Goals Organization of Work and Time Management Execution of Plans Resilience in Response to Failure Accurate Assessment of SuccesslFailure Overcoming Negative Experiences Flexible 'Ihinking Persistence Leading to Success 78 Transition from community college. All four of the participants in the qualitative investigation had transferred to the university from conununity colleges. Their academic career paths, in this regard, were representative of students in the quantitative study , most of whom had arrived at the university by this route. They all noted differences

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79 between their community college and university experiences. The students generally reported that the community college environment was somewhat more supportive than that of the university. Themes gleaned from the interviews focused on their initial impressions of the university experience, perceived differences in accessibility between community college and university faculty, perceived failures of institutional support, reports of competition among students, and difficulties attributed to the sheer enormity of the institution, including unpleasant experiences with large classes. Participant C described the change from community college to the university in these terms: Yeah, I was in high school [a] slacker. But then, in community college I did pretty good. I don't know why I didn't come here. I didn't know why my GPA was a little higher, but in community college I was very sure. I was confident, I came here and realized, Wow, you know, I'm competing with a lot of people here and it's a little different. (7) This student also echoed the sentiments of the other participants when he spoke of the trepidation he felt upon encountering the enormity of the university environment after leaving the more familiar and much smaller setting of the cOlmnunity college. The theme of confronting a challenge by enrolling in the university is evident in this comment: And, mainly, the uh, the size. The student body, I mean the size of the school really. And, uh, I am a transfer student. So, going from a community college which had about 29 to 30 students a class to business courses that had thousands broken up into hundreds, it was scary. (1.3) Participant D used the community college as a platform for regrouping after initial difficulties with university life. She noted that she had felt abandoned when she was first at the university. She reported, Um, they just, I felt just sort of thrown out there [at the university]. Yeah, even after, after community college it was still, it was like a step between high school and UF. And like, they didn't baby-sit you there [at the community college], you know, as far as picking out your schedule or anything. You had to find them, but they helped you out a lot more. And, I didn't feel such at a loss. (5.4)

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80 Participant B offered this summary of his experience , in the form of advice to future students with learning disabilities , as they transition to the university: If you come to school [at this university] , you better plan for the worst so that you make sure you know who to ask because you ' re not going to get information unless you go to the right people , because I wasn't given .. .. You just have to prepare yourself to ask questions because if you don't ask the right question , you ' re not going to get an answer that will help you. So don ' t assume that all they're telling you is everything , is all that you [need to] know . Because in m y experience , it hasn't been what I needed to know. (9 . 8 ) Communication protocols vital to students. Students reported that the y had difficulty accessing accurate information in a timely manner. They related often learning of important deadlines from conversations with their peers rather than from universit y employees. On those occasions when they did receive infOImation from universit y personnel , they often recounted harms suffered because they were not given correct information. The enormity of the institution and the variety and reliability of sources of information all appear to have contributed to a sense of exasperation best described in this statement from Participant B , who placed in the High GPAlHigh S-DSS category. The biggest negative thing was ... losing my scholarship over something like , as , as ridiculous as an Incomplete. And then talking with people to try to figure out what to do and then I even called the Department of Education to find out how do I appeal it? And they told me , "Oh you don ' t have any grounds to appeal it. Don ' t even bother ," and that's what they told me. So then. I believed them and then , when I went and talked to someone here , they said , "Oh no , they can ' t do that." And , it's like , well, when's the deadline? Like , oh, it was yesterday. You can't do anything about it. So , it's just, no one ever gave me the proper infollnation. (3) Adequacy of academic advisement. Regarding academic advisement, some students had serious criticisms of the services of the university and what they viewed as limited accessibility to accurate and timely infOImation. Participant B echoed the words of other students when he stated , •

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81 Well, I think another bad thing I had when I first got here was I went to [see] the advisors ... and they signed me up for these , the math and the calculus science classes, chemistry. And it was very hard. And they said , " Oh you can go ahead and do this." And they set me up with this stuff. It was too hard. Well , because , 1 guess , of the assessment test ... that you do . It doesn't , it didn ' t reall y, the y put me in a higher class and , urn , 1 guess at the time 1 didn ' t know that I needed time to finish all these things and how much work actually went into these classes compared to high school. So, I didn ' t succeed at all. 1 had to drop chemistry class and it was , it was really crazy. So , 1 said , "I'm not going to see advisors again. They really screwed up my schedule." So , after that , I didn't see an y bod y . . . . So , it was all based on , you know , my stuff. I wish I had more guidance. (9) Another student considered that her academic advisor had provided services of uneven quality to her, sometimes providing accurate information , and, then , at other times , misinformation. When asked to identify any person at the university who had been particularly helpful to her in planning and achieving her goals , she replied , " I guess my advisor, sort of." When asked if her advisor provided services regarding scheduling , the student continued , "Yes, they , she, she helped me pick out the classes and just made sure I was on track. I was a little disappointed with , uh , with her. 1 expected more guidance, I guess" (4). Further probes to clarify her expectations for her advisor brought forth the following report: Well, she told me that , urn , that I had to take a whole bunch of classes I didn ' t have to take, it tums out. And 1 was , I got very frustrated at that. ... She told me to take a math class last smmner and 1 didn't do well in it , so [I] ended up dropping it. So, 1 overloaded myself with smmner classes. And I ended up dropping it, and it turns out I didn't even have to take it. So , 1 lost the money , plus used one of my drops. And 1 was annoyed, or a little frustrated that I , 1 ... that happened. But , urn, it was , I mean , she , I guess, I couldn ' t have done it without her. You know, 1 mean, I couldn't have figured any of this out at all without her. (4) In this report of one student's view of the institutional infrastructure and how it hindered her in her academic efforts , three unsatisfactory consequences of one incidence of misinfonnation can be discerned. This student allegedly suffered harm because the

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82 advice she received led her to (a) overload herself during the summer term, thereby diminishing her time for other courses, (b) spend money for a course that did not earn her any credit, and ( c) use one of her course drops, which left her with only one for the remainder of her undergraduate career. Clearly, the theme of the university infrastructure negatively affecting a student's academic progress is emergent here. Social support systems. A major theme discernible in the participants' interviews is that of the importance of their social support systems. All of them reported that they often enjoyed some of their personal relationships and that they depended on them for emotional sustenance and for practical advice and direction. They also revisited earlier unhappy personal relationships, which were viewed as emotionally unsettling and detrimental to their academic careers. All of the participants reported supportive interpersonal relationships. Some of them described their relationships in terms of the impact on their lives. Unhappy interpersonal relationships related were usually in the past. Two students told of friendships which led them to discovery of their learning disabilities. None of the teachers or advisors of these two students had suggested the possibility of a learning disability, but their friends had noticed their distress and suggested resources for them to explore. These explorations led to the realization that they had learning disabilities. Participant B provided the following account. Well I didn't know, didn't know what a learning disability was until ... a friend of mine that I went to high school with roomed with another student. ... I explained [to him] how I had trouble finishing stuff sometimes. He's like, "Oh, well." He was registered with Student Services and he explained what, what it does and why it's helpful for him .... [H]e explained that he got extra time to finish things. It's like, well, if! had that I would be fine. I wouldn't worry about not completing a

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83 course because the work was too much .... And it was because he said it [to me]. This guy just told me about it. I would never have known about it without him saying that. So, I thanked him for letting me know, because it has really helped me out a lot. (8.1) Another student, participant D, noted that a personal friend had suggested that she may have a learning disability and referred her to the Office for Students with Disabilities. The friend's suggestion had been the impetus for this student's beginning to understand her learning disability. When asked if she knew any other university students with learning disabilities, she responded with the following words: "Yes I do. I know my roommate's boyfriend who was the other person who directed me here. He's actually the one who recOImnended that I get tested for it because he had just gotten tested" (8). As the participants described their childhood and adolescence, they portrayed a range of family relationships. Two of the participants remembered their early years in a positive light, and two alluded to some measure of discord and upheaval in their early lives. Participant B remembered his childhood as happy and his family as nurturing. This student mentioned male role models who were family members employed in the area of his major (engineering). He described as solid and supportive earlier interpersonal relationships which continued into adolescence, particularly one with his twin brother: " I was always more of attached to him, ... we had our own room , we shared a room and then my older brother moved out so [my twin brother] could move in the other room" (9.8). In a contrast, participant A told of a tumultuous early life where disruptions to family life were frequent. This was consistent with his report of demeaning comments by his parents about his abilities and devaluation of education, portraying it as a waste of time. He stated,

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84 Dad had, a really big farm, and he had a lot of cattle. And all of a sudden, all of my brothers and sisters were gone. And I was eight years old. So we worked all the time. We didn't go hunting, we didn't go fishing, because there was too much work to get out. And Mom and Dad fought all the time, and they were either divorced or married together. And that's how I went all the way through high school. (9.8) This participant, age 42, noted the vast improvement in his personal life at the time of the study. He was then married and had his own family. His focus was on his wife and children, not on his parents and siblings. When asked how his family helped him succeed, he said, "Uh, when I'm down, my wife [helps me to be] refocused. And when I'm down a lot oftimes, some of the kids'll give me a hug" (9.5). Several students mentioned that they had learned from negative interpersonal experiences since coming to the university. One participant told of his first roommate at the university and the impact this unpleasant association had on his life. He answered in response to a question about adjustment to university life: Just that I was, well, by myself and I didn't know anybody .... That was the biggest thing. And the environment that I moved into when I got here, ... I ... they didn't [have] a room on campus so I had to live off campus. And I ended up being in a room with this, this drug addict ... and that was really bad and I, I hated going home. I mean, it was just a really bad semester. ... And after that , I got out of there and ... and then things started looking better. So ... Because I couldn't take it. I ... I couldn't just sit there and be annoyed by this person. (1.3) Significant others. Close and committed interpersonal relationships appear to have had a significant bearing on the students' opinions of the quality of the university experience. Apparently, these relationships directly influenced these students ' study habits and their ability to function academically. Two examples of this finding are provided in this section. The first is a participant's report of a supportive interpersonal

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85 relationship with a significant other. The second describes another ' s perception o f close interpersonal relationships which were destructive in their effects , hampering her ability to function in the university setting. Participant C described his girlfriend in terms that reflected his admiration of her successful characteristics. Oh, yeah , I have a girlfriend who came straight into the University of Florida from high school. And , she was an overachiever and a half. Over four point somethin g GP A from high school and SAT scores sky high. Anyway , [she] was reall y smart and we had the same attitude about school. We study first. You know, we always study. (2.1) The students who reported earlier less successful relationships in their lives described them in equally vivid tenns. Participant D , for example , linked difficulties with failed relationships to her unsuccessful first attempt at university life. She stated , But I definitely had a lot of disappointments and stuff, as far as , uh, friendships and relationships , and, you know, dating wise and stuff like that. And it would, it's a lot to handle , you know , between school and then , you know, meeting all these people, then, you know, dating , and then it's, it ' s hard. It was hard. (3) Role of faculty. Another subcategory from the qualitative study identifies one group of people in the university community who wield enormous influence on students ' lives , namely , the faculty. Students reported that they looked to their instructors for support in both cognitive and affective areas, seeking information about the content of their courses and validation of their worth as learners. The participants ' responses to questions provided insight into the student-faculty relationship and its bearing on their academic careers. Class size and faculty accessibility. Another theme that emerged from the qualitative investigation was that of participants' dissatisfaction with their relationships with faculty whom they often described as distant and inaccessible. The students often

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86 linked inaccessibility to the larger classes they took , indicating that their instructors in these classes had difficulty establishing helpful relationships with so man y students. Participant C , whose earlier description of his transition to the uni v ersit y encapsulated the thoughts of many students , offered these comments about his resolution of the difficulties involved in taking the larger classes. So then, I switched [from business courses] and I started taking more of a , like a liberal arts type of schedule and I found it made a world of difference. That was for me. The size of the class was reduced. I mean , it was like half or less than half the size. And the teachers , all the staff in all the departments that I've [had] , all the different classes that I've taken in the different departments here at school have been awesome. Nice. And I thought that that was only a community college thing. One of the pro ' s of going to community college , but it's here , too. Believe it or not. (5.1) Faculty accessibility appears to be of great importance to this student , as it is for the others. Participant A, the student who was significantly older than the others , reported his perception of the student-teacher relationship and his method of accessing facult y in response to a question about the supportive quality of his educational environment. I'm not sure I understand your question. But if I do , ... this is ... the answer. I think my saving grace is I want to learn. I have found that professors teach you a variety of things once they get to know you. Not only do they teach you , like my chemistry professor, not only did he teach me chemistry and how it impacted my life and even down to the nuts and bolts of that , but he also taught me test taking skills and a lot of other things. Even though they [i.e. , the test-taking skills] don ' t work as well as I'd like 'em to , but they work a lot better than when I started this class. It's like the professors don ' t mind me going to their office because I want to learn. You can teach me anything. And that ' s one of the things that they say is , you know it is a pleasure to [teach] you because you want to learn. (3) Participant D related difficulties communicating with university faculty in comparison to cOIillllunicating with other teachers in the past. •

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87 It's not as personal. I'm actually very , very scared of my professors . I tr y t o avoid talking to them at all costs. Urn , well , in high school and community college. they make a point of talking to you. You know , we had conferences and stuff like that. It, it varies here on whether it's a large class or , you know , a thirt y -student class , you know. But , uh , definitely , it ' s more personal , personal with smaller classes. I mean , it's ... way too difficult , you know , with large classes. (5.1) Student perception of instructors ' assessment. The next theme presented is that of the participants' perception of how their instructors assess students ' abilities. These students reported that their instructors frequently belittled them because of their learning disabilities. When the students encountered an instructor who validated their worth as capable leal'llers , while acknowledging their leaming disabilities , they reported a sense of tremendous relief. Participant D articulated the theme of faculty sending students the message of expected failure solely on the basis of a learning disability when she remembered one instructor telling her, "You know, you can't do this. You know this is just going to inhibit you. You can't do it. You know, you, you ' re gonna have to leave. You know, we don ' t think you should ... go through this any more " (5.3). In marked contrast, participant B described the exhilaration he felt when he realized that one of his instructors held him in high esteem. I took a medical terminology class , College of Health Science and this professor , Dr. P [name deleted]. He was very encouraging. I was really amazed by his teaching technique. And he's, he ' s always , I could ask him for a letter of recommendation, he always gave me very highlike complimentary letters , and when I , one time he didn't seal it , so I just read it. It's like , wow, this is amazing. Yeah, I was like , he put in that I was the top of the class and I didn ' t know I was. Yeah, he said that I was, out of all these like, medical , like pre-med students , an engineering student is the top of the class .... I don ' t know how I did that , but I knew I did well in it ... So he has been someone that's really encouraging. Just by , you know , reading what he said. It's like , wow , I am capable of accomplishing , really, you know, marvelous things, if! really like what I'm doing and I can stick to it. (4)

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88 Both participant D and participant B exemplified in their conmlents the importance they attached to faculty assessment , whether negative or positive. In the next section, the theme of faculty attitudes and knowledge of students with learning disabilities is explored. Knowledge and attitudes of faculty regarding leaming disabilities. Just as these successful university students reported basking in the glow of their instructors ' approval. they also shuddered in the chill of their instructors' allegedly demeaning remarks. The topic of faculty understanding of learning disabilities brought forth intense responses from some of the participants. Although one student, participant D , described an instructor who had been very supportive and understanding , she and the other participants all related encounters with faculty who did not seem to understand or value them as students with learning disabilities. The experiences of participant B , retold below , illustrate a recurring theme present in the accounts of all the participants. This student was asked if University of Florida faculty understood learning disabilities: No. They have no clue. And , that's what annoys me , because , urn , last semester I had a professor who , who told me , he ' s like , well , he says , " It ' s inconvenient for me to have a TA [teaching assistant] stay after or me to stay after for you to finish your test. " It was " inconvenient, " it ' s like , " What are you talking about ?" you know , "Isn't, isn't your goal to have every student treated fairly and this would, this is what will allow me to be treated fairly and , you know , when did it become a nuisance for , you know, you to finish your commitment as a teacher? ... I wrote this letter to him .... It was just very direct , and I said , I don ' t appreciate, you know, you saying that, because I didn ' t choose to have this disability .... I brought him the [accommodation] letter at the beginning of the semester, and he said , "Oh, we'll worry about it later." So , he put it off. Yeah , then tUlIled around on me, "It's inconvenient because he didn't deal with it. Oh , and it's the last minute , so what is he gonna do? And then I called here [the Office for Students with Disabilities] and they [said] , it was too late. So , the midterm that we had , he didn't do anything about it , either. I asked the T A. ... Yeah , I got the accommodation because I told the TA, but the teacher didn ' t get it for me .... Well , you know , surprisingly , with my accommodations , I ended up third in the class. (5.2)

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89 Participant B alluded to other examples of hostility from his instructors and then related a particularly unpleasant encounter with one senior faculty member. I have accommodation letters ... that request that I have extra time to do things. I've had professors that are very old-school, or they put up a fight, you know .... They just have a really negative attitude towards me, even though they don't even know me .... One time , I'll never forget this, I brought my letter into this one professor, and I said, "It's a accommodation letter from Student Services. " [He said,] "Like, so what is it, a whole bunch of legal mumbo jumbo?" His attitude was just so negative. It's like, excuse me, this is rude .... Don ' t you know, this ... involves me and the way I work. You know , [an] insulting thing , [an] insulting comment, like doesn't help. Especially [since] ... I just met him. (5) The most salient features of institutional support relating to academic success include the institutional infrastructure, social support systems , and the role of faculty . . The responses of the four participants to questions about each of these topics varied. Regarding institutional infrastructure, the male participants in the High GP AI Low S-DSS, High GP AI High S-DSS, and Low GP AlLow S-DSS quadrants all began their postsecondary education in conununity colleges and transferred to the university. The female participant in the Low GP AlLow S-DSS quadrant entered the university directly from high school, failed, enrolled in a community college, succeeded there, and returned to the university. Each student reported that the transition from community college to university had been difficult. They all observed that the communication protocols were very different in these two institutions. They also reported that academic advisement at the university had not served them well. The two students whose GP As were above the mean, participant A (High GPAlLow S-DSS) and participant B (High GPAI High S-DSS) , had assumed responsibility for their own academic advisement, setting their own plans and implementing them successfully. The two participants who were in the Low

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90 GP AlLow S-DSS quadrant continued to rely on the university's academic advisors. with supplementary assistance from family and friends. The presence of a social support system appeared to be of key importance in the environment of these participants. They relied on family, friends, and roommates to support and encourage them, to provide information to them, and to model for them specific learning strategies. Participant A (High GPAlLow S-DSS) described his primary social support system as his children and wife, identifying them as a source of emotional encouragement. Participant B (High GP AlHigh S-DSS) and Participant D (Low GP AlLow S-DSS) both described incidents where friends of roommates helped them recognize the nature and extent of their respective learning disabilities, which had major implications for both of these students. Of greatest importance in the reports of these participants is the role of significant others in dyadic relationships. The three male participants reported being involved in positive dyadic relationships at the time of this research. The participant who was married attributed to his wife a large measure of his success because she had consistently encouraged him as a student. The other male participants described their girlfriends as partners and role models for successful academic behaviors. The female participant did not report an ongoing dyadic relationship with a significant other at the time of the research. She did, however, describe earlier relationships which had had a devastating impact on her academic career. The role of faculty seems vital to the academic success of university students with learning disabilities. The participants often described their relationships with faculty as intense and disappointing. The three younger participants all commented on the large

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91 class size at the university and the difficulties this presents for student / faculty communication. The student who was significantly older than the others described positive faculty relationships when he persistently engaged the faculty in efforts to clarify or understand his coursework. The three younger students reported that the faculty often misjudged them based on their disabilities. One male participant (High GPAlHigh S-DSS) and the female participant (Low GPAlLow S-DSS) both described negative and disheartening comments from faculty regarding their abilities as students. The ways in which each student dealt with this negativity are described in a later section ofthis chapter. Students reported that faculty knowledge and attitudes regarding learning disabilities were inadequate and that they, the students, suffered because of this. Each student in the research responded emphatically in the negative when asked if faculty understood learning disabilities. This was one of the few questions that received a • unammous response. Personality Markers for Academic Success The qualitative investigation rests on the assumption that there are two categories of variables which influence self-detennination and academic success for university student with learning disabilities. These two categories are internal and external variables. Themes related to external variables were presented in the previous section. The section which follows contains themes of internal variables which influence self-determination and academic success. The participants were asked to comment on personal qualities which might bear on self-determination and academic success, specifically, autonomy, locus of identity, goal selection and implementation, and resilience in response to failure.

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• 92 Paramount among these personal qualities is autonomy , which is synonymous with self-determination. Students were asked to discuss the importance the y attached to autonomy , or self-determination, and how their own levels of autonomy had been attained. Another quality discussed was that of locus of identity. This term embraces the concept that an individual draws herlhis identity from within herself /himself ( self constructed identity) or from other people (other-constructed identity). In this study , locus of identity was investigated in three ways. First the participants ' understanding and acceptance oftheir learning disabilities were explored ; then the establishment of an identity based on internal constructs was reported ; and, finally , rejection of negative appraisals by other people was discussed. The last two personal qualities examined have to do with the ability of students to generate and execute plans in order to accomplish their goals. Because these students encountered so much failure and frustration in their academic career , as evidenced by the interviews , the final quality explored involved a discussion of how the participants rebounded from failure and persevered until they succeeded. Autonomy The questions about autonomy were intended to illuminate the students ' appraisal of their own levels of independence. The responses are presented in the following section. Importance of autonomy for the student. The theme of the importance of autonomy was one which drew a consistent response from all four participants. When asked if autonomy was important , the participants all regarded it as an important part of

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93 their sense of self, a source of pride. Additionally , one student noted that autonomy was not easily achieved. Participant B described how he valued autonomy and his realization of the need to interact appropriately with others in these words: Yeah , it's ... helped boost my self-esteem. It ' s like , I know I can I guess people just need to realize that they don ' t need anything else to survive and feel good about themselves. They can do it on their own. Though I think there ... [are] some things you must choose to work out and do stuff with , like , I guess , if you ... [cooperate] with other people , ... you actually get much better results . . . . I can hold my own with most things and that's satisfying to me. ( 9.7) When discussing the importance of autonomy , participant D expressed her opinion that it was a developmental process , a theme that is discussed in the next section. She stated that she recognized that her level of autonomy was not sufficient for the university environment when she was younger. She said , Yes , I do definitely [consider autonomy important]. I , uh , I think that was actually a part of the problem when I first came up here. [It] was , I was so dependent on everybody else , you know , and then all of a sudden, I had all this freedom on top of everything else , and I just . . . couldn ' t handle it. I didn ' t know what to do. And, uh , by moving back home, you know, my Dad sort of, was just like, you know, "You're an adult now. " You know , he was just like , "I'm not doing anything for you, Come and go as you please. Do whatever. " You know , he was just like , "I'm just paying your tuition. " I definitely think it ' s [ i.e., autonomy] important ... because you're not always going to have somebody there who you can guarantee that you can lean on or whatever. And I feel I need to know that I can stand on my own and do it by myself. (9.7) Participant C described the difficulty of developing autonomy in these words: Yes, I think so [ i.e., autonomy is important]. ... But it's hard to become self sufficient, independent ... basically, [to] become a better person on your own. It's not that easy when you have your parents helping you all the time. (9.7) Development of autonomy over time. The development of autonomy is a time consuming process , often aided by external influences , but sometimes hindered by other external variables. The theme of progress toward greater autonomy was clearly evident in

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94 the students ' comments. When asked to compare their level of autonom y now to their level 5 years earlier , each student reported that shelhe had become more autonomous. It should be noted that two of the participants were financially independent of their families of origin and two were partially dependent on their parents for financial support. Participant B compared his level of autonomy over time in this way: Five years ago , I guess, I was, I had no job. I was here just studying , trying to , just trying to do well in school and not much of a social life or anything , I was kind of alone , but now ... I have to support myself and everything , and I just thought of this the other day , I'm like , wow , I'm really , I'm actually on m y own right now. I'm living paycheck to paycheck , but you know , it'll payoff eventually. (9.4) Participant C attributed progress in his level of autonomy to changes in financial support from his parents. Although increased autonomy had brought with it some new challenges , he reported , with some pride, the increased self-esteem he felt because of his enhanced autonomy, saying, Well , I thought I was before. I thought I was really cool before and independent and I could do everything on my own. I have five room[mates]. ... We were , myself included , not self-sufficient , not independent. We moved up here and . we're still living together and we still have support [from parents]. So , no , not until about a couple of months ago, when I moved out on my own, paying everything on my own , taking on debt , student loans and everything , doing everything on my own , ... [did I learn] that it's a little harder out there. I ' m doing it on my own .... Yeah, I'm doing everything, honestly , and paying for everything, and that makes me feel good . (9.3) Participant D indicated that her level of autonomy as a university student had improved. Her response elaborated on the influence of family on the development of autonomy. In the final part of her response , she told of parental guidance consistent with developing greater autonomy. •

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95 When asked to what extent she considered herself to be autonomous , she said , " Urn , I would say moderate. Urn, I know , I know that I , I can do things for myself' (9.3). She then compared herself now to her level of autonomy 5 years ago , stating , Oh, I was very dependent on my whole family. Well , just basically m y mom and dad, because my brothers were out of the house. But , uh , I , I was spoiled and didn ' t have to do anything at all. My parents did everything for me. (9.4 ) She then continued to describe her family ' s encouragement and her desire to change her role to that of adult: I , I feel that I've, uh, taken advantage of that, and then it was time for me to grow and try and take care of myself. But, urn, I mean , I never doubted if I ever needed to , I could definitely go to my family .... They ' re supportive. And , m y dad's been very , very supportive of me. He ' s always telling me , y ou know , " It ' s just like , well, it's your life. Make your decision , you know , whatever it is, y ou know, I'll stand behind it." You know , he ' s just like, you ' ve got m y support no matter what , but , you know he's like , I , I can ' t make the decision for you. (9 . 5 ) Along with family, university programs and services were sometimes portrayed as helpful in enhancing autonomy. Two students described their perception of the impact of the university on the emergence of greater autonomy. When asked about university services and the development of autonomy , participant C stated that libraries and computer labs were beneficial in this regard. He stated, I think the library is a good example of that [i.e. , providing opportunities for enhanced autonomy]. It's usually open very late. You go in there , most people today , I believe , have some computer skills. They know how to look up certain things, that's a perfect example. It trains , anyway. Trains autonomy or whatever , and you become more self-sufficient. And the computer lab ... students can doodle. They can mess around and they learn. And that teaches computer skills , and that's something that no one can take away from you. (9) Participant D expanded on the theme of the university environment as a source of encouragement for developing greater autonomy.

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96 Urn , I think almost the whole school, in a way , [helps provide an environment which supports independence or autonomy]. I mean, you have to , you have to, you know , show up for the test. You have to , you know , take care of y ourself. You know , you , you have to go to class. Urn , and it , you know , the professors don' t sit there and call you up and say , " O.K. , your test is tomorrow ," you know , [that] type of thing. You sort of have to, to definitely learn it [i.e., autonomy / independence] to, to a certain degree. Yeah , and just, I mean , everything is basically left up to you to do as far as , you know , making appointments, and you know, well, at least , I grew up with everything done for me. (9) Locus of Identity A significant theme that emerged from this research was that of university students with learning disabilities confronting serious challenges in the area of personal identity. Comments of the students interviewed in this study suggest that they link academic success, to some degree , to their ability to understand themselves and their learning disabilities , to take responsibility for self-assessment , and to affirm a sense of self in response to negative appraisals of them by other people. Understanding and acceptance ofleaming disabilities. Some ofthe participants reported emotional conversations with peers or professionals in which they began to consider themselves as worthy individuals who had disabilities, instead of unworthy persons who were failures. This new insight provided impetus for change and for vesting energy in academic pursuits. One student described his revelation as an attitude change , after which he fully accepted his learning disability as a lifelong dimension of his identity. Urn, I feel smarter. I, I guess the biggest change in my attitude about myself came when, after I was tested [for learning disabilities]. 'Cause I kept having this , this self-doubt about, you know, why can't I write something in the time [allowed] in the class? Why can't I do this? Am I stupid? What's wrong with me? Until the doctors at Shands explained, well, this is what's happening with you. And I said , this is, that ' s what I was thinking all this time .... So, when they explained why it's happening, it's like well , there ' s nothing I can do about that. It was kinda easier to accept. (7)

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97 In contrast, participant C could not say when he first discovered that he had a leallling disability. Instead, he merely described himself as being slower to learn, reflecting a less enthusiastic self-assessment than that of participant B. He stated, I picked up on it all the time, how people don't need things repeated. I do. And. even then, I don't get it. It takes, I don't know how I finally absorb , or I don't know how I finally understand things, but it takes a while. But, eventually. most of the time, I understand things. It's just, I'm pretty slow. Slow leamer, unfortunately. (8.1) Taking responsibility for self-assessment. As these students understood their strengths and deficits, they tended to construct their own identity. Participant B spoke of setting his own standards for his work and rejecting the less thoughtful approach to work exhibited by his peers. I don't know. I think I have always been a perfectionist, so I usually don't put anything out there unless it meets my standards of, you know , what's, what's my best. And then, I don't know .... I can see a big difference between my work and [that of] other people. And other people really don't, they're just kind of mindless, they don't really, they don't really care what their, their work is. I see a big difference there, and I don't, I don't like that. I just, I just know whatever I want, I'm gonna put out. I'm gonna feel good about it and that's all that matters. I know I did my best. And that's gonna make me happy .... That's so , it's kinda like not depending on what other people think. (7.1) Another student spoke of his improved ability to predict his success based on his knowledge of his past performance. He reported that he did not typically disclose his learning disability and that he felt that no justification for doing so was needed. He stated, Because I don't advertise. I don't, I don't really tell anyone about my learning disability. The only people who know are the ones closest to me, and so, when I doubt myself or whatever .... I know what I can and can't do. And when people tell me otherwise, you know, I don't even want to have to try [to explain or justify my learning disability] because I know better. Because, you know, I've been doing this for a very long time and I kind of have a pretty good idea of what I'm not good at. And I learned the hard way first semester here, so .... Not until

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I get my first degree will I feel like I'm a successful student. But I want to keep going. (7.1) 98 Rebounding from negative appraisals by others. Comments in the previous section were from two participants who appeared to accept responsibility for self-assessment. In this section a student reports having to defend her sense of self and self-assessment against attacks from others who devalue her because of her disability. Participant 0 stated, Yeah, I feel that, urn, a lot of people don't have the confidence, I guess, in me that, that, uh, I'm beginning to develop. I don't know if that's something that I convey to them, just being insecure and not having a lot of self-confidence before. But , urn, everybody, ... a lot of people tell me, you know, look, you know, I think you're taking on way too much .... There's times when I , when I have to agree with them. Yes, I am taking on too much, you know , and everything. Urn, but there ... [ are] other times when, um, just like, you know, I've done more than this at one time [and I can do this]. (7.1) Goal Selection and Implementation The participants were asked about goals, and three themes emerged from their responses. They were the selection of goals hy the students themselves, their efforts to organize their work and manage their time effectively, and the methods they employed as they executed plans to achieve their goals. Commitment to self-selected goals. When asked to reflect on the development of goals, the participants' answers could be understood in terms of their gradual acceptance of responsibility for planning their lives and their commitment to ownership of these goals. Sometimes, the process of goal selection was a long-term effort, influenced by several variables. In the course of the interviews, students were asked to describe their decision-making process which led them to pursue a postsecondary education. The variables that influenced their decisions included geographical and financial considerations,

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attributes of the university, the influence of family members, and the benefit of knowledge gained from earlier college courses. Woven throughout these various considerations is the theme of self-selection of goals. Participant B recalled how he alrived at the decision to attend the university. I wanted to stay kinda close to home where ... I could have some, some help if I needed it. And ... it's just the fact that the University of Florida was avery, very high, a highly recommended engineering university. (1) Participant C alluded to financial concerns and the fact that the University of 99 Florida is a public institution: "I was going to stay in Florida for financial reasons , and I looked at the rankings and everything .... The only other school that got my attention was the University of Miami and, of course, it's just too expensive. So, I chose Florida for its reputation." Participant B also recalled his decision-making process regarding his subsequent decision about selection of his field of study within engineering. His account reflects the flexibility of thinking he employed, combining new information about specific engineering fields with his primary desire to be an engineer. He said, I really didn't know what I wanted to do. I knew that I liked math and science, and I always thought I was going to do engineering because my cousins and my uncle are engineers .... I really didn't understand what it was until I started getting in the higher math courses and science courses, and they were challenging, very challenging, ... and then I started taking [courses] in health and human performance, like anatomy and physiology. And I, I did very well at that with , with ease. It was, it was amazing. I was surprised at how easily it came to me. And, then I started thinking maybe I should go into this, And then, like right now I, I plan to go into biomedical engineering. So, it kind of, I'm taking electrical engineering courses now to get an electrical engineering degree. And then, from there I'm moving into like, keeping people alive ... because, you know, it's physiology and maybe in the space industry, too. So that's, that's really exciting. I've always wanted to do something in space, and so I kinda, it's, it's opening a large area of, like research .... It can cover anything from prosthetics to life source systems, anything. It's really neat. (104)

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100 Participant D described her goal setting process regarding her postsecondar y education in tenns of the models she had in her own famil y : Urn , I guess my family , my brothers in particular , helped. The y strongl y influenced me .... Actually , everybod y, my aunts , uncles , cousins , parents , everybody went here so , but [my brothers] were the most recent ones ... and I knew they really enjoyed it a lot. And I know , urn , the y were very successful up here and everything , so I hoped to, to follow in their footsteps. (1.4 ) Organization of work and time management. When the interview turned to organization of work and time management , the major theme that emerged was one of personal development and growing awareness of the importance of organizational and time management skills. This theme is reflected in the words the students chose to describe people they considered to be successful and in their evaluation of their own progress toward efficient management of personal and academic resources. The y spoke specifically of persons they knew who exhibited good organizational and time management skills and their own efforts at improvement in these areas. Participant D told of observing friends setting goals and learning from them . When asked about people she knew who practiced good organizational skills , she said , Uh, I guess my, uh , my friends do. They , uh , that's basically where I , I've figured out how to really set like , long teIlll goals , I guess. And like , you know , doing well in , in a particular class or something like that. Urn , and besides them , m y family helped me a lot , too. (2.1) Participant B, who continued the theme of modeling on other people ' s success , told of his efforts to improve his goal setting skills by improving organization of work and time management. His girlfriend served as his model. I know, my, my girlfriend right now, she , she was brought up , uh , with her father showing her, well, I guess in the past five or six years her father ' s trying to show her how to set goals, like short term ones, long term ones. I ' ve asked her many times , like, you need to show me how to do this because I was never taught that. I've never been shown how to write a goal and set a plan to achieve it. And

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101 that's one thing I, I, I'm sad about, you know , my family not reall y wanting me to do that. Because that's vital. You have to , you have to know how to do that. So , like, this right here. I've been writing, like a list of things to do , like each da y . And I just started doing it 'cause she, she kinda said , " OK , this is what you have to do and you're gonna show when you've finished. " So , I write down the stuffl have to do and then I put in a time table to do in the day. And ... I'm amazed at how much stuffl can get done now. (2.1) When asked to describe her long telm or short term goals setting methods , participant D said , Urn , I would like to plan as far ahead as possible but , uh , I ' m , I'm ... not ver y successful at planning, you know , a long time , you know , ahead of time or something. Usually, I can, I'm pretty successful just doing a week at a time and setting up , you know, certain, uh, knowing exactly what I have to do ... as far as like appointments and homework and stuff like that. Knowing , you know , breaking that down in pages that I have to read , you know, and working it out so I only have to read a few pages a day and stuff like that. I usually do that on a week-by-week basis. I try to do it for the whole semester , but when I do that , I find that I get off track and I find it much easier just to look a week or two ahead and then just do it for that one week. (2.2) These thoughts are echoed in those of participant C , who said , I have to set goals for me that I can attain, like , even a month ' s too long. I want to make sure that I, each week , I've got a plan .... Sometimes I do write it down. Honestly, I do write it down. But each week I try to have a plan as far as taking care of, I mean , small things. You know , like daily routines .... Another thing that's very important [is having] ... a daily routine. So , anyway , yes , it's more of a short-telm plan, but building up to one big thing , though. (2.2 ) Participant A presented a different perspective on the theme of work organization and time management. His appreciation for organizational skills perhaps stems from different experiences. When asked if he planned ahead for important events , he replied , I do. I plan for everything except for here at UF. Uh , at home I can make plans because I have more control over them .... Daily living, plan for the future, I normally have plan A, Band C on everything? ... That ' s one of the assets, uh , I have is [being] able to see kind of what happens in the future. (2.2) Execution of plans. The theme of execution of plans contains elements of individuality, judgment, responsibility, and dedication. Many of these qualities were

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102 similar to those discussed in the section which follows. Each of the participants acknowledged that they were better students for executing the plans they had developed to achieve their goals. The three participants quoted below spoke to the theme of executing self-selected plans. Participant A, who was 42 years old, had evolved a highly individualistic system of selecting his courses in accordance with his judgment of how the class requirements would tax him. He adjusted his schedule in order to avoid overreliance on those skill areas that were affected by his disabilities, and, consistent with another major theme of this section, he assumed full responsibility for execution of his plans. When asked who helped him cany out his plans, he referred to one of his favorite metaphors, that of making his own road map. He said, Let me back up on the road map. I meant I take and figure the classes ... in my life, because I try to pair up a hard class and an easy class to balance my load and don't get overwhelmed at anyone time. The reason ... I picked my schedule is because I have some understanding of where I can go and I pick the buildings and all the ... the rooms .... Now, who helps me do that? I don't guess anybody does. (4.5) Participant D also assumed responsibility for execution of her plans, and she indicated that she knew where to go for assistance when she needed it. When asked who bore responsibility for executing her plans, she replied, "Urn, mostly I do it myself. Once I get the help of actually planning it, it's usually left up to me. IfI need help, I know I can go to whoever" (4.5). Participant C mentioned that he developed skill in executing plans while at the community college. He reflected that he was not efficient in executing plans while in high school, but that he had changed over time. He now represented himself as dedicated to accomplishing his goals by focusing on his studies. He said,

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103 Ok, as far as, uh, well, high school, I didn't, those years you don't really count because, obviously, I went straight to community college and realized that I wanted to do more. I knew that community college wasn't hard. I'm not trying to cut down community college, but it wasn't difficult , so I knew that I wanted to go, at least go to a university and, you know , work on a bachelor's. But, my plan. it was pretty simple. I just, I didn't do stupid things. I didn't, uh. I just concentrated on school first, just like all the little commercials say. And , uh, but anyway, that's what I did. I studied always. (2) Resilience in Response to Failure Students who have learning disabilities typically experience a greater incidence of academic difficulties than their peers without leaming disabilities. The most significant themes derived from the interview were those of accurately assessing success and failure, overcoming negative experiences, thinking flexibly, and persisting until successful. Each of these is discussed in the following section. Accurate assessment of success/failure. This section includes comments from two participants who discuss their evaluation of success and failure. Participant 0 reported early failure followed by later success. She appeared capable of dispassionate appraisal of her level of competence. Although she described emotional distress at her initial failure, she ultimately reported satisfaction in her later success. So, I was specializing in, uh, the news segment of it [i.e., telecommunications]. ... You have to be on your feet and you have to , you know, be going all the time, and I could understand why they're saying it [i.e., that she would not succeed because of her learning disability], but I , I got very angry and frustrated. (5.3) After changing her field to operations, she reported success. Well, it's operations, well it's telecommunications, but it ' s operations, where it's not nearly as fast-paced. And, uh, you know, I'm much happier. Yes, the professors are, well, this is the first class this semester I'm taking, actually in the operations sequence of it. And uh, I went to meet with my professor , because my advisor was, uh, doesn't work in the summer, and I went to meet with my professor instead .... He was just like, "If you have any problems at all , come see me." And it was so much better. It's like one hundred percent better that having, you know, yeah, my other professors just being like, "You know, you can't do

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104 this. You know this [learning disability] is going to inhibit y ou. You can ' t do it. You know , you , you ' re gonna have to leave. You know we , we don ' t think y ou should , you know , go through this any more. " ( 5.3 ) Another student, participant C , told briefly of his initially difficult transition and then his later success as a university student. He offers his own assessment of his success. Oh, I've done pretty good. Except for my first semester here , because I was it was a hard transition time. But, after that , once I realized O.K. I have to do something. Do something that will help me do well here so I don ' t have to leave. But I've done awesome. I mean , well , not just with school , but with schoolwork , friends , family, living , being healthy , everything. It sounds silly. People tell you this all the time, you know , to write it down , to whatever. Things you hear every day and just never think about. It works. (2.4) Clearly, the awareness of what is needed to achieve success at the university , and the degree to which they had succeeded or failed, dictated the decisions and shaped the behaviors of these students. This awareness appeared essential to their eventual academic success. In the next section the theme of resilience in the face of failure is exhibited by the • comment of one of the participants. Overcoming negative experiences. The theme of overcoming negative experiences was perhaps most elegantly portrayed by participant D as she recounted her first attempt at university life , her failure , and her eventual return to the site of her failure to experience success. She came to the university in the footsteps of several family members , with high hopes of academic and personal success , only to fail and have to retm n home to her parents. Her comments are particularly worthy of note because of the simple manner in which she takes responsibility for her failure. The theme of overcoming negative experiences was present in all the qualitative interviews , but none of the others expressed it as poignantly. •

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105 Urn, I came here for a year and then I transferred to the community college. And then I transferred back .... I didn't do it on purpose. I wasn ' t doing well up here and I figured it would be best if! went home. So , I wasn ' t ready to be on m y own yet. (2) Flexible thinking. Perhaps no other group of students requires divergent thinking skills more than university students with learning disabilities. Their creative solutions to challenges that could prove to be insurmountable barriers to many students gives expression to the theme of flexible thinking as an essential feature of academic success. As already noted in this presentation of the qualitative investigation , students with learning disabilities perceived themselves to be misunderstood by many of their instructors, and poorly served by some university staff. However , these students also availed themselves of faculty and staff who were supportive , sometimes modeling their approaches to learning on these people. The next section presents the comments of two students who exemplify the theme of flexible thinking. The first is a comment by a student about seeking alternate ways to accomplish goals , despite university regulations , which he considered to be hindrances. He said , I just have a direction and it appears to me as some doors close other doors open. And I'm able to go through 'em. "Uh, nobody [provides academic advisement]. I mean, I got an adviser, but I set my own schedule because I know my own limits ... build my own road map. And I go see the teachers before we start. And I try to build a road map to where I will be successful. Uh, I do get a lot of flack because I'm not going to their tracking chart. Uh, but if I go to their tracking chart, I can, I'm not going to make it. That's that's not an option. Guess what I'm saying to you is, is it's like the first semester. I had to drop a class simply because I physically could not get around to all the resources that are here at the University. (2) The second comment in this section is by a student about library professionals. These members of the university cOImnunity were described as supportive of the participant's efforts to succeed in a highly competitive university environment. The

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106 librarians, as they assisted him with research , also exhibited flexibility of thinking which served as a model for this student. He said , [As part of my responsibilities on my job] I have to find tons of papers for my professors because they're writing textbooks. And I have no idea what some of these things are. I just go up [to the reference librarian] and ... they just tell me exactly where it is. [They say] "Oh, we don't have that at . .. [but] if you go here you'll find it." They've been so helpful. ... They know where it is and like , well , [the reference librarians say], "I've seen that , but this is the code you're gonna use and this is ... this means that ... that we can order it " or "we have no idea where this one is but we can get it from state [i.e. , library loan] or something. " So , they ' ve been very helpful. (3) Persistence leading to success. Participant A described his persistence in terms of his expectations and his determination to extract all the benefit he could from any situation. He stated , But I think where it's [i.e., his university experience] going to payoff as time goes on. I'm able to take junk and build and wear it out two or three times ... I don't know ... I'm not a quitter. So I guess , I don't know how to say quit. (2 ) Two other students echoed the importance of perseverance. Participant C stated simply , "It's just you can ' t quit. That's just it. You can't quit " (8.1). Participant B responded to a question about his difficult living arrangement as a new university student. When asked ifhe considered giving up , he said , Oh, no. No. I, I associated [trouble] more with [the] environment than ... being in that situation .... If! could get out of the situation , then it would be better. I usually try to find the, the better way out ... [rather] than the worst way out. So , I don ' t give up very easily. (1.3) The theme of persistence leading to success surfaced in this interview several times. All four of the participants in the study reported resilience in the aftermath of failure , leading eventually to some measure of personal triumph. The personality markers for academic success for students with learning disabilities appear to fall into four categories: autonomy, locus of identity, goal selection

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107 and implementation , and resilience in response to failure. All the students in the qualitative study stated that autonomy was important, yet they each had reached different levels of autonomy. The participant in the High GPAlLow S-DSS quadrant was most completely autonomous. As a husband and father , he assumed more independent roles than the other three participants. The two participants who were in the Low GP AlLow S-DSS quadrant described themselves as partly dependent on their families for financial support and guidance regarding academic decisions. The participant in the High GPAlHigh S-DSS quadrant was financially independent of his family of origin and entirely self-sufficient regarding academic decisions. All of the participants described autonomy developing over time , and in fact the two who were the oldest were the most autonomous. The student in the High GP AlHigh S-DSS quadrant described a shift in the locus of identity from external to internal during his university experience. In contrast, the two students in the Low GPAlLow S-DSS category provided answers that were consistent with an external locus of identity. All the participants had some degree of understanding of their leaming disabilities, and all of them accepted their learning disabilities. The student who most strongly expressed taking responsibility for self-appraisal was the participant in the High GPAtHigh S-DSS quadrant who stated that he builds his own expectations, rather than accept those of his instructors or peers. All the students reported negative appraisals of their abilities by others. The participant in the High GP AlLow S-DSS quadrant told of early life negative appraisals , while the other students reported more recent negative appraisals. The most poignant of their negative appraisals were those of their instructors. The results of this investigation suggest that these

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students succeed academically, in part, because they are able to rebound from negative appraisals by others. 108 The qualitative study yielded important environmental and personal themes for the participants, illuminating various facets of the relationship between self-determination and academic success for university students with learning disabilities. In the next chapter, these results are discussed.

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CHAPTER 5 DISCUSSION A discussion of the results of the investigation into environmental and personal factors bearing on self-determination and academic success for university students with learning disabilities is presented in this chapter. In general , the results of this dissertation study provide further evidence of the validity of the S-DSS as a measure of selfdetermination (Cronbach ' s alpha = 0.9131). The chapter begins with a discussion of the quantitative and qualitative findings of the study which are reviewed in light ofthe theoretical framework employed in the dissertation. Next , some practical implications of these findings are noted , and a model of coordinated services for university students with learning disabilities is proposed. This model takes into account the environmental and personal factors found in this study to have a bearing on self-determination and academic success and incorporates them as salient features of the institutional infrastructure. Finally , limitations on the generalizability of the results are discussed, and recommendations for further research are suggested. Discussion of the Results of the Quantitative Investigation The results of the quantitative investigation reveal the predictive power of selfdetellnination as a marker for academic success among university students with learning disabilities. In this study students ' total scores on the S-DSS were positively and significantly correlated with their GPAs (Pearson ' s Correlation Coefficient = 0.2859 , 109

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• 110 p = 0.0069). The most parsimonious interpretation of this result would be that undergraduate students at a large university, who have learning disabilities , have registered with the institution, and who are inclined to complete and return survey instruments. are likely to be academically successful to the extent that they have developed the personal qualities depicted by Field and Hoffman (1994). These qualities related to self determination include the abilities to know oneself, value oneself, plan , act, and evaluate outcomes. Individually measured, they provide the subscale scores for the S-DSS ; collectively, they yield a total score which can be interpreted as a measure of self determination. Later in this chapter, a model of coordinated services for university students with leaming disabilities is presented. Each ofField and Hoffman ' s five sub scale areas has an important role to play in defining features of the institutional infrastructure that are proposed. Particular importance is attached to features of the model based on the subscale areas of Plan and Act. These areas of the S-DSS were positively and significantly correlated with students' GPAs (Plan: Pearson's Correlation Coefficient = 0.3430, p = 0.0017; Act: Pearson's Correlation Coefficient = 0.2971 , p = 0.0071). For students with leaming disabilities, success in the university environment appears importantly linked to their accepting responsibility for making appropriate academic plans and then executing them effectively. The institutional infrastructure should be one which facilitates this process. The remaining three subscale areas also have a role to play in the proposed model. In combination with an understanding of their learning disabilities and their determination to plan and act, students must know and value themselves before they will be motivated

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III to make appropriate plans and execute them effectively. Another important area is the ability to evaluate academic outcomes in an objective manner after plans are in place and have been executed. For these three areas, too, it is important that the institution provide a supportive atmosphere attentive to these important aspects of the construct of self determination. Additional implications of this study that influenced the design of the proposed model were gleaned from the qualitative results. Discussion of the Results of the Qualitative Investigation The qualitative investigation provided a broader and deeper understanding of the results of the quantitative research, emphasizing, in particular, the importance of disability awareness, the impact of environmental factors within the institutional infrastructure, and the contribution of social support systems external to the university, all of which bear on the development of self-determination in students with learning disabilities. From these results, implications are drawn as they relate to the model that is introduced for coordination of services within the university environment. The qualitative investigation yielded a variety of themes which may be classified under two broad categories. The first of these encompasses features of institutional support related to academic success and, the second, personality markers for academic success. Salient Features ofInstitutional Support Related to Academic Success Institutional Infrastructure Transition from community college. The qualitative investigation yielded information about students' experiences as they made their transition from community colleges to the university. The participants reported that the ecological niches of the

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112 community colleges were more nurturing than those of the university. Many of their comments suggested differences between the community college environment and the university environment , stressing , in particular , the large size and impersonal qualities of the university. COImnunity colleges were also singled out as more supportive of students ' self-esteem than the university. This perception could be the result of man y factors in combination. One consideration is that many of these students did not ha v e to leave home to attend the cOImnunity college. Attending the university , howe v er. usuall y involved moving away from their homes and introduced many more variables into their lives. Students' comments on the difficulties they had in the university environment suggest they had been unaware of the complexities of independent living and that adequate preparation for these changes had not been made. Additionally , they reported not having a realistic expectation regarding the academic rigors of a university education. These difficulties are consistent with the research about transition to postsecondary education (Goldstein , 1993; Minskoff, 1989; Repetto and Correa , 1995 ; Serebrini et aI., 1993). • • • . . ' COImnunication of information vital to students. One of the areas that represented the greatest problems for students in the university setting was that of cOImnunication. They reported difficulties in receiving adequate and timely information about course selection, program requirements, scholarships protocols , and university deadlines. Furthermore, they rarely expressed satisfaction with their ability to • communicate their needs and desires to staff and faculty in the university environment. Their reports of having misunderstood how things were done , and when they needed to -. ..... • be done (requirements and deadlines), suggest that communication protocols had not been

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113 grasped or utilized well by these students in their earl y experiences at the universit y . The more successful students among those interviewed reported this to be particularl y frustrating in their early experience but less vexing as they adapted to the rigors and demands of the university. The deficits in communication skills found in this stud y are consistent with those widely reported in the literature (Butler , 1995 ; Gerber , Ginsberg , &Reiff , 1992 , 1993 , 1997; Ryan , 1993 , 1994; Rosenthal , 1992) . Adequate academic advisement. University students must decide which course s to take and when to change their academic programs. For students with learning disabilities, these essential activities can be particularly challenging. When there are man y courses from which to select, multiple levels of requirements to satisfy , and numerous deadlines to meet , students often rely on the professional staff of the institution to guide them. The reports of the students in the qualitative study indicate that they were not well satisfied with the academic advising services of the university. Perhaps the difficulties lie with the interactive effects of university demands and learning disabilities. In terms of Bronfenbrenner's nested and interrelated systems , the university is a " mega system" with multiple interconnected systems (academic departments , financial affairs , academic advising, etc.) and nested systems (programs within departments , departments within colleges, colleges within the university). The students in this study appear to have had particular difficulties with academic advisement , in part at least , because their advisors were not always aware of the policies and procedures of other systems within the university. When students with learning disabilities are given inconsistent responses from university officials , they are particularly disadvantaged. If the students themselves cannot sort through conflicting information of this kind, then the professional advising

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114 staff must be able to do so for them (Brinckerhoff, McGuire , & Shaw 1993; Kavales & Forness, 1996; Mallory, 1996). What these problems appear to suggest is a need for academic advisors to understand learning disabilities and the need for coordination of services within the institutional infrastructure. The model proposed later in this chapter seeks to address this issue. Social Support Systems Family, friends, and roommates. The results of this investigation corroborate and expand on the earlier findings of Weiss (1997) and are consistent with Chickering (1969), Bronfenbrenner (1972), and Erikson (1950). Students consider their social support systems vital to their success. They find comfort, encouragement, and relaxation with their families, friends, and roommates. They also find role models for successful behaviors. This last finding is particularly instructive because students with learning disabilities are often delayed in learning appropriate behaviors (Rosenthal, 1992; Goldstein, 1993; Rudolph & Luckner, 1990; Serebrini et aI., 1993) and respond well to opportunities to learn from role models in group treatment (Rudolph & Luckner , 1990). Students in the qualitative investigation reported experiences similar to those cited in the literature, which addresses difficulties with interpersonal relationships, and attendant stress arising from these difficulties (Gerber, Reiff, & Ginsberg, 1992; Mallory, 1996; Patton & Palloway, 1990). However, when peer relationships are positive, they can have far-reaching benefits for students with learning disabilities. Two students, in particular , reported that they initially achieved an awareness of their own learning disabilities because friends of roommates had suggested they be evaluated for this possibility.

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115 Significant others. Perhaps the most important changes in interpersonal relationships experienced by these participants involved dyadic relationships with significant others. Some students told of happy and stable relationships which affirmed them as individuals and provided them with a holistic appreciation of themselves. These relationships were sometimes in marked contrast to other, negative relationships, often associated with earlier periods of isolation. The participants spoke of incorporating academic activities into time spent with their significant others. One spoke of his girlfriend's system of time management, and her efforts to teach him her system in order to improve his chances for academic success. Another told of his girlfriend ' s efforts to organize his time and maintain his focus. Both of these men referred to their girlfriends as role models. A third participant credited his wife with recognizing his abilities and encouraging him despite obstacles he encountered in the university environment. Support of this kind seems to be of great importance for these students and is consistent with the theoretical frameworks of Chickering (1969) and Erikson (1950). Role of Faculty Class size and faculty accessibility. Participants consistently reported that the size of their classes and the inaccessibility of their instructors were two major differences between the university experience and any other educational experience they had had. They unifOImly regarded the large classes and the remoteness of the faculty as particularly challenging for them because of their leaming disabilities. This is consistent with the research reported by Rosenthal (1992) who described how negative perceptions can lead to a fragile sense of self for students with lea rning disabilities. This diminished sense of self, in tum, may lead students to seek the approval of faculty and cause them to

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116 react negatively in the perceived absence of any encouragement. In any case , the limited availability of instructors for consultation and clarification of course content, in particular , poses problems for students with learning disabilities, as documented by Wehmeyer (1993) and Wi1chelsky and Reynolds (1985). Student perception of instructors' assessment. Students reported that some of their instructors assessed them as inadequate because of their learning disabilities. This perception was grounded in their reported history of negative interactions with some faculty members. They stated that these instructors attempted to discourage them from pursuit of some academic goals solely on the basis of their awareness of the students' learning disabilities, and this, in tum, often led them to lower their own expectations. This contrasts with the research of Houck, Asselin, Troutman, and Arrington (1992) who found that faculty specifically denied altering academic expectations of their students with lea ming disabilities. Faculty, perhaps more than any other group, define the ecological niche (Bronfenbrenner, 1972) called the "university experience." They exert an important influence on the experience of their students. Another aspect of this relationship is the significance some students place on their instructors' regard for them. This was most evident in the interviews of the participants who were not highly successful academically and less evident in the interviews of those who were. This finding is consistent with Rosenthal's (1992) idea of perception of self being detennined by significant others and brings into play Erikson's (1950) theory of identity being a developmental issue revisited throughout life.

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In the next section a discussion of the accuracy of faculty knowledge regarding learning disabilities is presented from the perspective of the student. 117 Knowledge and attitudes of faculty regarding learning disabilities. Students in this study were asked to describe faculty knowledge ofleallling disabilities. Uniformly. they described faculty who appeared to know very little about learning disabilities. This finding was consistent with the research of Asselin (1993) , McCarthy and Campbell (1993), and Houck, Asselin, Troutman, and Arrington (1992). They also told of faculty attitudes which were inconsistent and sometimes hostile to students with learning disabilities, as reported by Nelson, Dodd , and Smith (1990), Norton (1997) , and Lundeberg and Svien (1988). Faculty knowledge and attitudes toward students with learning disabilities influence student personal development because teachers are involved in students ' work. thereby influencing the experiences they have which could impact their sense of industry (Chickering, 1969; Erikson, 1950). If students perceive their work is discounted because they have leaming disabilities, as reported by the participants in this study, they may feel thwarted in their efforts toward personal growth and industry. In the next section, themes from the qualitative investigation identifying personality markers for academic success are discussed. Personality Markers for Academic Success Autonomy Importance of autonomy for the student. The question of autonomy is central to self-determination. Aberry (1993) spoke of autonomy as fundamental to human dignity and an essential quality of a good life. Students with leaming disabilities, by their own

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118 reports in the qualitative investigation, value autonomy highly. Academic success increases as a function of the extent of autonomy achieved by the student, as reported in the quantitative study and confirmed by the qualitative interviews. The importance of self-detelmination reported by participants in this study echoes the words of numerous researchers (Day & Edwards , 1993 ; Lehman , Deniston , Tobin , & Howard , 1996 ; Mallory , 1996 ; Sands & Doll , 1996 ; Shaw , 1994; Wall & Datillo , 1996 ; Wehmeyer , 1993). Development of autonomy over time. The reports of the participants of their development of autonomy over time is consistent with the theoretical framework for this study. Erikson (1950) presented the idea of repeated visits to this issue as people mature, and Chickering (1969) focused on the specific development of autonomy over time by college age students. Locus of Identity Taking responsibility for self-assessment. Locus of identity is a term introduced in this chapter to reflect more precisely the idea that a student ' s self-understanding can be based primarily either on external or internal expectations. Locus of identity is similar to locus of control (Rotter, 1972) but the emphasis is on self-understanding. This is because the basis for self-understanding is logically prior to whatever expression of control may result from it. The developmental task for autonomy involved with locus of identity is one of shifting the source and ground of expectations for oneself from others to oneself. The two subscales of the S-DSS which address this task are Know Yourself and Value Yourself. Introduction of this telln is an attempt to move theory closer to practice. Locus of identity is a construct postsecondary professionals could employ within the

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proposed model in order to facilitate academic success for university students with lea r lung disabilities. 119 Understanding and acceptance of leanung disabilities. The idea that students with leallung disabilities need to understand and accept their disabilities and take upon themselves the formation of their own identity , as described in the literature ( Field , 1996 ), was explored in this study and found to be very important. Students who understood their limitations and their strengths , and who rejected additional limitations imposed on them by the expectations of others , were found to be the most successful students. The ability to understand and accept one ' s own identity , including significant limitations and strengths , could be considered a part of self advocacy (Van Reusen & Bos , 1990) . It would also appear to be consistent with the mastery necessary for self-determination suggested by Wehmeyer (1993). Rebounding from negative appraisals by others. The shift from external to internal expectations for oneself requires the ability to rebound from the negative appraisals of others. This is evident from the results of the qualitative investigation and consistent with the findings of Gerber, Ginsberg, and Reiff (1992) , Rosenthal (1992 ), and Perosa (1996). Goal Selection and Implementation Commitment to self-selected goals. The qualitative investigation supported the result of the quantitative investigation that students who choose their own goals , and commit themselves to the work of achieving these goals, do better academically at universities like the University of Florida. In this regard , the participants responded to questions about goal selection in ways that mirrored their levels of achievement.

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120 The student whose GPA and S-DSS scores were both above the mean described his goal selection process. He reported having initiated this process while at the university as a result of his experiences in the classroom and his growing awareness of career opportunities in the field. He expressed emphatically his commitment to the goals he had selected and his behaviors were consistent with his verbalizations. As a poignant indication of this , when his finances became strained, he worked three jobs to generate the income needed to stay in school. The two students whose GPA and S-DSS scores were both more than one standard deviation below the mean also verbalized commitment to their goals; however , they were less articulate and less emphatic in describing the process of goal selection , and they frequently did not appear to assume explicit ownership of their goals. Instead , the y often reported relying on their families to guide them in this process. The model of support services for students with learning disabilities , which is presented later in this chapter , describes the institutional infrastructure necessary for appropriate assistance to students as they select their own goals and commit to them. Organization of work and time management. The gap between planning and acting for university students is bridged by the ability to organize work and manage time. Participants in the qualitative investigation described difficulties in both of these areas. The students who were more successful reported circuitous routes to their goals. One spoke of repeated consultations with different faculty members in search of organizing principles and aids to learning. He described the process as " making my own road map. " Another student confided that he had taken many more courses than necessary because of poor organization and planning. Eventually , he had learned to organize his work and

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121 manage his time effectively, but only through trial and error. In order to reach their current levels of academic success, these students had adapted , but not efficiently, to the rigors of university life. In Bronfenbrenner's (1972) terms , they had learned how to negotiate the complicated systems of the university. The two participants who were less successful each expressed a desire to become more organized and efficient, although neither had a specific plan to do so. Although the literature reports many hurdles confronting students with learning disabilities, the specific issues of time management and organization of work have received little attention. The model presented later in this chapter addresses these issues within the fra mework of facilitating student development of appropriate learning strategies. Execution of plans. All of the participants in the qualitative investigation appeared to accept responsibility for carrying out plans to achieve their goals. They understood that there was a major difference between making plans and executing them. The students with GPAs above the mean reported acting in ways which were focused on achieving their goals, yet flexible in adapting to obstacles. They drew on their own prior experiences when executing plans. The participants whose GP As were more than one standard deviation below the mean did not articulate as vividly these qualities of focus and flexibility in acting on plans to achieve goals. These findings are consistent with those of Gerber, Ginsberg, and Reiff (1992) regarding highly successful adults with learning disabilities and the control they exercise over their lives, and the later results of these same researchers (1997) regarding self advocacy, reframing learning disabilities, and understanding developmental phases.

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122 Resilience in Response to Failure Accurate assessment of success / failure. The students in the qualitative stud y all demonstrated resilience in response to failure. They each had experienced negative outcomes and had learned from these outcomes. The degree to which each student was able to assess situations accurately in terms of success or failure varied. One student whose GPA and S-DSS scores were both above the mean reported initially underestimating how well he had done in one class , only to discover later that he was one of the top students. This experience prompted him to evaluate his success and failure more objectively. The two participants whose scores were more than one standard deviation below the mean reported fewer experiences and less progress in this area of selfawareness. The necessity for making accurate assessments of success and failure arises from the need students have to alter their plans , demonstrating flexible thinking when they recognize their outcomes are not as they intended. The ability to respond in this way entails skills which are developed over time (Erikson , 1950) and can be taught (Day & Edwards , 1993; Sands & Doll , 1996 ; Shaw , 1993; Wall & Datillo , 1976 ; Wehmeyer , 1993). They include self-awareness , personal care , communication and interpersonal skills, and self-advocacy. Overcoming negative experiences. Students in the qualitative investigation had overcome negative experiences in education regarding learning disabilities. Some had come further than others. The students who were more than one standard deviation below the mean for GPA and S-DSS scores had not shaken off their negative experiences as completely as those whose scores were above the mean. The students with lower scores

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commented about negative experiences in terms that reflected more pain than anger, and less commitment to doing things differently in the future. This is consistent with the work of Rosenthal (1992) who explored psychological concerns of postsecondary students with learning disabilities about self-esteem and self-efficacy , particularly in the context of stressors for the college experience. However, limited research is available regarding postsecondary students with learning disabilities overcoming negative • expenences. Flexible thinking. The ability to think flexibly is of key importance for students with learning disabilities because they need to address learning situations in ways which take account of their disabilities. Participants in the qualitative investigation exhibited flexible thinking, and those whose GP As were above the mean were especially flexible. They reported solutions to problems others may have found intractable. One had addressed his deficits in learning by aggressively seeking out faculty who could provide expertise for solving specific problems. Another had confronted the loss of his scholarship and dwindling financial support from his family by working three jobs while attending the university. Although the literature does not specifically address the importance of flexibility of thinking for these students, research in other areas may provide a clue. The limited ability of students with learning disabilities to apply flexible thinking in problem-solving situations may be related to their limited social and community experiences as reported by Patton and Palloway (1992). Persistence leading to success. Students in the qualitative investigation responded to questions about persistence by stating that it was essential to academic success. They

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124 told of continuing to study , meeting with advisors , going to tutoring , retaking courses when necessary , even moving home to regroup, rather than abandoning their dreams. The essential message was "Do not quit; Persistence will payoff." The y spoke of repeatedl y seeking out faculty for help despite histories of negative responses from some of these same instructors. They told of changing majors , or even changing colleges , but not of giving up. They believed not only that persistence was essential to success but also that they had to persist longer than most other students in order to succeed. Persistence is an integral feature of the model that is presented later in this chapter. Other research , such as that of Weller, Watteyne , and Herbert (1995) , explored adaptive behaviors of adults with disabilities but did not focus on persistence. Practical Implications of the Research Findings The theoretical implications of the research findings are that the students with learning disabilities who are able to plan and act on their plans , and who score higher on a measure of self-determination, are the students who also experience greater academic success. The practical implications of this finding for educators are that we need to recognize that students have to become more self-determined in order to succeed academically , we need to address self-determination as a cuniculum matter, and we need to monitor students ' progress in developing the specific subskills which comprise self determination. The fundamental soundness of this approach is sustained by the theories of Erikson (1950) , Chickering (1969), and Bronfenbrenner (1972) about the developmental tasks of university students and the importance of the environment for human development. University students need to be autonomous and to have a sense of themselves as individuals who make decisions about the important matters in their own

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lives. They need to see themselves as individuals who know and value themselves. and they need to take actions according to responsible plans in order to achieve their academic goals. Finally , they need to exhibit the behaviors indicative of reflective thinking and selfawareness consistent with an accurate evaluation of outcomes. The encouragement and enhancement of these developmental tasks can be greatly facilitated through appropriate professional support within the framework of the university environment. In the following section a model of coordinated services for university students with learning disabilities is proposed. This model seeks to provide support for students' developmental tasks in a structured and timely manner. The model presented is an attempt to bring to practice the theoretical research reviewed and developed in this study. It draws most directly from Field and Hoffman (1994) and is framed by the ideas of Erikson (1950), Bronfenbrenner (1972) , and Chickering (1969). A Model of Coordinated Services for University Students . " Disability awareness is the cornerstone of the model proposed (see Figure 4). Students with leaming disabilities who understand their disabilities, internalize their locus of identity, and make appropriate academic plans and execute them effectively achieve higher levels of self-determination and greater academic success. In the proposed modeL students progress in the direction of the central arrow in the figure , beginning with disability awareness, moving through locus of identity, goal selection and pursuit , and persistence in response to failure. Navigation ofthese areas leads the student to achieve a level of self-determination sufficient for academic success. As students progress in the direction of the arrow, they develop a greater sense of autonomy, a more fully internalized locus of identity, more appropriate goal selection with more effective goal

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., ., ., ro 1:: 0 Po ro ..... 0 .... 'E 0 0 0 Figure 4. UNIVERSITY SYSTEMS Transition In Counselling Advisement I earning Strategies Faculty and Staff Accommodations Transition Out DISABILITY AWARENESS University Student with Learning Disability Locus of Identity LI '7 Goal Selection '7 ---------Pursuit of Goals '7 Persistence Self-Determination Academic Success SOCIAL SUPPORT SYSTEMS Family of Origin Friends and Roommates Significant Others A Model of Coordinated Services for University Students with Learning Disabilities. 126

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127 attainment, and greater persistence in the face of difficulties. As they accomplish these • developmental tasks, they improve their self-determination. Not surprisingly, therefore. academic success and self-determination increase together. The model assumes that university students with learning disabilities are individuals whose academic work is impacted by two categories of ecological systems, those of the university and those of the social support network. An idealized structuring of the university systems is an inherent feature of the proposed model and appears to the left of the central arrow in Figure 4. The social support network appears to the right of the central anow. This latter network, while an integral feature of the proposed model. is not under the aegis of the university and, moreover, differs in its exact composition from student to student. University personnel, however, who work with these students, do need to be aware of the impact of this network on the individual and factor in its influence when assisting students. The remainder of this section addresses several additional components of the proposed model. University Systems Transition In Students who succeed in postsecondary education need adequate preparation before they arrive on campus. Designated personnel at the university should be importantly involved with the coordination of activities which facilitate transition to the university. This involvement should include liaison with high schools sending students with learning disabilities to the university. These students should be encouraged to visit the university prior to admission and should be afforded opportunities during these visits to meet with appropriate staff for an orientation which specifically explains the

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128 university systems in place to meet their exceptional needs. A similar service should be available to students arriving at the university from community colleges . Here , too, liaison with the sending institution is an important function. The providing of timel y and accurate information , counseling , and advisement should result from a seamless and coordinated effort between these postsecondary institutions and the universit y . The students would then arrive at the university with a more realistic picture of the complexity and intensity of the university environment , some initial strategies for coping , and a working knowledge of the network of professional support in place for them. An emphasis on "transition in" emerges as a component of the Model of Coordinated Services because self-determination requires appropriate and timely attention to planning , an important component of the Field and Hoffman model (1994). Counseling Students with disabilities generally benefit from counseling in areas having a bearing on the development of personal and professional relationships , communication skills, career planning , and self-esteem , all of which have an impact on academic success (Kavales & Forness, 1996; Peters, Koller & Holliday, 1995; Rosenthal , 1992 ; Lynch & Gussel , 1996; Enright, Conyers & Szymanski , 1996). Group counseling for social skills enhancement and individual counseling for developmentai and interpersonal issues should both be available for these students and tailored for their special needs. The proposed model does not preclude coordination of referral to other agencies or campus departments for counseling if these services are provided by professionals with competencies related to adults with learning disabilities.

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129 The importance attached to counseling services for postsecondary students with learning disabilities derives from the Know Yourself and Value Yourself components of the Field and Hoffman model (1994). Many students with learning disabilities require mediation and guidance as they progress in their efforts toward self-discovery. Professional staff in postsecondary institutions should be aware of the impact of learning disabilities on the need for counseling services. Academic Advisement Students should be supported in their efforts to progress toward selfdetermination, and appropriate academic advisement is an integral feature of the • postsecondary program of services necessary to achieve this goal. Postsecondary advisors should incorporate the theme of self-determination in their approach to advising students with leaming disabilities. The model suggests that self-determination be considered a primary goal of advising and counseling. In particular, academic advisors should be aware of the developmental components of self-determination and foster selfdetermination in every aspect of their advisement. They must also be aware of the impact learning disabilities have on these students, so that they are better able to inform course selection and clllriculum choices involving scope and sequence. Accurate and timely information, too, is essential for sound decision making. With the benefit of this heightened sensitivity in all these areas, advisors should then be in a position to guide these students without inappropriately discouraging them from pursuit of work in highly demanding academic areas.

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The role of academic advisement in the university experience of students with leaming disabilities assumes considerable weight in the proposed model because it corresponds to the Plan component ofField and Hoffman ' s model (1994 ) . Learning Strategies 130 The opportunity for developing effective learning strategies appears in the proposed model as an integral part of services for students with learning disabilities. These strategies should be individualized for each student drawing from psychoeducational evaluations of the student and directed at mastery of specific course content. They should be taught by a professional who is educated and experienced in both counseling and teaching. These strategies should reflect an emphasis on time management and organization of work and should be framed in ways consistent with fostering self-determination. Students should be encouraged to develop and use self monitoring skills to ascertain which learning strategies are most effective for them in particular situations. Opportunities for strategy training should be made available to these students upon enrolling at the university and then on a continuing basis throughout their academic careers. In the language ofField and Hoffman ' s model (1994) , learning strategies promote self-determination in the areas of planning , acting , and evaluating outcomes. Faculty and Staff An integral feature of the proposed model requires the development and implementation of a plan to provide faculty with pertinent information about learning disabilities. This infonuation should include attention to the exceptional needs of students with learning disabilities and to appropriate strategies for communicating

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131 effectively with them and assisting them in their quest of academic achievement. As with other components of the model, communication and assistance should spring from empathetic relationships which foster self-determination. In practical terms, this means that faculty should aspire to communicate with these students in ways which avoid the appearance of undervaluing their capabilities and potential for success. They should encourage and assist them in the use of accommodations approved by the university and essential to their academic performance. Lastly, they should exhibit a willingness to meet with these students, perhaps more frequently and for longer periods of time than other students may require, in order that they may fully absorb what they need to do for mastery of course content and the successful completion of course objectives. Staff employees of the university, who have frequent contact with these students, should be provided with similar, though less intensive, inservice opportunities for acquiring essential information about learning disabilities and strategies for communicating with students who have them. This component of the model, with its emphasis on faculty participation, embraces four aspects of self-detelmination identified by Field and Hoffman (1994), Value Oneself, Act, Plan, and Evaluate Outcomes. Accommodations Students with disabilities often rely on specific accommodations to compensate for their disabilities. These accommodations are determined by the university on an individual basis and should take into account particular environmental factors (e.g., physical characteristics of the classroom, laboratory, or lecture hall; method of examination delivery; location or time of examinations; etc.) and personal characteristics

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of the student (e.g., specific leaming disabilities, individual areas of academic strength or weakness, etc.). This process requires that these students are able to conceptualize their needs, make decisions about possible solutions to their problems, and seek and utilize appropriate accOlmnodations. The accommodations process corresponds to the Plan and Act components of the self-determination model of Field and Hoffman (1994). Transition Out Students with learning disabilities require career planning and assistance with transition to the world of work or, in some instances, to professional or graduate studies. The process of transitioning out of the university can serve as a catalyst for self• evaluation and self-affirmation for these students, affording them an opportunity to review their progress and acknowledge, at least to themselves, that they have succeeded at the very difficult task of eaming a university degree. Deciding what to do next gives the student a chance to use planning skills. The process of applying and interviewing for jobs or for advanced study also requires the ability to act on plans. The "transition out" component of the proposed model, therefore, integrates all five components of the Field and Hoffman model of self-determination. The Role of Coordinator The coordinator of services for students with disabilities must have a clear vision of the importance of self-determination for students with learning disabilities. Every program, policy, and decision made for students with learning disabilities should be framed in the context of enhancing self-determination. This requires that students be supported in their efforts to be aware of their disabilities, to respect their own strengths and be cognizant of their limitations, to develop plans and execute those plans effectively,

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1"'''' .).) and to evaluate the outcomes of their actions and alter future behaviors when necessary. Within the proposed model, the coordinator would accomplish these goals by insuring that its component parts are fully operational and cooperatively interactive. Ongoing program evaluation would be a major responsibility of this person. In the proposed model the coordinator would sit on university admissions and petitions committees and be available as a consultant for college and departmental committees regarding disability • lssues. Limitations on the Generalizability of the Study The results of this study may be limited in their generalizability by particular characteristics of the participants as well as by institutional features specific to the University of Florida. As a group, the students who participated in this study may have had high scores on the S-DSS because they had already addressed developmental issues of identity and industry (Erikson, 1950) and had at least begun the process toward maturity described by Chickering (1969). In brief, many of them were already manifesting the traits which these theorists have identified as essential for success. This may not be at all typical of students at other colleges and universities that have less competitive admission standards and more lenient grading policies. Many of the participants in this study had followed circuitous routes to arrive at the University of Florida. A large number of them attended community colleges and/or smaller 4-year colleges prior to arriving at this institution. This pattern may not be the same for students with learning disabilities at other universities. Further research will be necessary to establish whether or not this is the preferred route for students to take.

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134 All of the students in the study had completed a minimum of 30 semester hours of college credit. Their personal characteristics, therefore , which bear on self-determination and academic success, may differ from those of their generally younger and less experienced classmates with fewer hours of credit. A number of the students in this study also took advantage of opportunities afforded by community colleges after they enrolled at the university, substituting smaller classes at neighboring community colleges for much larger lecture classes at the university. While this was a limited option for them, involving only a few courses, it may not represent an opportunity typically available at other institutions. The mean age of the participants in the study was 24, and one standard deviation above and below the mean included students from 19 to 28 years of age. Consequently , the results of the investigation may not be generalizable to other institutions which typically enroll older students. No significant differences regarding self-detennination and academic success were found in the study between female and male students. Recommendations for Further Research The results of this study suggest many areas of future inquiry. Several of these are mentioned and briefly discussed in this final section of the chapter. Longitudinal Study of Adults with Learning Disabilities A longitudinal study of adults with learning disabilities might investigate the extent to which self-determination in college students is predictive of success in the world of work and whether or not self-detennination remains stable over time in the face of the adult's adjustment to new institutional structures. The results of this kind of

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135 investigation could answer important questions about whether skills acquired in coping with the university environment are transferable to the world of work. Use of Accommodations Further research might explore what use students with learning disabilities make of accommodations available to them while they are attending the university. Possible questions might include the following: How do students develop awareness of their accommodation needs? How do they communicate their needs to appropriate university personnel? How do students with learning disabilities utilize their accommodations and are there ways of maximizing the benefits of using them? Is there a need for improvement in the area of service delivery? How can accommodation use best be evaluated? What are the outcomes for students who use accommodations? What is the educational background and experience of university personnel who make decisions regarding the identification and approval of appropriate accommodations? Communication Skills The present study underscores the importance of adequate communication skills for university students with leaming disabilities. Limitations on their ability to understand information communicated to them often present problems for them. This difficulty is magnified in a large, competitive university where stringent academic standards are maintained through enforcement of complex rules and procedures. Students with learning disabilities typically report problems acquiring accurate and timely information about course requirements, deadlines, scholarship rules, and class assignments. They also express difficulty communicating effectively with faculty and

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136 staff. Research into specific areas of deficiency in communication skills and the impact these areas have on academic success could prove very useful. Transition to the University Environment Students with learning disabilities report encountering significant adjustment issues when they enroll at the university whether they come directly from high school or from a cOImnunity college or another 4-year institution. The university environment imposes heavy demands on all students and even greater burdens on those with learning disabilities. The necessity of managing issues of daily living (e.g. , apartments , food , laundry , transportation , and recreation) while , at the same time , adapting to the academic demands of the university can prove very challenging for students with leaming disabilities. Further research might explore the particular environmental factors which impede or facilitate academic success and personal growth as students make their transition to the university. Qualities of Peer Mentoring Another area of research interest is peer mentoring. A study might be undertaken to determine whether or not , and if so, to what extent , younger students with learning disabilities could benefit from the experiences of successful older students who also have leaming disabilities. A study might be designed which pairs students according to academic fields or career interests. An alternative approach could be mentoring arrangements which bridge the transition from cOImnunity college to the university. Locus of Identity According to human development theory , very young children acquire their identity as a reflection of their parents ' perception of them (Rosenthal , 1992 ) . As the

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137 child matures into an adolescent, other persons' perceptions of the emerging adolescent contribute to the identity assumed. As the mature adolescent approaches adulthood, the locus of identity shifts from external to internal sources. This enables the person to become more fully autonomous. Basic research is needed into variables which may influence the shift from an external to internal locus of identity. For students with learning disabilities, some of these variables might be environmental, such as educational opportunities and experiences, and others might be based on personality characteristics, such as resilience in response to failure. Selection of Academic Fields Further research might investigate levels of academic success and self determination for students with learning disabilities in various academic disciplines. For these students, the decision to study a particular discipline may be influenced by specific personality traits and environmental factors. It may be, too, that certain career paths are more readily obtainable for these students. Types of Postsecondary Institutions The type of postsecondary institution in which students with learning disabilities are initially enrolled could influence the degree to which these students are later successful. Community colleges appear to provide easier transition from high school to upper division studies than that achieved by students who begin their postsecondary education at the university; however, further research is needed in this area.

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APPENDIX A SELF-DETERMINA TION STUDENT SCALE (S-DSS)

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Name __________________________ ___ Dale ___________________ _ Self-Determination Student Scale Alan Holfman. EdD. Sharon L Ficld. EdD. Shlomo S . S.wilo""lcy, Ph.D . Directions: Read each statement carefully . [f the statement describes you or your beliefs, place an "X" in the box labeled "That's me," [fthe statement does not describe you or your beliefs, place an "X" in the box labeled "That's not me , " For example, if the statement below describes you, an "X" is placed in the square "That's me ." A. I prefer sporting activities to academic studies . That's That's me nOI me 139 That's That ' s me not me o That's ThaI's me nol me

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• I 5 . I would not practice in my mind giving a speech to a class because it would just Make me nervous. 16. I do not know my weaknesses. 17. My weaknesses stop me from being successful. 18. I do things without making a plan . 19. I know my strengths. 20 . I do not know where to find help when I need it. 21. It is a waste of time to Th at"s That"s me n o t me 0 0 0 0 0 0 o o 0 0 0 0 0 0 reflect on why things turned out the way they did . 22. I dream about what my 0 0 life will be like after I finish school. 23. I tell others what I want. 0 0 24 . If I want something, 0 0 I keep at it . 25 . I think about how I 0 0 could have done something better. 26 . I make decisions without knowing if I have options . 27 . I forget to think about what is good for me when I do things . 28 . I am frequently surprised by what happens when I do things . 29 . I am too shy to tell others what I want . 30. I am too scared to take risks . 31. Criticism makes me angry . 32. I am embarrassed when I succeed. 33. I plan to explore many options before choosing a career. 34. I prefer to negotiate rather than to demand or give in. 35. I would rather have the teacher assign me a topic for a project than to create one myself. 36. I am unhappy with who I am. 140 That" $ That' s me n o ! me 0 0 0 0 0 0 o o 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

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J 7 . My life has no direction. J 8 . [ imagine myself failing before I do things. 39 . I like to know my options before making a decision . 40. I think about what is good for me when I do things. 41. Before [ do something, I think about what might happen . 42 . My friends are lucky to know me . 43. I know what grades I am working toward in my classes. 44 . Doing weU in school does not make me feel good. 45 . When I want something different from my friend, we find a solution that makes us both happy. 46. It is important for me to know what I do well in being a good friend. That's ThaI's me:: no t me 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 o o T nal ' ! ThaI' ; me not me 47 . [n an argument, I am 0 0 responsible for how I act on my feelings . 48 . I wish someone would 0 0 tell me what to do when I finish school. 49 . I like who I am . 0 0 50 . Goals give my life 0 0 direction . 51. I imagine myself 0 0 being successfuL 52 . Personal hygiene is 0 0 • Important to me . 53. My experiences in 0 0 school will not affect my career choice. 54 . When I am with friends, I 0 0 tell them what I want to do. 55 . If I am unable to solve a puzzle quickly, I get frustrated and stop . 56. I make changes to improve my relationship with my family. 0 0 o o 141

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That's That's me n o t me 57 . I do not know if my parents' beliefs are important to me. D 58. If I need help with a school D project, I can figure out where to get it. 59 . I am easily discouraged D when I fail. 60 . I do things the same way D even if there might be a better way. 61. I know what is important 0 when choosing my friends. 62 . I could not describe my 0 strengths and weaknesses in school. 63 . I like to solve puzzles . 0 64 . Nothing good could come 0 from admitting to myself that I am having difficulty in a class , 65. At the end of the marking 0 period, I compare my grades to those I expected. D D D 0 0 0 0 0 0 66 . It is silly to dream about what I will do when I finish school. Tha t' s T n Jt ' s me no t me D D 67 . I do not panicipate in school D 0 activities because I have nothing to contribute . 68 . I accept some criticism 0 0 and ignore some . 69 . I give in when I have 0 0 differences with others . 70 . I do not look back to judge 0 0 my perfoilJlance . 71. I tell my friends what I 0 D want to do when we go out. 72 . I know how to 0 0 compensate for my weaknesses in sports . 73 . I ask , or look 0 0 at a map before going , to a new place, 74 . I like to be called 0 0 on in class , 75. When I am angry with 0 0 my friends, I talk with them about it. , 142

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143 That's That's That's That ' s me not me me n o t me 76. I like it when my friends 0 0 8S. Before I give a report 0 0 see me do welL in class, I go over it in my mind. 77. When going through 0 0 86. r talk about people without 0 0 the cafeteria line, r pick considering how it might the first thing. affect them. 78. I know how to get help 0 0 87. I feel proud when I 0 0 when I need it. succeed. 79. I prefer to flip through 0 0 88. When we are deciding 0 0 pages, rather than to use what to do, I just listen the index . to my friends . 80. r think about how well 0 0 89. When deciding what to do 0 0 I did something . with my friend, it is not possible for both of us to be satisfied. 81. I do not volunteer in 0 0 90. When I want good grades, 0 0 class because I will I work until I get them . be embarrassed if I am wrong. 82. I do not know where to 0 0 91. If my team wins, there is 0 0 get help to decide what nothing to be gained by I should do after I reviewing my perf 01 mance . finish school. 83. If my friends criticize 0 0 92. Before starting a part-time 0 0 something I am wearing, job or extracurricular I would not wear it again. activity, I think about how it might affect my school work . 84 . I do not like to review 0 0 my test results .

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, APPENDIXB SELF-DETERMINATION STUDENT SCALE (S-DSS): PSYCHOMETRIC INFORMATION • • • • --"-1&-•

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• Psychometric Information Sample Scores were obtained from 416 students. The mean age was 16.3 (sd = 1.6), ranging from 14 to 22. Of these students, 225 (54.1 %) were identified to have disabilities and 171 (41.1 %) did not, with disability infollllation missing on 20 (4.8%) students. The disabilities represented were: autism (.5%), mental retardation (8.4%), multiple disabilities (1.7%), orthopedic impairment (1.4%), other health impaiIIllent (3.8%), serious emotional disturbance (2.9%), specific learning disability (31 %), speech or language impailUlent (2.4%), visual impaiIIllent, including blindness (.2%), and the remaining students were classified as having disabilities but the disability category was not reported. The proportions of ethnicity were: African-American (19.7%), Asian or Pacific Islander (3.1 %), Hispanic (4.8%), Native American (I %), White, non-Hispanic (47.6%), Other (15.1 %) and 8.7% did not indicate their race. Of these students, 139 (33.4%) participated in the Field and Hoffman (1992) Steps to Self-Determination curriculum, and 277 (66.6%) did not participate, representing the control group in that regard . 145

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Correlational Information The S D S S i s comprised of a crossed semantic differential : P os itive Negative and General _ S pe c ific (P. N, G , and S, respectively). The SDSS is further delineated by the five c omponents of the m o del ( K -Know yourself, V Value yourself, P Plan. A Act , and 0 experience Outcomes and learn) . Thus, measurements are possible as a Total SDSS score and in a variety of subscales . , some o f which are depicted in Table 5. Subscales in bold type might be considered as primary s ub s cales. Table 5 . Examples of subscales of the SDSS. General General Positive General Positive K General Positive V General Positive P General Positive A General Positive 0 Positive Positive K Positive V Positive P Positive A Positive 0 General Negative General Negative K General Negative V General Negative P General Negative A General Negative 0 Negative Negative K Negative V Negative P Negative A Negative 0 Specific Specific Positive Specific Positive K Specific Positive V Specific Positive P Specific Positive A Specific Positive 0 K V P A 0 Specific Negative Specific Negative K Specific Negative V Specific Negative P Specific Negative A Specific Negative 0 The correlation ofP to N is . 27 (p < . 01) and the correlation ofG to Sis.49 (p < .01) . These results are evidence of the efficacy of the subscales. The significant, low, and inverse relationship o f positive to negative stimuli was predictable from the literature. That is, self-determination is differentiall y applied in the presence of positive orientation vs when obstacles to self-detelluination 146

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that while s elf-deteJIni nati o n IS so mewhat s table in general aspects of o ne' s life as well as s pecifically in the sc hool environ!nent, a robust assessment should include responses to s timuli repre s enting both general and specific aspects of a person's environment. Table 6 contains a correlation matrix of SDSS G and S subscales. This initial breakdown indicates a m o derately high correlation between general and specific positive items of the SDSS, and between general and specific negative items. There is linle or an inverse relationship between GP _ SN, GN SP, and SP SN, indicating that ite:-:1s constituting these subscales are relativel y o rthogonal to each other. Moreover, the correlation of all Positive subscales to all Negative subscales. yields a correlation of .26, p $ .0 I . The COIl elation of all General subscales to all Specific subscales is .49, p $ . 0 I. The General Positive and Specific Positive subscales correlation is .63, p $ .0 I. The General Negative and Specific Negative subscales correlation is .64, p $ .0 I. Thus, both major Positive-Positive and Negative-Negative subscales are highly correlated. The infolluation in this table also indicates that the Positive-Negative subscales are inversely correlated or not correlated at all. All of these findings are supported by the theoretical underpinning of the model. Table 6. Correlation Matrix of SDSS Major G and S Subscales. GN SP SN -.09 .63" .23" -.25"" .64---.29-Note. p<.05 .• p<.O l. 147

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148 Table 7 contains a correlation mauix for SDSS General Positive Subscales with General "Iegative S ub sca les and Table 8 contains a correlation mauix for Specific Positive Subscales with Specific Negative Subscales. Note the statistically significant and moderately high correlations of General N egative A -V s ubscales, and again for General Positive A V subscales. This is further indication of the homogeneity of components (A V) of the model. Similarly, the low or inverse relation of the General Negative A -V subscales with the General Positive A-V subscales is evidence of their orthogonality. The same message emerges from the Specific Positive and Specific Negative A -V. This is further indication of the homogeneity of components (A V) from Field and Hoffman's (1994) model of self-detelmination. Table 7. Correlation Matrix for SDSS General Positive Subscales with General Negative Subscales. GNA GNK GNO GNP GNV GPA GPK GPO GPP GNK --.. .)) GNO 043" 047--GNP 049--048" 041-GNV .55" .51 *-040" AS" GPA .02 .03 . 09 -.01 . 11* GPK .02 -.0 I -.16--.10 .05 .34 GPO -.01 -.06 -.18 • -.04 -.04 042'4-. .> GPP -.10--.08 -.22* • -.07 . 14 --042.43" Al -" GPV .14 • -.15 --.16 • -.07 .06 .45--.-+?-" .46"" .48 Note. "p<.OS, • p<.O I.

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149 Table 8 . Correlation Matrix for SDSS Specific Positive S ubscales with Specific Negative Subscales . SN A SNK SNO SNP SpiV SPA SPK SPO SPP SNK .34 • SNO .41 • .30 " SNP 3 .... •• . .J .27 * * .23" SNV .39* • .48 * . .J .41 SPA .21 • . 04 -.05 . 00 .0 4 SPK .21 •• .12 • .25 • . II • .15 * .30 SPO -.18 • . I I • . 24 *. .16* • .16 • .41 • .44 SPP I • . .J .12 • .14 • -.10 .12 • .41 • .27 .42 Spy . I 7 * * . 1 0 1"' . .J .16* • -09 . .J 2"" •• . .J . 37" . .J .vote . p<.05, p<.OI. In particular , the minimwn and maximum General Positive subscales correlations are .34 to .48, with an average correlation of .42. All of these correlations were significant at p s; .01. The minimwn and maximwn General Negative correlations are .40 to .55, with the average correlation of .48, which were also significant at p s; . 01. Sixteen of 25 General Positive General Negative subscale correlations were not significantly different from zero. Of the remaining nine subscale correlations, the minimwn and maximum correlations were . 22 and -.11, respectively. The minimum and maximum correlation of Specific Negative components with each other is .23 and .48, with the average correlation of . 35, p s; .0 I. The values for the Specific Positive components are .30 and .44, with the average of .36, p s; .0 I. Twenty of 25 correlations of Specific Positive with Specific Negative (A V) were significant, with a minimllm and maximwn value of . I I and 2 -). resnectivelv . with D s; . 05 in five cases and p s; . 0 I in the remaining 15 cases . These •

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>ubscales measure opposite inlor mation, which is also supported by the theory underpinning the model. The correlations in Tables 7 and 8 indicate that a mild positive correlation exists between the positive subscales with each other, the negative subscales with each o ther, but either no correlation or a small negative correlation of positive to negative subscales . These results are consistent \\oith the theoretical underpinning of the model for self-determination. The components K, V, P. A. and 0, are mildly positively correlated, whether in a general positive or general negative context, but the positive components supply different or opposite information than the negative components. Table 9 contains the correlation matrix of the major SDSS subscales with the remaining five Self-Determination instrwnents (Teacher Perception, parent Perception, Self DeteO)Iination Observation Checkljst, and preand post-test version of the Self Qeteullination Scale) and three other instrwnents: the Teacher Questionnaire, parent Questionnaire. and the Persona! Attirude Insmuuent. These additional instrwnents were administered in the validation process. For citation information of these instrwnents, see the Research In Self-Determination Final Report (Field, Hoffman, & Sawilowsky, 1996). Table 9. Correlation Matrix of SDSS Major Subscales, TPS, PPS, SDOC, SDKS/o, SDKS/r, TQ, PQ, and PERA IT. G GP GN P N S SP SN TPS . 08 . I 7* .21 * • .15 * .26* .09 -. I I • .24 * PPS . I 2 -.36* * .45** .29** -0 . ) .n -.18 • .49 * SDOC . 04. -.09 .04 .04 . 05 .05 . 0 I . 05 SDKS/o .06 -.40" . j -. j .42* . I 0 -.3 I '9 . j 150

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TQ 76"" . -. 2 1 ." .23" .0 I 1 -" . ) . 0 1 . 0 1 I I PQ "'9 .......... .... -.. . 16 '6' . I 7 . 14 -.31 •• . J -'J -.J) . J . -PERATT ., -.. .J) -.20' • '9. J .03 -.46' • . 07 .0 7 -AI" Table 10 contains a correlation matrix of scores from the Self-detellllination instruments (SDOC, SDKS-pre. SDKS-post, SDSS, TPS, and PPS) with three other instruments selected for comparison purpose s: the Teacher Questjonnajre , Parent Ouestionnaire, and the Personal Anitude • lUstrument. Table 10. Correlation Matrix of Self-Determination Instruments with Other Instruments. TPS PPS SDOC SDKS/ post TQ PQ PERAIT .6 1 •• .43 .24 Note. p<.05, p<.O 1. '8 . J -9 .) '9' . J Reliability Information .32 .17 . 36 SDKS/pre Table II contains reliability infolmation for the Self-Determination Assessment Banery and other instruments. Reliability infolmation is given for a comprehensive selection ofSDSS subscales. The table contains the total sample size, number of items, scale mean, and standard deviation. Cronbach Alpha (CA), a measure of internal consistency reliability, is given for each instrument. Because CA is sensitive to the number of items, the Speatman:Brown (SB) Prophecy fOlmula was 151

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subscale assuming suftic ient Item s of co mparable quality are added to bring the t otal nwnber o f items in the subscale to the total instrument length, which is 92 items in the case of the SDSS. As depicted in Table II, the CA for the Self-Determination Assessment Battery ranged from .83 .97 . The SB for the SDSS subscales ranged from .88 .97 \vith the exception of the Y and A subscales. These are exceptionally high levels of internal consistency reliability . Table II. Reliability Of Self-Detelluination Instrument Battery (Major and Minor Subscales) and Comparison Instruments. InstOlment !l. ". ,dtems ill Self-Determination Battery SDKS/post 183 37 yo -). 6.4 SDKS/pre 221 37 25.4 6.1 PPS 123 30 64.5 21.1 TPS 371 29 63.1 21.6 SDOC 351 28 19.3 9.6 SDSS 251 92 G 368 46 64.8 6.5 GN 375 23 30.4 5.5 GNA 379 7 11.3 2.0 GNK 385 4 6.9 1.3 GNO 378 4 6.4 1.3 GNP 383 4 6.4 1.2 GNV 384 4 6.5 1.4 GP 371 23 27.3 4.0 GPA 374 6 7.3 1.5 GPK 383 4 4.7 1.0 GPO 374 4 4.7 1.0 GPP 384 5 5.9 1.1 GPV 384 4 4.6 .9 S 367 45 64.9 5.2 SN 369 22 36.2 4.4 SNA 358 6 2.1 1.6 .84 .83 .95 .97 .94 .91 . 84 .76 .53 .45 .5 I .35 . 35 .76 .49 . 32 .47 .36 .42 . 84 . 78 . 54 SB(92) .91 .93 . 94 .95 .96 . 93 .93 .93 .94 .92 .95 .91 .94 .9 7 .94 .9S 152

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P N K V P A o S P , SNK SNO SNP SNV SPA SPK SPO SPP Spy PA PK PO PP PV NA NK NO NP NV Comparison Instruments PQ TQ PEMIT 3 77 4 '77 J _ 4 371 -) 379 4 368 23 373 6 378 4 377 4 374 -) 377 4 367 46 370 12 377 8 373 8 374 10 377 8 367 45 373 12 375 8 371 8 371 9 376 8 336 16 318 16 319 19 317 25 325 16 175 50 308 32 256 28 6 . 8 i.l J I . 9 1 6 . 6 1.2 40 .9 4 8 . 2 IA 36 .91 6 . 7 1.2 . 3 7 .93 2 8 .6 4 . 3 .76 .9 3 7 . 7 14 Al .91 5 . 0 1.2 . 57 . 97 4 . 9 1.1 . 50 .9 6 6.1 1.3 . 50 .95 4 . 8 1.0 , -._) .88 55. 9 7.5 .86 . 92 1 5 . 1 2 . 3 . 57 .91 9 . 7 1.9 . 67 . 96 9 . 6 1.7 . 57 . 94 12. 6 1.8 .47 . 89 9 . 5 1.5 A6 .91 73.7 8 . 9 .83 .97 19.4 2.9 .66 . 94 13. 7 1.9 .56 .94 12.9 2.0 .59 . 94 14. 6 2.2 . 59 . 94 13.2 2.1 . 58 . 94 4.0 2.9 . 70 .93 13.6 1.8 .13 .46 5.3 3.1 .66 .90 15.5 2.7 . 32 .63 4.3 2.9 . 70 . 93 107.1 21.0 .89 86. 0 16.0 .93 14.4 4 . 5 .73 • NOle: SB(92) = Speallllan-Brown Prophecy estimate of reliability for subscale expanded to full 92 item Instrument length. 153

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V31jdjtv Information • The efforts to assess validation differed for the various insrruments as indicated in Table 12. Table 12. Validation techniques applied to the Self-Determination Ins trument s . [ nslrwnenl SDOC SDKS-pre SDKS-post TPS PPS SDSS T ype C ontent Co nstruct C ontent C onstruct Co nstruct C ontent C onstruct C onstruct Construct C onstruct Method Blueprint approach to test construction Divergent/convergent correlations Blueprint approach to Test Construction Divergent/convergent correlations; Pretest-pastlest intervention Blueprint approach to test construction Pretest-pastlest intervention Multi-method multi-trait Divergent/convergent correlations Multi-method multi-nait; Divergent/convergent correlations; Multi-method multi-trait; Divergent/convergent correlations Factor analysis; Confuwatory factor analysis (Prelis and Lisrel ) The use of the blueprint approach to test construction is detailed above. This is an a priori method for assuring content validity. The divergent/convergent correlational analyses are also contained above, in Tables 9 and 10. The use of a known intervention., the Field and Hoffinan (1992) Steps to Self-Determination curriculum was used to assess construct validity of the SDKS. The results are contained in Table 13 below. The SDKS, along with other instruments nOI part of the battery (TQ, PQ. and PERA TT) were administered as postlests to two groups of students. One group participated in 154

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the curriculum. while the other group did n ot. The result s , as depicted in Table 13, indicate that students who participated in the curriculwn scored statistically significantly higher on the SDKS posttest than the control group, whereas there was no statistically significant difference on the TQ, PQ , and PERA TT instruments for these same students. Table 13. Analysis o f Posttest Comparison Of Curriculwn and No Curriculwn Groups. I nstrurnent SDKS -post Curriculum Group No Curriculum Group PQ Curriculum Group No Curriculum Group PERAIT Curriculum Group No Curriculum Group TQ Curriculum Group No Curriculum Group 56 119 79 151 121 187 2Tail n Mean 1 ill Significance 29.0 5.4 2.59118 .011 25.6 5.9 110.7 21.7 1.55 173 .122 105.4 21.7 93.1 6.1 .3 1 228 .760 92.8 7.9 88.1 17.3 1.6 306 .055 84.6 15.0 1.1 A factor analysis using principal components analysis of the four main subscales of the SDSS (GN, GP, SN, and SP) revealed two main factors accounting for 81.2% of the variance. The soned factor loadings of greater than 1.41 appear in Table 14. Both the Negative subscales have a high negative loading, and both the Positive subscales have a high positive loading with the General and Specific Subscales. All subscales are retained based on standard factor loadings minimums of 1.41. An • 155

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156 pnntout of the Confi llllalOry Factor .-\nalysis (Lisrel) is contained in Anachment D in the Research in Self-Detellllination F inal Report ( Field, Hoffman, & Sawilowsky, 1996) . These statistics contribute further evidence to the construct validity associated with the use of the SDSS. Table 14. Sorted Factor Loadings For A Two-Factor Solution To The SDSS. Variable Factor Eigenvalue Pct ofVar T ota l GN I 2.049 51.2 -1 ? ) .-GP ? 1.199 30.0 30.0 SP 3 .436 10.9 92.1 SN 4 .316 7.9 100. F actor Matrix Factor 1 Factor 2 GN .6 612 .6194 GP .7020 .5843 SP .7590 4792 SN -.7372 4941

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APPENDIXC SURVEY OF SELF-DETERMINATION DEVELOPMENTAL FACTORS

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I want to thank you again for doin g the s urvey for me . I really think that it will pr ove to be helpful for students with learnin g disabilities at univer sities like UF. You have achieved s u ccess at the University of Florida, and you have self-identified as havin g a l e arning disability. I would appreciate it if you could take some time now to help m e und ers tand what in yo ur e n v ironment has helped you to s ucceed. and what in the environment has made it difficult for you t o s ucceed. I would like to understan d yo ur s t y l e of behaving, which has led to your success at UFo I would like to expand on some of the areas touched on by the S-DSS. There are no rig ht or wrong answers to my questions today, just a variety of responses . I really have no expectation s of you. I am just interested in what you can tell me. I don't think any of the questions are objectionable in any way, but if , you feel reluctant to answer any of them, please feel free to say so, and we will move on t o the next question. 1) Tell me about your decision to come to this university, what influenced your selection of goals? 1,1) Did you have an idea what you wanted to major in? 1.2) What were your hope s? 1,3) Did you have any fears? 1,4) Can you think of anyone who influenced you as you made the decision to come to UF, helped you understand your goals better? 2) Describe how you planned and carried out a plan to achieve your goal when you were in high school or community college, and how you do the same at the university. 2.1) Do you know any person whose goal-setting behavior is similar to yours? 2.2) When you set goals, or length of time to achieving the goals that is most effective for you 2,3) For everyday tasks (money management, caring for your health, daily living) how do you plan for these things? 2,4) What are the chances of you achieving your goals? 3) If the university experience could be considered as different experiences that impact on each 158

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159 One of the way s we are trying to understand university students in tenns of human development theories. O n e of these th eories ha s a tel III called "ecological niche" It me ans the particular env ir o nment in which we are l oc at ed at a particular time. It could be, for example, a 1 9 year-old stude n t in a univ e r sity settin g . 4) Is there any person at the university who has been particularly helpful to you in planning or achieving your goals? 4,1) Wh o advises you on scheduling? 4 ,2) Who doe s academic advising? 4,4 ) Who helps you plan? 4,5) Who helps you carry out your plans? 5) How would you describe your relationship with faculty at this university? 5,1 ) I s it different than your relationship with faculty in high school, community college, or another four-year college? 5.2 ) Do you think faculty at UF understand learning disabilities ? 5 ,3) How would you describe faculty attitudes toward learning disabilities ? 5,4) Has the university experience, or elements within it differed from other educational experiences (community college or high school) in teuus of helping you to be aware of your goals, mustering support for your plans to achieve your goals, and achieving your goals? 6) Do you believe that female university students (if respondent is female) have different experiences than male university students? (ask male respondents about the male university student experience) 7) Do you think of yourself any differently since you have been at the university? 7, I) Have you, as a student at the university, had the experience of considering your ski ll s and abilities differently than other people do?

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7,3) How do you explain your academic success? 7,4) Introduce yourself using 8 10 adjectives. 7,5) Do you think the same introduction would have been accurate five to seven years ago? Why or wh y not? 7,6) Is there anyone at universiry who understands your description of yourself and would describe YOll similarly? 7,7) Will that introduction be accurate five to seven years from now? 8) Do you know any other university student with learning disabilities? 8,1) Can you think of any specific occasion when you realized you have a learning disability? 160 The telIll "autonomy" means independence, making decisions about important things in your life. It means • self-law" 9) Considering autonomy, to what degree does anyone at the university help provide an environment, which supports autonomy? 9,1) What are the elements of supportive systems for autonomy for universiry students, how do they compare to those for high school students and communiry college students? 9,2) Is there any way that events at this universiry have influenced the degree to which you have experienced autonomy? 9,3) To what degree do you consider yourself an independent person? 9,4) Compare yourself now to yourself five years ago in tel IllS of autonomy. 9,5) In your planning, is there any difference in what you now rely on your family for, and what you relied on your family for last year? Three years ago? Five years ago? Do you rely on your family for anything? What does your family do to help you succeed? 9,6) Is your current level of autonomy satisfactory for you? 9,7) Is autonomy important? And if so why?

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161 9 , 8) Can yo u r e member any events (including conver s ati o n s) invo l ving people c l ose t o you durin g yo ur childhood th a t e nh a n c e d your independence or aut o n o m y? H ow would you describe th ese p eople? •

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APPENDIXD IRB APPROVAL

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, Title of Project: A Study o f the Relation s hip Between Personal and Environmental F ac t o r s Bearin g on Scif-D e tellnin atio n and the Ac a demic Succe ss of University Student s with Learnin g Di s abilitie s Principal Investigator: M ary D. Sarver, M.Ed . Doctoral Candid a te, Colleg e of Education Testing and Accomm o dations Coordinator Office for Students with Disabilities Dean of Students Offi c e 202 Peabody Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 ( 352 ) 3 9 2-12 6 1 Faculty Supervisors: Cynthia C. Griffin , Ph.D. Associate Profes sor College of Education Department of Special Education G 315 NOiman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 (352) 392-0701 , ext. 253 Cary L. Reichard, Ed.D. Professor College of Education Deparunent of Special Education G315 NOlman Hall Gainesville, FL 32611 (352) 392-0701, ext. 250 Dates of Proposed Project! From 1-99 to 12-00 Source of Funding for the Project: None Scientific Purpose of the Investigation: The purpose of this investigation is to examine the relationship between environmental factors that influence self-determination and academic succes s for postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Research Methodology: We will combine qualitative and quantitative techniques to answer the following research questions : (a)What is the relationship between self-detelllLination and academic success for students with learning disabilities who experience different levels of success in postsecondary education ? (b) Is there any relationship between se1f-detelmination and the number of interventions (accommodations) requested by and approved for, students with learning disabilities in postsecondary education? (c) What factors in the environment of students with learning disabilities influence the degree to which they are self-detelmined, and the degree to which they experience academic success? For the quantitative investigation, we will administer the Self-Detellllination Stwient Scale (Hoffmann, Field, & Sawilkowsky, 1995) to a random sample of 200 students registered with the Office for Students with Disabilities as having learning disabilities. We will conduct qualitative research with a smaller sample (approximately 20), asking questions regarding environmental factors related to s elf determination and academic success. (See attached methodology section from dissertation propo s al) . Potential benefits and anticipated risk: One potential benefit is the opportunity for participants to benefit from the improved service the investigator may provide due to bcttcr understanding of the s e s tudent s . Another is the possible enhancement of student s ' self-awarene ss. There are no ris k s ass ociated with participation in the study. 163

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participants . These people will be contacted by mail, with a request to participate, and a copy of the Self-Determination Student Scale (see attachment). There will be no financial compensation. Describe the informed consent process. After receiving permission to conduct the study from the University of Florida Institutional Review Board (IRB), permission will be obtained from the participants. These forms will be sent to participants for their signatures and returned by participants to the investigator. The forms and all material distributed in this study will be available in alternate format for students who have print-related disabilities. Participants in the interview will be asked to sign a second informed consent form because their interviews will be on audiotape. • I this protocol for submission to the UFIRB: V. Department Chair's Signature 164

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APPENDIXE COVER LETTERIINFORMED CONSENT FOR PARTICIPATION IN QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION

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Informed Consent Form for University Students Participating in Study of Environmental Factors Bearing on Self-Determination and Academic Success I am Mary Sarver, a doctoral candidate in the College of Education at the University of Florida, and the testing and accommodations coordinator for the Office for Students with Disabilities. My supervisors for this research are Dr. Cynthia Griffin and Dr. Cary Reichard. I want to provide the best possible services for students with learning disabilities. I need t o understand which factors in the environment enhance the possibilitie s for academic success, and what role, if any, self-detellnination plays in academic success. Some other researchers at Wayne State University developed a measure of self-determination, the Selj-Determinati o n Student Scale, which they have agreed to allow me to use in my research . I will make the Selj-Detemlination Student Scale available in written and auditory fOllllat. I am asking you to participate in thi s research. It takes about thirty minutes to complete the questionnaire. As a participant in this study, I am asking you to complete the Selj-Detemlination Student Scale, complete and sign the fOl III at the bottom of this page, and mail them back to me in the enclosed starnped envelope. Later, I will contact some of the participants, and request a telephone interview. For the telephone interview, I will ask for another signed consent fOlIll. Of course, your participation is voluntary, and you may withdraw from any part of the study at any time. I cannot offer you any compensation for participation. If you wi sh, you could discuss the research with me after the study is completed. There are no risks associated with participation in this research. The potential benefits of this research are improved se rvices for students with learning disabilities at the University of Florida. The Self-Determination Student Scale will be scored according to the directions of its authors. Your responses to the interview questions will be coded for the purpose of identifying themes, or common topics, and contextual influences, across study participants. Only my comnlittee and myself will see any data. All data will be numerically coded with no identifiable reference to you and will be kept confidential. Your responses will be destroyed after the study has been completed, and all results will be reported in an aggregate or group forlIl. If you have any questions about this procedure you may contact me at (352) 392-1261. Questions or concerns about research participants' rights may be directed to the UFiRB office, Box 112250, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL 32611-2250; phone: (352) 392-0433. ----------_._------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Environmental Factors Bearing on Self-Determination and Academic Success Infolllled Consent ForlIl for University Students I have read the procedure described above. I agree to participate in the procedure by completing the Selj-Detemlinatioll Student Scale and I have received a copy of this description. Signature Date 166

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APPENDIXF PERMISSION TO USE SELF-DETERMINATION STUDENT SCALE •

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Wayne State University February 1, 1999 Mary Sarver P.O. Box 605 Archer, FL 32618 Dear Mary: College of Education Office 01 the Dean 441 Education Building Detroit, Michigan 48202-3489 (313) 577-1620 (313) 577-3606 FAX The purpose oftms letter is to confilIll that you have permission to use the Self-Determination Student Scale for your dissertation research. Please keep us apprised of your results and let us know if there is anything we can do to support your efforts. Sincerely, -'"' " .., -=-Alan H Ed.D. Associate Professor 168

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APPENDIX G INFORMED CONSENT FOR PARTICIPATION IN QUALITATIVE INVESTIGATION

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Informed Consent Form University Students Interview I am Mary Sarver, a doctoral candidate in tbe College of Education, and th e te s tin g and accommodations coordinator in the Office for Students with Disabilitie s at. the University of Florida. I am researching ways to improve services for students with learning di s abilities. You have already participated in some of my research by completing the Self-Detenninati o n Student Scale. Now, I am requesting your help with more research about the environmental factors that influence self-detellllination and academic success. I am asking you to participate in an interview, either face-to-face or on the telephone, which will take about 30 minute s . The interview will be recorded on audio tape for analysis. Your responses to the questions will be coded for the purpose of identifying theme s , or common topics, and contextual influences, across study participants. Only myself and my committee will have access to your responses, and they will be kept confidential. After the research is completed, all the identifiable data will be destroyed. -------------------_._------------------------------------------------------------------------I have read the procedure described above. I agree to participate in the procedure by participating in the interview, and I have received a copy of this description. I prefer the interview be held in the following way: by telephone (# ____ -1) preferred time/day ( _____________ ) in person in the Office for Students with Disabilities, time and day to be arranged in person in a place other than the Office for Students with Disabilities, time and day to be arranged. Signature Date 170

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REFERENCES Abery, B. H. (1995). Evaluating a multicomponent program for enhancing the self-determination of youth with learning disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30(3),170-179. American Psychiatric Association (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author. Aranha, A. N. F. (1998). Modeling self-determination among the elderly: A psychometric study of health care decision-making (Doctoral dissertation, Wayne State University, 1998). Dissertation Abstracts International, 59-03B, 1386, 00102. Association on Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD) (1997). Guidelines for documentation of a learning disability in adolescents and adults. Columbus, OH: Author. Biner, P. M., & Kidd, H. J. (1994). The interactive effects of monetary incentive justification and questionnaire length on mail survey response rates. Psychology and Marketing, 11 (5),483-492. Blackorby, J., & Wagner, M. (1996). Longitudinal postschool outcomes of youth with disabilities: Findings form the national longitudinal transition study. Exceptional Children, 62(5), 399-413. Brinckerhoff, L. C. (1993). Self-advocacy: A critical skill for college students with learning disabilities. Family and Community Health, 16(3),23-33. Brinckerhoff, L. C., Shaw, S. F., & McGuire, J. M. (1993). Promoting postsecondary education for students with leaming disabilities: A handbook for practitioners. Austin, TX: Pro-Ed. Brinckerhoff, L. C., Shaw, S. F., & McGuire, 1. M. (1996). Promoting access, accommodations, and independence for college students with learning disabilities. In J. R. Patton & E. A. Polloway (Eds.), Learning disabilities: The challenges of adulthood (pp. 71-92). Austin, TX: Pro-Ed. Bronfenbrenner, U. (1979). The ecology of human development experiments in nature and design. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. 171

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175 Shaw , S. F. (1995). Operationalizing a definition of learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28(9), 586-597. Shaw , S. F. (1996, June). Issues in postsecondary education for students with disabilities. Paper presented at the University of Florida, Special Education Department. Gainesville, FL. Shaw, S. F., Cullen, J. P., McGuire , J. M., & Brinckerhoff , L. C. (1995). Operationalizing a definition of learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28(9),586-597. Sicoli-Corbin, M. L. (1996). Counseling strategies for college students with learning disabilities. Journal of Reading, Writing, and Learning Disabilities International, 2(4),291-93. Sitlington, P. L., & Frank, A R. (1990). Are adolescents with learning disabilities successfully crossing the bridge into adult life? Learning Disability Quarterly, 13(2) , 97111. Sontag, 1. C. (1996). Toward a comprehensive theoretical framework for disability research: Bronfenbrenner revisited. Journal of Special Education, 30(3) , 319344. Spacone, c., & Hanson, J. C. (1984). Therapy with a family with a learning disabled child. Family Therapy Collections, 19,46-58. Spekman, N. J., Goldberg , R. J., & Herman , K. L. (1992). Learning disabled children grow up: A search for factors related to success in the young adult years. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 7,161-170. Thorndike, R. L., Hagen, E. P., & Sattler, 1. M. (1986). Stanford-Binet Scale, Fourth Edition, Chicago, IL: Riverside. Van Reusen , A K., & Bos, C. S. (1990). I PLAN: Helping students communicate in planning conferences. Teaching Exceptional Children, 22(4) , 30-32. Vogel, S. A, Hruby, P. 1., & Adelman, P. B. (1993). Educational and psychological factors in successful and unsuccessful college students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities research and Practice, 8(1) 35-43. Wall, M. E., & Datillo , 1. (1995). Creating option-rich learning environments: Facilitating self-determination. Journal of Special Education, 29(3), 276-294. Wehmeyer, M. L. (1992). Self-determination: Critical skills for outcome-oriented transition services. Joumal for Vocational Special Needs Education, 15(1) , 3-7.

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176 Wehmeyer, M. L. (1995). A career education approach: Self-determination for youth with mild cognitive disabilities. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30. (3). 157-163. Wehmeyer, M., & Schwartz, M. (1997). Self-determination and positive adult outcomes: A follow-up study of youth with mental retardation or learning disabilities. Exceptional Children, 63(2), 245-255. Weiss, K. E. (1997). University students with learning disabilities: Variable influencing academic success (Doctoral dissertation, University of Florida, Gainesville. 1997). Dissertation Abstracts International, 58-07 A, 2566. Weschler, D. (1981). We schier Adult Intelligence Scale, Revised. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation. White, W. J. (1992). The postschool adjustment of persons with learning disabilities: Cunent status and future projections. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25(7), 448-456. Wilchesky, M., & Reynolds, T. (1986). The socially deficient LD child in context: A systems approach to assessment and treatment. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 19(7), 411-415. Wilczenski, F. L., & Gillespie-Silver, P. (1992). Challenging the norm: Academic performance of university students with leaming disabilities. Journal of College Student Development, 33(3), 197-202. Woodcock, R. W. (1987). Woodcock Reading Mastery Tests, Revised, Forms G & H. Circle Pines, MN: American Guidance Service. Woodcock, R. W., & Johnson, W. B. (1990a). Woodcock-Johnson Psycho Educational Battery, Revised-Tests of Cognitive Ability, Standard Battery and Supplemental Battery. Chicago, IL: Riverside. Woodcock, R. W., & Johnson, W. B. (1990b). Woodcock-Johnson Psycho Educational Battery, Revised-Tests of Achievement, Standard Battery and Supplemental Battery. Chicago, IL: Riverside. Ymmnarino, F. 1., Skinner, S. 1., & Childers, T. L. (1991). Understanding mail survey response behavior: A meta-analysis. Public Opinion Quarterly, 55(4), 613-639.

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i , I I I i , I BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Mary Duran Sarver was born in Laconia , New Hampshire , on October 18, 1947 , the oldest of four children. She grew up and went to school in New England. She earned her B.A. from Emmanuel College in 1969 and her M.Ed. from Northeastern University in 1970. She is married to Vernon T. Sarver, Jr. Together , they moved to Ohio and then to Florida. She is the mother of two daughters , Laura and Anne , and grandmother to Daniel Christopher and Ezekial Joseph. Mary lives in Archer , Florida. 177

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, , , , j ( , I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate , in scope and quality , as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy . .' " -/ • • . ,/ / ./ --; --, .,.-....... ----_....:...----'/:..-, --,, :.' -?-' _.' ------Cary L. Reichflrd , Chair Professor of Special Education I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate , in scope and quality , as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy . • • Griffin , Professor of Special Education I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate , in scope and quality , as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. M. David Miller Professor of Educational Psychology I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforms to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and qualit y, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. 7 Stuart E. Schwartz Professor of Special Education ! / --

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, • • • • / I certify that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforInS to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation . for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. anne B. Repetto ssociate Professor of Special Education • I ce that I have read this study and that in my opinion it conforInS to acceptable standards of scholarly presentation and is fully adequate, in scope and quality, as a dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. • • Professor of Counselor Education • This dissertation was submitted to the Graduate Faculty of the College of Education and to the Graduate School and was accepted as pm tial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy. August 2000 , • -• Dean, College of Dean, Graduate School •