Title page for ETD etd-12052000-164006

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Steenken, Elisabeth MacClarence
URN etd-12052000-164006
Title Having a Learning Disability: Its Effect on the Academic Decisions of College Students
Degree PhD
Department Teaching and Learning
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Asselin, Susan B. Committee Chair
Crockett, Jean B. Committee Member
Magliaro, Susan G. Committee Member
Nespor, Jan K. Committee Member
Reilly, Virginia J. Committee Member
  • College Students
  • Transition Planning
  • Families
  • Special Education
  • Learning Disabilities
Date of Defense 2000-11-27
Availability unrestricted


The purpose of this research was to explore how college students with learning disabilities perceived that their family environments and early educational experiences influenced their decisions in college. An additional goal of this study was to explore how these students understood their learning disability diagnosis and how that understanding affected their academic choices.

Participants had documented learning disabilities and used support services during the time of their enrollment at the university. All were students in good standing and had attended the university for at least three years. A qualitative method using unstructured, personal interviews was used. Interviews were analyzed according to broad themes reflecting the research issues. The study is organized according to the chronology of events in the students' lives and reflects their experiences before they attended the university and during the time they were enrolled.

The results of this study generally support research of college graduates with learning disabilities which indicates that early and continued personal support, accepting and understanding a learning disability, adequate academic preparation and personal characteristics of persistence, goal setting and extra effort are important components to academic success. This study's results also underscore the importance of transition planning that incorporates students' interests and skills when determining the best match for higher education settings. Implications for further research are included.

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