Date of Award

2003

Level of Access

Open-Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Department

Individually Designed

Advisor

William E. Davis

Second Committee Member

Walter J. Harris

Third Committee Member

Dorothy T. Breen

Abstract

The Perceived Attributes to Positive Self-concept Study examined the experiences of adolescents with learning disabilities to determine the ways in which living with a disability may have shaped their development of a positive self-concept. This study considered the perceptions held by adolescents themselves, their parents, and their teachers as valuably contributing to their own development of a positive self-concept. The research questions for the study included: "How does the experience of living with a disability affect the perceptions of adolescents with learning disabilities held by themselves, their parents and their . teachers? " "How do the experiences of living with a disability influence the self-concept development of adolescents with learning disabilities?" "Which of the experiences of living with a disability do these adolescents, their parents and their teachers perceive as influencing positive self-concept development?" "What other factors (for example, personal support or perceived control) contribute to the development of positive self-concept in adolescents with learning disabilities?" "How are perceptions of self-concept among these special needs youth, their parents and their teachers different from the standard definition of global self-concept?" The research sample included 6 adolescent males with learning disabilities between the ages of 16 and 19 who had received special education services during high school. Both self-selected criteria along with the results of a standard self-concept scale were used to substantiate the presence of a positive self-concept in these individuals. This study employed a multi-case study design and used a range of data collection techniques including in-depth interviewing, case records, field notes, and anecdotal reporting. Among the major findings were a number of factors involved in the developmental processes reflected in dimensions deemed critical to self-evaluations of youth with learning disabilities at this stage of their lives. Three factors that were perceived to have the strongest impact on their positive self-concepts: determination to become adults; confidence in reaching their personal goals; and encouragement, support and love from parents. The range of forces identified as influences on self-concept for this group of youth with learning disabilities include several closely linked factors to self-efficacy beliefs, perceived control and outcome expectations which are associated with motivation to learn and self-determination in youth with cognitive disabilities.

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