Date of Award

Fall 12-2016

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Chair

Dr. Lilian H. Hill

Committee Chair Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 2

Dr. Kyna Shelley

Committee Member 2 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 3

Dr. Georgianna Martin

Committee Member 3 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Committee Member 4

Dr. Eric Platt

Committee Member 4 Department

Educational Research and Administration

Abstract

Although researchers have studied “the role of self-determination in facilitating transition planning and services, very little is known about the impact of those supports and services from the students’ perspective once they are in postsecondary settings” (Getzel & Thoma, 2008). In addition, literature was limited regarding the impact of self-determination from the student perspective after enrollment into higher education (Denhart, 2008; Fuller, Bradley & Healey, 2004; Getzel & Thoma, 2008). Using a qualitative design, this study explores the contributions of self-advocacy and motivation to the experiences of higher education students with physical disabilities. The purpose of this study was to explore the self-reported impacts of self-advocacy and motivation on the experiences of students with physical disabilities in higher education. In addition, explore the sources of these students’ motivations, the source of their advocacy, and the connection or the lack of connection between the two. In this study, 11 higher education students with physical disabilities were interviewed. The themes that were identified impacted how self-advocacy and motivation skills influence each other and the overall college experience. The findings from the study indicate self-advocacy and motivation exist together. Participants in this study understood their functional limitations and needs, knew how to self-identify and advocate, sought appropriate assistance, built support networks, and participated in preparation programs and social engagement. They also actively communicated with professors beyond an initial introduction at the beginning of the semester and had no problems communicating issues with disability services staff. Further, participants shared their motivations, both intrinsic and extrinsic, which further reflect their ability to advocate for themselves and others. Gaining an understanding of how motivation and self-advocacy skills affect the college experience for students with disabilities can help this group and others move toward establishing academic and social independence and college success.