School of Education


Doctor of Education in Curriculum & Instruction (EdD)


Meredith Park


Special Education, Social Identity, High School Students, Reading Disability


Education | Special Education and Teaching


Reading is an essential skill for all students. However, students who do not grasp the basic reading skills during elementary school struggle through school. Without basic skills, many of these students are at risk for behavioral issues and a low self-concept. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to describe the lived experiences of high school students with a specific learning disability in reading. The theory that guided this study was the social identity theory as it relates to high school students with a disability in reading to their identity to self and others. The central research question for this study was: What are the lived experiences of high school students with a specific learning disability in reading who read significantly below grade level? The study sought to understand how students with a specific learning disability (SLD) identify personally, among their friends, and among their non-disabled peers. Twelve high school students provided input through three data collection methods including photograph collection, semi-structured interviews, and a word association activity. Six themes were developed during data analysis, including positive self-concept, insecurity, anxiety, commonalities, social dynamics, and maximizing differences. Implications of the findings suggest that educators need to encourage students to participate in extra-curricular activities and to provide additional training for teachers to look for signs of insecurity and anxiety. Recommendations for future research include adding teacher interviews to the study and incorporating other types of learning institutions.