School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Barry Dotson


self-determination, self-advocacy, persistence, motivation, learning disability


Education | Higher Education


The purpose of this qualitative embedded single case study was to understand how the unique experience of attending a post-secondary school exclusive to students diagnosed with LD and ADHD affects student success in developing and using self-determination skills to increase persistence to graduation. Guiding this study is the theory of self-determination while seeking to explain the reasoning for student persistence to degree completion and the execution of self-determination skills autonomously. This study uses a qualitative embedded single case study design to examine a post-secondary educational institution that exclusively services students with learning disabilities from different perspectives. The research setting is unique to the collegiate marketplace and is specific to students with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorder diagnoses. The research was conducted at a small, post-secondary educational institution in the Southeast portion of the United States, exclusive to students with Learning Disabilities and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. Students (n= 11) and alumni (n = 1) were interviewed for the study, with focus groups consisting of college faculty (n = 3) and staff (n = 3) reflecting on emerging themes for self-determination in academic and social settings. Documents and artifacts have been analyzed and presented with common themes. The study used qualitative analysis practices and Nvivo software to conduct a multi-stage coding process that established patterns and explanations for lessons learned while providing readers with direct quotes and rich description of their experience. The study findings indicate whole school programming with trained staff benefitted and supported the explicit teaching and acquisition of self-determination skills required to persist toward graduation for students with disabilities.