School of Education
Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)
autism, higher education, case study, neurodiversity
Education | Higher Education
Donovan, Beverly, "Embracing Diverse Thinkers: A Case Study Examining the Graduation Rates from a High Autism College Student Population" (2023). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 4549.
The purpose of this intrinsic case study was to describe how Alpha College, a private college in the southeastern United States with high neurodiverse enrollment, generates uniquely high graduation rates for its autistic student population. The case study answers the following central question: CQ) How does Alpha College, a private college in the southeastern United States with high neurodiverse enrollment, generate high graduation rates for its autistic student population? The intrinsic case design focused on the case itself; Alpha College observes uniquely high graduation rates of autistic students. This study was guided by Blume and Singers' social stigma theory and Goffman’s neurodiversity theory. Data were collected through interviews, document analysis, and a focus group. Pseudonyms were used for interviews and focus group participants. Triangulation was achieved with audio recordings, transcripts, field notes, and analytical memoing. Data were synthesized using Yin’s components of single-case research, Stake’s interview transcription technique, and Saldaña’s Eclectic Codes. Results showed two key themes holistic education and faculty support. The implications of this case study pertain to policy and practice. Implications of the study impact policy pertaining to federal guidelines to better meet the needs of the autistic student population in higher education and the infrastructure of conventional university support programs, resources, and pedagogy. Implications call for a transformative shift in perception and action. Perception affects change in action, resulting in more effective supports, and services, leading to higher graduation rates for autistic students nationwide.