School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Christine Saba


ADHD, Special Education, female, non-cognitive, academic difficulty, twice-exceptional, motivation, counseling, emotional dysregulation


Education | Special Education and Teaching


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to discover the lived experience of women with ADHD who encountered non-cognitive difficulties in the academic environment while attending a U.S. public high school. At this stage in the research, non-cognitive difficulties in the academic environment will be generally defined as academic difficulties not related to academic ability. Non-cognitive characteristics are described as soft skills such as learning strategies, motivation, and personality traits that cannot be identified in scholastic aptitude tests. The application of the hermeneutic phenomenological method was guided using Maslow’s theory of hierarchal needs. Maslow’s theory provided a framework of reflective questioning to discover the essence of the behavioral phenomena experienced by participants. The process of phenomenological reflection with a sense of awe and wonder was used to find the essence of the meaning of the experiences of female students with ADHD. Data collection included interviews audio and video recorded on Zoom software, participants writing a letter to self, and two focus group interviews with five people in each group. Analysis of the data was triangulated with these sources and separated based on five themes which developed. The themes were, (a) the need for family support for education, (b) the need for support from school faculty (c) the need for confidence from positive feedback, (d) the importance of differentiated instruction, and (e) the need for peer-to-peer relationships and learning support.