Graduation Year

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree

Ph.D.

Degree Granting Department

Special Education

Major Professor

David H. Allsopp

Co-Major Professor

John M. Ferron

Keywords

college students, guided cognitive instruction, positive psychology, single-case, special education

Abstract

Students with learning disabilities and/or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) experience decreased academic and social-emotional outcomes when compared to their peers without disabilities. Self-determination, positive psychology, and cognitive theories of learning offer suggestions for improving these outcomes. The purpose of this study was to develop The Personal Strengths Intervention (PSI) and investigate its impact on levels of self-determination and the social-emotional functioning of postsecondary students with learning disabilities and/or ADHD. PSI integrates key elements of self-determination, positive psychology, and cognitive theories. ADHDA multiple baseline design with seven participants was used to examine the intervention effects over time. Results indicate PSI demonstrates content, face, and social validity. The results from the examination of the impact of participation in PSI on self-determination and social-emotional levels were inconsistent. Visual analyses, effect sizes, and multilevel modeling of the time series data indicated there was little to no intervention effect across participants. However, results from the visual analyses and effect sizes revealed there were some intervention effects for particular participants. For participants who demonstrated intervention effects, effects ranged from small to large for self-determination dependent variables and small to moderate for social-emotional dependent variables. Pre- post-assessment results indicated there was an increase in self-determination and positive affect associated with participation in PSI. There were no changes in subjective well-being or negative affect. Results from a longitudinal qualitative trend analysis and final interviews with participants indicated improved self-determination and social-emotional levels. A discussion of possible explanations for the finding and implications is included. Suggestions for future research are provided.

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