Analyzing Goal Setting and Attainment as Skills Associated with Self-Determination for Students with Disabilities
Burke, Kathryn Mary
University of Kansas
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This dissertation consists of five chapters. Chapter 1 provides an overview of the construct of self-determination and its essential characteristics (i.e., volitional action, agentic action, and action-control beliefs) and an introduction to the role of goal setting and attainment in promoting self-determination for students with disabilities. This chapter also introduces the research questions addressed in this dissertation. Chapter 2 provides a map of the literature on how the essential characteristics of self-determined action have been defined and operationalized in the literature. Findings show volitional and agentic action have been consistently defined and described across disciplines, but limited research has addressed action-control beliefs. Gaps in the knowledge base relate to how the essential characteristics collectively relate to and characterize self-determined action and exploration of these characteristics from a life course perspective and when considering disability, diversity, and support needs. Building upon the broader exploration of the essential characteristics of self-determination in Chapter 2, Chapter 3 focuses on goal setting, a skill associated with self-determination. This chapter presents an analysis of the types of goals set by transition-age students with intellectual disability supported by teachers to use an evidence-based practice to promote self-determination, the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI). Findings reflect students’ desire to plan for multiple aspects of their lives in the adult world and the criticality of examining teacher expectations and how they relate to instruction and supports for students engaging in the goal-setting process. Chapter 4 examines how the overall type of goals transition-age students with intellectual disability set using the SDLMI along with students’ personal factors (i.e., age, gender, race/ethnicity, and level of support needs) predict goal attainment. The findings suggest the positive impact on goal attainment of setting goals across multiple areas within a school year. Students with extensive support needs had significantly lower levels of goal attainment than their peers who had less intense support needs, suggesting the need for ongoing work to consider how to support students with extensive support needs with goal setting and goal attainment. Lastly, Chapter 5 provides a final discussion of overall findings and directions for future research and practice.
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