Self-Determination as a Dropout Prevention Strategy. First Annual Special Education Forum on Dropout Prevention Orlando, FL November 3, 2004. Dalun Zhang, Ph.D. Clemson University.
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Self-Determination as a Dropout Prevention Strategy
First Annual Special Education Forum on Dropout Prevention
November 3, 2004
Dalun Zhang, Ph.D.
Since 1990s, self-determination has received increased attention in the field of special education and disability services
…. be planned based on the student’s preferences and interests
Students must be included in their transition planning meeting
disability is … in no way diminishes the rights to live independently, enjoy self-determination, make choices, contribute to society, ……..
As a result of consumers’ efforts and federal mandates and initiatives, three agreements were reached in early 1990s:
The present use of self-determination within special education emphasizes empowerment of individuals with disabilities.
Wehmeyer conceptualizes self-determination as an educational outcome. He defines self-determination as “acting as the primary causal agent in one’s life and making choices and decisions free from undue external influences or interference” - Wehmeyer, M. L. (1996). Self-determination as an educational outcome.
Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, & Wehmeyer (1998) define self-determination as:
A combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior. An understanding of one’s strengths and limitations together with a belief in oneself as capable and effective are essential to self-determination. When acting on the basis of these skills and attitudes, individuals have greater ability to take control of their lives and assume the role of successful adults in our society.
My reviews of various definitions yielded 6 common points:
I know what Self-determination is. But…
Does it lead to better
Life following formal education is uncertain and overwhelming for many young people with disabilities, and support services are typically hard to find (Powers, Sowers et al., 1996). In order to be successful, it is critical that youth are self-determined so that they are able to manage the challenges they will face on a day-to-day basis.
Generally the opportunity to make choices, express preferences, set goals, and self-regulate learning and behavior have all been linked to more favorable educational and adult outcomes.
-- Wehmeyer (1997)
Wehmeyer and Schwartz (1997) conducted a follow-up study of youth with mental retardation or learning disabilities. They collected data prior to their exit from high school and one year after exit. Findings showed that individuals with higher level of self-determination were more likely to have experienced a greater number of positive adult outcomes, including a higher likelihood of being employed and earning more per hour than those who were not self-determined.
Wehmeyer & Palmer (2003) published a follow-up study of 94 high school completers one- and three-years after exiting school. They found:
McMillan & Reed (1994) found that some students could be classified as at-risk, but developed characteristics and coping skills that enable them to succeed. They term these students as “resilient.”
Their Common characteristics Include:
Two studies have provided specific information on the primary reasons for dropping out of school among special education youth.
Acquiring the personal characteristics which lead to self-determination is a developmental process. Children should be given opportunities to engage in activities that promote SD and should be taught SD
-- Doll, Sands, Wehmeyer, and Palmer (1996)
Overview: Three strands with five units
Choosing Goals: “Choosing employment goals”
“Choosing personal goals”
“Choosing education goals”
Expressing Goals: “Self-directed IEP”
Taking Action: “Take action”
Students have opportunities & supports to:
1-2-3 BREAKby Dalun Zhang & Nancy Woodruff
To design, field-test, and disseminate an after-school youth empowerment program that teaches essential and practical self-determination skills to school-age youth with developmental disabilities (ages 14 to 21) to enhance their participation in planning their educational and transitional services.
Kickoff to Self-Determination
Who Am I – My Metaphors
Needs and Wants
What is Success? (S-T Goals)
What is Success? (L-T Goals)
Decision-Making and Choice-Making (1)
Decision-Making and Choice-Making (2)
Educational Goal Planning
Educational Planning and Transition Portfolio
Goals Setting for Employment
Coping with Problems at Work
Independent Living Skills
SD Review, Reflections, and Posttest
Keeping Activities Realistic
Encourage Group Involvement
Focus on Abilities, not Disabilities
Issues and Considerations in Self-Determination Assessment: How to Assess?
Issues and Considerations in Self-Determination Assessment: Who to Involve?
So, What, Who and How?
Purpose of Assessment
Examples of Available Instruments