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University Students with a Disability: The Transition to Inclusion Jennifer Gillies, BA, MA (Waterloo) MA Critical Disabilities Studies York University.

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Presentation on theme: "University Students with a Disability: The Transition to Inclusion Jennifer Gillies, BA, MA (Waterloo) MA Critical Disabilities Studies York University."— Presentation transcript:

1 University Students with a Disability: The Transition to Inclusion Jennifer Gillies, BA, MA (Waterloo) MA Critical Disabilities Studies York University

2 Overview Introduction Background Literature Purpose Research Question Method Findings Conclusion

3 Introduction Increase of university students with disabilities (Hartman, 1994) Universities have progressively been accommodating the needs of students with disabilities (ODA, 2001). Services provide students with disabilities support with both academic and social pursuits. Minimal research has focused on the services provided for young adults with disabilities who attend higher education institutions (Duquette, 2000).

4 Background Literature The transition to university can be an overwhelming experience. Students may encounter disabling obstacles in their pursuit of higher education. Recreation, social opportunities, and support services can help students with their transition This transition becomes smoother as students accumulate academic successes and make friends (Feldman, 2000).

5 Purpose To examine how a small group of first year students with disabilities integrated into the life of a large Canadian university in South Western Ontario. The study considered how certain factors, such as the utilization of services available to students with disabilities (special and general services), as well as recreation and leisure participation, influenced the students overall transition and inclusion into university life.

6 Research Questions 1. How do the university services assist students with disabilities in the transition and integration into university life? 2. What is the role of recreation and leisure in facilitating the integration into the university community?

7 Method Qualitative Research Method Letter of introduction mailed to approx. 70 students with disabilities who were entering the university that year. Four (4) female students with varying disabilities came forward to participate in the study (Pseudonyms have been used)

8 Data Collection 1 st interview conducted within the first three weeks of term. Questions related to: Frosh week Their current living arrangements Recreational and social opportunities they planned to pursue Services that they were currently aware of and planned to utilize Things that were helpful thus far in their transition.

9 Data Collection 2 nd interview conducted six months later. Questions related to: The services and activities they had accessed What the experience was like How they generally felt about the transition Whether or not they pursued their recreational and social plans

10 Data Analysis Interviews were tape recorded and transcribed Comparative pattern analysis was utilized (Patton, 2002) Categories were compared across each persons experiences, suggesting several common patterns. The patterns were used to interpret study participants accounts of their transitions to campus life. Qualitative inductive analysis allowed for several themes to emerge from the data

11 Findings Data from both phases of interviews were blended Two principal patterns which were common to their transition into university life were: 1. Becoming part of campus life 2. Goal achievement and adjustment The patterns and themes suggested theory building related to overcoming barriers and experiences of self- efficacy

12 1. Becoming Part of Campus Life A) Formal Supports: Increased communication and understanding between the student and the professors Provide encouragement, support and resources Enabled students to come together The reliance on others sometimes caused stress and anxiety from the lack of control over certain matters They provide inserts, and papers, and prepare your letters for the professors so they know what you need in class, and the service helps me on almost everything I need (Dianne).

13 1. Becoming Part of Campus Life B) Social and Informal Supports: Frosh Week Orientation Residence helped them meet and maintain friends Joining clubs or teams Used leisure as a means to eliminate stress, improve and maintain health, and to remain active in their new community. Its helped to get to know the university better and all of the resources that I have… not only friends, but people that I can go to for help (Claire).

14 2. Goal Achievement and Adjustment Following analysis of the second interview data, it became evident that for the most part, these participants had established and met their goals. In the case of their leisure and recreational pursuits, they generally felt they were involved in what they wanted to pursue. Constraints to goals included factors such as lack of time, money, and ability.

15 2. Goal Achievement and Adjustment Some goals invariably changed as the students became more immersed in the reality of university life. Goals were then adjusted: Originally, I thought, and heard, that if you go to clubs you can make friends... but you know, I have enough friends as it is...I have my friends and I have time for them, so I have enough people (Anne).

16 Overcoming Barriers and Experiencing Self-Efficacy Participants felt successful in their transition to university when they were able to overcome obstacles, do well academically, and make friends. The participants utilized a variety of services provided and reported both competency and confidence in their personal abilities. While participants experience challenges, they also experienced personal perceptions of efficacy.

17 Overcoming Barriers and Experiencing Self-Efficacy Self-efficacy Framework (Bandura) High self-efficacy has positive effects Theory helps to explain the achievements of the students in the current study. Informal and formal support services facilitated their ability to do well

18 Supports and Barriers Model of Self-Efficacy LowHigh Positive Influences Negative Influences Supports Peer Support Academic/Personal achievements Extra Curricular Involvement Barriers Time pressures Impairment Communication challenges Sense of dependence on others Availability and utility of services for students with disabilities

19 Conclusion Aspects of university life, including support services, opportunities for leisure, and peer support, all played an integral role in the participants successful transition into the university community. Inclusion is intricately tied to both access to, and the effectiveness of, special services to students with disabilities. Through these services and activities, it is suggested that persons with disabilities exhibit more confidence in their abilities, are better adapted, and generally feel more comfortable within the university milieu.

20 Thank You Questions, Comments?

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