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Julia A. Smith, Ph.D. Western Oregon University

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1 Julia A. Smith, Ph.D. Western Oregon University
The Retention of Deaf Students in Mainstream Colleges Julia A. Smith, Ph.D. Western Oregon University

2 U.S. College Students 15.1 million college students in the U.S.
468,000 Deaf and Hard of Hearing college students 123,000 Deaf Students in 2,300 institutions (Schroedel, Watson, & Ashmore, 2003)

3 Attrition Drop out rate for general college population – more than 40% (Tinto, 1993) Drop out rate for students with a hearing loss – approximately 70% (Myers & Taylor, 2000)

4 Research Questions How do students who are deaf describe their experience in a mainstream college? What factors in the social and academic environment are linked to deaf college students’ perceptions of academic and social success and satisfaction?

5 Persistence… is a function of the quality of students’ adjustment to the academic and social environments of an institution (Astin, 1993; Braxton et al., 1995; Tinto, 1993)

6 Persistence in College
Academic/social adjustment and integration Previous academic/social experience

7 Persistence continued...
Clear and purposeful goals Class participation Attachment to institution (Astin, 1993; Braxton, Vesper, & Hossler, 1995; Chickering, 1969; Foster, 1988; Gerdes & Mallinckrodt, 2001; Tinto, 1993)

8 Literature Review Students with diverse backgrounds students of color
students with disabilities key factors to success for these populations are adjusting to social and academic environments (Blake & Rust, 2002; Watson & Kuh, 1996)

9 Methodology Sample Selection Criteria Procedures Data Analysis
“Traditional” students Recruitment Two large institutions (18,000 or more) Two small institutions (6,000 or less) Procedures Two hour interviews, videotaped and transcribed into English Included family or origin, identity, perception of readiness, and current feelings of success/satisfaction Data Analysis winMax software program

10 Participant Characteristics
14 mainstream college students Ages 18-23 Single and not living with parents Self-identify as Deaf 13 students preferred ASL/PSE High school GPA average 3.48 College GPA average 2.90 All participants had strong career goals

11 Students’ Perception of Academic Success and Satisfaction
Academic Abilities Academic and Career Goals Support Services Interaction in the Classroom

12 Academic Abilities High School Preparation Transition to College
12 participants felt academically prepared for college Relationships with teachers and interpreters important Transition to College First year struggle similar to hearing students English as a second language struggles

13 Academic and Career Goals
College Major Health/PE (3) Education (2) Social Work/Psych. (2) Biology (pre-med) Anthropology Art and Design Horticulture Urban Planning Undecided (2) Career Goals Athletic Recruiter Health related careers (4) Teacher (2) Counselor (2) Physician Museum Curator Video Game Designer Landscape Designer City Planner/Manager

14 Support Services Interpreters Notetakers
College interpreters different than high school interpreters “Love/Hate” relationship Notetakers Sloppy or late notes Dependent on good notes for success

15 Interaction in the Classroom
Class Participation Dependent on interpreters Communication with Classmates Desired more deaf students in class Used interpreters or gestures Communication with Faculty In-service training needed Preferred

16 Students’ Perception of Social Success and Satisfaction
Relationship with Family Members Social Experience in High School Sense of Agency College Social Environment

17 Relationship with Family
Shared Language 60% (n = 8) parents signed at diagnosis 36% (n = 5) currently sign Closeness with Family 10 participants felt close to family

18 Social Experiences in High School
“It was hard because I was the only deaf person in the school and I was always the person who reached out…I was afraid that if I didn’t call them no one would call me.” (Female, age 21) It was hard being the only deaf student, but I worked hard to be a good athlete. I had some friends who were hearing on my track team and we got along okay…as long as I was involved in physical activity and we didn’t have to talk it was fine. That would be the only problem – when talking was necessary – and I didn’t like that.” (Male, age 21)

19 Sense of Agency Identity Self-Determination 1 culturally hearing
3 culturally Deaf 10 bicultural Self-Determination Hard working, Proud, Adventuresome, Goal oriented, Motivated, Courageous, Capable

20 College Social Environment
Communication Issues Struggles with communication Extracurricular Activities College athletic teams/intramural sports Clubs and organizations Fraternities and sororities

21 Extra Curricular Activities
College Sports Football, Basketball, Lacrosse, Rowing Team, Powderpuff Football Intramural Sports Hall Athletic Director Resident Assistant Fraternity / Sorority Homecoming Court ASL Teaching Assistant SCUBA Diving Club Various College Committees

22 Students’ Recommendations for Practitioners

Not all deaf students are alike nor have the same communication needs. Remember to see each student as an individual. “I am an oral deaf student but teachers keep asking me if I want a sign language interpreter. That is so frustrating! Not all deaf students are the same. Teachers should know that!” (Female, age 18)

24 RECOMMENDATION #2 Make eye contact with deaf students. Look directly at them when communicating; don’t look at the interpreter. “I think it is really important that faculty get more involved with deaf students. Sometimes it feels like teachers overlook deaf students and don’t even see we exist.” (Male, age 20)

25 RECOMMENDATION #3 Attend in-service training regarding how to use interpreters in the classroom. “Teachers don’t need to know all about Deaf culture itself, but they should know what it entails to have a deaf student in their classroom.” (Male, age 22)

26 “Teachers should know not to walk in front of the interpreter (laughing). Of course that is common sense, but they do it all the time! And then they don’t even apologize or show consideration.” (Male, age 20)

27 RECOMMENDATION #4 Provide students with Powerpoint outlines of class lectures. “Powerpoint presentations are especially helpful to me as a deaf student. Because if you are in class and just sit and watch the interpreter and try to take notes, all at the same time, then you just get lost and miss things. It is better if the key points or an outline is up on the board. That helps me so much because I am a visual person.” (Male, age 22)

28 RECOMMENDATION #5 Introduce yourself to interpreters and provide a copy or outline of presentations as well as handouts given in class. “Teachers need to attend in-service training to learn how to work with deaf students and interpreters in the classroom. It seems that most teachers have no idea even where to begin.” (Female, age 21)

29 RECOMMENDATION #6 Remember that interpreters will lag behind by a few words so watch the interpreter and wait for a deaf student to reply to your question. “I often want to raise my hand and participate in class, but there is lag time with interpreters. By the time the question is signed to me the teacher is already on another subject.” (Female, age 22)

30 RECOMMENDATION #7, 8, 9 Slow down the pace of the lecture.
Request that all students raise their hands or stand up to help deaf students identify who is talking. Watch the interpreter and wait until they have finished signing a question before looking for answers from students in the class.

31 “I wish teachers would slow things down in class
“I wish teachers would slow things down in class. It gets confusing to see who is talking and I sometimes get lost. Maybe students should sit in a [semi-] circle. That would be more deaf-friendly.” (Male, 23)

32 RECOMMENDATION #10 Request that all videos used in class are captioned. “The Office of Disability Services sends notices to faculty reminding them that videos should be captioned. But I think faculty are slow to react to that. It is really frustrating to have to go through an interpreter to watch a video that is required for class. I end up missing so much!” (Female, age 22)

33 RECOMMENDATION #11 After class or during office hours, offer to write to a deaf student if an interpreter is not available. Showing a desire to communicate is important. “I am happy to write with a teacher if an interpreter isn’t around, but it seems that teachers don’t like to do this. I am not sure why.” (Male, age 18)

34 RECOMMENDATION #12 Be open to using email with deaf students.
“It helps so much if teachers check and respond to their . Deaf students tend to use a lot because it is an easier way to communicate.” (Female, age 18)

35 RECOMMENDATION #13 ADMINISTRATION Have more deaf students on campus.
“If there is even just one more deaf student then I feel more powerful in the classroom.” (Female, age 21)

36 RECOMMENDATION #14 Recruit more qualified interpreters.
“It would be great if there were more interpreters available during the day no matter what the event. It would be great to get an interpreter at the last minute for any time of the day.” (Male, age 19) “I wish interpreters were available 24/7!” (Female, age 20)

37 RECOMMENDATION #15 Evaluate interpreters regularly.
“Universities need to make sure that the interpreters they hire are skilled and they really need to be evaluated. Since I have entered [a large institution] interpreters are being evaluated more often because I complained that they weren’t skilled enough. To be successful in school, I have to have good interpreters.” (Female, age 22)

38 RECOMMENDATION #16 Make all classroom videos and films accessible by having them captioned. “It is really hard to understand videos when they aren’t captioned. I feel like I am missing so much compared to my [hearing] classmates.” (Female, age 22)

39 RECOMMENDATION #17 Provide in-service training to faculty and staff regarding communication needs of deaf students. “Some teachers have never worked with deaf students. They look at the interpreter instead directly at me. In-service training would help that I think.” (Male, 23)

40 RECOMMENDATION #18 Consider inviting upper-class deaf students to become mentors for incoming freshman who are deaf. “I struggled a lot during my first year. I wish there had been other deaf students ahead of me who could help me out and tell me what to do and where to go.” (Female, age 22)

41 RECOMMENDATION #19 Provide ASL classes for students who would like to learn a new language. “I wish my school offered more ASL classes. My roommate should take a class!” (Male, age 18) “I wish more hearing students knew sign language. I feel like I have to work so hard to force hearing people to understand me. It is hard to hang out with hearing people who don’t know any sign language.” (Male, age 18)

42 RECOMMENDATION #20 Encourage staff across campus to learn and use basic sign language. “It would be so nice if staff across campus even knew a little sign language. Like the cafeteria workers or people in the bookstore, or even advisors and counselors. Just a little sign language makes a difference to me!” (Female, age 19)

43 RECOMMENDATION #21, 22 Strive to make all campus events accessible (i.e., movies are captioned and plays are interpreted). Include an announcement of accessibility on flyers/posters, etc.

44 “Sometimes I want to go to a movie on campus that is open to students, but it isn’t close-captioned, so it is worthless for me to go. Deaf students should be able to access services and events just like hearing students. And if an event is accessible, make sure to put it down on the flyer. That is important to me because I always check!” (Male, age 21)

45 RECOMMENDATION #23 Visit other campuses that have larger deaf programs. “There are support programs [for deaf students] out there that are successful. Small campuses don’t have to reinvent the wheel!” (Male, age 23)

46 Directions for Future Research
Non-traditional students Hard of hearing students Students who do not persist in college Participants will be interviewed in two and four years Questions???

47 Author Note For more information on this presentation, please contact the author: Julia Smith, Ph.D. Rehabilitation Counselor Education Western Oregon University N. Monmouth Ave Monmouth OR Phone: V/TTY

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