The Relationship of Self-Determination Skills, Use of Accommodations, and Use of Services to Academic Success in Undergraduate Juniors and Seniors with Learning Disabilities

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Humphrey, Marja J. B.
MacDonald-Wilson, Kim
Students with disabilities are entering colleges and universities across the nation in ever-increasing numbers, with the greatest percentage being students with learning disabilities (LD). Yet, students with disabilities often do not graduate from college at the same rate as students without disabilities. Self-determination is an important skill for students to possess as they navigate a more complex academic environment in which they are required to make decisions independently. Having effective services for students with LD is crucial to their academic success. Students with LD were recruited through College and University contacts maintained by the student disability offices. Seventy students from eight institutions (all 4-year institutions, which included four independent colleges and four state universities), responded to an online survey, completing measures about their grade point average (GPA), use of accommodations, use of related services, and their skills as measured by the Self-Determination Student Scale. Results indicated that there was a significant, positive relationship between self-determination and GPA, such that self-determination reliably predicted GPA in this sample. However, no relationship was found between use of accommodations and GPA or between use of services and GPA, as many students reported selectively utilizing accommodations and services, which was interpreted to indicate developing self-determination. Recommendations for how campus disability offices might assist students in the development of self-determination skills are discussed and implications for future research academic success are presented.