Key Takeaway:

More students with disabilities (SWD) are attending college today than ever before; yet, limitations of the current research base preclude the identification of evidence-based predictors of college success for SWD. However, several studies present promising evidence to influence post-secondary outcomes through the development of student-centered skills (i.e., learning and study strategies and self-advocacy). —Ashley Parnell

Establishing Evidence-Based Practices for Postsecondary Experience

More students with disabilities (SWD) are attending college today than ever before, with SWD accounting for more than 19% of all undergraduate students.1  While the presence of a disability does not negatively influence eventual graduation, SWD take longer to graduate and often find the transition to college more difficult than students without disabilities.2 As such, identifying evidence-based practices and predictors would help practitioners to better support secondary transition and the postsecondary experiences of SWD.   

The purpose of this systematic literature review was to determine whether evidence-based practices can be identified that influence or predict college success for SWD. Researchers identified 28 studies that analyzed factors related to student GPA, retention, and graduation according to their inclusion criteria. 

Articles were rated according to a modified version of the NTACT Quality Indicators criteria for correlational research to determine if sufficient information existed to identify evidence-based, research-based, and promising practices related to factors that impact student success. However, too few studies met these criteria indicating that the research base is not yet robust enough to confidently report evidence-based practices. Given the paucity and reasonable quality of the identified research base, the research team decided to move forward with the analysis of all articles. 

Moving Forward: Practice Implications & Future Research

The results of this analysis provide researchers and practitioners with key takeaways specific to future research and secondary transition planning. 

 Results suggest several critical implications for secondary transition:

  • Student-specific factors (i.e., characteristics & skills) rather than institutional factors influenced or predicted success in college.
  • Self-advocacy and understanding one’s disability, including one’s strengths and needs (including academic accommodations), should be a critical part of secondary transition planning.
  • Learning & study skill instruction should be infused throughout secondary academic coursework. 

To grow & develop the current research base, the research team suggests:

  • Increases in research funding to support identification of research-based practices for improving postsecondary outcomes for SWD.
  • Employ more rigorous methodologies and examine long-term measures.
  • Further examination of predictors such as self-determination, college readiness, social connectedness, and integration.
  • Inclusion and consideration of student demographic details.

Summarized Article:

Madaus, J. W., Gelbar, N., Lyman, L. D., Taconet, A. & Faggella-Luby, M. (2020). Are there predictors of success for students with disabilities pursuing postsecondary education?. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 44(4), 191-202. 

Summary by: Ashley M. Parnell — Ashley strives to apply the MARIO Framework to build evidence-based learning environments that support student engagement, empowerment, and passion and is working with a team of educators to grow and share this framework with other educators.

Additional References:

  1. National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). IPEDS 2019-20 data collection system. United States Department of Education.
  2. Knight, W., Wessel, R., & Markle, L. (2018). Persistence to graduation for students with disabilities: Implications for performance-based outcomes. Journal of College Students Retention: Research, Theory, & Practice. 19(4), 362-380.  

Article Abstract

This article presents an integrative theoretical framework to explain and to predict psychological changes achieved by different modes of treatment. This theory states that psychological procedures, whatever their form, alter the level and strength of self-efficacy. It is hypothesized that expectations of personal efficacy determine whether coping behavior will be initiated, how much effort will be expended, and how long it will be sustained in the face of obstacles and aversive experiences. Persistence in activities that are subjectively threatening but in fact relatively safe produces, through experiences of mastery, further enhancement of self-efficacy and corresponding reductions in defensive behavior. In the proposed model, expectations of personal efficacy are derived from four principal sources of information: performance accomplishments, vicarious experience, verbal persuasion, and physiological states. The more dependable the experiential sources, the greater are the changes in perceived self efficacy. A number of factors are identified as influencing the cognitive processing of efficacy information arising from enactive, vicarious, exhortative, and emotive sources. The differential power of diverse therapeutic procedures is analyzed in terms of the postulated cognitive mechanism of operation. Findings are reported from microanalyses of enactive, vicarious, and emotive modes of treatment that support the hypothesized relationship between perceived self-efficacy and behavioral changes. Possible directions for further research are discussed.

MARIO Connections

This study has informed how intrinsic motivation and the development of self-efficacy are supported in the MARIO Framework. Bandura’s framework directly relates to the intentional design of personalized goal setting, feedback cycles, self-assessment and self-reflective practices as well as the choice of high-Impact learning strategies found throughout the MARIO Framework. 

Article Abstract

Person-centered education is a counseling-originated, educational psychology model, overripe for meta-analysis, that posits that positive teacher-student relationships are associated with optimal, holistic learning. It includes classical, humanistic education and today’s constructivist learner-centered model. The author reviewed about 1,000 articles to synthesize 119 studies from 1948 to 2004 with 1,450 findings and 355,325 students. The meta-analysis design followed Mackay, Barkham, Rees, and Stiles’s guidelines, including comprehensive search mechanisms, accuracy and bias control, and primary study validity assessment. Variables coded included 9 independent and 18 dependent variables and 39 moderators. The results showed that correlations had wide variation. Mean correlations (r= .31) were above average compared with other educational innovations for cognitive and especially affective and behavioral outcomes. Methodological and sample features accounted for some of the variability.

MARIO Connections

The MARIO one-to-one relationship between educator and student is deeply rooted in Cornelius-White’s meta-analysis. This is particularly true for elements relating to the growth of independent student learning behaviors including, but not limited to, motivation and effort.