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Title: Self-Determination%20as%20a%20Dropout%20Prevention%20Strategy

Self-Determination as a Dropout Prevention
First Annual Special Education Forum on Dropout
Prevention Orlando, FL November 3, 2004
Dalun Zhang, Ph.D. Clemson University
  • Since 1990s, self-determination has received
    increased attention in the field of special
    education and disability services

Facts about Self-Determination
  • Individuals with disabilities and their families
    identified SD as a top need.
  • The U.S. Department of Education funded numerous
    SD research projects and SD demonstration
    projects since 1990.
  • Most states have incorporated SD into their
    services and funding priorities

  • Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, and Wehmeyer (1998b)
    identified 35 curricula that were designed for
    this purpose whereas Test, Karvonen, Wood,
    Browder, and Algozzine (2000) found 60 curricula
    and 675 other resources.
  • A number of professional journals devoted a
    special issue to SD (e.g. The Journal of
    Vocational Rehabilitation, Career Development for
    Exceptional Individuals, etc.)
  • Over 450 articles have been published on the
    topic of self-determination
  • CEC Pre-Conference Capacity Building Institute 04

Self-Determination Movement
  • Background
  • Phase I (mid-1980 - 1990)
  • Phase II (1990 - present) Federal Mandates
    Federal Initiatives

  • Graduation from high school is a major milestone
    for every adolescent because it marks the
    transition from adolescence to young adulthood
  • Successful completion of the transition process
    is, in many cases, a natural and
    self-perpetuating one for high school students
    without disabilities. For high school students
    with disabilities, however, the transition
    process is often not as natural
  • Education must play a more critical role in
    facilitating task development and preparation for
  • Follow-up studies of the 1980s and 1990s found
    disappointing outcomes
  • Consumers and researcher identified lack of
    self-determination as a major cause of this
    disappointing outcomes

Phase I
  • The Phase I period started in the mid-1980s when
    significant attention was focused on the benefits
    of empowering consumers
  • This was a period when people with disabilities
    and their families organized to assert their
    rights of citizenship, advocate for social and
    political change, and demand access to the
    neighborhoods, jobs, schools and activities
    enjoyed by persons without disabilities
  • However, the issues of preference, choice, and
    personal autonomy received little attention in
    the field of special education

Phase II
  • Phase II started in 1990 when the IDEA was
  • Characterized by federal legislation and federal
    initiative pertaining to self-determination

Federal Mandates Pertaining to SD
  • IDEA
  • . be planned based on the students preferences
    and interests
  • Students must be included in their transition
    planning meeting
  • Rehabilitation Act
  • 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
  • Self-determination is a critical outcome of the
    transition process for students with disabilities
    and must be part of the career development
    process that begins in early childhood and
    continues throughout adult life
  • People with disabilities have the same right to
    self-determination as is available to all
  • Professionals working across various disciplines
    in the field of disability services need to
    provide opportunities for students with
    disabilities to experience choice and exercise

What is Self-determination?
  • Historically, self-determination referred to the
    right of nations or ethnic minorities to
    self-governance. Derived from this original
    meaning, self-determination, has been
    appropriated by disability rights advocates and
    people with disabilities to refer to their
    rights to have control over their lives.

  • The present use of self-determination within
    special education emphasizes empowerment of
    individuals with disabilities.

Self-determination as an Educational Outcome
  • Wehmeyer conceptualizes self-determination as an
    educational outcome. He defines
    self-determination as acting as the primary
    causal agent in ones 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 ones 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
  • Self-determination concerns an individuals
    control over his or her own life
  • In order to control ones own life, an individual
    needs to have certain attitudes, characteristics,
    and abilities
  • An individual needs to interact with the
    environment in an appropriate way
  • A person needs to have freedom and independence
  • One needs to know and value oneself and be able
    to make choices and decisions based on ones own
    interests and preferences
  • A person has to be able to set and achieve goals
    which lead to achievement of adult outcomes.

Essential Characteristics of Behaviors that are
  • Make choices and decisions as needed
  • Exhibit some personal and internal control over
  • Feel capable and act that way
  • Understand the effects of own action

Component Elements of SD
  • Choice-making
  • Decision Making
  • Problem-solving
  • Goal setting and attainment
  • Self-regulation
  • Self-advocacy
  • Self-understanding awareness
  • Self-efficacy

Self-Determination Models
  • Wehmeyer's (1997) self-determination model
    focuses on the conceptualization of the concept
    of self-determination. This model is developed to
    explain self-determined behaviors in general. It
    identifies four essential characteristics that
    self-determined people possess and 12 component
    elements of self-determination.

(No Transcript)
  • Field and Hoffmans (1994) self-determination
    model focuses on skills, knowledge, and values
    that lead to self-determination. It has five
    major components know yourself, value yourself,
    plan, act, and experience outcomes and learn. The
    following figure presents the five components and
    their sub-components and the relationship among
    the five components.

(No Transcript)
I know what Self-determination is. But
Does it lead to better student outcomes?
SD Leads to Better Transition Outcomes
  • 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)
Two Follow-Up Studies
  • 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
  • Individuals in the high SD group fared much
    better than individuals in the low SD group in 6
    out of 8 adult living areas one-year after left
    school and fared better in all 8 adult living
    areas three-years after left school.
  • More individuals in the high SD group paid their
    phone bills and groceries and had a bank account
    one-year after school. At three-year after
    school, even more individuals in the high SD
    group did these things. In addition, more
    individuals in the high SD group paid their rent
    and utilities.
  • Individuals in the high SD group also enjoyed
    better overall benefits at three-years after
    school. They also had better specific benefits in
    vacation, sick leaves, and health insurance.

  • 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
  • Their Common characteristics Include
  • High intrinsic motivation and internal locus of
  • Higher educational aspirations
  • Motivated by a desire to succeed, to be
    self-starting, and to be personally responsible
    for their achievements
  • A strong sense of self-efficacy
  • Clear, realistic goals and are optimistic about
    the future

Hardre and Reeve (2003) Study
  • Used self-determination theory and tested a
    motivational model to explain the conditions
    under which rural students formulate their
    intentions to persist in, versus drop out of,
    high school.
  • The model argues that motivational variables
    underlie students' intentions to drop out and
    that students' motivation can be either supported
    in the classroom by autonomy-supportive teachers
    or frustrated by controlling teachers.

  • Analyses of questionnaire data from 483 rural
    high school students showed that the provision of
    autonomy support within classrooms predicted
    students' self-determined motivation and
    perceived competence. These motivational
    resources, in turn, predicted students'
    intentions to persist, versus drop out, and they
    did so even after controlling for the effect of

Risk Factors for Dropout
  • Family Factors Poverty, inadequate family
    guidance, lack of role models
  • School Factors Inadequate school practices and
    policies (e.g., a student has more than one
    teacher makes it hard for parents to connect
    with one adult instruction is irrelevant)
  • Student Factors repeated failure, learned
    helplessness, lack of future goals, inadequate
    choices, poor judgment, poor peer relations, lack
    of problem-solving skills, external locus of
    control, low self-esteem

Why Do Students with Disabilities Drop out of
  • Two studies have provided specific information on
    the primary reasons for dropping out of school
    among special education youth.
  • One study asked California special education
    administrators to identify why youth left school
    (Jay and Padilla, 1987). They reported the
    following reasons in order of influence dislike
    of school, preference for a job, inability to get
    along with teachers, and friends who dropped out.
  • The National Longitudinal Transition Study showed
    that parents of students with emotional
    disabilities reported that most of their children
    had dropped out because of their dislike of
    school (32) or because of behavior problems
    (27 Wagner, 1989).

  • Discussion Identification of At-Risk Factors
    for Dropout for Students with Disabilities
  • Which Elements of Self-Determination Can Be Used
    to Mediate/Reduce the Risks and How?

Addressing Risk Factors by Teaching Component
Elements of SD
  • Choice-making, decision-making, and
  • Goal setting and attainment
  • Self-Regulation
  • Self-advocacy
  • Self-understanding and awareness
  • Self-efficacy

Self-Determination and Standards-Based Reform
  • Component elements of self-determined behavior
    are found in virtual all state and local
    standards across multiple content areas
  • Students who are self-determined are more likely
    to be able to successfully engage with the
  • Learning-to-learn or self-regulation strategies
  • Goal oriented, problem-solving focused
  • Study skills, organization skills

--Wehmeyer (2004)
No Content Left Behind
  • All students need instruction to become
  • Component elements in standards
  • Enhanced capacity to interact with and engage in
    the curriculum
  • Valued societal outcome
  • Need to develop and implement school-wide
    interventions Not just disability-focused, not
    just IEP-focused

--Wehmeyer (2004)
  • 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

Approaches to Promoting SD
  • Fostering SD in daily educational activities
    starting from early elementary years
  • Infusing SD skills instruction into existing
  • Teaching SD by implementing an SD curriculum
  • Practicing SD skills through participation in
    transitional and educational planning
  • School/district wide implementation

Fostering Self-Determination
  • Start early!
  • Early Childhood (2 -5)
  • Early Elementary Years (6 - 8)
  • Late Elementary Years (9 - 11)
  • Secondary Years (12 Over)

-- Doll, Sands, Wehmeyer, and Palmer (1996)
Early Childhood
  • provide opportunities to make structured choices
  • provide opportunities to generate choices that
    are both positive and negative
  • provide formative and constructive feedback on
    the consequences of choices made in the recent
  • provide opportunities for planning activities
    that are pending
  • provide opportunities to self-evaluate task
    performance to a model
  • ask directive questions so that the child compare
    his or her performance to a model

Early Elementary
  • provide opportunities to choose from among
    several different strategies for a task
  • ask children to reconsider choices theyve made
    in the recent past
  • encourage children to think aloud with you
  • provide opportunities to talk about how they
  • provide opportunities to systematically evaluate
    their work
  • help students set simple goals for themselves and
    check to see whether they are reaching them.

Late Elementary
  • provide guidance in systematic analyses of
  • use the same systematic structure to analyze past
    decisions now that their consequences are evident
  • provide opportunities to commit to personal or
    academic goals
  • provide opportunities to systematically analyze
    adult perspectives
  • provide opportunities to evaluate task
    performance in affectively safe ways

  • provide oppy. to make decisions that have
    important impact on their day-to-day activities
  • make it easy for students to see the link between
    their goals and daily decisions
  • provide guidance in breaking students long-term
    goals into a number of short-term objectives
  • assist student in realistically recognizing and
    accepting weaknesses in key skills
  • assist student in requesting academic and social
    supports from teachers

Self-Determination Curricula
  • Next S.T.E.P.
  • Steps to Self-Determination
  • Take Charge for the Future
  • Choice Maker
  • Whose Future Is It Anyway
  • 1-2-3 BREAK

  • The Next S.T.E.P. (Helper et al., 1997) is a
    self-determination curriculum that is designed to
    teach adolescents with and without disabilities,
    ages 14 to 21.
  • Teach skills that they need to participate
    successfully in a self-directed transition
    planning process.
  • Students learn to define their hopes and dreams,
    engage in self-evaluation, set goals and plan
    activities that will help them accomplish the
  • Consists of 19 lessons clustered into four units.

  • The Next S.T.E.P. curriculum materials include a
    teachers manual, student workbooks, and a video.
    The teachers manual contains lesson plans,
    masters for overhead transparencies, and
    guidelines for involving parents or other family
    members in a students transition planning
    process. The student workbooks include worksheets
    used in the lessons, plan sheets, and other forms
    that students will need to produce their
    transition plans. The video contains a number of
    vignettes that play a motivational and
    instructional role in some lessons.

Choice Maker Self-Determination Curriculum
  • Purpose Designed to teach self-determination
    skills they need to be successful in adult life
  • Components Choice and decision-making goal
    setting problem-solving self-evaluation
    self-advocacy IEP planning self-awareness

  • 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

Whose Future is it Anyway? A Student-Directed
Transition Planning Process
  • Overview Written for students to read and work
    through at their own pace teachers role
  • Facilitate student success
  • Teach information requested by student
  • Advocate for students

  • Purpose
  • Students have opportunities supports to
  • Gain self-awareness of unique strengths support
    needs and identify abilities, interests,
  • Learn skills to take a meaningful role in
    IEP/transition planning process
  • Prepare for a more active role at planning meeting

The Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction
  • Is used in classrooms for goal setting for
    academic and transition outcomes (employment,
    post-secondary training or education, living,
  • Can be used in variety of settings and for a
    variety of goal areas

  • Three phases Set a goal, take action, and adjust
    goal or plan
  • Each phase has three components
  • Student questions 12, written in first person
    voice for student focus
  • Teacher objectives provide guidance for teacher
    on each question
  • Educational supports support students to work
    through the goals

1-2-3 BREAK by Dalun Zhang Nancy Woodruff
Goal of the Project
  • 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.

  • Program design
  • Curriculum development
  • Pilot-test the entire program and each of the
    core elements of the program
  • Disseminate program information to counties
    across the state and other parts of the nation.

Program Design
  • Review of the literature to identify key factors
    that influence youth with developmental
    disabilities acquisition of self-determination
  • Target Population. The project will target
    school-age youth with developmental disabilities
    ages 14 to 21. This group has repeatedly
    identified as low achievers in the important
    adult outcome areas such as employment,
    postsecondary education, independent living, and
    community integration
  • Determine the core elements of the after-school
    youth empowerment program.

Curriculum Development
  • Based on Review of the Literature, Identified 10
  • Developed 15 Lessons to Address the Topics
  • Major Features Activity-Based, Interactive,
    Standard Procedures, and Theme repetition
  • Draft Was Reviewed by Many
  • Field-Testing in Oconee Pickens

The 10 Topics
  • Personal Strengths and Weaknesses
  • Identifying Needs and Wants
  • Goals
  • Characteristics, Setting, Planning, Accomplishing
  • Choice-Making
  • Decision-Making
  • Problem-solving
  • Educational Planning
  • Employment Goal Planning
  • Problem Solving at Work
  • Independent Living Goals

Curriculum Components
  • 15 Directed Lessons
  • Objectives
  • Materials
  • Focus
  • Guided Practice
  • Independent Practice
  • Closure
  • 14 Workbook Activities
  • Individual
  • Group
  • Pretest and Posttest

The 15 Lessons
  • 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)
  • Problem Solving
  • 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
  • Celebration

Standard Procedures
  • Students with disabilities need a structure to
  • The structures in this program is 1-2-3 Break
  • The structures emphasize steps need to take for
    making choices and decision, setting goals, and
    attaining goals.

1, 2, 3 BREAK
  • 1 Know yourself
  • 2 Value yourself
  • 3 Plan your life
  • B Be in control
  • R Realize your options
  • E Evaluate your options
  • A Act out the best choice
  • K Know you did the best

Activities and Interactions
  • The Hall of Fame Posters
  • Guest Speakers
  • Role Playing
  • Videos
  • Digital Pictures for Self-Reflections
  • Independent Goal Setting
  • Class Discussions
  • Workbook Activities

Field-Test Student Information
  • Districts
  • Classes
  • Regular High School Career Center
  • LD MD
  • Gender
  • Placement
  • Teacher Support

Major Activities
  • Kickoff in Seneca Coach Jones and Radio (Video)
  • Poster Famous People with Disabilities
  • Strengths and Weaknesses Pictures
  • Student Participation Level

What Works, What Not
  • Keeping Activities Realistic
  • Be Engaging
  • Encourage Group Involvement
  • Focus on Abilities, not Disabilities
  • Lecture
  • Extensive Reading
  • Extensive Writing

Issues and Considerations in Self-Determination
Assessment What to Assess?
  • Observable Behaviors versus Internal Processing
  • Typical Performance versus Highest Potential
  • Objective versus Subjective
  • Personal Expectations versus Societal
  • Exceptional versus Typical (Do typical people do
  • School versus Home/Community
  • Home Living Routines versus Job Performance
  • Family Background versus Cultural Norm

Issues and Considerations in Self-Determination
Assessment How to Assess?
  • Qualitative (In-Depth) or Quantitative
  • Commercially Available versus Self-Developed
  • Scenario-Based versus Multiple-Choice
  • Curriculum-Based versus Standard-Based
  • Norm-Referenced versus Criterion-Referenced

Issues and Considerations in Self-Determination
Assessment Who to Involve?
  • Student Role in Self-Determination Assessment
  • Familys role in Self-Determination Assessment
  • Educators Role in Self-Determination Assessment
  • Service Personnels Role in Self-Determination

So, What, Who and How?
  • Purpose determines focus areas for assessment
  • Purpose dictates participants of assessment
  • Purpose determines methods of data collection
  • Purpose dictates usage of assessment results

Purpose of Assessment
  • Promoting self-awareness
  • Instructional planning
  • Service Determination
  • Student progress and evaluation of
  • Making accommodations in the environment

Examples of Available Instruments
  • The Arcs Self-Determination Scale (Wheeler,
  • The Self-Determination Battery (Hoffman, Field,
    Swallows, 1995)
  • The Self-Determination Profile Package An
    Assessment Package (Curtis, 1996)
  • Choice Maker Self-Determination Assessment
    (Martin Marshall, 1996)