Date of Award

Fall 8-2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Dr. Lynda Leavitt

Second Advisor

Dr. Shane Williamson

Third Advisor

Dr. Crescence Allen


The enrollment of students with invisible disabilities has continued to increase unabated in postsecondary environments. As a result of the applicable laws governing the provision of accommodations and/or modifications in higher education, the impetus and responsibility to succeed rests almost entirely with the individual student. Research showed for many students with invisible disabilities, the transition from a more passive role in the acquisition of education at the primary and secondary levels to a more active role in the acquisition of higher education at the post-secondary level was difficult, as evidenced by a large percentage of such students failing to complete their degrees (Barber, 2012, Hadley, 2006; 2011, Skinner, 2004). Nonetheless, some of the same research indicated some students with invisible disabilities succeeded and completed their degrees (Barber, 2012, Skinner, 2004). The literature suggested that certain characteristics, particularly self-determination, were at least in part responsible for the success of these students. The purpose of this mixed methods study was to explore the level of self determination in successful students with invisible disabilities who participated in higher education. Data were collected through the administration of an online, anonymous, and untimed survey that consisted of Wehmeyer and Kelchner’s (1995) Arc Self- Determination Scale, as modified by Jameson (2007), as well as supplemental questions both adapted from Stage and Milne (1996) and created by the investigator. Levels of self determination between successful students with invisible disabilities and their otherwise non-disabled peers were measured and analyzed for significant differences in means. The quantitative data revealed no significant difference in means on any domain score, iii including the Self-Determination Total score between groups, as measured by the modified Arc. Subsequent content analyses of supplemental questions revealed identical emerging themes in both participant groups, which aligned with Wehmeyer’s essential characteristics of self-determination.


Copyright 2014