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									    Self-Determination as a
  Dropout Prevention Strategy

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
► 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
► 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
► 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
► 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 passed.
► Characterized by federal legislation
  and federal initiative pertaining to
Federal Mandates Pertaining to SD

IDEA:                     Rehabilitation Act:
►   …. be planned based   ► disability is … in no
    on the student’s        way diminishes the
    preferences and         rights to live
    interests               independently, enjoy
►   Students must be        make choices,
    included in their       contribute to
    transition planning     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 Americans
  Professionals working across various disciplines
   in the field of disability services need to provide
   opportunities for students with disabilities to
   experience choice and exercise self-
   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
     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 one’s 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 one’s 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 individual’s control over
    his or her own life;
►   In order to control one’s 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 one’s 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 Self-Determined

 ► Make  choices and decisions as
 ► Exhibit some personal and internal
   control over actions
 ► Feel capable and act that way
 ► Understand the effects of own
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-
► Field and Hoffman’s (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.

            Know Yourself                                          Value Yourself
        • Dream                                                 • Accept and value yourself
        • Know your strengths,                                  • Admire strengths that
          weaknesses, needs, and                                  come from uniqueness
          preferences                                           • Recognize and respect
        • Know the options                                        rights and responsibilities
        • Decide what is important to you                       • Take care of yourself

                                      • Set goals
                                      • Plan actions to meet goals
                                      • Anticipate results
                                      • Be creative
                                      • Visually Rehearse

                                   • Take risks
                                   • Communicate
                                   • Access resources and support
                                   • Negotiate
                                   • Deal with conflict and criticism
                                   • Be persistent

                                   Experience Outcomes and Learn
                           • Compare outcome to expected outcome
                           • Compare performance to expected performance
                           • Realize success
                           • Make adjustments


    From “Development of a Model for Self-determination,” by S. Field and A. Hoffman, 1994, Career
   Development for Exceptional Children, 17, p. 165. Copyright ® by CDEI. Reprinted with Permission.

Figure 2-1. Field and Hoffman’s self-determination model
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
► 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
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
► A strong sense of self-efficacy
► Clear, realistic goals and are optimistic about the
     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
 Why Do Students with Disabilities
      Drop out of School?
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
  Factors for Dropout for Students with
► Which Elements of Self-Determination Can
  Be Used to Mediate/Reduce the Risks and
 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 curriculum:
   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 self-
   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
► 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 they’ve made in
  the recent past
► encourage children to “think aloud” with you
► provide opportunities to talk about how they learn
► 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
► 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 toSelf-Determination
► Take Charge for the Future
► Choice Maker
► Whose Future Is It Anyway
► 1-2-3 BREAK
                 NEXT S.T.E.P.
► 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
► Teach skills that they need to participate
  successfully in a self-directed transition planning
► Students learn to define their hopes and dreams,
  engage in self-evaluation, set goals and plan
  activities that will help them accomplish the goals.
► Consists of 19 lessons clustered into four units.
► The Next  S.T.E.P. curriculum materials include a
  teacher’s manual, student workbooks, and a video.
  The teacher’s manual contains lesson plans, masters
  for overhead transparencies, and guidelines for
  involving parents or other family members in a
  student’s 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; teacher’s 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
       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

► 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 skills.
► 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 topics
► 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-          ►   Problem Solving
    Determination             ►   Educational Goal Planning
►   Who Am I – My Metaphors   ►   Educational Planning and
►   Needs and Wants               Transition Portfolio
►   What is Success? (S-T     ►   Goals Setting for
    Goals)                        Employment
►   What is Success? (L-T     ►   Coping with Problems at
    Goals)                        Work
►   Decision-Making and       ►   Independent Living Skills
    Choice-Making (1)         ►   SD Review, Reflections, and
►   Decision-Making and           Posttest
    Choice-Making (2)         ►   Celebration
       Standard Procedures
► Students with   disabilities need a structure to
► The structures in this program is “1-2-3
► 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
        What Works, What Not
► Keeping   Activities
                            ► Lecture
                            ► Extensive
► Be Engaging
► Encourage Group
                            ► Extensive
► Focus on Abilities, not
      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 Expectations
► 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-
► Scenario-Based versus Multiple-Choice
► Curriculum-Based versus Standard-Based
► Norm-Referenced versus Criterion-
        Issues and Considerations in Self-
   Determination Assessment: Who to Involve?

► Student Role in Self-Determination
► Family’s role in Self-Determination
► Educator’s Role in Self-Determination
► Service Personnel’s Role in Self-
  Determination Assessment
          So, What, Who and How?

► Purpose determines focus   areas for
► Purpose dictates participants of assessment
► Purpose determines methods of data
► 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
   Examples of Available Instruments

► The Arc’s Self-Determination Scale
  (Wheeler, 1995)
► 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)

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