The impact of school and home opportunities in self-determination development

2017 edition

Cristina Mumbardó-Adam

Students with intellectual disability can experience challenges during the period of transition from secondary to post-school life (e.g., from school to work, postsecondary education, and community living) as social and contextual demands gradually increase from classroom and family context requirements to job and citizenship demands (Morningstar, Lombardi, Fowler, & Test, 2015; Wehman, 2006). These changing demands create a need for environmental supports embedded in the community and individualized supports provided across work and education settings (Shogren, Luckasson, & Schalock, 2014). There is evidence that promoting self-determination, defined as a ‚Äúdispositional characteristic manifested as acting as the causal agent in one‚Äôs life‚ÄĚ (Shogren, Wehmeyer, Palmer, Forber-Pratt, Little, Lopez, 2015, p. 258), triggers more positive post-school transition outcomes for youth with and without disabilities (i.e., Shogren, Lopez, Wehmeyer, Little, & Pressgrove, 2006).

Researchers have begun to explore the contextual factors (i.e., personal and environmental factors) that impact self-determined actions; however, further research is needed. Few studies to date have comprehensively examined both personal and environmental factors that exert an influence across students with and without disabilities, leading to incomplete information on the influence of context in shaping self-determination in students with and without disabilities (Mumbardó-Adam et al., 2016). Provided opportunities both at school and at home support students with disabilities to engage in self-determined actions (Carter, Owens, Trainor, Sun, & Swedeen, 2009; Mason, Field, & Sawilowsky, 2004; Cavendish, 2016; Pierson, Carter, Lane, Glaeser, 2008), but have also not been found to be a significant predictor of self-determination skills (Shogren et al., 2007). There is a need for further empirical work to address how those described variables impact the self-determination construct across students with and without disabilities to inform the development of frameworks for embedding self-determination interventions in day to day school practice.

As such, this study sought to explore the impact of opportunities provided both at school and at home in their self-determination and its three essential characteristics (volitional action, agentic action, and action-control beliefs) so as to lay the foundations to promote changes in families and teachers educational practices.