Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Young Adults Who Are Hearing and Deaf in a Transition Study: Did They and Their Parents Supply Similar Data?

Academic journal article Exceptional Children

Young Adults Who Are Hearing and Deaf in a Transition Study: Did They and Their Parents Supply Similar Data?

Article excerpt

Researchers have conducted many studies at the federal, state, and local levels to describe the school-to-community transition experiences of people with disabilities. Many investigators have also attempted to isolate variables that are predictive of success in community adjustment. These investigations usually employed some variation of the survey research method (Halpern, 1990). Researchers typically use four data sources to gain this information: (a) only a parent or guardian is queried about their son or daughter's transition experiences; (b) people with disabilities are asked directly about their experiences; (c) a parent and the son or daughter may be asked to supply information together about different aspects of the transition process (e.g., the parent will comment on the family's socioeconomic status, and the person with disabilities will provide information on his or her work experiences); and (d) depending on who can be located and involved in the data collection effort, either the parent or the person with disabilities is queried and input is integrated into one data set (i.e., because it may be impossible to find a certain individual, his or her parent will be interviewed and these data treated the same as data gathered directly from other respondents with disabilities). Many published transition studies rely on parent interviews as the sole data source (e.g., Neel, Meadows, Levine, & Edgar, 1988) or mix both parent and student data (e.g., Hasazi, Gordon, & Roe, 1985) to create one "integrated" data set.

Information on the school-to-community transition of people with disabilities can only be as good as it is accurate, and it may well be that asking different people the same question yields different answers. If the information from the two sources (parent and son or daughter) can be shown to be equivalent, it may be appropriate to rely on parent data or to substitute parent responses for their son's or daughter's responses. What if the two sets of information, however, are incongruent? If the data sets are not equivalent, questions can be raised about the veracity of investigations relying on one or another data source (e.g., using parent data only), or integrated data sets. This problem is essentially an issue of interjudge agreement. For example, investigations have examined the agreement of parents and their son or daughter who exhibited antisocial behaviors on specific questions related to adult adjustment (Janes & Hesselbrock, 1978; Janes, Hesselbrock, Myers, & Penniman, 1979; Patterson, 1982). These results suggest that the son or daughter may be a more accurate informant about involvement in antisocial behaviors than the parent. To our knowledge, though, the issue of parent/student agreement in transition studies has not been addressed in the current literature, even though its importance has been recognized (DeStefano & Wagner, 1991).

This article examines parent/student agreement through data we collected in the Pacific Northwest for a study of the school-to-community transition experiences of young adults who are deaf (Bullis, Bull, Johnson, Johnson, & Kittrell, 1990). In this project, we included a comparison group of peers without hearing loss as a standard against which to judge the transition success or failure of the participants who are deaf (Edgar, 1985; Fairweather, 1984), on selected community adjustment variables (e.g., employment, independent living, involvement in postsecondary education, and social experiences). Our initial plan was to interview the parents of persons in both groups first, to gain approval to interview the son or daughter, and---if the son or daughter could not be interviewed--to substitute parent data for that of the young person; thus creating an integrated data set for both groups of young people. Such a practice, however, demands that the congruence of the responses between respondent groups be examined. Analyses of these responses provided the basis for this article. …

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