Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Promoting Self-Determination of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Academic journal article American Annals of the Deaf

Promoting Self-Determination of Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing

Article excerpt

SELF-DETERMINATION is a combination of attitudes, knowledge, and skills that enables individuals to make choices and engage in goaldirected, self-regulated behavior. Research in special education has demonstrated the benefits of promoting self-determination in achieving positive adult outcomes. However, to date, very little has been written about self-determination as it relates to the education of students who are deaf or hard of hearing. This article provides an overview of selfdetermination, suggestions for instructional planning, and guidance on resources that can be used to gather additional information.

Keywords: self-determination, adult outcomes, intrinsic motivation

One of the primary purposes of a preschool-through-high school (P-12) education is for students to develop the attitudes, knowledge, and skills to become healthy adults who have fulfilling relationships, experience meaningful careers, and contribute to society The development of self-determination (SD), which has been defined as "the ability of individuals to live their lives as they choose, consistent with their own values, preferences, and abilities" (A. Turnbull, R. Turnbull, & Wehmeyer, 2010, p. 500), has been demonstrated to be a factor that supports successful transitions from school to adult life (e.g., Algozzine, Browder, Karvonen, Test, & Wood, 2001; Wehmeyer & Palmer, 2003). Similarly, multiple research and meta-analytic studies in special education document the benefits of promoting SD in achieving positive adult outcomes (e.g., Chambers et al., 2007; Cobb, Lehmann, NewmanGonchar, & Alwell, 2009; Wehmeyer et al., 2012). Yet a review of the literature in deaf education indicates that a paucity of research or attention has been directed to this construct (Sebald, 2013). Consequently, the purpose of the present article is to (a) provide an overview of SD, (b) introduce the component elements and a model of SD, (c) present instructional strategies and activities that educators can initiate to promote SD, (d) share resources related to SD, and (e) describe ways to work with families to foster SD.

Overview of SelfDetermination

The construct of self-determination gained prominence when the research of Deci and Ryan (1985, 2003) on intrinsic motivation indicated that humans have an innate propensity to be self-determined, and that they gain more pleasure from activities they want or chose to do than from activities for which they receive external reinforcement or that they feel coerced or pressured to do. The SD construct was initially applied to the field of education of students with disabilities in the early 1990s, when federal mandates pertaining to transition services and student involvement in transition planning were initiated (Wehmeyer, 2007). Since then, SD has been identified as a best practice in special education and transition services (Test et al., 2009). Concomitantly, research indicates that students with a wide range of disabilities can be taught the skills associated with SD (e.g., Algozzine et al., 2001; Chambers et al., 2007; Cobb et al., 2009; Wu & Chu, 2012). Also, research suggests that self-determination correlates with higher academic performance (e.g., Fowler, Konrad, Walker, Test, & Wood, 2007; Konrad, Fowler, Walker, Test, & Wood, 2007), positive transition outcomes, including higher levels of employment and independent living (Wehmeyer & Palmer, 2003; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1997,1998), increased community participation (McGuire & McDonnell, 2008), success in postsecondary education (Anetil et al., 2008; Getzel & Thoma, 2008), and increased quality of life (Lachapelle et al., 2005; McDougall, Evans, & Baldwin, 2010; Wehmeyer & Garner, 2003; Wehmeyer & Schwartz, 1998).

Legislation supporting self-determination was incorporated into the Individuals With Disabilities Act Amendments (IDEA) of 1990, 1997, and 2004 and the Rehabilitation Act Amendments of 1992 and 1998 (Wood, Karvonen, Test, Browder, & Algozzine, 2004). …

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