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ERIC Number: ED513596
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2009
Pages: 139
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 0
ISBN: ISBN-978-1-1095-9217-7
"It's Just a Disability" or Is It?: Stigma, Psychological Needs, and Educational Outcomes in African American Adolescents with Learning-Related Disabilities
Kizzie, Karmen Tamika
ProQuest LLC, Ph.D. Dissertation, University of Michigan
The purpose of this dissertation project was to examine the extent to which the special education context, riddled with labeling and teasing, affected the motivation, academic self-concept, grades, and academic achievement of African American adolescents with learning-related disabilities. This dissertation research is situated within two theoretical frameworks, person-environment fit and self-determination theories, suggesting that optimal outcomes are associated with the satisfaction of certain psychological needs; namely, competence, relatedness, and autonomy. Data for Study 1 came from the Special Education Elementary Longitudinal Study (SEELS), a national educational policy study sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education. For this dissertation, I used data for 180 African American adolescents with learning-related disabilities who participated in SEELS. Results from Study 1 showed that there were racial differences in the satisfaction of only two of the three psychological needs. African American students with learning-related disabilities had higher ratings of competence and autonomy than White and Latino students, but there were no significant differences in ratings of relatedness to the school environment. Although African American students had higher ratings of psychological needs fulfillment, they still earned the lowest grades of all the racial groups. Results from Study 1 also revealed that relatedness and autonomy served as moderators in the relationship between negative school experiences and educational outcomes such that when students were being teased and their psychological needs were high, they had higher educational outcomes. Though, for every moderating effect, the highest educational outcome was attained when students were not being teased and not feeling related to their environment or autonomous. The second study used data collected from semi-structured interviews conducted with 10 African American middle school students with learning-related disabilities. Results from Study 2 demonstrated the varying affects of the "learning disability" label on the academic self-concept and motivation of African American students. Thematic content analysis was used to identity themes in the data. Several themes such as mistrust of the special education curriculum, disability shame and embarrassment, engagement and motivation in school, support from parents and teachers, and pride and acceptance of the disability were evident in the data. Some students internalized the stereotypes associated with the label into their academic self-concept which affected their engagement and motivation in school. Other students maintained a positive academic self-concept. Overall, results show that the students in the two studies were well adjusted and not as harmed by the special education environment as might be expected. This dissertation project has overarching implications for teachers and administrators; namely, educating teachers on the negative effects of stigma and offering more opportunities for students with learning disabilities to interact with their peers in the general education curriculum. [The dissertation citations contained here are published with the permission of ProQuest LLC. Further reproduction is prohibited without permission. Copies of dissertations may be obtained by Telephone (800) 1-800-521-0600. Web page:]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A