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ERIC Number: EJ1120381
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2016-Dec
Pages: 16
Abstractor: As Provided
ISSN: ISSN-1938-8926
Persistence Factors among Online Graduate Students with Disabilities
Verdinelli, Susana; Kutner, Debbi
Journal of Diversity in Higher Education, v9 n4 p353-368 Dec 2016
Students with disabilities face a number of obstacles to complete graduate education. Adult learners with disabilities are enrolling in online graduate programs at increasing numbers, yet they tend to graduate at lower rates than students without disabilities. Research indicates that students with disabilities tend to prefer and excel in the online environment. The unique needs of this population, both academic and social inclusivity, have bordered on invisibility from many persistence models regarding a holistic successful experience online. The purpose of this qualitative study was to understand the reasons that lead graduate students with disabilities to enroll in online programs and to identify factors that promote persistence in these programs. Thirty-five graduate students with disabilities--enrolled in online programs in academic institutions throughout the United States--were interviewed. Results indicated interplay between selecting an online program of study and having a disability. Participants' narratives revealed experiencing discrimination due to their disability in traditional settings. The online environment provided a shield to defy stigmatization and stereotypes, manage disability needs, and gain greater control over the learning process. Resiliency, self-determination, motivation, goal commitment, institutional assistance, and other external sources of support emerged as persistence factors. The constant comparative method was used to code and discern themes throughout analysis. Results from this study will be used to increase awareness, promote dialogue, and create a persistence model applicable for persons with disabilities that highlight more specific and unique layers as to why the online environment is a more sustainable framework than traditional settings.
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Research
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Grant or Contract Numbers: N/A