Social Relationships as a Critical but Neglected Factor in Research on Higher Education for People with Disabilities David W. Leake, PhD, MPH Center on Disability Studies University of Hawaii at Manoa Webinar Presentation March 1, 2012
Transition to College Success by Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) Youth with Disabilities Funded by US DOE Office of Special Education Programs (CFDA 84.324C, Project #H324C010090), July 1, 2001 to June 30, 2007 Sites: North Carolina A&T University Northern Arizona University Ohio State University University of Hawaii at Manoa University of Washington
<ul><li>Themes Related to College Success Emerging in Transcript Analysis </li></ul><ul><li>Mentors extremely important </li></ul><ul><li>Friends support each other </li></ul><ul><li>Relatives provide socio-emotional support </li></ul><ul><li>Those with “hidden” disabilities tended to keep them hidden </li></ul><ul><li>Disability trumps ethnicity </li></ul><ul><li>Participants generally had sense of belonging on campus, but inclusion often only partial </li></ul>
<ul><li>Native Hawaiian male community </li></ul><ul><li>college student with ADHD: </li></ul>To me the only true friends that I have are the ones that I met in special ed class. They understand. Especially through high school it was kind of rough. Just because we had disabilities everybody treated us differently.
<ul><ul><ul><li>I think one of my biggest frustrations is I ’m 25 years and I feel like I’m treated like I’m four. I don’t think people like acquaintances at work and stuff want to ask the girl in the wheelchair [to go with them to a bar] because they don’t think she drinks. Well, she does, she’s 25. She darn acts her age. </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><li>Hispanic female college graduate with severe orthopedic disabilities: </li></ul>
<ul><li>Students with Disabilities in </li></ul><ul><li>Higher Education </li></ul><ul><li>Over the years there have been increasing numbers of students with disabilities enrolling in higher education, now at least 11% of all students </li></ul><ul><li>About half of all higher education students in the United States never graduate, with those with disabilities having even lower graduation rates </li></ul><ul><li>Improving “retention” is therefore a major concern in higher education, and therefore a major focus of research </li></ul>
Welcoming Climate and Sense of Belonging <ul><li>Hurtado, S., & Carter, D. F. (1997). Effects of college transition and perceptions of the campus racial climate on Latino students ’ sense of belonging. Sociology of Education, 70, 324-345. </li></ul><ul><li>Tinto, V. (1993). Leaving college: Rethinking the causes and cures of student attrition (2nd ed.). Chicago: The University of Chicago Press. </li></ul>Tinto (1993): College success requires integration into new social system where roommates = siblings, faculty = parents, dorm = home (within first 8 weeks!) Critiques: Should focus on how institutions fail to create welcoming climates -- e.g., Hurtado & Carter (1997) identified “sense of belonging” as critical for Latino students
Research Question: How much attention do higher education journals pay to students with disabilities? <ul><li>Community College Journal of Research & Practice: 4 (3.2%) of 124 articles </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of College Student Development: </li></ul><ul><li>4 (2.0%) of 200 articles </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of College Student Retention: 1 (0.4%) of 276 articles </li></ul><ul><li>Research in Higher Education: 0 of 154 articles </li></ul><ul><li>Review of Higher Education: 0 of 47 articles </li></ul><ul><li>TOTAL: 9 (1.1%) of 801 articles </li></ul>
Research Question: How do higher education and disability-focused journals compare on issue of social relationships?
<ul><li>Explaining the Findings: </li></ul><ul><li>Impact of Federal Legislation </li></ul><ul><li>Rehabilitation Act (1970) and Americans with Disabilities Act (1990) require non-discrimination based on disability </li></ul><ul><li>IHEs established disability support offices to meet legal mandates, and they therefore focus on “technical” issues only since social issues are not mentioned in the legislation </li></ul><ul><li>“ Silo effect”: Other student services assume students with disabilities are responsibility of disability support offices </li></ul>
Impact of Federal Legislation (continued) <ul><li>Disability-focused journals publish extensively on “technical” issues (accommodations, assistive technology, assessment) </li></ul><ul><li>Much focus on training students with disabilities to gain social, self-advocacy and self-determination skills -- but effectiveness of this training has been called into question </li></ul>
. . . from one issue of the Journal of College Student Development (Volume 49, Number 6, Nov/Dec 2008): ｷ The social adjustment of undergraduate White students in the minority on an historically Black college campus; ｷ The role of psychosocial variables in understanding the achievement and retention of transfer students at an ethnically diverse urban university; ｷ The role of peer relationships in adjustment to college; ｷ The role of ethnic student organizations in fostering African American and Asian American students ’ cultural adjustment and membership at predominantly White institutions; ｷ Pathological gambling college students ’ perceived social support. It would be nice to see articles like these on students with disabilities:
<ul><li>Implications for Practice </li></ul><ul><li>In both high school and college, focus is on classroom accommodations, instruction, assistive technology, transportation, etc. -- need to add focus on social relationship issues </li></ul><ul><li>Can address in Individualized Transition Plans, include starting to make college social connections BEFORE reaching campus </li></ul><ul><li>College disability support offices might do more social events, support groups, study groups, raising awareness of students and faculty </li></ul><ul><li>“ Double whammy” means culturally and linguistically diverse youth with disabilities face highest barriers to sense of belonging -- work with ethnic/cultural organizations </li></ul>
Ultimately, to create truly welcoming campus environments that promote the essential sense of belonging for students with disabilities, IHEs need to fully embrace universal design in every aspect of their operations, including the co-curricular domain. Universal Design
<ul><li>Implications for Research </li></ul><ul><li>More collaboration between researchers in college student development and disabilities fields </li></ul><ul><li>More research on links between social relationships and success for people with disabilities in college (and other domains) </li></ul><ul><li>Consider use of constructs of cultural and social capital, which have often been used in research on diverse subpopulations but rarely in research on people with disabilities </li></ul>
Example of Self-determination <ul><li>Currently, research, policy, and practice regarding self-determination all virtually ignore the critical importance of social capital. </li></ul>
<ul><li>Financial capital – used to fund, acquire or invest in other forms of capital </li></ul><ul><li>Physical capital – e.g., factories, machinery, transportation </li></ul><ul><li>Natural capital – e.g., clean air, water, fertile land, forests </li></ul><ul><li>Human capital – e.g., knowledge, skills </li></ul><ul><li>Cultural capital – familiarity with norms and codes at different levels of society </li></ul><ul><li>Symbolic capital – markers of high status </li></ul><ul><li>Social capital – used to access or leverage other forms of capital </li></ul><ul><li>Erotic capital </li></ul>Forms of Capital
<ul><li>“ Capital is any resource that helps individuals produce or achieve some goal. Social capital inheres in relationships between individuals, just as physical capital inheres in physical objects and human capital inheres in humans. Thus social capital is any resource that inheres in relationships between individuals that helps them produce or achieve some goal.” (p. 873) </li></ul>Kanazawa, S., & Savage, J. (2009). An evolutionary psychological perspective on social capital. Journal of Economic Psychology, 30 (6), 873-883. Definition of Social Capital
<ul><li>Bonding Social Capital: strong ties between family members and close friends </li></ul><ul><li>Bridging Social Capital: weak ties across diverse groups </li></ul>Social Capital Requires Social Relationships
<ul><li>For individuals, may be assessed by extent of social networks and quality of relationships (may be positive or negative) </li></ul><ul><li>For communities and nations, may be assessed by levels of trust, reciprocity, shared norms, civic engagement, etc. </li></ul>Social Capital Exists at Individual and Group Levels
Relevance for Social Capital to Self-determination <ul><li>Setting and striving for goals of one ’s own choosing is a prototypical marker of self-determination </li></ul><ul><li>Self-determination is strongly promoted as something youth with all kinds of disabilities should be supported to achieve </li></ul><ul><li>Innumerable programs and curricula are being implemented to provide youth with disabilities with self-determination skills and knowledge, along with opportunities for practice </li></ul>
Self-determination is commonly viewed as requiring personal characteristics and skills that are very “individualistic”, e.g.: <ul><li>Autonomy </li></ul><ul><li>Empowerment </li></ul><ul><li>Independence </li></ul><ul><li>Internal locus of control </li></ul><ul><li>Intrinsic motivation </li></ul><ul><li>Self-advocacy </li></ul><ul><li>Self-competence </li></ul><ul><li>Self-direction </li></ul><ul><li>Self-efficacy </li></ul><ul><li>Self-expression </li></ul><ul><li>Self-realization </li></ul><ul><li>Self-regulation </li></ul><ul><li>Self-reliance </li></ul><ul><li>Self-responsibility </li></ul>
“ Standard” View of What Is Needed for Self-determination
<ul><li>But the capital inherent in social relationships is often needed for there to be self-determination: </li></ul><ul><li>“ T he reason some of us are self- </li></ul><ul><li>determined is that we are in </li></ul><ul><li>interpersonal and social structural </li></ul><ul><li>relationships that empower us. ” </li></ul><ul><li>(p. 681) </li></ul>Sprague, J., & Hayes, J. (2000). Self-determination and empowerment: A feminist standpoint analysis of talk about disability. American Journal of Community Psychology, 28 (5), 671-695.
Example: “Convoy” Concept <ul><li>People tend to move through life with a relatively stable “c onvoy ” of friends and relatives who provide each other with emotional and instrumental supports, a sense of group and personal identity, and a comforting feeling of continuity. </li></ul>Kahn, R. L., & Antonucci, T. C. (1980). Convoys over the life course: Attachment, roles, and social support. In P. B. Baltes & O. G. Brim (Eds.), Life-Span Development and Behavior, Volume 3 (pp. 253-286). New York, NY: Academic Press.
<ul><li>Between 40-70% of employees in the general population find their jobs through social contacts. In general, people with disabilities are likely to have an even greater need of social support, but tend to have smaller social support networks. </li></ul>Example: Finding a Job Parris, A. N., & Granger, T. A. (2008). The power and relativity of social capital. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 29 (3), 165-171.
Example: Independent Living “… what has begun to emerge in the research literature is that successful interdependent relationships (with family, friends, neighbours and the local community) tend to respect and reinforce independence as a cherished component of an older person ’s self-image.” (p. 85) Elderly interviewees indicated they did not consider themselves to be dependent as long as they could reciprocate in some way when receiving needed help from others. White, A. M., & Groves, M. A. (1997). Interdependence and the aged stereotype. Australian Journal on Ageing, 16 , 83-89.
Cultural Influences on Self-determination <ul><li>A woman who came from China to go </li></ul><ul><li>to graduate school in the US said: </li></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>“ I feel from my experience when I grow up, I wanted to get good grades because I want to make my parents proud. So it’s like I never thought, ‘Oh, I need to get good grades to get into college and so that I can make money.’ I want to please my parents, yeah, so that they can be happy.” </li></ul></ul></ul>
<ul><li>“ Self-determination...may include fulfilling group obligations, not necessarily ridding oneself of them” (p. 173). </li></ul>“ As paradoxical as it may seem from an individualistic perspective, self-directedness may require a strengthening rather than a dissolution of the person’s connection with and commitment to the group” (p. 170). Ewalt, Patricia L., & Mokuau, Noreen (1995). Self-determination from a Pacific perspective. Social Work , Volume 40, Number 2, pages 168-175.
Expanded View of What Is Needed for Self-determination
<ul><li>People with disabilities may have greater difficulties than others in developing social capital. </li></ul><ul><li>The concept promotes attention to assessing existing social resources and how to strengthen them. </li></ul><ul><li>Taken seriously, the concept leads to examination and revision of policies, procedures, and roles. </li></ul>Why Focus on Social Capital?
<ul><li>Special issue of the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation in 2008 was devoted to social capital </li></ul><ul><li>According to the guest editors, social capital has the potential to “r e-invent rehabilitation ”, making this “ one of the most important issues of the Journal published to date.” (p. 139) </li></ul>Example of Vocational Rehabilitation Condeluci, A., Ledbetter, M. V., Ortman, D., Fromknecht, J., & DeFries, M. (2008). Social capital: A view from the field. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 29 (3), 133–139.
<ul><li>Several articles in the special issue describe how organizations have made building social capital a guiding value. </li></ul><ul><li>Organizations revamped policies and practices to focus on building social capital for those they serve, both by fostering personal relationships with other people and by promoting greater social inclusion of all people with disabilities. </li></ul>
Boosting Social Capital for Youth with Disabilities <ul><li>Key Issue: Many youth face barriers to establishing and maintaining positive social relationships with both peers and adults, due to stigmatization and/or emotional-behavioral challenges. </li></ul>
Problem with Social Skills Training as Solution <ul><li>A study of 90 high school students with emotional disturbances and learning disabilities found social skills were a significant predictor of capacity for self-determination. Authors recommend a greater focus on social skills training, although they acknowledge that research on such training tends to find limited effectiveness and generalizability . </li></ul>Pierson, M. R., Carter, E. W., Lane, K. L., & Glaeser, B. (2008). Factors influencing the self-determination of transition-age youth with high incidence disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31 , 115-125.
<ul><li>A common orientation is to teach people skills and knowledge on an individual basis, but Turnbull et al. (1996) criticize this “unidimensional emphasis on individual skills” for lack of attention to environmental barriers and collectivistic values like interdependence. </li></ul>Turnbull, A. P., Blue-Banning, M. J., Anderson, E. L., Seaton, K. A., Turnbull, H. R., & Dinas, P. A. (1996). Enhancing self-determination through Group Action Planning: A holistic emphasis. In D. J. Sands & M. L. Wehmeyer (Eds.), Self-determining across the lifespan: Theory and practice (pp. 237-257). Baltimore, MD: Paul H. Brookes.
The “Skill” of Self-regulation <ul><li>Self-determination = “unusually effective form of self-regulation markedly free of external influence” (p. 22) </li></ul><ul><li>When people see discrepancy between what they have versus what they want, an “incentive” arises for self-regulation and action ( Homo economicus ) </li></ul><ul><li>“ Social context” important in whether other- or self-determination </li></ul>Wehmeyer, M. L., Abery, B., Zhang, D., Ward, K., Willis, D., Amin, W. H., Balcazar, F., Ball, A., Bacon, A., Calkins, C., Heller, T., Goode, T., Jesien, G., McVeigh, T., Nygren, M., Palmer, S., & Walker, H. (2011). Personal self-determination and moderating variables that impact efforts to promote self-determination. Exceptionality, 19 , 19-30.
<ul><li>A recent special issue of Teachers College Record (Vol. 113, No. 2, Feb. 2011) focused on links between self-regulation and social aspects of classroom learning, using concepts like “socially shared regulation” and “co-regulation” (which are based on trust, shared norms, etc.) </li></ul>But Regulation Is Also “Social”
How Are Youth Being Supported to Make Social Connections?
Need for Research on Social Capital and Disability <ul><li>“ It is amazing that, as of this writing, there has been no major study or effort, either at the university or foundation level, that has scientifically studied social capital and disability.” (p. 137) </li></ul>Condeluci, A., Ledbetter, M. V., Ortman, D., Fromknecht, J., & DeFries, M. (2008). Social capital: A view from the field. Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, 29 (3), 133–139.