Date of Award

Spring 4-13-2022

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Counseling and Psychological Services

First Advisor

Andrew T. Roach, PhD

Second Advisor

Joel Meyers, PhD

Third Advisor

Catherine Perkins, PhD

Fourth Advisor

Erin Thomas, PhD

Fifth Advisor

Daniel Crimmons


Individuals with intellectual disabilities (ID) continue to be marginalized members of society, lacking access to opportunities individuals without disabilities can obtain with minimal difficulty. This is also true in higher education. In the past decade, the United States has seen an increase in the number of students with ID who participate in Inclusive Post-Secondary Education programs (IPSE). Although it is known that IPSE programs demonstrate benefits for students with ID, little is known about IPSE students’ classroom-related, non-academic thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors, which are sometimes referred to as academic enabling behaviors. According to a model proposed by DiPerna and Elliott (1999), academic enabling behaviors include academic engagement, interpersonal skills, motivation, and study skills.

The purpose of this study was to (a) understand how students with ID and staff involved in IPSE programs understand IPSE students’ academic enabling behaviors, (b) identify the types of supports used to encourage these behaviors, and (c) explore other potential academic enabling behaviors beyond those proposed by DiPerna and Elliott. This study employed a sequential explanatory mixed-methods design. Quantitative data collected as part of a Transition and Postsecondary Programs for Students with Intellectual Disabilities (TPSIDs) grant were analyzed. An analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to investigate differences in IPSE students’ ratings of their own academic enabling behaviors in the first and second years of their college experience. Staff from IPSE programs across Georgia were also interviewed.

Results from the ANOVA indicated there were statistically significant differences in the students’ frequency ratings for both the overall academic enabling behaviors scale [F(1, 1,827) = 9.27, p = 0.01, d = 0.14] and interpersonal skills subscale [F(1,406) = 6.30, p = 0.05, d = 0.25] when comparing the responses of students in their first and second years of participation in an IPSE program. Results from the other domains suggested that there was growth with additional time in college; however, the group differences were not statistically significant. Qualitative analyses of the interview data identified several themes including students’ strengths/behaviors observed, facilitators of strengths, weaknesses/areas of for growth, barriers to academic enabling behavior, and IPSE program supports. Further, based on the findings, additional investigation into whether self-advocacy is a meaningful academic enabling behavior for IPSE students may be warranted.


File Upload Confirmation