Studies Supporting Self-Advocacy Instruction

Wehmeyer and Abery (2013) identified four key characteristics of self-determination: (a) a person acts on their own accord; (b) the person's behavior is self-directed; (c) the person begins and reacts to events in a psychologically empowered manner; and (d) the person acts in a self-realizing manner (i.e., the person's behavior leads them towards achieving their goal and they are free from external pressures). In other words, individuals who engage in self-determined behaviors are able to independently seek out ways in which they can be empowered. Specifically, individuals who are effective self-advocates are able to act on their own behalf to improve the quality of their life and ensure they are being treated in an equitable manner. 

 

The following section includes the abstracts from studies which evaluated the use of self-advocacy interventions on the ability of students to request academic accommodations. Studies which utilized Self-Advocacy and Conflict Resolution (SACR) instruction are noted with an asterisk. 

 

Self-Advocacy and Conflict Resolution Training: Strategies for Classroom Accommodations Request (SACR; Rumrill, Palmer, Roessler, & Brown, 1999). SACR (Rumrill et al., 1999), part of a 3-year transition grant funded by the Office of Special Education Programs (OSEP), was a project by Project Accommodations Planning Training (APT) Department of Rehabilitation at the University of Arkansas. SACR instruction merges two approaches to facilitate the development of the necessary skills for requesting academic accommodations from instructors. The first module, the self-advocacy phase of the instruction,  teaches students to describe their needs and request their accommodations. The second module was developed in response to the recognition that when students request accommodations, they may encounter instructors who are resistant to providing the requested accommodations (to which a student attending an instution receiving federal funding, is legally entitled, under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973).

Finn, Getzel, & McManus (2008) 

Palmer, C., & Roessler, R. T. (2000). Requesting classroom accommodations: Self-advocacy and conflict resolution training for college students with disabilities. Journal of Rehabilitation, 66, 38-43.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of an eight-hour training program in self-advocacy and conflict resolution skills designed to help college students with disabilities request classroom accommodations. Conducted in two and four-year postsecondary settings, the study involved 50 students with disabilities certified by their institutions as needing classroom accommodations. Results supported the multivariate hypotheses that the treatment group would exceed the control group in (a) acquired levels of self-advocacy and conflict resolution behaviors, (b) general knowledge of rights and responsibilities for academic accommodations, (c) levels of accommodation requesting and conflict resolution self-efficacy, and (d) levels of social competence.​

Palmer & Roessler (2000)*

Bethune, L. (2015). The effects of the Self-Advocacy and Conflict Resolution training on ability to request and negotiate academic accommodations with high school students with autism spectrum disorders (Unpublished doctoral dissertation). University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, North Carolina.

 

Over the past few decades, more persons with disabilities, including students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, are enrolling and attending postsecondary education. With this increase, as students with ASD transition to postsecondary education, these students are faced with various challenges to this transition, specifically acquiring self-advocacy and conflict resolution skills and gaining an understanding of how their disability affects their learning. Recently, more attention has focused on critical predictors of post-school success in the area of postsecondary education (Rowe et al., 2014), such as self-advocacy skills, however, not all students are equipped with these skills in the transition to post-school situations. Self-advocacy has been identified as a predictor of post-school success in the area of postsecondary education (Rowe et al., 2014; Test, Fowler et al., 2009). The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of the SACR training on ability to request and negotiate academic accommodations with high school students with autism spectrum disorders. Findings showed a functional relation between the self-advocacy intervention and students’ ability to request and negotiate academic accommodations in a role-play setting. In addition, students were able to generalize most of the targeted behaviors to an in-vivo setting with two university instructors. Lastly, social validity data indicated the social significance of the independent variable on the dependent variables.

Bethune (2015)* 
Durlak, Rose, & Bursuck (1994)

Durlak, C., Rose, E., & Bursuck, W. (1994). Preparing high school students with learning disabilities for the transition to postsecondary education: Teaching the skills of self-determination. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 27, 51-59.

 

Increasing numbers of students with learning disabilities (LD) are looking to postsecondary education and training to help them achieve success in career development and eventual job placement. Unfortunately, research suggests that many of these students are having difficulty staying in and completing postsecondary programs. A number of self-determination skills have been identified that are related to students' making a successful transition to post- secondary education. These include stating one's disability and its impact on school performance, and identifying instructional accommodations and strategies for arranging those accommodations with their regular classroom teachers. The purpose of this study was to examine whether these self-determination skills could be acquired through direct instruction, and subsequently generalized to general education classrooms. The results of the effectiveness of this self-determination training are reported and their implications for teachers, parents, and students discussed.

Finn, D., Getzel, E. E., & McManus, S. (2008). Adapting the self-determined learning model of instruction of college students with disabilities. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 31, 85-93.

 

As the number of students with disabilities who are entering postsecondary education continues to rise, the need for their adequate preparation to successfully complete programs of study is a critical concern. A common characteristic of students who successfully enter and complete programs of study in postsecondary settings is that of having self-determination skills. This article discusses the results of a pilot study that implemented the self-determined learning model of instruction, modified for use in postsecondary education settings. Evaluation results are discussed with implications for further research.

Prater, Redman, Anderson, & Gibb (2014) 

Prater, M. A., Redman, A. S., Anderson, D., & Gibb, G. S. (2014). Teaching adolescent students with learning disabilities to self-advocate for accommodations. Intervention in School and Clinic, 49, 298-305. doi:10.1177/1053451213513958

In the general education classroom students with learning disabilities (LD) often need academic accommodations to be successful. These accommodations are typically selected and implemented by their general education teachers, not by the students themselves. High school students with LD were taught to recognize when an accommodation was needed, select the appropriate accommodation, request the accommodation, and then implement the accommodation in the general education classroom. To evaluate the effectiveness of the instruction, four students were observed in the general classroom.

Walker & Test (2011)*

Walker, A., & Test, D.W. (2011). Using a self-advocacy strategy intervention on African American college students’ ability to request academic accommodations. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 26, 134-144. doi: 10.1111/1540-5826.2011.00333

 

Due to an increase in enrollment of African American students with disabilities in postsecondary education, there is a need to identify strategies that may lead to improved transition and self-advocacy skills for these students. These strategies include teaching students to request academic accommodations and to have an understanding of how their disability affects their academic learning. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide an in-depth explanation of a self-advocacy strategy that was used to teach three African American male college students how to request their academic accommodations. Results indicated this strategy may be a promising intervention for African American college students with disabilities.

 

 

White & Vo (2006) 

White, G. W., Vo, Y. T. H. (2006). Requesting accommodations to increase full participation in higher education: An analysis of self-advocacy training for postsecondary students with learning and other disabilities. Learning Disabilities, 14, 41-56.

 

Students with learning disabilities and other types of disabilities who attend post-secondary education settings may often require reasonable accommodations to succeed. While the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) is designed to protect students with disabilities from discrimination, many students are unaware of their rights and how to request accommodations that they are entitled to under the ADA. This paper describes a study of three students: one with a learning disability, one with a physical, and one with a sensory disability. Using a multiple baseline design, a training package was analyzed to determine its effectiveness in teaching students what their rights were under the ADA and how to request accommodations in a post-secondary education setting to meet their academic needs. The results of this investigation showed that there was a marked improvement in both knowledge and acquisition of accommodation-requesting skills of each participant. Future research should evaluate the effectiveness of this training as students graduate and move into work situations. 

 

Holzberg, Test, & Rusher (2019)*

Holzberg, D. G., Test, D. W., & Rusher, D. E. (2019). Effects of self-advocacy and conflict resolution instruction on the ability of high school seniors with mild disabilities to request and negotiate academic accommodations. Remedial and Special Education, 40, 166 – 176. doi: 10.1177/0741932517752059

 

For students with high-incidence disabilities, the transition from secondary to postsecondary educational settings poses the additional challenge of acquiring accommodations. Self-advocacy interventions have been identified as important skills for students with disabilities in accessing accommodations. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of Self-Advocacy and Conflict Resolution (SACR) instruction on the ability to request accommodations of four high school seniors with mild disabilities. Results of this multiple probe across participant study indicated a functional relation between SACR instruction and students’ ability to request and negotiate academic accommodations in a role-play situation and in-vivo. Implications for practice and suggestions for future research are offered.

Holzberg (2017) *Published Dissertation ​

Holzberg, D. G. (2017). The Effects of Self-Advocacy and Conflict Resolution Instruction on the Ability of College Students with Mild Disabilities to Request and Negotiate Academic Accommodations. 

 

According to the National Center for Education Statistics (Raue & Lewis, 2011), students with disabilities (SWD) attend postsecondary education at rates similar to their peers without disabilities. However, graduation rates from postsecondary educational settings for SWD are disparate from those of their counterparts without disabilities. Survey data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study - 2 (2011) indicated 89.9% of SWD articulated a goal to complete postsecondary education; but, only 40.7% achieved their goal. Changes in the way students access academic accommodations in postsecondary education pose additional challenges during the transition from secondary to postsecondary educational settings. Recent studies (e.g., Rowe et al. [2014] and Test et al. [2009]) identified self-advocacy as a predictor of success in postsecondary education. Janiga and Costenbader (2002) noted the need to teach self-advocacy skills to SWD, before they matriculate to college, so they are better able to access accommodations.

The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effect of Self-advocacy and Conflict Resolution (SACR) instruction on the ability of four college students with hidden disabilities (e.g., anxiety, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, autism spectrum disorder, and depression) to request and negotiate academic accommodations in role-play and in-situ conditions. Results indicated a functional relation between SACR instruction and students’ ability to request and negotiate accommodations in role-play situation and in students’ ability to request accommodations in the in-situ condition. Social validity

data indicated students and instructors felt the instruction was socially valid. Implications for practice and suggestions for future research are offered.

Holzberg & Ferraro, (under review)*
Holzberg, D. G. & Ferraro, B. N. (under review). Speak up: Teaching self-advocacy skills at the Communication Center to students with disabilities.
According to the National Council on Disability (2015), an estimated 2 million undergraduates have an identified disability and are, by law (i.e., the Americans with Disabilities Act [1990]), entitled to accommodations. The use of academic accommodations is positively correlated with increased grade point average (GPA), higher persistence rates, and shorter time to degree completion. However, a plethora of data indicate students underutilize their accommodations for a multiplicity of reasons. One reason cited by students is a lack of confidence related to their inexperience with requesting accommodations. Therefore, it is imperative to facilitate access to communication skills related to self-advocacy. University speaking centers (SC), and the consultants working there, are equipped with the expertise to instruct students to effectively advocate for accommodations. Additionally, an abundance of research indicates the efficacy of peer supports in teaching new skills making the SC an ideal venue for teaching self-advocacy skills. The current study utilized a single-case design methodology (multiple probe across participants) to evaluate the effect of self-advocacy instruction and visual prompts conducted at a university SC on the ability of three college students with hidden disabilities (e.g., anxiety, autism spectrum disorder, intellectual disability, processing disorder) to request academic accommodations from their instructors. Results indicated a functional relation between the use of the self-advocacy skills and students’ ability to request accommodations from their instructors. Further, social validity data indicated students felt the instruction was helpful and gave them the language and confidence to speak up and request their accommodations from instructors.