Self-Determination

The relationship between self-determination and academic achievement for adolescents with intellectual disabilities

Previous research has demonstrated that for students with intellectual disabilities, improved self-determination skills are positively correlated with productivity and organization during school and quality of life outcomes in adulthood. Despite extensive investigation in these areas, the predictive relationship between self-determination and academic achievement for students with intellectual disabilities has not been fully established. This study utilized the sample from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2 of 480 adolescents with intellectual disabilities in the United States in an attempt to provide a possible empirical explanation of the relationship between academic achievement and self-determination, taking into account the covariates of gender, family income, and urbanicity. The structural equation model was found to closely fit the data: all path coefficients were statistically significant. The results of this study identify a strong correlation between self-determination and academic achievement for adolescents with intellectual disabilities, indicating a linear relationship of these skills and supporting an increased focus on the teaching of self-determination skills.

Gaumer Erickson, A. S., Noonan, P. M., Zheng, C., & Brussow, J. A. “The relationship between self-determination and academic achievement for adolescents with intellectual disabilities.” Research in Developmental Disabilities vol. 36 (2015): 45-54.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

To learn more about self-determination, visit PACER's National Parent Center on Transition and Employment.

The impact of the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction on student self-determination

Promoting self-determination has become a best practice in special education. There remains, however, a paucity of causal evidence for interventions to promote self-determination. This article presents the results of a group-randomized, modified equivalent control group design study of the efficacy of the Self Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI; Wehmeyer, Palmer, Agran, Mithaug, & Martin, 2000) to promote self-determination. The authors used data on self-determination using multiple measures collected with 312 high school students with cognitive disabilities in both a control and a treatment group to examine the relationship between the SDLMI and self-determination. After determining strong measurement invariance for each latent construct, they found significant differences in latent means across measurement occasions and differential effects attributable to the SDLMI. This was true across the disability category, though there was variance across disability populations.

Wehmeyer, M., Shogren, K., Palmer, S., Williams-Diehm, K., Little, T., & Boulton, A. “The impact of the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction on student self-determination.” Exceptional Children 78, no. 2 (2014): 135-153.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

Help students understand how they learn and what the options are for expressing what they learn. Provide instruction and opportunities for students to understand their disability and how it affects everything from work to relationship building. Knowing their learning styles, strengths, and interests, helps the student become a better self-advocate.

Framing the future: Self-determination

There is an established and still-growing evidence base that promoting self-determination has positive school and post-school benefits for students with disabilities, and yet efforts to do so remain sporadic, at best. This article examines the evidence that promoting self-determination is critically important for students with disabilities, explores reasons such efforts are not wide-spread and provides recommendations to remedy this situation.

Wehmeyer, M. L. “Framing the future: Self-determination.” Remedial and Special Education 36, no. 1 (2015): 20–23.

Call to Action for the Texas Educator

To learn how you can promote self-determination for your students, see PACER's National Parent Center on Transition and Employment.

To see additional resources and webinars by Dr. Wehmeyer, visit Texas Transition