The Experiences of Students with Learning Disabilities in a College Success Course: What is Working and What is Not
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The problem addressed in this study is how a College Success course might reverse the trend of lower graduation rates for students with learning disabilities (LDs) who attend a Colorado institution of higher education. Students with LDs graduate at lower rates than the general population, but it is unclear how a College Success course contributes to the reversal of this trend. This qualitative study was centered on determining how students with LDs who have completed a College Success course view their experiences in a course that is designed to help them transition through their studies. Three participants were selected through the judgment sample approach to provide maximum variation in the data; this method allowed for the exploration of students with LDs and their perspectives from a variety of College Success course designs. To help gather more participants for this study, I moved to snowball sampling, but it did not produce additional participants. The research question was addressed by implementing the narrative inquiry design. The participants’ stories were recorded through Zoom and transcribed using Rev.com. Once transcripts were reviewed and approved by the participants, coding was done through Atlas.ti9, color-coded, and organized by theme to address each research question. The participants reported that though their College Success course did not meet all their needs as a student, it was useful in its content, and the course design worked with their LD. It was concluded that students with LDs found value in their College Success courses, but more could be done to support their learning. It is recommended that institutional leaders apply the information from this study to change faculty attitudes toward providing students with LD accommodations, design their College Success courses to include a broad range of outcomes, and work toward removing the stigma of students using accommodations. It is recommended that further research be done on the experiences of students with LDs in a College Success course at more institutions, on faculty perceptions about accommodations, and on why students with LDs might be hesitant to reveal their specific learning disability.