Date of Conferral

1-1-2011

Degree

Ph.D.

School

Psychology

Advisor

Robin Friedman

Abstract

Positive academic self-efficacy beliefs are associated with increased motivation, higher levels of persistence, and overall academic success. There is a gap in the literature regarding how young adult learners with identified learning disabilities who are also enrolled in postsecondary education characterize their development of academic self-efficacy beliefs and corresponding adaptive coping skills. The purpose of this phenomenological study was to develop a meaningful understanding of the lived experiences of young adult students with learning disabilities in the development of their self-efficacy beliefs and adaptive coping skills. Social learning theory, particularly the self-efficacy belief components, was the guiding conceptual framework for the study. Ten postsecondary students with identified learning disabilities were recruited through a purposeful sampling strategy and engaged in individual, semi-structured interviews. Moustakas' steps to phenomenological analysis were employed to analyze the data. Analysis resulted in the emergence of 6 major themes in self-efficacy belief development: (a) the role of experience, (b) support systems, (c) role models, (d) adaptive coping mechanisms, (e) accommodations, and (f) effective educators. Insights from the analysis of the data may contribute to the further development of effective and supportive interventions, strategies, and accommodations for postsecondary students with learning disabilities.