Date of Conferral







Sandra Mahoney


Deaf students have unique linguistic and cultural needs that are cultivated in social settings; however, these needs have received minimal consideration from school administrators and policy makers when designing and implementing educational programs. Inquiry regarding how Deaf people learn in social situations and whether these processes are present in formal educational settings is necessary to understand how to better serve this population in school. Observations were used to provide insight on how deaf people teach and learn from one another in social/informal settings. Individual interviews with 11 Deaf people ages 18 to 40 provided insight regarding personal experiences in formal and informal educational settings. Constructivism, sociocultural theory, and multiple intelligences theory were the conceptual frameworks for this study. Trustworthiness was established using member checking and detailed accounts of participants' experiences in their educational placements. The findings revealed that deaf people value facets of Deaf culture in all aspects of their lives, including education. Participants expressed the need for school staff and administrators to understand cultural nuances that are important for deaf students, the need for barrier-free communication, the importance of self-identity, and the need for Deaf mentors and or role models in school. In social settings, deaf people use visual communication and require clear sightlines for communication, use expansion techniques unique to ASL, use scaffolding to support and mentor one another, and use repetition for clarity, understanding, and emphasis. The knowledge gained from this study can help actualize educational curricula that improve literacy and increase job and educational opportunities for deaf people.