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Choice, Support, Opportunity: Profiles of Self-Determination in High School Students with Learning Disabilities

Wendy Cavendish, David J. Connor, Deborah Perez


This study is framed by Self-Determination Theory (SDT) to examine the interaction between student perceptions of school personnel efforts and actions and the development of student intrinsic motivation and self-determination. This mixed-methods study examines variations among high school students’ (n = 44) level of self-determination (SD) and the relationship between their perspectives of school support of autonomy, competence, and relatedness and self-determination development. We share student profiles (N = 6) based upon deductive coding of student interviews. Findings focus on the centering of students’ own words to create data-rich renderings of individual students located within their school context. Each student profile contains connections to the three domains associated with SDT: autonomy, competence, and relatedness. We provide a discussion of the applicability of SDT for school practitioners to inform increased support for students with learning disabilities. 

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Self-determination; transition; learning disabilities

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