Date of Award

Spring 4-7-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership

Committee Chair

Dr. Holly Gould

Committee Member

Dr. Deanna Cash

Committee Member

Dr. Andrew Bruce


Within education, there have been many legislative changes in the last several decades to promote equitable access for students with disabilities. However, many barriers still exist that prevent these students from being academically successful once they have gained appropriate access. Research in the last 10 to 15 years has consistently identified these barriers as well as pinpointed some predictors of success for students with disabilities. Much of this research acknowledges the importance of self-management, goal-setting, and self-determination, yet there is a gap in the body of literature that specifically links self-determination to academic performance within the postsecondary setting. This study was conducted to determine the relationship between self-determination and academic performance for college students with high incidence disabilities via a quantitative, survey-based approach. Students registered with the Office of Disability Resources attending a small/mid-size, public, co-ed university based in Virginia were invited to participate. One hundred forty-three participants completed the AIR Self-Determination Assessment and the researcher investigated the relationships between the scores on the assessment and overall grade point average (GPA) of the participant to determine the relationship between students’ reported level of self-determination and their academic performance. The results revealed a positive relationship between reported self-determination levels and GPA, in that students with higher ratings of self-determination had higher reported GPAs and students with lower ratings of self-determination tended to have lower GPAs. These results support the notion that, for students with disabilities in the post-secondary setting, having a strong level of self-awareness and the ability to engage in goal-directed and self-regulated behavior allows them to be more academically successful. These findings, once expanded upon and replicated with future research, can influence transition planning in the K-12 environment and allow for more productive programming for disability services professionals in higher education.