Year of Award


Document Type


Degree Type

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Degree Name

Educational Leadership

Department or School/College

School of Education

Committee Chair

John Matt

Commitee Members

William McCaw, Patty Kero, Frances O'Reilly, Kirsten Murray


University of Montana


This study was important in evaluating the relationship between self-advocacy skill and college freshman Grade Point Average (GPA) in Montana for students with disabilities. Research in this area was found to be incomplete and limited. The purpose of this study was to discover if there are inadequacies in students with disabilities preparation for higher education as per self-advocacy skills and how they related to GPA Individuals considered to have a disability in secondary education may be deemed ineligible for services and supports as adults. Secondary and post-secondary institutions rarely collaborated to establish consistent standards. The contrast between the relatively high level of assistance provided under IDEA and much lower level of assistance provided in post-secondary environments posed many transition issues for individuals with disabilities.

This study utilized a quantitative research design and implemented a 28 question survey for data collection. The sample was drawn from students of the 14 public two and fouryear institutions of higher education currently within the Montana University System (MUS). The sample also consisted of the seven tribal colleges and three community colleges. Only students having experienced an Individualized Education Program (IEP) in the secondary setting and over the age of 18 were used in the data analysis. Results of this research indicated positive correlations with self-advocacy skills and first semester freshmen GPA for students with disabilities making the transition from secondary to post-secondary education. The evidence presented in this research supported the benefit of practices such as: (a) self-determination training (b) inclusion in general education programs (c) providing vocational training and preparation in high school (d) social skills training and support; and (e) transition planning that began in early high school.

This study was built on, and added to, the field of transition research and education. Leaders in both secondary and post-secondary education may be able to use the outcomes of this study for specific transition practices to assist students transitioning into postsecondary education. Specifically, educational leaders may use the outcomes of this study to aid education professionals, disabilities services, parents, and students in successful education pursuits for students with disabilities.



© Copyright 2014 Lee A. Barnett