Title

Experiences of Postsecondary Students with Intellectual Disabilities: An Ethnographic Exploration of Occupation and Identity

Start Time

6-10-2012 8:30 AM

End Time

6-10-2012 9:00 AM

Session Type

Event

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the interrelated processes of activity engagement and identity development of postsecondary students with intellectual disabilities (ID) in order to inform occupational science about the occupational processes of college students with intellectual disabilities.

Background: The reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008 expanded opportunities for people with ID to attend postsecondary education (PSE) programs in the same college environments as their peers without disabilities. Prior to the reauthorization, young adults with ID traditionally entered group homes and sheltered workshops after high school. As a result, people with ID generally missed participating in postsecondary academic and other personal growth experiences for emerging adults. People with ID now have the opportunity to access occupations associated with higher education, including student and campus-life activities within the college environment. By participating in these activities, people with ID also have the potential to develop new identities associated with new student and young adult roles.

Methods: This ethnographic, multiple case study follows the college experiences of eight students with ID who attend a university in North Carolina. Each student has been accepted into a specialized program for students with ID. The data collection for this includes semi-structured interviews and naturalistic observations conducted throughout the 2011-2012 academic year. Special attention is paid to environmental and sociocultural influences to emphasize the transactional nature of occupational engagement and identity development. Formal analysis will include qualitative thematic coding.

Results: Data analysis is currently ongoing. The discussion of preliminary results will focus on the relationship of occupation and identity, found to this point through peer debriefing and thematic coding of empirical data. The author will discuss planned directions for continued analysis.

Significance: This research is significant for the discipline of occupational science because it explores a new forum for occupational engagement that is influential in shaping current and future life routines of people with ID. Specific insight into the students’ activities and identities will contribute to occupational science discourse on activity and identity theories. Further, this research will shed conceptual light on how new access to occupation impacts the occupational possibilities of people with ID. The author will propose a related term, occupational trajectories, to stimulate theoretical discussion and discipline development.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you perceive the relationship of occupation and identity? What additional themes would you suggest the author explores in data analysis?
  2. Do you think the term occupational trajectories is effective for this and similar research? Why or why not?
  3. How would you critique the methodology used in this research?

References

Dickie, V., Cutchin, M. P., & Humphry, R. (2006). Occupation as transactional experience: A critique of individualism in occupational science. Journal of Occupational Science, 13, 83-93. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2006.9686573

Holland, D., & Lachicotte, W. (2007). Vygotsky, Mead, and the new sociocultural studies of identity. In H. Daniels, M. Cole, & J. V. Wertsch (Eds.), The Cambridge companion to Vygotsky (pp. 101-135). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Holland, D., Lachicotte, W., Skinner, D., & Cain, C. (1998). Identity and agency in cultural worlds. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Laliberte Rudman, D. (2010). Occupational possibilities. Journal of Occupational Science, 17, 55-59. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14427591.2010.9686673

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Oct 6th, 8:30 AM Oct 6th, 9:00 AM

Experiences of Postsecondary Students with Intellectual Disabilities: An Ethnographic Exploration of Occupation and Identity

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to explore the interrelated processes of activity engagement and identity development of postsecondary students with intellectual disabilities (ID) in order to inform occupational science about the occupational processes of college students with intellectual disabilities.

Background: The reauthorization of the Higher Education Opportunity Act in 2008 expanded opportunities for people with ID to attend postsecondary education (PSE) programs in the same college environments as their peers without disabilities. Prior to the reauthorization, young adults with ID traditionally entered group homes and sheltered workshops after high school. As a result, people with ID generally missed participating in postsecondary academic and other personal growth experiences for emerging adults. People with ID now have the opportunity to access occupations associated with higher education, including student and campus-life activities within the college environment. By participating in these activities, people with ID also have the potential to develop new identities associated with new student and young adult roles.

Methods: This ethnographic, multiple case study follows the college experiences of eight students with ID who attend a university in North Carolina. Each student has been accepted into a specialized program for students with ID. The data collection for this includes semi-structured interviews and naturalistic observations conducted throughout the 2011-2012 academic year. Special attention is paid to environmental and sociocultural influences to emphasize the transactional nature of occupational engagement and identity development. Formal analysis will include qualitative thematic coding.

Results: Data analysis is currently ongoing. The discussion of preliminary results will focus on the relationship of occupation and identity, found to this point through peer debriefing and thematic coding of empirical data. The author will discuss planned directions for continued analysis.

Significance: This research is significant for the discipline of occupational science because it explores a new forum for occupational engagement that is influential in shaping current and future life routines of people with ID. Specific insight into the students’ activities and identities will contribute to occupational science discourse on activity and identity theories. Further, this research will shed conceptual light on how new access to occupation impacts the occupational possibilities of people with ID. The author will propose a related term, occupational trajectories, to stimulate theoretical discussion and discipline development.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How do you perceive the relationship of occupation and identity? What additional themes would you suggest the author explores in data analysis?
  2. Do you think the term occupational trajectories is effective for this and similar research? Why or why not?
  3. How would you critique the methodology used in this research?