Factors predicting academic adjustment among college students with learning disabilities

Date of Award




Degree Name

Doctor of Education (Ed.D.)


Higher Education

First Committee Member

James D. McKinney, Committee Chair


The purpose of this study was to identify those factors which predict academic adjustment among college students with learning disabilities. Few empirical studies have been conducted which have identified a comprehensive, predictive model for understanding students' academic adjustment to college. To the extent that academic adjustment is indicative of resiliency among college students with learning disabilities, a model of risk and resiliency served as a useful conceptual framework for the selection and classification of variables included in this study. The predictor variables were classified as either characteristics of the risk factor: Verbal IQ, severity of the learning disability; internal protective factors: use of learning strategies, use of accommodations, and understanding of the learning disability; or external protective factors: social support, use of tutoring, and institutional attachment.Archival records, as well as, researcher designed and previously published instruments were used to collect data on sixty college students with learning disabilities who were attending a four-year liberal arts university and had been enrolled in an academic support program for at least one semester at some point in their college career. Based upon the results of preliminary correlational analysis, eight of the fourteen independent variables investigated were determined to relate significantly with academic adjustment. Subsequently, hierarchical and step-wise multiple regression analyses were conducted on the eight variable model which included task management strategies, test strategies, information processing strategies, Verbal IQ, use of tutoring, use of accommodations, social support satisfaction, and institutional attachment. In both regressions, test strategies, task management strategies, institutional attachment, Verbal IQ, and use of tutoring respectively emerged as significant predictors and accounted for over 60% of the variation in academic adjustment.The results of this research indicated that a predictive model can be established for understanding the academic adjustment of college students with learning disabilities and that variables which represent characteristics of the risk factor, internal protective factors, and external protective factors are all useful for predicting and explaining the academic adjustment of college students with learning disabilities.


Education, Educational Psychology; Education, Special; Education, Higher

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