Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"What You Mean Smart?": The Implicit Theories of Intelligence of Urban Adult Learners with Learning Disabilities
by Anderson, Lindsey M., Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2017, 265; 10245664
Abstract (Summary)

This study was designed to examine the implicit theories of intelligence of adult learners with learning disabilities (LD). It explored how the adult learners thought about intelligence and how they experienced intelligence in their lives both in and out of school.

Data for the study were collected by interviewing 15 adult learners with learning disabilities. Each adult learner participated in a series of three interviews, each with its own purpose: a focused life history, an examination of recent experiences related to intelligence in school and out of school, and sense-making of experiences with intelligence and related to having learning disability. The Theories of Intelligence Scale – Self Form for Adults (Dweck, 2009) was also administered during the final interview.

The study found that the adult learners with learning disabilities had multifaceted and contextualized understandings of intelligence. Self-esteem was a particularly powerful factor when it came to the adult learners’ understanding and experience of their own intelligence. While most of the learners demonstrated a fixed mindset, there were indications that their mindsets were transforming, especially as their confidence as learners grew. The adult learners’ implicit theories of intelligence seemed to have been largely shaped by outside messages. The often negative messages they received early in life and the largely positive messages they received in their adult education center were described as being particularly impactful. Finally, having a learning disability appeared to complicate the adult learners’ experiences of their own intelligence. They often feared and experienced the negative stereotypes held by themselves and others about individuals with learning disabilities. On the contrary, many experienced a greater sense of their own intelligence after receiving a diagnosis and understanding what it meant to have a learning disability.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Taymans, Juliana
Commitee: Robinson, Marian A., Tuckwiller, Elizabeth D.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Special Education
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 78/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Special education
Keywords: Adult education, Implicit theories of intelligence, Learning disabilities
Publication Number: 10245664
ISBN: 978-1-369-43361-6
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