Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Disability as Diversity: Assessing the Perceptions of Students with Physical Disabilities Regarding Access and Equal Opportunity in Postsecondary Education
by Cooper, Lisa Marie, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2012, 250; 3502742
Abstract (Summary)

The initial purpose of this study was to utilize the Higher Education and Students with Physical Disabilities Survey (HESPDS) to develop a better understanding of the perceptions of students with physical disabilities regarding the extent to which private, residential colleges and universities provide access and equal opportunity. The significance of this study included seeking out students with physical disabilities who have historically not been participants in such research although administrators have been abundantly queried. This study confirmed that direct access to students with disabilities was still problematic; this was evident while pretesting the HESPDS. One challenge was insufficient participation in Pretest B. Another challenge was surveying students enrolled in a nonresidential community college setting who could not respond to survey items related to on-campus living experiences. These issues were especially troubling given the need to establish the validity and reliability of the HESPDS for use with this new population as the original survey had only been administered to professionals in the disability services field. It became clear, therefore, that the HESPDS needed to undergo a more rigorous empirical validation process.

The instrument validation process not only evaluated the internal consistency reliability of the survey by calculating its Cronbach's Alpha and mean interitem correlation, but also assessed its construct validity utilizing face validity and exploratory factor analysis. Although the total scale for the HESPDS demonstrated it was a reliable measure, the outcomes for validity, although encouraging, were not as definitive. In fact, similar challenges related to size of the sample and participant response to the instrument placed substantial limitations on the results. The web-based HESPDS was pilot tested on students with physical disabilities enrolled at four-year, private, residential, colleges and universities in California. Despite the obvious challenges, this study offered an opportunity to determine if the HESPDS was valid and reliable for use with students with physical disabilities and then to quantify their perceptions. The findings suggest that the instrument needs additional modifications as well as further empirical validation to provide students with disabilities an opportunity to have legitimate input with regard to access and equal opportunity in higher education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dannels, Sharon
Commitee: Jakeman, Rick, Royce Davis, Joanna
School: The George Washington University
Department: Higher Education Administration
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 73/07(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational tests & measurements, Special education, Higher education
Keywords: Access, Accessibility, Disabilities, Diversity, Equal opportunity, Instrument validation, Student success, Students with physical disabilities
Publication Number: 3502742
ISBN: 978-1-267-26040-6
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