Self-Determination Skills Training
Teaching self-determination is considered one of the most promising practices. It encompasses skills such as problem solving, goal setting, and self-management. It has been proven in multiple studies that students who are self-determined are more successful in attaining post-secondary outcomes, are better able to evaluate and adjust their goals, make choices that will affect their life with independence, and have more employment opportunities. Additionally, self-determined individuals are typically more motivated to find success, problem-solve, and seek support when necessary. When a student is equipped with self-determination skills and strategies he/she can set self-selected academic and transition-related goals in which he/she is responsible for finding solutions to problems that occur, monitoring as well as assessing progress, and making changes when necessary (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 120). Studies have shown that students who engage in high levels of self-determined behaviors may be more likely to achieve transition goals, apply and work for higher levels of employment, live independently, actively participate within the community, find success in post-secondary education, and have a higher quality of life (Shogren, Palmer, Wehmeyer, Williams-Diehm, & Little, 2012, p. 320).
The authors Cho, Wehmeyer, and Kingston (2012) found that children and adolescents with disabilities are generally less likely to demonstrate self-determined behaviors/skills than his/her typical peers (p. 19). That being said, it has become critical that educators realize the importance of teaching these skills and strategies to individuals beginning at an early age with continuation throughout his/her schooling in order to enable them to take action and make choices that will affect their life (Cho, Wehmeyer, & Kingston, 2012, p. 19). The authors Cho, Wehmeyer, and Kingston (2012) summarized actions and/or choices of a self-determined person as being: (1) decisions and/or actions that are independent of others; (2) self-regulated behaviors; (3) empowerment/control over their life and their choices/actions; and (4) advocating for themselves through self-knowledge.
An interview with Mrs. Burns was held to discuss the current transition program implemented within the Otto Eldred School District. Mrs. Burns is the Assistant Principal and Special Programs Coordinator who covers both Elementary and High School Special Education Services and Programs. She recognized that a strength of the transition program is that meetings begin early in 10th grade to promote career and job exploration. At this point, collegiate interest or interest in entering the work force is discussed. Outside agency personnel, IU staff, parents, students, and district personnel meet at the same table to talk about job readiness. They provide the student and parent with the same information at the same time. OVR member(s) (Office of Vocational Rehabilitation) also attend the meetings. This program extends services beyond high school to the parents and the students. The school district introduces these services to the parents, but the parents have the ultimate decision to contact them and decide to stay in contact with them. An additional resource used by the district is Community Based Vocational Interventions (CBVI), a federal program that the IU staffs to provide job coaches and an appointed director who works collaboratively with special education staff to provide job experiences for students grades 9-12.
Mrs. Burns believes there is always room for improvement within any program. She says that living in such a rural area with limited resources and job opportunities can present great limitations. There are only a couple places within our community to work such as the grocery store, drug store, gas station, and hardware store. Transportation is needed to areas outside of Eldred in order to provide other career options. Both CBVI and OVR do take the transport issues out of the picture, but the need for such transportation does present a barrier.
Mrs. Burn’s also stated that an area in constant need of improvement is parent involvement. She believes that the lack of parent involvement is a direct reflection of living in such a low economic status area. The district continually offers trainings for parents, but parent involvement has always been difficult. Parent participation is a crucial part to student success, and currently a missing link. The district continues its effort to educate and involve families in the transition planning process.
When asked if the transition experiences are successful, Mrs. Burns reply was that the model and building of the program is successful. However, the true success of the program can only be determined by the student’s self-determination. The likelihood of success is heightened by the support of the family, district, and supports. To support students in becoming self-determined individuals, the district offers a PAWS program at the elementary level, which was recently expanded to the high school. At the high school level, self-determination skills are taught during a PAWS period built into schedules of students with IEP’s, typically occurring at the end of the day. The PAWS period is a scheduled time in which the assigned special education teacher can work with students on any skills needed such as choice making, self-esteem, self-management, homework, and class assignments. It did not appear that there were structured activities or lessons during this time, but rather provided students with an opportunity to seek additional support in whatever areas they struggle with.
Wehmeyer, Palmer, Shogren, Williams-Diehm, and Soukup (2013) conducted a 3-year study utilizing a randomized trial design pertaining to interventions that promote self-determination among high school students diagnosed with intellectual disability and learning disabilities (p. 196). The study compared one group who were not exposed to interventions and another who were exposed to interventions (Wehmeyer, Palmer, Shogren, Williams-Diehm, & Soukup, 2013, p. 197-198). The purpose of the study was to determine the influence that interventions had on self-determination (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). The study offered educators a variety of research-based interventions to employ based on their student’s needs or individual preference (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). The study was found to promote positive effects in regard to student’s growth in self-determination scores compared to those who weren’t exposed to self-determination interventions (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 205).
Of the participants in the study, 21% used the ChoiceMaker Curriculum, which included materials such as transition assessment tools, choosing goals lessons, self-directed IEP materials, and taking action lessons (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). The curriculum is made up of three sections; (a) choosing goals, (b) expressing goals, and (c) taking action ((Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198) In each of these sections, the program provides two to four goals along with many objectives which are used to teach the areas of transition (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p.198). In the choosing goals section, students not only learn about the goals in each transition area, but also begin to better understand their abilities, skills, interests, preferences, and limits after completing and analyzing assessment tools (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). The self-directed IEP lessons promote leadership skills to run an effective IEP meeting (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). In regard to the Self-directed IEP survey that used a scale response method, students lessened the number of responses categorized as “no opportunity” from a baseline of 30% to 12%, and increased responses in the area of “do very well and when needed from 1% to <30% (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 205).
The Self-Advocacy strategy was utilized by 5% of participants (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). It was developed and meant to be delivered using a systematic approach in order to improve one’s knowledge and sense of control over their own learning (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p.180). Through this strategy, students are able to take part in lessons focusing on seven instructional stages; (1) orient and make commitments introduction of transition planning; (2) describe participation; (3) model and prepare steps in transition process; (4) verbal practice of each step; (5) group practice and feedback during a simulation meeting; (6) individual practice and feedback (7) generalization to actual conferences (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198).
Steps to Self-Determination was utilized by 4% of participants through an initial one-hour orientation and 6-hour workshops that incorporate 16 classroom based lessons through the use of modeling, cooperative and experimental learning, lecture, and discussions (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). The intervention package is supplemented with assessment tools, objectives, guidelines, handouts, projections, and informational forms that focus on self-determination, self-advocacy, goals, and decision making (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 199).
A self-directed instructional method called Whose Future Is It Anyway 43% of participants used thisteaching strategy (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 199). The intervention is comprised of 36 sessions that works to introduce transition planning related to self- and disability awareness, making decisions about transition related outcomes, seeking out community resources and supports, writing and assessing transition goals and objectives, small group collaboration and communication, skills to become a member of a team, leadership roles, and/or self-advocates (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). There are seven components. The first component is self-ablity and self-awareness teaches students about the IEP transition process such as who has previously and who will currently attend the meeting and reviews the planning process and individual’s roles (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 199). The second section focusses on making decision using the problem-solving process and application to goal areas (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 199). The third section focuses on community resources and supports in each area (Wehmeyer et al., 2013. P. 199). Student’s learn the basic principles of what goals and objectives are, practice identifying them, how to write them, and ways they can progress monitor them in the fourth section, and effective communication practices during transitions meetings in the fifth section (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 199). The last section touches on the different kinds of meetings, purposes, member roles, as well as practices and strategies to utilize when conducting a meeting (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 199). Criterion referenced surveys analyzed during baseline and at the end of year 3 demonstrated increases in scores ranging from 1 to 30% and decreases of approximately 2% and 7% (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 204).
The Self Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) is an instructional three phase method that focuses on self-determination, self-regulated problem solving, and incorporates student-directed learning (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). A problem is presented in each of the three phases, students are employ problem-solving skills by asking and answering four questions per phase in order to meet the instructional objectives (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). During this time the students are expected to learn, modify to develop their own, and attempt to reach their self-created goals (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). Through this strategy, students are able to use self-determination skills in order to make and account for their choices, decisions, and actions (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 198). The authors reported that this intervention proved to be the most engaging for all students (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 199).
The NEXT S.T.E.P Curriculum was implemented with 7% of student participants (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 200). The curriculum consists of student and teacher materials, progress monitoring materials, and informational guides for both teachers and parents (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 200). The strategy aims to increase student’s motivation to participation in transition planning, self-evaluation, in creating and/or selecting transition goals and objectives, student conducted meetings, and self-monitoring (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p.200). The program is broken up into 4 units containing a total of 16 lessons, which are designed to be delivered within a 50-minute period (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 200). Additionally, the program is supplemented with a 72-item Transition Skills Inventory rating scale which are used to assesses personal life, jobs, education and training, and living independently (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 200). Student’s scores on this survey increased slightly by 5% (Wehmeyer et al., 2013, p. 204).
The study conducted by Shogren, Palmer, Wehmeyer, Williams-Diehm, & Little (2012) focused on demonstrating how the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) can be used to support students with intellectual and learning disabilities in accessing the general education curriculum and in attaining both academic and transition-related goals (Shogren, Palmer, Wehmeyer, Williams-Diehm, & Little, 2012, p. 321). The SDLMI model can be used to supplement instruction in self-determination skills across curriculums and activities working to support teachers in educating youth to use self-determination and self-regulation skills to make gains towards goals they have selected for themselves (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 321). The model involves setting an educational goal, designing an action plan to attain the goal, monitoring as well as assessing progress, and modifying plans and/or goals as needed to promote success (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 322).
The 2-year study was conducted using a group-randomized trial control group with switching replication (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 322). The 312 high school participants were diagnosed with an intellectual or learning disability, were working on academic and transition goals, and would find some value in learning self-determination skills (Shogren et al., 2012, p.321-322). Half of the group would be considered the intervention group, who received 2 years of SDLMI instruction, while the control group received only 1 year of intervention and only after a year’s time passed (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 322). Before implementation, special education staff members within the treatment group were provided training on the SDLMI model and the three phase instructional process (set goal, take action, adjust goal/plan) (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 322). Multilevel modeling was utilized with students in the intervention group, which attributed to noticeable gains in goal attainment, and increased access to the general education curriculum, resulting in higher levels of engagement (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 324). The results of the study demonstrated that students diagnosed with a learning disability were better able to achieve academic goals and students with an intellectual disability better achieved transition-related goals (Shogren et al., 2012, p. 325). The study also suggested that the SDLMI model was effective in increasing all students access to the general education curriculum and that the teaching tool could be used to improve student’s ability to manage and reach both transition and
An alternative program to teaching self-determination through the sole use of a curriculum was suggested by Vinoski, Graybill, and Roach (2016). The authors found that they could better reach and engage students in activities that focused on self-determination skills through extracurricular activities. Vinoski et al., (2016) noted that many children with disabilities find themselves missing out on or being limited to extracurricular activities, which can ultimately hinder their ability to actively engage with peers, within their school, and community (p. 264). The authors mainly focused on teaching these skills to an inclusive group of students in a club setting based on the Partnerships for Success (PFS) framework (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). PFS clubs incorporate evidence-based components of self-determination to promote and obtain skills that relate to leadership, problem-solving, decision-making, choice-making, and goal-setting while also focusing on building friendships, volunteer work and fundraising (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 264). Vinoski, Graybill, and Roach (2016) suggested that club members work together to develop and plan a variety of social, athletic, community, service, civic, educational, and fund-raising activities to be implemented throughout the year (p. 260). The PFS model works to incorporate self-determination skills through many different instructional and experimental activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). In this program, students with disabilities will have numerous opportunities to practice skills across various settings in order to improve, generalize, and maintain effective communication skills, leadership, and self-advocacy skills (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). Students with disabilities will also use planning tools and other methods to create and foster peer and community support systems, who will in turn be able to help students develop choice-making, goal-setting, and achievement (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). Additionally, real life experiences are used as teaching opportunities to practice skills in social engagement, recreational, and community service projects/activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260).
In a similar study conducted by Wehmeyer, Shogren, Palmer, William-Diehm, Little, and Boulton (2012) examined the impact of the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI) on student self-determination. The SDLMI intervention is a model of teaching that focuses on teaching student’s skills such as problem-solving, self-regulation, and student-directed learning in order to reach a higher levels of self-determined behaviors. This intervention can be easily integrated into the regular education environment and allows students better access to the curriculum (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 150). The study was conducted with 312 high school students diagnosed with either a learning disability or an intellectual disability who were expected to receive services for two years beyond the studies implementation date (Wehmeyer, Shogren, Palmer, Williams-Diehm, Little, & Boulton, 2012, p. 138). The study was designed and implemented over a two-year period in which an intervention group and control groups data were compared. The implementation of the SDLMI intervention was provided to the intervention group and was withheld from the control group for the first year. After the first year, the control group began SDLMI interventions. The purpose of the study was to determine if the effects of the SLDMI intervention would be found when it was implemented to two different groups at two different times (time 1 and time 2) and to determine if a student’s disability category would impact their scores (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p.149). In regard to group comparisons, the study concluded that the intervention group showed gains from the beginning (time 1) to end of intervention (time 2) measurements (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 144). In contrast, the control group decreased in scores from baseline to the end of time 1 and then increased from the end of time 1 to time 2 measurement data (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 144). The increase in time 2 data occurs only after the intervention was implemented and showed similar patterns in increased scores as the intervention group (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 144). These finding suggest that SDLMI does have an impact in self-determination outcomes as both groups were found to show similar patterns of improvement when given the same intervention at different times. (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 144). The study also found preliminary indication that students diagnosed with a learning disability appeared to have more gains in self-determination measures over time than did students diagnosed with an intellectual disability (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 148). However, the authors warned interpretation of that finding suggesting further research is needed within this area due to various limitations (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 148). When comparing the two groups results during the intervention phases, both groups demonstrated similar positive effects, indicating that SDLMI was responsible for those improvements (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 148). Overall, students in the intervention group who received the intervention longest had the greatest increase in self-determination outcomes than those who did not (Wehmeyer et al., 2012, p. 148).
A multiple baseline design study was used to assess the relationship between the SDLMI intervention and its influence regarding on and off task behaviors (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 28). Additionally, the study aimed to determine if students could use the strategy and skills learned to make and self-evaluate their progress in relation to target behaviors in the regular education classroom and if those changes could be maintained and generalized over time (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 28). The four participants in the study were diagnosed with an Emotional Disturbance Disorder who attended a southwestern suburban high school (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 28). Data was collected through video recordings of the student in their regular education setting several times a week across consistent time periods (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 31). 10-minute recordings were gathered in which observers utilized 10s partial interval recording to approximate the number of time target behaviors occurred (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 31). Generalization probes were given during a different instructional period (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 31). The results concluded that all four students were able to show improvements in on-task behaviors as well as reductions in their off-task behaviors after implementation of the intervention (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 33). Students were able to rate their own behaviors and self-evaluate their behaviors, all of which found their behaviors to be meeting or exceeding their behavioral goals (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 36). Additionally, all four students made significant gains in their ability to generalize appropriate behaviors in another educational setting (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 36). Both special and general education teachers found the intervention to be very effective. They noted that due to the behavioral issues being greatly reduced, student’s grades increased, there were less student absences, and fewer office referrals (Kelly & Shogren, 2014, p. 22)
The authors Cho, Whemeyer, & Kingston (2012) surveyed special education teachers who served students with varying disabilities in Kindergarten through 6th grade on the affects a classroom setting had on teaching self-determination skills, the frequency teachers taught those skills, as well as barriers to instruction (p. 19). The participants in the study included 223 special education teachers mostly from Idaho, Kansas, Misssouri, Texas and 19 other states, all of which were located in suburban areas, or rural areas (Cho, Wehmeyer, & Kingston, 2012, p. 21). Many teachers within the study taught more than one grade level and worked with children of varying disabilities, which included learning disability, speech language impairment, autism, intellectual disability, multiple disabilities, and emotional/behavioral disorders (Cho et al., 2012, p. 21). The survey was adapted using an existing tool created by Wehmeyer, one of the authors (Cho et al., 2012, p. 21). This survey consisted of two parts. The first part was used to collect basic demographic information and the second part questioned teachers on how important they felt teaching self-determination and self-regulation was, what specific skills they taught, and how often they taught them (Cho et al., 2012, p. 21). Teachers were asked to rate items from 1 (low/never) to 6 (high/very often) and answered yes/no questions (Cho et al., 2012, p. 21). The importance section consisted of topics such as choice making, self-advocacy, leadership, self-management, self-awareness/knowledge, and decision making (Cho et al., 2012, p. 21). In regard to frequency, the items on the survey consisted of topics such as choice making, problem-solving, goal setting, self-advocacy/leadership, self-management, and self-awareness/knowledge (Cho et al., 2012, p. 21). Results indicated that special education teachers varied in how they ranked the importance of teaching children self-determination skills based on the educational setting in which they taught, however, all teachers found that teaching these skills are important (Cho et al., 2012, p. 22-25). It was also concluded that teachers who taught self-regulation skills (self-monitoring, self-evaluation, self-instruction, and goal setting) were more likely to teach self-determination skills than those who only taught self-scheduling and self-reinforcement (Cho et al., 2012, p. 25). Setting effects were not found to affect teacher’s views regarding importance of teaching self-determination skills (Cho et al., 2012, p. 26).
However, teachers who taught in various and/or multiple settings other than just within the inclusive classroom were found to place more importance on teaching self-determination (Cho et al., 2012, p. 26). Barriers that were most commonly identified amongst participants included limited training opportunities, materials, methods, and information to teach skills and strategies, as well as time restraints and opportunities to teach skills (Cho et al., 2012, p. 27). The study concludes that although educators find value in teaching self-regulation and self-determination skills, there are barriers to teaching them (Cho et al., 2012, p. 27). The authors suggest that teachers begin teaching these skills, strategies, and methods at an early age and be continued throughout one’s schooling (Cho et al., 2012, p. 27).
The article written by Wehmeyer and Abery (2013) reviewed work over several decades that supported self-determination and choice-making for individuals with an intellectual disability (p. 399). The literature suggests a need for more research to be conducted relating to the impact personal and ecological factors may have on self-determination relating to various cultures, disability categories, and ages (Wehmeyer & Abery, 2013, p. 406). Further research is also needed to create improved measures for global self-determination, so that it can be used with individuals of all ages and for people with and without disabilities (Wehmeyer & Abery, 2013, p. 406). Additionally, Wehmeyer and Abery (2013) found that research needs to expand to include various environments such as one’s home, community, independent living environment, and inclusive classrooms (p. 406). Most importantly, more culturally sensitive research in evidence-based practices are needed to promote independence and inclusion into the community (Wehmeyer & Abery, 2013, p. 407).
Creative Transition Programs Supporting Self-Determination
Two creative transition programs that support teaching self-determination skills are the Woodlands Program (2010-2015) and the Partnerships for Success Program (2006-2010). The Woodlands Program is an inclusion summer camp for adolescents that focuses on teaching and providing opportunities for students to practice transition skills, self-determination, empowerment, overall health and wellness, social skills, communication, healthy life styles, and leadership. The summer camp program is rather expensive, however, the idea behind it could be implemented using a facility in the area provided extensive planning, training, funding, and participation. The program also offers club memberships to meet twice a month and various teen retreats.
The Partnership for Success program is another inclusive program that incorporates evidence-based components of self-determination to promote and obtain skills that relate to leadership, problem-solving, decision-making, choice-making, and goal-setting while also focusing on building friendships, volunteer work, and fundraising. The PFS model works to incorporate self-determination skills through many different instructional and experimental activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). In this program, students with disabilities will have numerous opportunities to work with their peers in order to develop, practice, and improve communication, leadership and self-advocacy skills (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). Students with disabilities will also use planning tools and other methods to arrange events and fundraising activities. Real life experiences are used as teaching opportunities to practice skills during social engagements, recreational, and community service projects/activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). All of which foster friendships, collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, planning, preparation, and evaluation of any planned activities in order to make future planning improvements.
Mrs. Burn’s stated the true success the transition program can only be determined by the student’s self-determination. The likelihood of one’s success is likely to be heightened by the support of the family, district, supports, and service providers. To support students in becoming self-determined individuals, the district offers a PAWS program at the elementary level, which was recently extended to the high school. At the high school level, self-determination skills are taught during a PAWS period built into student’s schedules who have an IEP, and typically occur at the end of the day. The PAWS period is a scheduled time in which the assigned special education teacher can work with students in needed areas such as additional supports with homework/classwork and skills such as choice making, self-esteem, and/or self-management.
I would like to improve upon the PAWS period and how it is utilized. I believe that there is a need to improve how we reach, teach, and encourage adolescents in self-determined behaviors. Self-determination lessons can be implemented into the PAWS period itself, which occur 3 days out of a 6-day cycle. These skills can be taught through a structured curriculum with thoughtfully planned lessons that incorporate multi modal teaching and learning strategies as well as opportunities to practice skills. An inclusive student-directed curriculum such as the SDLMI can be utilized during in school club meetings to provide students with more structured learning opportunities related to transition planning and self-determination skills. This curriculum, or one similar depending on student needs, can be easily integrated into the current PAWS time period.
The new program, based on the Partnership for Success program in Georgia, is a student led program which is designed to be an inclusive club for students with and without disabilities (Partnerships For Success, 2006-2010). The club is meant to support students in recreation, socialization, sports, and community service experiences in which adolescents are exposed to team building exercises and activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). The authors found that they could better reach and engage students in activities that focused on self-determination skills through extracurricular activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). PFS clubs incorporate evidence-based components of self-determination to promote and obtain skills that relate to leadership, problem-solving, decision-making, choice-making, and goal-setting while also focusing on building friendships, volunteer work, and fundraising (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 264). Club members work together to develop and plan a variety of social, athletic, community, service, civic, educational, and fund-raising activities to be implemented throughout the year (Vinoski, Graybill, and Roach, 2016, p. 260). The PFS model works to incorporate self-determination skills through many different instructional and experience related activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). In this program, students with disabilities will have numerous opportunities to work with their peers in order to develop, practice, and improve communication, leadership and self-advocacy skills (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). Students with disabilities will also use planning tools and other methods to create and foster support systems, who will in turn be able to help students develop choice-making, goal-setting, and achievement (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). Additionally, real life experiences are used as teaching opportunities to practice skills in social engagement, recreational, and community service projects/activities (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). All of which foster friendships, collaboration, teamwork, problem-solving, planning, preparation, and evaluation of any planned activities in order to make future planning improvements. The idea of offering and encouraging students to attend a club that focuses on building self-determination can provide students with an alternative route to meet their needs. The research based curriculum SDLMI could be offered during the PAWS period and other club related activities could take place during the extracurricular portion of the club (Wehmeyer et al., 2013). The frequency of meetings would be dependent on student needs, sponsor needs, and administrative support of the program.
Specific improvements to the current program include: addition of a routinely implemented curricula such as SDLMI during PAWS period, inclusive implementation of extracurricular club based on the Partnership for Success program, adding an assessment tool to evaluate student/program progress, and in club activities that offer real-life experiences and opportunities to practice skills with numerous people, groups, agencies and in a variety of contexts.
At least one special education teacher as well as one inclusive or regular education teacher who are familiar with working with individuals with and without disabilities who are trained in teaching the self-determination skills and strategies would best serve as the club’s co-sponsor/mentor (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 261). Co-sponsors/mentors will help implement student planned activities, monitor finances, keep administration informed, help solve problems that are too challenging for the club members to solve independently, and provide lessons, guidance, support (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260-261). The Partnership for Success program is considered to be student-led and encourages students with and without disabilities to join and run for a club officer position (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 260). The sponsors of the club are involved in making the decisions as to who is awarded a leadership role (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 261). The guideline criteria for officer positions includes: 2 presidents, two vice presidents, two secretaries, and two treasurers (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 261). Ideally, each position will be filled with one student who has a disability and one student who does not. The use of two persons in each office position can be used to promote the use of peer supports and friendships.
According to the website, there is no cost associated in forming a Partners for Success Club (Partnership for Success, 2006-2010). They suggest using methods that other clubs use in order to sustain it, such as membership dues or fundraisers. However, there are some costs that reflect materials needed to begin the program. PFS offers a toolkit that can be purchased through their website, however, the cost or details of the program are not listed. In order to order or obtain more information about the kit they offer, one must make contact through their contact us website directory. PFS suggest purchasing a self-determination curriculum. One program that appears to have positive outcomes is the ChoiceMaker instructional series. The curriculums can be purchased altogether in the form of a kit for $304, individual purchase of curricula for $95, and/or self-determination assessment forms for $10 per 25 forms. The Self-Determination Learning Model of Instruction is an evidence-based practice that could be used as well. These materials can be accessed online at the Beach Center of Disability website. Whose Future is It? is another program to teach self-determination skills. The introductory kit can be purchased for $470 while a classroom package costs $940. Student led IEP materials for implementation are available with little to no cost on the Council for Exceptional Children website. The Take a Look At Me portfolio can be used for assessment purposes and costs $6 per student while the IOS application is free. Vinoski, Graybill, and Roach (2016) suggested that club members work together to develop and plan a variety of social, athletic, community, service, civic, educational, and fund-raising activities to be implemented throughout the year (p. 260).
One method to assess the effectiveness of the program can be through utilization of GroMobi’s I’m Determined One3 (IMD3) IOS application. This tool can be used with all students, allowing them to create self-evaluations, set individual goals, develop plans to reach those goals, and share plans as well as data with sponsors (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 262). The second method can be through the use of a strength-based portfolio. For example, The Take A Look at Me Portfolio supports individuals in discovering their hopes and dreams, self-discovery, self-determination, participate in the story telling process, determine what/how they can contribute, and utilizes open-ended questions with a space for artwork or photographs to support this assessment and discovery process (Vinoski et al., 2016, p. 262). Additionally, a sponsor can utilize google forms to create a document that each student responds to regarding their interest in the group, it’s benefits, concepts/skills learned in relation to determination, and offer a space for suggestions to improve the club.
Cho, H., Wehmeyer, M. L., & Kingston, N. M. (2012). The Effect of Social and Classroom Ecological Factors on Promoting Self-Determination in Elementary School. Preventing School Failure, 56(1), 19-28. doi:10.1080/1045988X.2010.548419
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