Effects of Interventions to Promote Self-Determination for Individuals with Disabilities

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NICHCY’s Structured Abstract 38 describes the following:

Title | Effects of Interventions to Promote Self-Determination for Individuals with Disabilities

Author | Algozzine, B., Browder, D., Karvonen, M., Test, D.W., & Wood, W.M.

Source Review of Educational Research, 71(2), 219-277.

Year Published | 2001

Abstract
Self-determination, the combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior, has become an important part of special education and related services for people with disabilities. Research on the outcomes of self-determination interventions has been sparse. In this study, the authors conducted a comprehensive review of literature and used quantitative methods of meta-analysis to investigate:

  • what self-determination interventions have been studied,
  • what groups of individuals with disabilities have been taught self-determination, and
  • what levels of outcomes have been achieved using self-determination interventions.

Fifty-one studies were identified that intervened to promote one or more components of self-determination; 22 were included in meta-analyses. The median effect size across 100 group intervention comparisons (contained in 9 studies) was 1.38. In contrast, 13 single subject studies included 18 interventions and produced a median percentage of nonoverlapping data (PND) of 95% with a range of 64% to 100%. Seven of the interventions had a PND of 100%, suggesting strong effects. Although all components of self-determination were reflected in this research, most focused on teaching choice making to individuals with moderate and severe mental retardation or self-advocacy to individuals with learning disabilities or mild mental retardation.

The outcomes are discussed regarding the need to demonstrate that self-determination can be taught and learned, and can make a difference in the lives of individuals with disabilities.

Background
Self-determination, the combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in self-managed, goal-focused, independent behavior, has become an increasing focus of special education and related services for students with disabilities. Self-determination can refer to many different skills, from the ability to make choices for oneself to self-advocating for needed services.

Research Questions

  1. What self-determination interventions have been studied?
  2. What groups of individuals with disabilities have been taught self-determination?
  3. What outcomes have been achieved using self-determination interventions?

Research Design
Meta-Analysis*

  • Number of Studies Included | 22
  • Number of Subjects | 992
  • Years Spanned | 1978-2000

Research Subjects
Students who participated in self-determination interventions as part of their special education or rehabilitation programs.

Age/Grade of Subjects

  • 29 studies (56.9%) included adolescents (14-21 years of age).
  • 24 of the studies (49%) included individuals over 21 years of age.
  • 10 studies (19.6%) included younger students (5-13) years of age.
  • 1 study (2%) included students under the age of 5 years.

Specified Disability
The two most frequently represented disability categories across group studies were:

  • Intellectual disabilities* (18 studies)
  • Learning disabilities (LD)* (12 studies)

Intervention
Students took part in self-determination programs that included different combinations of the following components:

  • choice making,
  • decision making,
  • problem solving,
  • goal setting and attainment,
  • self-advocacy; self-efficacy,
  • self-awareness and understanding,
  • self-observation, evaluation, and reinforcement,
  • person-center planning,
  • preference assessment, and
  • relationships with others.

A variety of instructional methods were used, including large-group instruction, individual conferences, and one-on-one behavioral interventions with prompting and feedback as the student practiced a skill.

Duration of Intervention
Interventions varied greatly in duration and intensity. For example, one study was based on a single session, while other studies provided more than 15 sessions of self-determination training over 4 months.

Findings

  • Group interventions to promote self-determination skills were moderately effective.
  • Results of single subject studies in particular reveal strong effects.

Combined Effects Size

Between Groups Design:

  • The average effects size across 100 group intervention comparisons (contained in 9 studies) was 1.38 (ranging from -2.23 to 26.48).
  • The median effects size was 0.60 (moderate).

Single-Subject Design:

  • In contrast, 13 single-subject studies included 18 interventions and produced a median percentage of non-over-lapping data (PND) of 95%, with a range of 64% to 100%. Seven of the interventions had a PND of 100%, suggesting strong effects.
  • About 16% of the effect size measurements were negative, indicating that in approximately 1/5 of the studies outcomes were better for students not receiving the intervention.

Conclusion/Recommendations
The current research literature provides an important foundation for promoting self-determination for students with disabilities in school contexts. Single-subject studies showed more significant effects than group studies. One explanation for this is that single-subject studies tend to focus on teaching a single skill such as choice making to individuals with more severe disabilities (usually intellectual disabilities), while group interventions focus on teaching multiple skills to individuals with mild disabilities (mainly LD and mild intellectual disability). The research illustrates most clearly how to teach choice making to individuals with moderate and severe disabilities and self-advocacy to individuals ranging in disability level from moderate disabilities to LD and mild intellectual disability.

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* Meta-Analysis | A widely-used research method in which (1) a systematic and reproducible search strategy is used to find as many studies as possible that address a given topic; (2) clear criterion are presented for inclusion/exclusion of individual studies into a larger analysis; and (3) results of included studies are statistically combined to determine an overall effect (effect size) of one variable on another.

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