Fostering Resilience with Students with Learning Disabilities: An Ecological Approach

Title: Fostering Resilience with Students with Learning Disabilities: An Ecological Approach
Authors: Piers, Lisa
Date: 2015
Abstract: This qualitative study explored the educational journeys of five post-secondary students with learning disabilities from the perspectives of the students and their families. Guided by Ungar’s (2012) ecological conceptualization of resilience and Bronfenbrenner’s (2007) bio-ecological theory of development, this study sought to identify the challenges that these students faced and the capacities and resources within their environments that helped them along their journeys. Data collected through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with the students and their families and analyzed inductively revealed that while each student’s educational journey was unique, most of the participants followed a similar path. Common themes that emerged in the participants’ journeys included: early academic or socio-emotional challenges, early diagnosis and intervention, common family characteristics and parent support, development of self-awareness and self-advocacy in the students over time, goal setting and determination, the important yet complex role of peers, and the impact, both positive and negative, of teachers. The participants identified a number of interactions at both the microsystem and mesosystem levels that helped the students through their educational journeys. The ongoing interactions that occurred between the students and their parents, teachers, and peers at the microsystem level helped shape and develop the capacities they needed in order to negotiate for the supports and resources that sustained their well-being. These capacities included an awareness and understanding of their learning disabilities and themselves as learners, the self-advocacy skills they needed in order to seek out and negotiate for the supports and accommodations that would help them succeed, the ability to set lofty, yet attainable goals and the perseverance to work towards these goals in spite of setbacks and challenges, and the willingness to use the supports and resources that were available to them. The interactions that occurred among the students’ environments at the mesosystem were important as well, as they helped ensure that the resources they needed would be provided for them. The mesosystem level interactions included open and honest communication between the home and school environments as well as a solid link between the home and community environments so that the parents were able to seek out the appropriate supports in the community. These findings give voice to students with learning disabilities and their families and inform educators in how they can help other families navigate their way to the resources and supports within their environments that can sustain their wellbeing and support them through their educational journeys.
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -