04 SES 07 E, Inclusion from the Viewpoint of Students: Listening to the learners’ voices
The aim of the present study was to examine narratives of adults with disabilities who have attained successful occupational status, and the contribution of educational experiences to their resilience and self-efficacy. Our theoretical framework for the study was positive psychology (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi, 2014), focusing on resilience (King, Newman & Luthans, 2015) and self-efficacy (Bandura, 2006; Althauser, 2015).
Resilience is the ability to experience difficult events and situations while maintaining one's functioning and identity (King et al., 2015) through the use of internal and external resources. Self-efficacy is the perception of one's ability and resources to successfully cope with new or challenging tasks in order to achieve one's goals, and is therefore one of the main conditions for the individual's ability to succeed (Bandura, 1997). It should be borne in mind that self-efficacy per se does not enable the individual to attain successful results if it is not accompanied by skills necessary to perform the task. In addition, developing a sense of self-efficacy during childhood and adolescence has a critical impact on the individual's life in adulthood (Kass, 2012).
Resources that help people to succeed despite significant challenges, in particular childhood disability, can be divided into personal-internal (within the individual) and social-external (within his or her environment) (Hobfoll, 2001).
The present study examined resilience and self-efficacy as a gradually developing characteristic that helps an individual cope with the challenges imposed by childhood disability (e.g., blindness, physical disability, deafness, etc.) and its social, functional and emotional implications. People with resilience and a high sense of self-efficacy are characterized by a sense of control over various life events, display a sense of involvement. These individuals exhibit flexibility, adaptive ability, initiatives and positive feelings (Ong et al., 2006). In addition, studies found a positive connection between resilience and mental and physical health (Braun-Lewensohn et al., (2011).
There are numerous definitions for success. We chose the definition of Reiff et al. (1997) who examined the narratives of successful adults with learning disabilities. Their definition focused on occupational success, and was comprised of 5 factors: Income, education, occupational status, sense of occupational success, and work related satisfaction. Many of the studies on success of people with disabilities focused on successful changes in society's attitudes towards them, successful inclusion of people with disabilities or about their rehabilitative success (e.g., Brittain, 2004; Luecking, 2008; Robertson et al., 2007). In recent years there is a growing interest in factors that contribute to the personal, educational or occupational success of people with learning disabilities (e.g., Troiano, Liefeld & Trachtenberg, 2010; Russak et al., 2017).
Our presentation will focus on the contributions of educational experiences to the development of resilience and sense of self-efficacy of successful adults with various disabling conditions. We will present the educational factors and processes in childhood and adolescence that enabled these people to become successful, and to learn from their narratives some implications for educators and administrators in the educational system.
Our Research question was: What are the factors and processes that supported the development of resilience and sense of self-efficacy of occupationally successful people with disabilities during their school years?
The present study used a narrative methodology, which systematically analyzes narratives (Holley & Colyar, 2009). Each person's life story is unique, and enables that person to express his or her recalled thoughts and experiences. The narrative's purpose is to serve the narrator's goal, and therefore it could change and be reconstructed (Shlasky & Alpert, 2007). Research on people with disabilities is increasingly using narrative methodology to investigate their spoken or written narratives (e.g., Dunn & Burcaw, 2013; Malhotra & Rowe, 2014) and to uncover elements from these narratives such as the way the disability and identity are perceived by the individual. Participants: Two principles guided the selection of participants for the study: 1) Adequacy – a sufficient number of participants who will provide enough data that will enable the researchers to describe the examined experience in a full and rich way (Morse, 1994). 2) Appropriateness – identifying and selecting participants who are suitable for answering the research question, that is, occupationally successful people with disabilities. Participants: Our sample consisted of 20 adults with disabilities, who have made significant occupational attainments, in business, politics, law, etc. In the present study we used an adaptation of Rieff and colleagues' definition of success (1997), viewed as an occupational success of various levels. In the present study, participants who fulfilled three of the following five criteria were selected: Income level, educational level, occupational success, work satisfaction and professional status. Instruments: An in-depth, narrative interview, and a brief questionnaire including some demographic information. The opening question was: Please tell me the story of your life. At the initial stage the participants told their narrative in a free flowing manner. Then, we used follow-up questions that focused on ways in which the educational system (especially significant educators or administrators) promoted or hindered the processes that enabled the participants to attain success and develop elements of resilience and sense of self-efficacy. Procedure: We met with each participant individually, and explained to them the general purpose of the study. They each signed an informed consent form, which included the option of whether or not their names will be disclosed. All interviews were transcribed and then analyzed. Data were analyzed according to a narrative approach, which uses a holistic perspective of the narrative based on four main domains: A multidimensional and interdisciplinary perspective, a holistic analysis, referring to form and content and examining the contexts of the narrative (Spector-Mersel, 2010).
• There was one significant person in the participant's life who believed in him or her, did not give up on him/her, and even "held the hope for me during dark times" (social activist with CP and learning disabilities). That significant person • A school principal who took a chance against all odds (including other students' parents) and accepted participants with severe motor disabilities and gave them a chance to succeed. • A director of informal education organization who supported a participant with CP to become a social activist. • Students who socially accepted the participant and involved him in all activities including annual trips. • Personal resources: An intellectual interest and curiosity, understanding that excelling at school would be their leverage for success and acceptance. • Teachers who did not lower their expectations and required them to perform academically just nondisabled students. • Support services and accommodations, school accessibility. • For some participants, who have attended special education school, finding a peer group of students with similar disabilities was important for social belonging and for developing a healthy identity. • Over the years, successful individuals used external resources (social, familial, educational) and internal resources (self-efficacy, resilience) to overcome challenges and become occupationally successful
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