Degree Type


Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy




Education (Educational Leadership)

First Advisor

Larry H. Ebbers


The body of research concerning college students with disabilities is sparse relative to the percentage of disabled college students who attend college. Further, the majority of existing research fails to capture the student voice and the lived experiences of the students themselves. This dissertation explores the experiences of college students with learning disabilities (LD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), examines the experiences that are particularly formative in their development and self-awareness as learners, and considers the role of disability in how the students think of themselves as learners. Using a qualitative, phenomenological research framework, this study uses in-depth individual interviews to collect data from participants at multiple postsecondary institutions in the Midwest. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed. Four themes emerged as central to their experiences as college students: a) constructing and reframing knowledge about their disability, b) self-assessment through observation and comparing themselves to others, c) identifying allies and resources, and d) moving toward increased learner autonomy. This study provides numerous opportunities for future research related to the topic and findings. The findings from this study may also provide context and insights for both secondary and postsecondary institutions and parents or families of students with disabilities as well as the students themselves.


Copyright Owner

Sarah Jean Lux



File Format


File Size

195 pages