Date of Award

Spring 1994

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Grant Cioffi


This study used qualitative methodology in order to gain understanding of the school lives of high school students with learning disabilities in the areas of reading and writing. Two resource room sections of students were observed, using methods of participant observation over a year long period and four case studies of students from these sections were conducted. Classroom work of all students was studied and special education files of those chosen as case studies were reviewed. Students and school personnel involved in the education of the students were interviewed.

Research findings suggested that, despite years of intervention, high school students with learning disabilities in this study continued to have severe reading and writing difficulties. These difficulties pervaded their school lives, negatively impacting all academic areas, social interactions and personal development. Difficulties experienced by the students were exacerbated by issues involving ways in which their differences marginalized them, language development, academic disengagement, problems seeing relationships between actions and consequences, and limited expectations for their present and future lives.