Exploring the Influence of Self-Efficacy Perception in Transfer Students With Disabilities

Exploring the Influence of Self-Efficacy Perception in Transfer Students With Disabilities

Laventrice S. Ridgeway
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-6684-5039-0.ch004
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This research explored the perception of self-efficacy in transfer students with disabilities (SWDs) after an individualized, one-on-one orientation with the Office of Student Disability Services at Port City University. Using a phenomenological approach and purposeful sampling, the study obtained data through semi-structured interviews with transfer SWD registered with the Office of Student Disability Services. This study utilized seven participants' responses concerning their experience with the individualized orientation as related to their perception of self-efficacy. Data were analyzed using an interpretative phenomenological analysis. Interview transcripts were then reduced into themes that highlighted the individualized orientation essence. The findings from the research showed that the factors related to the individualized orientation with the most influence on participants' self-efficacy were preparation for success and support of accommodations. The findings, considerations for future research, and limitations were discussed.
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Upon completing secondary education, approximately 25% of students with disabilities (SWDs) pursue higher education (Heyer, 2017). SWD enrollment at the postsecondary level has steadily increased over the past decade. As such, SWDs’ desire to succeed in postsecondary education has garnered the attention of scholars. Because SWDs often begin their collegiate tenure at 2-year institutions (Heyer, 2017), they are frequent transfers. One of the common myths concerning transfer SWDs is that transfer student supports are not necessary due to students having prior collegiate experience (Harrick & Fullington, 2019; Jacobson et al., 2017). A majority (60%) of transfer students complete their degrees, with the others requiring school support to be successful (Marling, 2013). Transfer orientation is effective in easing the transition from 2-year to 4-year programs (Harrick & Fullington, 2019; Jacobson et al., 2017; Marling, 2013) and decreasing the impact of ‘transfer shock,’ defined as severely poor performance within the new institutional program upon transfer (Hills, 1965).

Researchers have since expanded the definition of transfer shock to reflect the influence of transition periods from one campus to the next and the student’s social adjustment to new campus culture and norms (Ivins et al., 2016; Lakin & Elliott, 2016). Despite significant discourse surrounding the influence of support for SWDs and transfer students, there is little research exploring the effect of an individualized, one-on-one orientation session on transfer SWDs. Research is needed to obtain transfer SWDs’ voices and perspectives, as higher education institutions have not addressed this group’s challenges (Harrick & Fullington, 2019; Jacobson et al., 2017). Thus, the purpose of this phenomenological study was to:

  • 1.

    Explore the perceived influence of an individualized university orientation on the self-efficacy (confidence) in transfer SWDs at a public 4-year institution in the U.S. Southeast.

  • 2.

    What support practices within the individualized orientation did transfer SWDs view as helpful to developing self-efficacy?



Several federal policies, such as the Americans with Disability Act and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act, have been developed to support SWDs in their postsecondary education pursuits. Motivation, concentration, and social interaction are fundamental aspects to higher education and employment where SWDs often struggle to find success (Button et al., 2018; Nasir & Efendi, 2019). Students at postsecondary institutions with disabilities considered invisible (or nonapparent) are more vulnerable than their visible counterparts due to the influence of intrinsic and extrinsic stressors related to their disability (Button et al., 2018). Although SWDs enrollment in postsecondary institutions is on the rise, approximately 84% of SWDs withdraw from higher education before earning their degree (Koch et al., 2014; Kranke et al., 2013). Expanded advocacy initiatives and legislation providing for antidiscrimination coverage, disability diagnosis and treatment, and rehabilitative services have allowed more SWDs to seek higher education (Koch et al., 2014). Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Titles I through III of the ADA require postsecondary institutions to create offices that specifically support disabled student advocacy (e.g., Disabled Student Services), equitable course access, and antidiscrimination.

Signed into law in 1973, the Rehabilitation Act stated, in part,

No otherwise qualified handicapped individual in the United States shall, solely by reason of his handicap, be excluded from participation in, be denied the benefits of, or be subjected to discrimination under any programs or activity receiving Federal financial assistance. (34 C.F.R. Part 104.4)

Key Terms in this Chapter

Academic Adjustments: Modifications that do not change a class or activity but allow the student to meet the class or activity’s standards, academic adjustments give students equal access to the educational opportunities of the university ( Button et al., 2018 ; Kranke et al., 2013 ).

Transfer Student: A transfer student is a learner who, upon graduating from high school or completing a general educational diploma, attended a college, university, or vocational institution and has now transferred into a 4-year institution ( Harrick & Fullington, 2019 ).

Disabled Transfer Student: As operationalized for this study, a disabled transfer student (transfer SWD) is a student with a disability who has transferred into PCU from a 2- or 4-year college or university.

Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacious individuals believe in their potential to accomplish specific tasks or achieve favorable outcomes in various situations ( Bandura, 1977 ).

Self-Advocacy: Individuals practice self-advocacy when they can convey their needs and wants and adequately determine the necessary support for achieving them ( Vaccaro et al., 2015 ).

Nonapparent Disability: Nonapparent disabilities include nonvisible physical disabilities, psychiatric disabilities, disabilities related to learning, and disabilities that are attentional in nature ( Kranke et al., 2013 ).

Students with Disabilities: As operationalized for this study, SWDs are those who have completed PCU’s interactive disability-related accommodation registration process to receive academic adjustments.

Disability: According to the ADAAA (2008) AU51: The in-text citation "ADAAA (2008)" is not in the reference list. Please correct the citation, add the reference to the list, or delete the citation. , disability “means, with respect to an individual-(A) a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more of the major life activities of such an individual; (B) a record of such impairment; or (C) being regarded as having such an impairment” (Sec. 12102).

Transfer Shock: Hills (1965) proposed the term transfer shock as a reduction in transfer students’ grade point average after their first semester at the new institution.

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