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National Center on Secondary Education and Transition: Creating opportunities for youth with disabilities to achieve successful futures.

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E-mail this pageSelf-Determination for Middle and High School Students

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Taking Charge: Stories of Success and Self-Determination (2000)

The document provides insights from successful young people and adults with disabilities on the goal of helping young people with disabilities learn to lead self-determined lives. It begins by defining self-determination as a combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, and autonomous behavior. Self-Determination insights are organized around advice synthesized from hundreds of responses of the successful young people and adults with disabilities who contributed. These are identified as: (1) define success for yourself; (2) set personal, academic, and career goals and keep your expectations high; (3) understand your abilities and disabilities and play to your strengths; (4) develop strategies to meet your goals; (5) use technology as an empowering tool; (6) work hard, persevere, and be flexible; and (7) develop a support network and look to family, friends, and teachers for support.

Using Self-Determination Contracts to Improve Student Outcomes

Martin, J. E., Mithaug, D. E., Cox, P., Peterson, L. Y., Van Dycke, J. L., & Cash, M. E. (2003). Increasing self-determination: Teaching students to plan, work, evaluate, and adjust. Exceptional Children, 69(4), 431–447.

A study by Mithaug, Peterson, Van Dycke, and Cash (2003) examined the use of self-determination contracts to regulate the correspondence between the plans, work, self-evaluations, and adjustments on academic tasks of students with severe emotional and/or behavioral problems. Students completed daily self-determination contracts to schedule their work on academic tasks, plan for work outcomes, evaluate progress, and adjust for the next day's activities. Significant effects were found with the use of the contracts, including academic improvements.


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This page was last updated on January 12, 2022.