Students with Disabilities Perceived Discrimination in Higher Education: An Interpretive Phenomenological Study

Students with Disabilities Perceived Discrimination in Higher Education: An Interpretive Phenomenological Study

Author: 
Randy J. Caffee
Program of study: 
Ph.D./HEA
Abstract: 
Students with disabilities were entering postsecondary institutions in record numbers. However, when students with disabilities transition to campus, students were met with obstacles that impede persistence. The problem was students with disabilities are on college campuses with a fear of stigma, segregation, and discrimination with little to no support. The problem lead to a lack of success for students with disabilities because without in-depth understanding, and comprehensive services in place students with disabilities do not persist to graduation. The study focuses on students with disabilities lived experiences pertaining to perceived discrimination in a collegiate environment. The purpose of the study used a qualitative methodology and an interpretative phenomenological approach was to explore the lived experience of the phenomenon from the participant’s point of view. The research questions that guided the phenomenological study were the following: (a) What are students with disabilities’ lived experiences regarding perceived discrimination in a collegiate environment? (b) What type of feelings surface when exploring perceived discrimination in college students with disabilities? A total of nine themes emerged from the data collected, which further explained and expanded the understanding of perceived discrimination in a collegiate environment. Anger, frustration, and sadness were the primary feelings that surfaced as a result of perceived discrimination. Understanding students with disabilities and training of key personnel were important factors to consider if perceived discrimination on campus was to be reduced and more favorable outcomes were the goal. Administrators may use the findings to expand base knowledge and positively influence postsecondary outcomes.
Dedication: 
This dissertation is dedicated to my family and friends that have continued to support me throughout my doctoral journey. A special dedication goes to my mother, Margaret Caffee for giving me the love and support I needed to pursue and complete a doctoral degree. My partner, Jason Thornock for being understanding and supportive of my busy schedule. My friends Deitra Hickey, Denis Doyle, and Michelle James for continuing to encourage and support my efforts to complete my doctoral journey, which I could not have done without their love and support. The prayers, encouragement, and unwavering support of my family and friends has gotten me through this journey and I want them all to know how much I love them.
Acknowledgements: 
Over the past few years I have received support and encouragement from a number of individuals. I would like to especially thank my chairperson and mentor Dr. Debra Tucker and committee members Dr. Miriam Frolow and Dr. Renee Hall. Dr. Tucker has been incredibility patient and made herself available to me whenever I had doubts or questions in my own ability. Dr. Tucker has provided guidance over the past few years and was truly instrumental in helping me complete the dissertation journey. Dr. Frolow and Dr. Hall have provided some valuable insight and feedback throughout my dissertation process and I truly appreciate my dissertation committee more than words can express. I would like to thank Arizona State University, Argosy University, Arizona Summit Law School, and Scottsdale Community College for allowing me access to their student population in order to conduct my research. I would also like to thank Shawn Moran, who I met during residency, for being so helpful and supportive throughout the process. I would also like to thank my partner, Jason Thornock who has been patient and supportive of my doctoral journey even when I was not in the best of moods. Finally, I must thank my family and friends for being so supportive and providing the necessary encouragement to get me through the rough times.