Document Type


Date of Award

Summer 5-9-2014

Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)



First Advisor

Candace A. Mulcahy

Second Advisor

Beverly Rainforth

Third Advisor

M. Sue Crowley

Subject Heading(s)

College students with disabilities, Mentoring in education


This case study explored the experiences of participants in a university-based mentoring program in which graduate students in special education mentored undergraduate college students with disabilities (mentees). The program provided support in self-management skills for mentees and learning experience for mentors. Interviews, observations, document review, and a survey were used to collect data. Mentees’ disability diagnoses, high school experiences, personal and educational histories, and support needs varied, as did transition challenges and degree of collegelevel agency and self-advocacy. Undergraduates, citing mentor support, reported that the program was helpful in addressing self-management needs. Findings suggest that mentees’ self-identified needs (for structure, help with organizational skills, assistance with time management, and procrastination/avoidance) were addressed through scheduled study sessions (supervised by mentors), 1:1 work, and small group, targeted workshops on self-management skills. Mentors, certified as high school content teachers and seeking certification in teaching students with disabilities at the secondary level, reported increased knowledge and understanding of support needs of students with disabilities transitioning to postsecondary education. These participants, through experience, recognized differences between high school and college expectations in order to identify possible transition “best practices,” including (1) teaching self-management, academic, and social skills with an v eye toward transferability, (2) incorporating transition skills throughout the secondary curriculum, (3) providing explicit instruction in self-advocacy, and (4) beginning transition work early. Mentors identified obstacles to the implementation of transition instruction: (1) lack of communication between special and general education teachers, (2) competing priorities for teachers’ time, (3) time with/access to students with disabilities in inclusive programs, and (4) current teaching practices that impeded the development of academic autonomy. Study findings have implications for teacher education in the area of transition.