• Perceptions of Change in Self-Efficacy to Pursue Postsecondary Education for Students with Exceptionalities Participating in a Postsecondary Transition Program

      Ismailos, Linda; Department of Graduate and Undergraduate Studies in Education
      This mixed-methods study explored a postsecondary transition program’s effect on the development of self-efficacy for post-secondary studies and the likelihood to apply to post-secondary studies among students with exceptionalities. The study also examined how their perceptions of change in self-efficacy compared to their non-exceptional peers in the program. Participants included Grade 11 and 12 students with and without exceptionalities who were at risk of non-completion of their secondary school diploma from 2 participating boards of education at a college in Ontario, Canada. Students participated in a series of pre- and post-program completion surveys and were further invited to participate in a personal follow-up interview to explore the impact of their experience in the program on their plans for postsecondary education. Secondary school teachers working in a supportive role with students in this program were also interviewed to explore their perceptions of change in the students over the duration of the program. Findings demonstrated that students both with and without exceptionalities benefitted from the program through a number of elements that resulted in increased self-efficacy to succeed in postsecondary education, and an increased likelihood to apply to a postsecondary program in the future. Findings, however, indicated that the two groups of students did not share the same perceptions of how the program might have contributed to their increased self-efficacy. Following program completion, students with exceptionalities were more likely to describe their personal mastery experiences in a postsecondary academic program and their process of metacognitive skill development, whereas their peers without exceptionalities were more likely to describe a positive experience on a college campus as the primary contributing factor for their increased academic self-efficacy. The study further discusses the elements that contributed to the change experienced by the students with exceptionalities and offers a visual framework for the elements involved in the development of academic self-efficacy for students with exceptionalities. Interpretations and suggestions as to how these insights could inform future policy and practice are discussed.