Date of Award

Winter 2-23-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Organizational Leadership

First Advisor

Dr. Jeffrey Lee

Second Advisor

Dr. Loren O'Connor

Third Advisor

Dr. Laurie Wellner


Purpose. The purpose of this ethnographic study was to investigate and describe the secondary school supports, experiences, and exposures of students with intellectual disabilities participating in post-secondary education settings in southern California, that were designed based on the Think College Standards-Based Conceptual Framework for Inclusive Higher Education.

Methodology. This qualitative, ethnographic study investigated and described the secondary lived experiences of students with ID who currently attend or have attended one of the 263 PSE programs for students with ID that are included in the Think College Framework for Inclusive Higher Education. Convenience sampling was used because it reflected the available group of subjects that were accessible to the researcher within a reasonable distance for data collection procedures. The data collected included interviews, observations, and artifacts. Findings. Examination of this qualitative, ethnographic study indicated a variety of findings: first, the involvement and use of ongoing community resources and their connections to PSE; second, routinely developed and practiced self-determination and vocational skills in secondary school; third, consistent participation and experiences that occurred in inclusive academic settings in secondary school; fourth, the family played an instrumental role in the transition process; and, lastly, a relationship with a mentor who was deeply vested in the success of their future propelled students with ID to attend PSE.


Conclusions. The study supported the findings and it was determined that students benefit from receiving information, practicing essential skills, engagement in decision- making, participation in rigorous settings, positive learning environments, collaborative efforts, increased services, and relevant college-like experiences to succeed in transitioning into PSE. Recommendations. Further research is recommended to examine secondary programs, supports, inclusion models, legal components, vocational programs, and special education and teacher staff roles related to supporting students with ID.