Title

Specialized Program Enhances Transition Opportunities via a University Setting Proves Successful

Location

Plimsoll

Strand #1

Family & Community

Strand #2

Social & Emotional Skills

Relevance

V. Home: Family and Community This proposal presents for display an unparalleled paradigm of how universities can successfully confer their services to local high school students with significant disabilities and provide opportunity for them to interact with their same age peers: their college counterparts. This service project is free to the community we serve. Individual schools choose whether they participate. At our institution of higher learning, it is also considered a university partnership between local high schools and our college of education as we work collaboratively on advancing participating students’ transition skills.

Brief Program Description

This Transition University presentation will demonstrate how transition skills support to local high schools students in a college setting also afford pre-service teacher candidates opportunities to enhance their instructional skills.

Objective: To encourage the creation of subsequent transition programs in other communities.

Topic(s): Transition; Students with Significant Disabilities

Target Audience: High School Special Education Teachers; University Special Education Personnel

Summary

Many students with significant disabilities ages 18-21 who remain in high school settings have limited opportunities to interact with same-age peers who do not have disabilities. Transition University is an ongoing program in which high school students with significant disabilities are able to spend quality time at a local university with same-age college peers, many of whom are studying in special education teacher preparation programs. Twice monthly, the students spend part of a day learning transition skills from these peers in a university classroom, on campus, and in the local community. The aim of this exploratory research associated with Transition University is to determine if college-age students with significant disabilities’ participation in this university based program will lead to an increase in these identified strand areas: self-advocacy, social growth, daily living, money management, self-care, work life, and career knowledge. An additional purpose is to measure anticipated advances in professional dispositions among the college-age peer mentors. The sources of data include 1.) an online formal assessment of the high school student’s transition skills which will be administered by the high school students’ teachers twice annually, 2.) an interview survey on the perceived benefits of the program which will be administered to both the participating high school teachers and the university teacher candidates, and 3.) a professional disposition indicators survey which will be administered to the pre-service teacher candidates prior to and at the end of their participation in the program. Areas measured in the disposition instrument are: collaboration, honesty/integrity, respect, reverence for learning, emotional maturity, reflection, and responsibility. It is anticipated that results of the data ascertained through this worthy project, Transition University, will exhibit positive changes in the malleable factors outlined in the transition plans of students with significant disabilities ages 18-21 and in the dispositions of college age peers who interact with those students. It is further expected that the presentation of the findings of this project will lead to the development of similar programs, thus providing increase in educational outcomes for both the high school students with disabilities and for those college students in teacher preparation programs.

Evidence

University settings have provided students with significant disabilities appropriate opportunities for same-age peer interaction along with access to resources and activities not available at their local high school (Carroll, Blumberg & Petroff, 2008; Uditsky, Frank, Hart, & Jeffery, 1987). When students with disabilities were able to interact and work with their same-age peers, proven benefits included increases in self confidence, self esteem, and self determination (Zambo, 2010). Since the inception of Transition University (TU) several remarkable events have transpired within our high school student population. One particular young lady was known for her timidity and barely looked at other people. After about some months in TU, she walked up to a student unknown to her in the college dining hall and stuck out her hand and introduced herself. She had previously been taught by her JSU student mentors lessons on introducing herself to others. We all were amazed! In another incidence, another female high school student from another school, told one of the directors to take her picture. She had been known to converse only with one of her high school friends, also a part of TU. Previously, she only smiled but never talked to anyone else. This, too, was momentous!

Format

Individual Presentation

Biographical Sketch

Dr. Cynthia Connor serves as Assistant Professor of Special Education at Jacksonville State University (JSU). She is co-director of the JSU Transition University Program. Dr. Connor has a Master’s Degree from Teachers College, Columbia University and a Ph.D. from the University of Virginia in the area of special education. Her research focus includes the Transition University program and teachers’ use of assistive technology with students with severe disabilities. Having taught special education for 23 years in Pre-K-12 schools in Alabama, Virginia, and New York City, Dr. Connor currently instructs pre-service teacher candidates and graduate students in special education methodology; including transition, collaboration, and strategies for working with students with mild and severe disabilities.

Lynetta A. Owens began her career in special education over 30 years ago, teaching at the Helen Keller School, a division of the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. She holds degrees from Talladega College (B.A.), The University of Alabama (M.S.), and Jacksonville State University (Ed. S.). After teaching in the public schools for over 10 years, she transitioned to higher education at Jacksonville State University where she currently teaches a number of special education courses including: collaboration, special education administrative responsibilities, transition, and methods for students with severe disabilities. She co-directs the Transition University (TU) program within the College of Education and Professional Studies there. She has previously served on the board of the local Arc of Calhoun and Cleburne Counties and was the recipient of their 2012 Educator of the Year Award. Her support of special education is not just limited to her profession, but permeates within her lifestyle. She and her family faithfully support and advocate for the well-being of two cognitively delayed adults with severe disabilities who have become family friends.

Keyword Descriptors

Transition, Vocational, Significant Disabilities, Service Project, University Partnership, Special Education, Teacher Education

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-3-2015 2:45 PM

End Date

3-3-2015 4:00 PM

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Mar 3rd, 2:45 PM Mar 3rd, 4:00 PM

Specialized Program Enhances Transition Opportunities via a University Setting Proves Successful

Plimsoll

This Transition University presentation will demonstrate how transition skills support to local high schools students in a college setting also afford pre-service teacher candidates opportunities to enhance their instructional skills.

Objective: To encourage the creation of subsequent transition programs in other communities.

Topic(s): Transition; Students with Significant Disabilities

Target Audience: High School Special Education Teachers; University Special Education Personnel