Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Teaching & Learning


Problem: The purpose of this study was to examine the self-perceptions and knowledge of adolescents diagnosed as learning disabled have regarding their learning disability. It investigated the terminology used by adolescents in describing their learning disability. The study looked for discrepancies between the students' definitions of their learning disability as found on their Individual Education Plans. Lastly, it examined the strategies used by the students when they encountered learning problems.

Procedure: The research population for this study was comprised of 40 high school students enrolled in two midwestern public high schools. All 40 students had been identified as learning disabled by their school district's criteria. The school district's criteria met the federal guidelines as outlined in Public Law 94-142. To qualify for this study, the learning disabled students all had an Individual Education Plan on file and all had received direct, individualized instruction. All participants completed a 68-item questionnaire developed by the writer. The questionnaire consisted of 5 questions pertaining to students' knowledge of their disabilities and 63 statements that were characteristic of various learning disabilities derived from the research literature and the writer's experience as a learning disabilities practitioner. Students were to select items that described their learning disability. This instrument was used as a probing instrument, and students were interviewed regarding their responses.

The study was essentially qualitative in nature. The responses were analyzed to determine how much knowledge students had about their learning disability, and how the labels used to identify their learning disability compared to the diagnosis on their Individual Education Plan.


1. The learning disabled students interviewed perceived their difficulties in terms of specific school problems they encountered academically. They did not relate their academic problems to characteristics found in their learning disability.

2. Students did not use educationally descriptive terminology. They described their disabilities in terms of difficulties they encountered in their classes.

3. A significant number of learning disabled students used metacognitive strategies in reading.

4. Students must be taught how to use cognitive strategies to become active learners.

5. Students with learning disabilities must be counseled about their handicaps.