Being a student: The process of participation by students with mobility limitations at the University at Buffalo
Dolce, Susan Mann
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This study addresses the research question: What is the process of participation by students with mobility limitations at the University at Buffalo (UB)? The goal of this research is to describe and develop a grounded theory of the day-to-day activities of students with different mobility limitations. Data was gathered through interviews with 13 undergraduate and graduate students with different impairments. Data was analyzed using Grounded Theory methodology. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews with student participants, transcription of interviews, coding of interviews, reduction of codes into categories and analysis of the relationships between categories resulted in a grounded theory of the process of participation of students with mobility limitations at UB. The theory of participation is grounded in the details of the students' direct accounts of their experiences. Student participants had the opportunity to review the transcripts of their interviews. Being a Student: The Process of Participation by Students with Mobility Limitations at the University at Buffalo begins when the student is accepted into UB and ends when the student graduates. The core category, Being a Student , includes the activities that most students do on a day to day basis as well as their goals and impressions of the University at Buffalo. Although the heart of the students' process of participation is Being a Student , they are not able to participate without Cultivating Support and Developing Strategies. Cultivating Support focuses on the people who are able to foster the students' participation. Developing Strategies includes planned responses to specific challenges in the physical, social and temporal environments. The students are Making It Work when they have adequate support and strategies. When the support or strategies are inadequate students begin Working Around Obstacles . The grounded theory of participation shows that the students' overall process of participation is similar regardless of the type of impairment they have. The results show that the students are able to participate with adequate support and strategies. The study contributes to our understanding of the relationship between participation and physical, social and attitudinal environmental factors. The study suggests the relevance of utilizing Universal Design in Education in postsecondary education.