Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy in Psychology


School Psychology



First Advisor

Paul Bueno de Mesquita


College students with disabilities experience significant challenges during the transition from high school to college. Between changes in social and academic demands, along with differences in accommodations available at the college level, college students with disabilities are vulnerable to negative outcomes in postsecondary education. Transition planning at the high school level can help students prepare for and adapt to the demands of college. Additionally, perceptions of a positive campus climate are associated with better outcomes for students with disabilities. This study utilized a single school quasi-experimental design to investigate the relationship between quality of transition programming and college outcomes, including student engagement and effective learning strategies. Also investigated was the relationship between campus climate perceptions, student engagement, and effective learning strategies. Finally, differences in the reported experiences of students with various disability diagnoses were compared.

Participants were 190 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled at a four year public institution. All participants completed The Student Engagement Instrument, The College Students with Disabilities Campus Climate Survey, and The College Learning Effectiveness Inventory. The 85 participants who reported receiving special education services in high school also completed the Quality of Transition Planning Inventory. Higher quality transition planning was positively related to self-advocacy skills, perceptions of faculty teaching practices, and negatively related to feelings of stigma surrounding disability diagnosis. Self-advocacy skills were positively associated with a number of outcome variables, including cognitive engagement, academic self-efficacy, emotional satisfaction, and GPA. Differences were noted in the reports of students with different disability diagnoses. Students with physical and sensory disabilities reported the most self-advocacy, and best perceptions of campus climate and faculty teaching practices, along with the least perceptions of stigma. Students with mental health disability diagnoses reported lower levels of peer support and perceptions of campus climate, along with higher levels of stigma associated with their diagnosis. Implications for practice for high school transition planning teams as well as college disability services personnel and faculty are discussed.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.