Mather, Jennifer

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    A framework of competence in the university experience of students with disabilities
    (University of Lethbridge, Dept. of Psychology, 2020) Pitcher, Brayden; Mather, Jennifer
    Liberal education is an approach to learning that allows students to learn practical skills to help deal with the challenges and diversity in the world. Liberal education is important to students with disabilities (SWD) in postsecondary education because of their increased difficulty to secure employment compared to students with no disabilities (SWND). In this study, a survey was conducted using questions that referred to practical skills and designed in a Likert Scale format with responses ranging from 1 (not very much) to 4 (very much). The survey was adapted from the employability skills profile created by the Conference Board of Canada, which is an organization that provides research and insights to complex challenges and issues in the education sector. The questions were grouped in five areas of development: intellectual, personal, interpersonal, academic, and human and civic engagement. The responses of each question were converted into sum scores and grouped within each area of development. The data was then dichotomized while using the median for comparison. The differences between students and their different years of study and the differences between genders were also observed. There was no statistical difference between SWD and SWND. Generally, both groups reported they felt improvement in practical skills from their university experience. In the intellectual area more SWD did not see improvement overall, however, more SWND did find improvement in learning practical skills. No significant difference between students in different years of study were found, however, the trends show that students learn practical skills early in their second year. No significant difference between the responses of genders were found, however, the trends showed that more females are finding improvement than males in learning social skills. The conclusions are that the University does generally provide opportunities for all students to learn practical skills. However further research is needed to investigate the possible differences, gather more participants, and ask more specific questions.