Fall 9-8-2016



Degree Name


Primary Advisor/Dissertation Chair

Barbara Swanson

Secondary Advisor/Reader One

Nichole Buehler

Peer-Reviewer/Reader Two

Natalie Champa-Jennings


The research question addressed in this project was: what kind of job-searching and vocational development skills are being taught to secondary transition students with intellectual disabilities in major American transition programs? The purpose was to determine possible reasons why the employment gap for students with intellectual disabilities remains high following graduation from secondary programs. This qualitative study synthesized past and current research in the fields of job development, customized employment, disability services, and transition education along with detailed, semistructured interviews with current transition students with intellectual disabilities and transition teachers. The author identifies three main themes that emerged from the seven interviews; 1) transition students with intellectual disabilities are mostly still being taught “traditional” job seeking skills; 2) transition students find more success by defining their own goals and being able to take more of a leadership role during the transition process; 3) students with intellectual disabilities frequently find more fulfilling and long-lasting careers when they bypass the “traditional” job search route and learn to apply customized employment-style approaches to their job search. Implications for future research include the idea that transition schools might see vastly improved vocational outcomes for students with intellectual disabilities by formally implementing customized employmentrelated approaches into their career development curricula.

Research Methodology



Adult Education, Developmentally Appropriate Practice, Special Education, Transition Education

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Education Commons