Stereotype threat and students with learning disabilities : a phenomenological study of five college students’ perspectives.
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Lund, Dayna M., 1975-
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Stereotype threat can negatively impact marginalized groups. Over the past three decades, researchers have documented that stereotype threat affects people in learning and testing performance (Aronson & Steele, 2005; Good et al., 2003; Rydell et al., 2011; Steele & Aronson, 1995; Steele et al., 2002). While some research has focused on the impact of stereotype threat and learning, there has been limited research completed focused explicitly on stereotype threat and students with learning disabilities. The research that has been conducted has been inconclusive. Due to the lack of research, there is a need to study stereotype threat and students with learning disabilities. To fill the gap in research, this qualitative phenomenological study explored the student perception of being a student with a learning disability and of stereotype threat. Participants included five college students, both male and female, who have documentation of a learning disability diagnosis. The researcher utilized a questionnaire, evaluation report, and interview from each participant for data collection. The researcher analyzed data through the lens of Claude Steele’s Stereotype Threat Model for common themes to describe the details of the student experience (Croizet et al., 2001). The study’s findings show that students with learning disabilities are vulnerable to stereotype threat. The participants perceived themselves to be stereotyped individuals and reported experiences in which they felt stereotyped. In addition, the participants described experiences in which they experienced vulnerability to stereotype threat. Claude Steele’s Stereotype Threat Model emphasizes that distraction, self-consciousness, evaluation apprehension, test anxiety, and loss of motivation interfere with academic performance. This study’s findings demonstrated that the participants were most impacted by distraction, self-consciousness, evaluation apprehension, and test anxiety. The important implications from this study are that stereotypes of students with learning disabilities do exist and student support matters, including the use of accommodations and support systems. Using Claude Steele’s Stereotype Threat Model provided a new understanding of student perceptions of college experiences of students with learning disabilities and an understanding that students with learning disabilities are vulnerable to stereotype threat.