Laura Simmons

Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Dissertation


Educational Studies

First Advisor

Kathleen Marshall


This qualitative case study explored the understanding of high school special education teachers in an online setting, in regard to self-determination skills. It also explored current instructional practices utilized in the online setting as well as perceived challenges and barriers for instruction and the acquisition of self - determination skills for students with a variety of disabilities in grades 9-12 enrolled in two specific online schools located in the south east region of the U.S. Two semi-structured interviews were conducted and held virtually with the nine participants in this study. The emerging themes were analyzed and viewed through the lens of the Schneiderman’s Student Engagement Theory (1994) and the 5 C’s of Student Engagement Framework developed by Reppetto and colleagues (2010). The findings demonstrated that these particular special education teachers had limited understanding of self-determination skills, as defined in the literature, or impact it had on their students with disabilities post-secondary outcomes. In addition, the results demonstrated that currently evidence-based practices are not being utilized or implemented in daily instruction. Barriers/challenges to the implementation difficulties were identified by the participants. The implications for both practice and research are discussed.


© 2021, Laura Simmons