Defense Date


Graduation Date



Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name



Instructional Leadership Excellence (ILEAD)


School of Education

Committee Chair

Rodney Hopson

Committee Member

Karen Levitt

Committee Member

Lisa Vernn-Dotson

Committee Member

Leswin Laubscher


Resiliency, LD, At-Risk, At-Promise, Proximal, Distal


Not all students who are diagnosed with LD are destined to live a life of academic struggles, missed opportunities, and unfulfilled dreams. Not all students fit the stereotypical idea of troubled, underachievers who will drop out of school, aspire to low level jobs, and remain financially dependent (Miller & Fritz, 1998). Some students with LD become resilient to the negative effects and attributes that are often associated with having LD; and despite the odds, make it in life (Werner & Smith, 1992). The purpose of this study was to understand how students with mild LD develop resiliency through their school experiences and how those experiences influence their post-secondary and career choices.

The theoretical framework used in this study focused primarily on the risk/resiliency model and the importance of proximal and distal developmental influences. Risk and protective factors were used as a way to navigate through the personal experiences of three individuals with mild LD and help to identify certain times in their lives when resiliency was evident.

Using a multiple case study design, phenomenological interviewing was employed as the primary method of data collection, along with one focus group session and document reviews. The results of the data collection were reported as three case studies highlighting the participants' individual experiences. The data was analyzed using analytic induction. Repeating ideas and themes emerged from the data creating the constructs that were used to write the theoretical narrative. Triangulation and member checks were used to verify the results.

The findings revealed that 1) the participants developed resiliency in spite of their school experiences not necessarily as a result of their school experiences, and 2) the participants' school experiences directly influenced their post-secondary and career choices. These findings have implications for the field of special education in terms of program design, transition planning, and relationship building between students and teachers.