Teaching Decision Making to Students with Learning Disabilities by Promoting Self-Determination
The ability to make effective choices and decisions is one of the most important competencies students, including those with learning disabilities, need to be successful in life after high school. Promoting student self-determination provides an excellent framework within which to teach students how to make effective choices and decisions. Effective choices are those that the student will see as beneficial, and these models of self-determination can be used to teach students to make choices and decisions that (a) are consistent with what is most important to them and (b) enable them to achieve more positive adult outcomes. A general overview of best practices in promoting and enhancing self-determination can be found in a previous ERIC digest (Wehmeyer, 2002). This digest specifically examines how instructional practices to promote self-determination can be used to help students with learning disabilities make effective choices and decisions.
How is self-determination linked to learning how to make good choices and decisions?
Self-determination is "a combination of skills, knowledge, and beliefs that enable a person to engage in goal-directed, self-regulated, autonomous behavior. An understanding of one's strengths and limitations together with a belief in oneself as capable and effective are essential to self-determination. When acting on the basis of these skills and attitudes, individuals have greater ability to take control of their lives and assume the role of successful adults in our society" (Field, Martin, Miller, Ward, & Wehmeyer, 1998, p.2). Thus, self-determination involves assessing one's own strengths, weaknesses, needs, and preferences. Field and Hoffman (1994) describe five steps to enhanced self-determination. The five steps are:
- Know yourself
- Value yourself
- Experience outcomes and learn.
Making choices and decisions is central to each of the five steps. For example, one sub-component of the step "Plan" is to set goals. To set a goal, a decision must be made. A sub-component of "Know Yourself" is to decide what is important to you. A key goal of instruction to promote self-determination is to enable students to make choices and decisions based on a foundation of knowing about and valuing themselves (Field & Hoffman, 1994). If we support students in becoming more self-determined, we are, in essence, enabling them to learn how to make choices and decisions that are based on what they most value.
Reprinted with the permission of the Education Resources Information Center.
Washington Virtual Academies
Tuition-free online school for Washington students.
- Coats and Car Seats: A Lethal Combination?
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- Child Development Theories
- Signs Your Child Might Have Asperger's Syndrome
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- First Grade Sight Words List
- Social Cognitive Theory
- The Homework Debate
- GED Math Practice Test 1