University of Missouri - Saint Louis

The Graduate School


An oral examination in defense of the dissertation for the degree

Doctor of Philosophy in Education

Cyrhonda Denise Hill-Shavers
M.Ed. in Adult and Higher Education, December, 2005, University of Missouri-St. Louis
B.A. in Psychology, May, 2002, University of Missouri-St. Louis
A.A. in General Transfer Studies May, 1998, Florissant Valley Community College

The Impact of Special Education Transition Services on the Post-Secondary Education Preparedness of Students with Emotional Disturbance: A Study of Student Perceptions



The purpose of this study was to examine the post-secondary special education transition planning experiences of currently enrolled college students with emotional disturbance (ED). In addition to exploring students’ perceptions of their experiences, understanding, through the narrative analysis of semi-structured interviews, the role special education transition planning played in their perceived level of post-secondary education preparedness upon high school graduation was sought. The research revealed students with ED are most likely to participate in career-based special education post-secondary transition planning. In addition four overarching themes were revealed which included defined by my disability, invisibility, employment vs. post-secondary education, and college bound. It was concluded that special education post-secondary transition planning did not adequately prepare the participants for post-secondary education participation. It was also revealed that participation in special education negatively impacted the participants’ sense of school belonging. The limitations of this study include the use of a convenience sample and self-report measures. This research adds to the growing body of knowledge related to special education transition planning for students with ED. This study may compel educators and policy makers to review and revise policies and practices that are discriminatory against students with disabilities, especially those identified with ED.


Date: November 15, 2013

Time: 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

Place: 202 Marillac Hall


Defense of Dissertation Committee


E. Paulette Isaac-Savage, Ed.D. (Advisor)

Hewitt B. Clark, Ph.D.


Mavis Clark, Ed.D.

Gwendolyn Turner, Ed.D.