Date of Award

Spring 5-4-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Family Studies


Sociology and Family Studies

First Advisor

Andrea N. Hunt

Second Advisor

May Takeuchi

Third Advisor

Jeremy Martin


The existence of barriers for college students living with disabilities is expansive and far-reaching; however, Field, Sarver, and Shaw (2003) and Walker and Test (2011) indicate that the development of self-advocacy skills increases the likelihood of overall academic success. It is vital that disability support services on college campuses recognize and develop programming to provide students with opportunities to increase their self-advocacy skills. This research assesses the effectiveness of self-advocacy workshops offered through an office of disability support services at a mid-sized regional university in the southeast. Causal agency theory and the ecological model of self-determination guided the development of a pre-test/post-test, which assesses the effectiveness of the workshops. Data collected provide insight into how effective the workshops are for current students, if participants’ prior utilization of services in high school affects their initial measured confidence in self-advocacy at the pre-test, and what modifications are necessary for optimum programming in the future. Analyses indicate that the self-advocacy workshops were effective in increasing participants’ confidence in their own levels of self-advocacy. Nearly half of the measures from the pre-test/post-test were significant at the p < .001 and p <.01 levels. The ecological model of self-determination, intersectionality, and standpoint theory inform the semi-structured interviews, with findings suggesting that participants’ perceptions of their own confidence in self-advocacy are influenced by experiences of marginalization, salience of social identities, and perceptions of disability(ies). Confidence in self-advocacy is influenced by, and is simultaneously influencing, each system within participants’ socio-ecological environments.