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Challenges and self-advocacy of students with special needs at University of Ljubljana

Nina Fricelj (2022) Challenges and self-advocacy of students with special needs at University of Ljubljana. MSc thesis.

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    Inclusion makes higher education accessible to people with special needs. This has increased the number of students who need additional accommodations to be successful in their studies. However, the transition to higher education presents various challenges for students with special needs. To overcome these challenges students themselves must find support. Students' self-advocacy skills, which include knowledge about their disability, their rights, and effective communication about their needs, play an important role in overcoming these challenges. Research has shown that self-advocacy skills determine the academic success of students with special needs and, later, their success in the workplace. The purpose of the study is to identify academic challenges students face at Slovenian universities, how well they know their special needs and possible support and the role of self-advocacy in overcoming academic challenges, seeking help and support at university and, academic performance. We were also interested in how the challenges of students with special needs differ by gender, academic year and course of study, period of status attainment, and academic achievement. Consequently, we were also interested in what support (if any) students with special needs need to overcome their challenges in higher education. The study used a descriptive and causal non-experimental research method and a quantitative and qualitative research approach. The purposive sample included students at the University of Ljubljana with the status of students with special needs in the academic year 2021/22. A total of 123 students participated and completed the questionnaire, which represents about a quarter of all students with special needs at the University of Ljubljana. The results of the study show that students with special needs face certain challenges in their studies. The main challenges they face are difficulties resulting from their disability, disclosure of their disability, communication with professors about adjustments, monitoring the study process, and stigmatisation. There were also statistically significant differences in specific challenges by gender, year and course of study, type of special needs, status in primary school and average grade in studies. We also found that students frequently experienced unpleasant feelings of stress, anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, and dissatisfaction. Students also reported that their special needs influenced their choice of study. Students are well aware of their own special needs, but have greater difficulty disclosing their special needs, communicating with professors and providing accommodations. It was also found that students do not use the support services available at the University of Ljubljana. However, more than half of the participating students would like additional support in their studies, especially in terms of understanding their special needs, counselling and mentoring.

    Item Type: Thesis (MSc thesis)
    Keywords: inclusion, challenges, students with special needs, higher education, self-advocacy
    Number of Pages: 224
    Language of Content: Slovenian
    Mentor / Comentors:
    Mentor / ComentorsIDFunction
    doc. dr. Milena Košak BabuderMentor
    Link to COBISS: https://plus.si.cobiss.net/opac7/bib/peflj/114141443
    Institution: University of Ljubljana
    Department: Faculty of Education
    Item ID: 7268
    Date Deposited: 07 Jul 2022 08:41
    Last Modified: 07 Jul 2022 08:41
    URI: http://pefprints.pef.uni-lj.si/id/eprint/7268

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