Managing Editor Richard Allegra, ahead editorial Associate

Download 0.69 Mb.
Size0.69 Mb.
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

In order to examine the differences between the two groups of female students (LD and NLD), univariate analyses of variance (ANOVAs) were performed with the measures of the learning environment, coping strategies, and satisfaction with life scale scores. The analysis revealed significant differences between student groups for Learning Environment, F (1,122) = 68.08, p < 0.01, Eta = .38; coping strategies, F (1,122) = 4.22, p < 0.05, Eta = .4; and Satisfaction with Life Scale, F (1,122) = 24.54, p < 0.01, Eta = .32. According to Cohen (1992), 0.2 is indicative of a small effect, 0.5 a medium and 0.8 a large effect.

ANOVA analyses were conducted between the LD and NLD groups for each of the sub-categories of the measures. Means, standard deviations, and F values are presented in Table 2. Results indicated that the students with LD perceived lower levels of academic support and assistance from the academic staff and felt a lower sense of belonging and less attached to the university than students in the control group. Further, they were more satisfied with their academic success than students in the NLD group. They also felt that they gained more practical knowledge that could be applied to their work or to their lives in general and that the course enhanced their thinking skills and allowed them to look at things in different ways, compared to female students from the control group. Regarding their perceived satisfaction with the academic courses, students with LD were less satisfied with the course than were students in the control group.

Results related to the three subcategories of coping strategies revealed that students with LD reported using more task-oriented coping strategies than did the NLD students. No differences between groups were found for emotion-oriented coping strategies. Significant differences emerged for four of the items on the Satisfaction with Life Scale, and students with LD reported lower levels of subjective well-being than the NLD control group. The only item that was not significant between groups was, "important things I want in my life."
The purpose of the current study was to examine the perceptions of undergraduate female students taking on-line courses as a part of the Open University of Israel’s academic program. We compared the perceptions of females with and without LD regarding the learning environment, coping strategies, and perceived well-being. Findings revealed that the females with LD (a) perceived the learning environment as less supportive and less fitting to their needs; (b) felt that the academic services were not sufficiently thoughtful of their requests; and (c) were less content with the academic courses, compared to females without disabilities. In addition, females with LD reported using more task-oriented and avoidance-oriented coping strategies, and perceived their overall well-being as less satisfactory than did female students from the control group.

Given the substantial increase in the proportion of female students with LD in higher education, it is of great value to examine their perceptions and experiences at a university and to identify the factors that have a positive impact on their well-being. The results discussed relate to on-line interactive courses with instructors and peers communicating via computers, as an alternative to a setting where students take face to face classes. Distance educations through on-line courses and e-learning have become a common study method in many institutes of higher education in Europe, America and in Canada. We, therefore considered, it important to examine women’s adjustment and practices in order to guide the further development of support services on university campuses and to plan professional development activities based on the women's needs.

Hypothesis 1

The first hypothesis was that significant differences would emerge regarding the two groups of participants’ perceptions of the learning environment. The results supported this hypothesis. That is, female students with LD perceived the learning environment as less supportive and less satisfactory than females without LD. More specifically, they felt that the academic support services were insufficiently accommodating to their special needs, and they were less content with the academic courses themselves. Nevertheless, they felt they had made more gains in knowledge, general intellectual development or growth than did the females in the control group. Since perceptions of the learning environment and support services have rarely been examined within the population of students with LD, these findings present new views.

A discrepancy was observed between a previous examination of faculty attitudes towards and support of both male and female students with LD (Vogel, Leyser, Wyland, & Brulle, 1999). The findings of Vogel and her colleagues indicate that the faculty and the academic staff were the most willing to provide the types of assistance that were the least time consuming. For example, they allowed students to tape-record lectures

Table 2

Means, Standard Deviation and F Scores of Dependent Measures Scales and Subscales Among Students With and Without LD

Students with LD (N = 50)

NLD Students

(N = 73)


M (SD)

M (SD)

F (1, 119)


Learning Environment 1

3.14 (.24)

3.31 (.32)



Support services

2.63 (.40)

3.26 (.38)



Academic outcomes

3.74 (.12)

3.36 (.37)



Course satisfaction

3.03 (.43)

3.44 (.55)



Overall coping2 scale

3.16 (.34)

2.96 (.64)




4.56 (.04)

2.02 (.27)




2.37 (.94)

2.18 (.54)




2.57 (.133)

2.22 (.52)



Overall Satisfaction with life3

22.76 (5.66)

26.45 (3.51)



Way of my life

4.68 (1.16)

5.67 (.88)



Condition of my life

4.76 (1.15)

5.25 (1.03)



Satisfied with life

4.52 (1.18)

5.89 (.81)



Important things I want

5.36 (1.53)

5.42 (1.01)



Change my life

3.44 (1.11)

4.22 (1.14)



Note. 1 Learning Environment Scale, range 1-4; 2Coping Scale, range 1-5. 3Satisfaction with life scale range 1-7. Higher scores mean higher perceived well-being.

* p < .05. ** p < .01.

and allowed examinations taken by students with disabilities to be administered in the office of the support services. However, almost two-thirds of the faculty was willing to change the format of assignments and examinations. Since no similar faculty study was done within the OUI, it is not possible to compare the different perceptions of this particular issue. Based on Vogel's results, it can be assumed that, because a learning disability is not visible, as is a physical disability or a visual impairment, the academic staff are not aware of the difficulties of students with LD unless the students disclose their LD and request an accommodation or provide certification of their specific disability and the allowances needed. The findings of the present study indicate that the students with LD were satisfied with the academic outcomes but felt that much more could be done to help them with academic services such as registration, library use, accessing information, assistance in accomplishing academic tasks, and in overcoming academic or organizational difficulties
Hypothesis 2

The second hypothesis concerned coping strategies. A growing body of research has examined the contribution of effective coping strategies for students with disabilities. Previous studies revealed that academic adjustment is negatively associated with psychological symptoms of distress during the early stages of college studies (Sanders & DuBois, 1996; Winter & Yaffe, 2000). However, other research (Huebner, Thomas, & Berven, 1999) has found no significant differences in adjustment between college students with and without LD. A previous study examining gender differences revealed that emotion-oriented coping was a significantly positive predictor of distress in both males and females. A comparison analysis among undergraduate students with and without LD revealed that female students without LD were more task-oriented than those with LD, and that females with LD were more emotion-oriented (Kariv & Heiman, 2005). However, contrary to that study, the current study demonstrated that females with LD taking on-line courses reported using more task-oriented coping strategies and less avoidance-oriented coping strategies than females in the NLD control group. The task-oriented coping strategies included being more organized, having and keeping to a strict timetable, frequent use of previously successful strategies for solving present problems, concentrated efforts to focus on the problem, organizing lists of priorities, and making efforts to complete tasks. They also used more avoidance-oriented coping strategies. It appears that the use of task-oriented coping strategies is related to the fact that the students are involved on on-line classes, and must be actively involved with the instruction and discussions.

This can be viewed as positive, and indicative of progress regarding self-perception of coping skills. In spite of the difficulties with which females with LD must contend, they made an effort to be task-oriented, to focus on their academic mission, and, as described by one student, "to try harder." On the other hand, female students with LD tried to avoid dealing with complicated or unfamiliar tasks. This finding is consistent with the findings of a previous study on students with LD in higher education institutes (Heiman & Precel, 2003). It appears that when students with LD perceive a task as too difficult for them to carry out successfully (such as a too-long text to read or to write), they may avoid undertaking the assignment.
Hypothesis 3

The third hypothesis examined the subjective well-being of females in both groups. Subjective well-being is defined as an individual's evaluation of his or her life (Diener & Lucas, 2000). One's subjective well-being is an important component in promoting positive adjustment and appears to play an essential role in emotional and social stability. Diener and Lucas (2000) found that well-being was strongly correlated with higher self-esteem, freedom from worries, and positive and pleasant experiences. In the current study, perceptions of the overall well-being of students with LD were significantly lower than those of students without LD.

We can assume that students with LD have lower self-esteem, prolonged feelings of distress, and lower levels of hope with students without LD, as has been shown in the literature (Lackaye et al., 2006). In addition, female students reported higher degrees of feelings of alienation (Brown, Higgins, Pierce, Hong, & Thoma, 2003). In the framework of this study, we assume that the continuous difficulties and the daily life struggles of LD female students led to a reduction in overall satisfaction. An interesting result was reflected through a seemingly nonsignificant item concerning the "important things I want in life": Both groups of women had goals and aims, and for both groups the scores for this item were relatively high (more than 5 out of 7 points). The lower satisfaction perceived by the LD group may be viewed as an expression of frustration that students with LD carry from childhood, which corresponds to the findings of earlier studies that show prolonged feelings of distress (Lackaye et al., 2006), or as expressions of an external need of support and hopes for a meaningful change in one's life. In addition, the perceptions of lower satisfaction with their university courses and with life reported by females with LD in the OUI may be also understood as a result of the non-traditional campus environment, where some of the courses are face-to-face while others are via the Internet, and the students study on their own rather than with a group of peers. It is, therefore, important to provide opportunities for ongoing support-groups, to improve the academic workshops, and to deepen and broaden the academic staff's awareness of the needs of students with LD.
Study Limitations

The findings of this study suggest several concerns that need to be addressed. First, the relatively small number of women students with LD in the study may bias the findings; second, the sample encompassed only students in the social science department; third, the study examined female students studying in one university; and fourth, the Open University courses are mostly based on a blended learning model that combines face-to-face and on-line studies, which could be confusing for students with LD or complicated for students who are not familiar with the technology.

Future Research

The present study contributes to our understanding of the learning environment and coping strategies of women in institutions of higher education. Further research is needed to re-examine these topics with a larger number of subjects; additional research should include students in other colleges and universities, and from different departments. The present findings encourage further investigation in the areas of coping in the different learning environment and examining the learning strategies of students with LD. There is apparently still much to do to improve assistance within the OUI as well as in other institutions of higher education, to augment awareness, and to more effectively accommodate the special needs of students with learning disabilities.


BarOn, R. (1997). Emotional quotient inventory: A measure of emotional intelligence. Toronto, ONT, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Barton, R. S., & Fuhrman, B. S. (1994). Counseling and psychotherapy for adults with learning disabilities. In P, J. Gerber & H. B. Reiff (Eds.), Learning disabilities in adulthood: Persisting problems and evolving issues (pp. 82-92). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.

Bear, G. G., Juvonen, J., & McInerney, F. (1993). Self-perceptions and peer relations of boys with and boys without learning disabilities in an integrated setting: A longitudinal study. Learning Disability Quarterly, 16, 127-136.

Billings, A. G., & Moos, R. H. (1981). The role of coping responses in attenuating the impact of stressful life events. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 4, 139-157.

Brown, M., Higgins, K., Pierce, T., Hong, E., & Thoma, C. (2003). Secondary students' perceptions of school life with regard to alienation: The effects of disability, gender and race. Learning Disability Quarterly, 26, 227-238.

Brown, P. M. (1997). Developmental handicap and gender differences in quality of life. International Journal of Approaches to Disability, 21(1), 31-34.

Causey, D., & Dubow, E. F. (1993). Development of a self-report coping measure for elementary school children. Journal of Clinical Child Psychology, 21, 47-59.

Clore, G. L., Wyer, R. S., Dienes, B., Gasper, K., Gohm, C., & Isabell, L. (2001). Affective feelings as feedback: Some cognitive consequences. In L. Martin (Ed.), Theories of mood and cognition: A users handbook (pp. 27 - 62). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Cohen, J. (1992). A power primer. Psychological Bulletin, 112(1), 155-159.

Damsteegt, D. (1992). Loneliness, social provisions and attitudes. College Student Journal, 26, 135-139.

Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (2000). Subjective emotional well being. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (2nd ed., pp. 325-337). New York: Guilford.

Downey, J. A. (2003). Emotional awareness as a mediator of community college student satisfaction ratings. Community College Journal of Research & Practice, 27(8), 711-720.

Endler, N. S., & Parker, J. D. A. (1999). Coping Inventory for Stressful Situations (CISS): Manual (rev. ed.). Toronto, ONT, Canada: Multi-Health Systems.

Fletcher, P. C., Bryden, P. J., Schneider, M. A., Dawson, K. A., & Vandermeer, A. (2007). Health issues and service utilization of university students: Experiences, practices and perceptions of students, staff and faculty. College Student Journal, 41(2), 482-493.

Gasper, K., & Clore, G. L. (2000). Do you have to pay attention to your feelings to be influenced by them? Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 26(6), 698-711.

Gohm, C. L., & Clore, G. L. (2002). Affect as information: An individual differences approach. In L. F. Barrett, P. Salovey, & J. D. Mayer (Eds.), The wisdom in feeling: Psychological processes in emotional intelligence (pp. 89-113). New York: Guilford.

Hadley, W. M. (2006). L.D. Students' access to higher education: Self-advocacy and support. Journal of Developmental Education, 30(2), 10-16.

Hadley, W. M. (2007). The necessity of academic accommodations for first-year college students with learning disabilities. Journal of College Admission, 195, 9-13.

Hankin, B. L., & Abramson, L. Y. (1999). Development of gender differences in depression: Description and possible explanations. Annals of Medicine, 31, 372–379.

Heiman, T., & Kariv, D. (2004a). Coping experience among students in higher education. Educational Studies, 30(4), 441-455.

Heiman, T., & Kariv, D. (2004b). Manifestations of learning disabilities in university students: Implications for coping and adjustment. Education, 125(2), 313-324.

Heiman, T., & Kariv, D. (2005). Manifestations of learning disabilities in university students: Implications for coping and adjustment. Education, 125(2), 313-324.

Heiman, T., & Precel, K. (2003). Students with learning disabilities in higher education: Academic strategies profile. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 36(3), 248-258.

Higgins, J. E., & Endler, N. (1995). Coping, life stress, and psychological and somatic distress. European Journal of Personality, 9, 253-270.

Huebner, R. A., Thomas, K. R., & Berven, N. L. (1999). Attachment and interpersonal characteristics of college students with and without disabilities. Rehabilitation Psychology, 44, 85-103.

Kariv, D., & Heiman, T. (2005). Stressors, stress and coping in dual-demand environments of workers: The case of workers who go ‘Back to School.’ Journal of Adult and Continuing Education, 11(1), 91-110.

Kohen, D. (2004). Mental health needs of women with learning disabilities: Services can be organized to meet the challenge. Tizard Learning Disability Review, October.

Lackaye, T., Margalit, M., Ziv, O., & Ziman, T. (2006). Comparisons of self-efficacy, mood, effort, and hope between students with learning disabilities and their non-LD matched peers. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 21(2), 111-121.

Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal and coping. New York: Springer.

Martinez, R., & Seemrud-Clikeman, M. (2004). Emotional adjustment and school functioning of young adolescents with multiple versus single learning disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 37 (5), 411-420.

Mattlin, J. A. (1990). Situational determinants of coping and coping effectiveness. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 31(1), 103-122.

McWhirter, B. T. (1990). Loneliness: A review of current literature, with implications for counseling and research. Journal of Counseling & Development, 68, 417-422.

Moos, R. H. (1990). Coping Response Inventory-Youth Form, Preliminary Manual. Palo Alto, Stanford University Medical Center. CA.

The Open University. (2006). Students with learning disabilities. Unpublished report, the Open University of Israel.

Parker, V. (1999). Personal assistance for students with disabilities in HE: The experience of the University of East London. Disability & Society, 14, 483-504.

Pavot, W., & Diener, E. (1993). Review of the Satisfaction with Life Scale. Psychological Assessment, 5(2), 164-172.

Reid, G. J., Dubow, E. F., & Carey, T. C. (1995). Developmental and situational differences in coping among children and adolescents with diabetes. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 16, 529-544.

Reiff, H. B., Hatzes, N. M., Bramel, M. H., & Gibbon, T. (2001). The relation of LD and gender with emotional intelligence in college students. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 34, 66-78.

Roer-Strier, D. (2002). University students with learning disabilities advocating for change. Disability and Rehabilitation, 24(17), 914-924.

Sanders, K. S., & DuBois, D. L. (1996). Individual and socio-environmental predictors of adjustment to college among students with disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 12, 28-43.

Shin, N., & Chan, J. K. (2004). Direct and indirect effects of online learning on distance education. British Journal of Education Technology, 35 (3), 275-288.

Vogel, S. A., Leyser, Y., Wyland, S., & Brulle, A. (1999) Students with learning disabilities in higher education: Faculty attitude and practices. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 14(3), 173-186.

Wechsler, D. (1991). Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale-Revised. San Antonio, TX: Psychological Corporation.

Wehmeyer, M. L. (1993). Gender differences in locus of control scores for students with learning disabilities. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 77(2), 359-366.

Wehmeyer, M. L., & Schwartz, M. (2001). Research on gender bias in special education services. In H. Rousso & M. Wehmeyer (Eds.), Double jeopardy: Addressing gender equity in special education. Albany, NY: Suny Press.

Wiener, J. (2004). Do peer relationships foster behavioral adjustment in children with learning disabilities? Learning Disabilities Quarterly, 27(1), 21-30.

Winter, M. G., & Yaffe, M. (2000). First-year students’ adjustment to university life as a function of relationships with parents. Journal of Adolescent Research, 15, 9-37.

Share with your friends:
1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9

The database is protected by copyright © 2020
send message

    Main page