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Voices unheard : the academic and social experiences of university students who are hard of hearing Warick, Ruth Patricia 2003

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V O I C E S U N H E A R D : T H E A C A D E M I C A N D S O C I A L E X P E R I E N C E S O F U N I V E R S I T Y S T U D E N T S W H O A R E H A R D O F H E A R I N G by R U T H P A T R I C I A W A R I C K B . A . , The Univers i ty o f Saskatchewan, 1969 B . A . , Hons . , The Univers i ty o f Saskatchewan, 1970 M . A . , The Univers i ty o f Regina , 1983 M . E d . , The Univers i ty o f Regina , 1990 A T H E S I S S U B M I T T E D I N P A R T I A L F U L F I L M E N T O F T H E R E Q U I R E M E N T S F O R T H E D E G R E E O F D O C T O R O F P H I L O S O P H Y in T H E F A C U L T Y O F G R A D U A T E S T U D I E S (Department o f Educat ional Studies) W e accept this thesis as conforming to the required standard T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A June, 2003 © Ruth Patr icia War ick , 2003 U B C Rare B o o k s and Spec ia l Co l l ec t ions - Thesis Author i sa t ion F o r m In presenting t h i s t hesis i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s thesis for s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by h i s or her representatives. It i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s thesis for f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my written permission. Department of (^~,'"(( n'n'/,'<. >• •.<-'<' 1 \,S /> ,^ -y The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver, Canada Date A B S T R A C T The nature of the university experiences of students who are hard of hearing and the impact of students' hearing losses on their experiences were the foci of the present research. To date, there have been few studies capturing the voices of students who are hard of hearing. Descriptive categories from Tinto's retention model (1987) provided a theoretical framework for the study, along with the use of the agency-structure nexus (Andres, Andruske & Hawkey, 1996), which focuses on the dynamics between an agent and the environment. Research questions were formulated about students' academic, social, transition, and disability service experiences in university, as well as their identity construction. This study also considered the impact of students' hearing losses on their university experiences, the extent to which students' experiences compared to other students, and the relevancy of Tinto's retention model in capturing their disability dimensions. A n interpretive research methodology was adopted because it emphasizes the importance of individuals' experiences as perceived by the participants themselves (Marshall & Rossman, 1999; Smith, 1989). Fourteen university students from three urban universities shared their experiences in interviews, and 11 of them maintained a journal for a three-week period. Interviews were conducted twice with each student. A key finding from the study is that students who are hard of hearing are similar to other students in many respects: social patterns, discipline-related differences, and transition experiences. Nonetheless, they have different experiences because they do not always hear. They make academic choices based on having hearing losses such as class choice, seating position in a classroom, and courseload. They are often "visitors" to the classroom because of participation barriers. The visitor analogy also applies in social situations where participation is frequently challenged by the environment and the dynamics of social engagement. Disability-related accommodations helped many of the students to function better in academic and social situations, but did not eliminate all of their disadvantages. The identity construction of students was complex. Students strove to be part of the hearing world and, therefore, to function like other students; at the same time, they encountered differences because of their hearing losses. Hearing loss was found to constitute elements of habitus, defined by Bourdieu (1977) as a way of being, because of its pervasive impact, and, at the same time, it was not the only force in students' lives. Because of their identity construction, students who are hard of hearing are predisposed to "fit" into the norms and expectations of universities, and, at the same time, institutions are disposed to have students adapt in this manner. Yet, this study also showed that there was capacity for change when crisis situations arose. These findings supported the adoption of the agency-structure nexus in the analysis of students' university experiences, using the descriptive categories from Tinto's retention model to explore these experiences. As well, findings lend support to adding disability-related components to Tinto's model. Recommendations for practice arising from this study called for a greater emphasis on the classroom participation of students who are hard of hearing, increased disability training for instructors, more support for disability service offices, new hearing technology, better classroom acoustics, and mentoring programs. T A B L E OF CONTENTS A B S T R A C T . i i LIST OF TABLES ix LIST OF FIGURES x A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S xi C H A P T E R ONE: INTRODUCTION Research Problem 1 Purpose 6 Significance of the Study 8 Overview of the Thesis 9 C H A P T E R TWO: LITERATURE REVIEW OF RETENTION MODELS A N D INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE IN POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION 11 Theoretical Frameworks 12 Retention Models 12 Agency- Structure Nexus 19 Disability and Retention Models 23 Student Background Characteristics 25 Identity 25 Additional Disabilities and Other Characteristics 32 Family Influences 36 Impact of School System 38 Language Development 40 Impact of Communication Difficulties on Learning 41 Self-Esteem 44 Transition Process 48 Academic Integration 53 Participation Rates 53 Quality of the Learning Experience 55 Formal and Informal Faculty Contact 62 Academic Advising 64 Student Expectations 65 Commitment 67 Grades 67 Access Issues 69 Attitudinal Barriers 76 Social Integration 79 Peer Interactions 80 Involvement in Campus Organizations 83 Social Integration at Different Types of Institutions 86 Social Integration for Different Types of Students 87 Career Issues 89 Organizational Issues 90 University as Community 91 Student and Institutional Services 93 Disability Support Services 97 Physical Environment 100 Financial Aid 101 Summary 102 CHAPTER THREE: R E S E A R C H DESIGN 105 Research Framework 105 Interpretative Paradigm 105 Interpretive Research: Theoretical Issues 107 Epistemology: Researcher's Stance in Relation to Subject 107 Methodology: Relationship between Theory/Concepts and Research 109 Ontology: Image of Social Reality and Nature of Knowledge 113 Axiology: Role of Values 114 Issue of Trustworthiness 115 Significance and Transference 119 Method Issues 121 Research Strategy 121 Scope of Findings 123 Nature of the Data , 123 Language of the Research 124 The Population 124 Defining Participants 124 Recruitment of Participants 125 Selection of Participants 126 Research Method Aspects 127 Study Components 127 Interviews 128 Data Management 130 Limitations of the Study 131 Sample Size 131 Geographical Scope 132 Institutional Scope 132 Literature Scope 132 Flow of Questions 133 Profiles 133 Institutions 134 University X 134 University Y 134 University Z 135 Participants 136 Overall Participant Profile 140 Profile of the Researcher 146 Summary 148 CHAPTER FOUR: B A C K G R O U N D COMPONENTS TO RETENTION: IDENTITY A N D TRANSITIONAL ISSUES 150 Identity and Hearing Status 150 Double Disability/Other Conditions 158 Academic Profile 164 Transition Issues 164 Independence Emphasized 165 More Negotiation for Disability-related Needs 169 Being Prepared Eases Transition 171 Adjustments Differ in Relation to Family 173 Academic Adjustments Required 174 Transition Eased by Going to College First? 176 Program Choice 176 Culture of the Institution 178 Personal Factors 179 Location 180 Finances 180 Social Status/Reputation 181 Summary 182 C H A P T E R FIVE: A C A D E M I C EXPERIENCES 185 Classroom Dynamics 186 Approaching Professors 186 Hearing Professors 189 Nature of Interactions with Professors 192 Nature of the Approachability of Instructors 197 Providing Specific Accommodations 199 Hearing Classmates 200 Discussions 205 Practicum Situations 209 Acoustical Environment 210 Approach to Courses 210 Choice of Program 211 Selection of Courses 211 Distance Education 214 Reduced Course Load 215 Academic Matters 216 Academic Advising 216 Commitment 218 Academic Performance 223 Climate 225 Students' Strategies for Academic Success 227 Time Management 227 Study Strategies .' 228 General Habits . 230 Summary 231 C H A P T E R SIX: SOCIAL EXPERIENCES 234 Generational and Geographical Differences 235 Impact of a Hearing Loss 242 Isolation 244 Balancing School and Activities 245 Being Part of a Hard of Hearing Group 246 Sports Involvement 248 Impact of a Family 249 Work Patterns 250 Summary 253 CHAPTER SEVEN: IMPACT OF DISABILITY-RELATED SUPPORTS 256 Disability Services Office 256 Use of Disability-Related Supports 260 Notetaking 262 Tutoring 265 Assistive Listening Systems 267 Hearing Aids 272 Exam Accommodations 2 74 Classroom Captioning 277 Sign Language Interpreter 281 Oral Interpreter 282 Registration 283 Room Changes 284 Films and Videos 284 Summary 285 C H A P T E R EIGHT: DISCUSSION OF FINDINGS, IMPLICATIONS A N D RECOMMENDATIONS 288 Central Findings 290 Identity 290 Transition 292 Academic Experiences 293 Relationship with Instructors 293 Distance Education 295 Goal Commitment 296 Social Experiences 297 Impact of Being Hard of Hearing 299 Disability-related Experiences 301 Use of Disability Services 301 Disability Services Office 303 Comparison to Other Students 304 Retention Models 305 Implications and Recommendations 308 Theory 308 Habitus 308 Retention Theory 309 Agency-structure Nexus 310 Policy and Practice 312 Faculty-Student Interaction 312 Different Patterns of Study 313 Social Dynamics 314 Transition Experiences 315 Disability Offices 316 Disability Services 317 Classroom Acoustics 318 Mentoring 319 Areas for Further Research 319 Significance of the Study 321 REFERENCES 324 ix A P P E N D I C E S 343 A P P E N D I X A . T E R M I N O L O G Y 343 A P P E N D I X B . I N S T I T U T I O N A L R E Q U E S T L E T T E R 346 A P P E N D I X C : N O T I C E I N V I T I N G P A R T I C I P A T I O N 347 A P P E N D I X D : C O N S E N T L E T T E R 348 A P P E N D I X E : F I R S T I N T E R V I E W G U I D E 349 A P P E N D I X F . S E C O N D I N T E R V I E W G U I D E 352 A P P E N D I X G . J O U R N A L G U I D E 353 LIST OF TABLES Table 1 Frequency of Types of Support Used by Post-Secondary Students who are Hard of Hearing 73 Table 2 Individual Participant Profiles 141 Table 3 Overall Demographic Profiles of Participants 142 Table 4 Academic Profiles: Program Status 143 Table 5 Academic Profiles: Program Specialty 143 Table 6 Degree of Hearing Loss in Both Ears 145 Table 7 Overall Degree of Hearing Loss 146 Table 8 Students' Definitions of their Hearing Status 151 Table 9 Students' Career Goals 252 Table 10 List of the Services Utilized by Students Who are Hard of Hearing 261 Table 11 Summary of Disability Services Used by Students Who are Hard of Hearing 262 Table 12 Disability-related Factors for Retention Models 307 L I S T O F F I G U R E S F igure 1 Long i tud ina l M o d e l o f Institutional Depar t Xll A C K N O W L E D G E M E N T S The completion of this thesis would not have been possible without the constant moral support of my husband, Garry Culhane. He offered encouragement of the attainment of this goal and spent countless hours reading drafts to provide constructive criticism. I am also thankful for the support of my mother, Lena Warick; sister, Beverly Couselan, and brother, Dennis Warick, and their families. I am indebted to my thesis supervisors, Dr. Lesley Andres and Dr. Janet Jamieson, and thesis committee member, Dr. Tom Sork. Their belief in my ability to complete this dissertation was an important source of inspiration. Their direction and suggestions guided me to this final product. Their scholarly excellence gave me a standard to aspire to reach. I am thankful to my place of employment, the Disability Resource Centre of the University of British Columbia, for release time at the initial stages of my doctoral studies. As well, I appreciate the continuing support of staff members during the completion of this project. Finally, I am grateful to the 14 students who volunteered to take part in this study. The completion of this thesis owes much to the desire and obligation to tell their stories, to make their voices heard. XIII D E D I C A T I O N T h i s study is dedicated to m y father, F e l i x (Phi l ) W a r i c k and m y sister, G l o r i a R e l k e y , w h o both passed away i n 2001 . M y father was a role mode l and source o f inspi ra t ion dur ing m y l i fe ; he passed o n to me a love o f learning and a strong w o r k ethic, necessary i n the comple t ion o f a thesis. M y sister was m y friend and supporter throughout m y l ife . I owe both o f them m u c h and take this opportunity to acknowledge them. CHAPTER ONE INTRODUCTION Research Problem The participation rate of persons with disabilities in post-secondary education falls considerably below the rate for the general population. Whereas 30.6% of the population aged 18-to-21 years attended university in 1998-99 (Statistics Canada, 2000), the participation rate in post-secondary education of students with disabilities is calculated at anywhere from .05 % (Hill, 1992) to 3.5% (Walker, 1999). The latter figures do not separate out participation rates for universities, which traditionally have been lower than those for colleges. Reasons for unequal participation rates between persons with disabilities and the general population may have to do with individual characteristics, academic reasons, and socio-cultural factors. Attitudinal barriers and a lack of access to the curriculum and the environment are among the socio-cultural factors that could account for participation differences. If these difficulties have been prevalent in earlier forms of schooling, persons with disabilities may not even be in a position to make a transition to post-secondary education, whether to college or university. Those individuals with disabilities who do enroll in a post-secondary institution are exceptional in having progressed to higher education. Their retention and successful completion are important to them as individuals, to their respective institutions, and to society as a whole. Learning from their experiences can help inform us as to how to promote post-2 secondary participation and subsequent completion for other students facing similar challenges. Students who are hard of hearing comprise one of the populations of students with disabilities. On the surface, they look and function like any other students, but they are not like other students in one key respect: they have hearing losses. Yet, because they communicate by oral means and seek to function as if they were hearing (Israelite, Ower, & Goldstein, 2002), their hearing loss is often invisible, unnoticed, and unknown to others. Persons who are hard of hearing are an overlooked group (Belknap, 1996). Historically, the term "hearing impaired" has been used to refer to all persons with hearing losses, but the term masked the differences among individuals within the category (Hughes, 1996). Hearing impaired can refer to any level of hearing loss, from the profound end of the continuum to the mild end. Individuals at the profound end of the continuum are unable to hear, even with the use of technological devices such as hearing aids whereas persons with mild losses can often function without requiring technical support.1 The needs of profoundly deaf individuals for communication, language acquisition, and socialization have been the focus of much social and educational attention. Historical debates and conflicts over the use of oral methods of language acquisition versus sign language dominated much of the education system for many years. By contrast, persons with partial hearing losses communicated by oral means, and were considered able to manage within regular school settings and in hearing settings with the provision of hearing aids and other technological supports. There has been far less controversy concerning the 1 A description of the various levels of hearing losses is provided in the literature in the discussion on identity in the next chapter. 3 communication needs and abilities about this group. Dahl (1987) noted that: The hard of hearing label does not connote the same degree of disability or of separation from society as does the term "deaf. Because the disability is less dramatic and more hidden, there has been considerably less interest and fewer research studies produced to induce both professional and public understanding, (pp. 39-40) However, in recent years, the condition of being hard of hearing has been recognized as being a distinct disability. Individuals who are hard of hearing are recognized as having their unique challenges and issues. A national organization of persons who are hard of hearing was formed in Canada 20 years ago to provide a forum for such individuals to educate themselves and others about their needs and issues. This historical development sheds light on societal changes regarding the identity of persons who are hard of hearing. Scholarly attention devoted exclusively to persons who are hard of hearing is also quite recent. With respect to the experiences of this group in post-secondary education, it is known that persons who are hard of hearing encounter difficulties with hearing instructors and classmates in the classroom, and with participation in social settings such as cafeterias, auditoriums and campus walkways (Warick, 1994a). They may encounter less than knowledgeable or understanding instructors (Schein, 1991; Stinson, Scherer, & Walter, 1987; Swartz & Israelite, 2000; Warick, 1994a) and have academic content gaps in their learning (Schein, 1991; Warick, 1994a). However, little is known about the full range of their experience in university. There is a body of literature about students who are deaf or hearing impaired. The latter work often does not separate out students who are hard of hearing from those who are 4 deaf. Therefore, it is difficult to know i f the findings pertain to both groups, or mostly to students who are deaf. Furthermore, much of the literature about students who are deaf is focused on specialized educational settings, a milieu which is unfamiliar to students who are hard of hearing, most of whom are educated in regular schools. However, in recent years, more students who are deaf are also being educated in regular settings, and some new studies are focusing on this population (Menchel, 1996). The lack of research about students who are hard of hearing, especially those attending post-secondary educational institutions, means that little is known about the nature of their university experience. Little is known about their experiences within the university culture, with their academic programs, and with the social aspects of university life. Consequently, there are knowledge gaps as to what motivates these students to attend and continue in university. There is a lack of information about what constitutes a positive university experience for them and, conversely, a negative one. In addition, we do not know i f their partial hearing plays a role in the quality of their experience and, i f so, in what way. Furthermore, we are unable to know in what respects they are similar to or different from the rest of the student population. Although there is little information about the retention and nature of the university experiences of students who are hard of hearing, there is a wealth of material, mostly empirical in nature, about students in general. Of late a few qualitative studies have contributed to our knowledge about students' perceptions of their post-secondary experiences (Andres, 1992, 1993,1996, 2001; Andres, Andruske & Hawkey, 1996; Hawkey, 2000). Furthermore, considerable work has gone into developing and critiquing theoretical 5 frameworks to explain the experiences of students, mostly in relation to their staying in school (Andres, 2001; Andres et al., 1996; Bean, 1980, 1982, 1985; Bean & Metzner, 1985; Benjamin, 1994; Benjamin & Hollings, 1995; Pascarella, 1980; Pascarella & Chapman, 1983a, 1983b; Spady, 1970, 1971; Stinson et al., 1987; Terenzini & Pascarella, 1977, 1978; Tinto, 1975, 1982, 1987, 1993). Most commonly cited in the literature is Tinto's retention model, initially developed in 1975 and then revised in 1987. His model provides a framework for considering the factors which contribute to the academic and social integration of students and, hence, their retention. The model considers characteristics of an individual and the nature of both formal and informal academic and social experiences that a student has in a post-secondary institution. A n individual's level of commitment to persist in university is related to the degree of integration experienced, both academically and, to a lesser extent, socially. The use of the categories in Tinto's model for this research was informative, rather than prescriptive, with the goal being to fully understand the experiences of university students who are hard of hearing. Furthermore, the findings of other researchers have informed the present study. Bean and Metzner (1985) and Metzner and Bean (1987), for example, clarified that Tinto's emphasis on social integration is not applicable to non-traditional students. Pascarella (1980) elaborated on institutional factors that affect retention. Andres et al. (1996) have suggested that the relationship between an individual and an institution is not static, but dynamic, namely, that there is an agency-structure nexus. Stinson et al. (1987) have considered the importance of disability-related dimensions for the post-secondary retention of students who are deaf. They added two disability-related 6 dimensions to a retention model as a result of their research on factors affecting the retention of students who are deaf. These factors were: (1) the extent to which a student had attended a mainstreamed high school, and (2) the nature of a student's communication skills. Other researchers found that students who had decided on their major in their first year enhanced their retention (Foster & Elliott, 1986). On the reverse side, those students who were less likely to continue in post-secondary education were faced with communication difficulties (Foster & Elliott), were socially dissatisfied (Stinson et al., 1987), and were unable to decide on a major area of study (Scherer & Walter, 1988). The applicability of these findings to students who are hard of hearing is unknown because of differences between them and students who are deaf. Nonetheless, the findings about students who are deaf strengthen our understanding of issues affecting student experience and retention, and suggest the need for further exploration about their application for other student groups. Purpose The purpose of my investigation was two-fold. The first objective was to explore what it means to be a university student with a hearing loss and to consider the impact of a hearing loss on a student's academic and social experiences. The impact of disability-related supports and services, as well as supports provided by family members and non-university peers, were also considered. The second objective was to examine the extent to which retention models and research serve to explain the university experiences of students who are hard of hearing. In keeping with my purpose, eight research questions guided this study: 1) How do the participants define themselves in terms of hearing loss? 7 2) What transition-to-university issues do students who are hard of hearing face? 3) What are the academic experiences of university students who are hard of hearing? 4) What are the social experiences of university students who are hard of hearing? 5) How does being hard of hearing impact on students' academic and social dimensions of university life? 6) To what extent, and in what way, do disability-related supports and disability issues impact on the experience of students who are hard of hearing? 7) To what extent are the experiences of students who are hard of hearing similar or dissimilar to those of other students? 8) To what extent do existing retention models encapsulate the experiences of students who are hard of hearing? Do existing retention models describe the experiences of these students? If not, in what ways are models insufficient and, hence, require modification? To answer the foregoing research questions, I interviewed 14 university students who are hard of hearing to learn from them about the nature of their campus experiences. My research design was interpretive because this paradigm emphasizes the importance of understanding and comprehending the lived experiences of individuals (Greene, 1990; Lincoln, 1990; Lincoln & Guba, 1985, 2000; Marshall & Rossman, 1999; McCutcheon, 1990). A n interpretive approach strives for "rich" and "deep" descriptions of the experiences of others within their context; these descriptions are not mere recitations of participants' thoughts; they result from a researcher's sifting through perspectives to uncover meanings and integrate salient points. In the process of interpretive research, the researcher is recognized as being intertwined with the research process insofar as her or his values are imbedded in the process and affect the description of research results; at the same time, intellectual rigor is required in reflecting field findings. The recognition of the researcher role is considered desirable in interpretive research; in my case, I believe that my own experiences as a person who is hard of hearing, as a university student, and as a university disability service provider contributed to my knowledge and understanding of the issues germane to this research study. Significance of the Study There are five ways in which the findings arising from this research have potential significance. First, my research offers a contribution to our understanding of the university experiences of students who are hard of hearing. This understanding is enriched by a holistic picture of students' academic, social and cultural experiences, along with an understanding of the role that students' hearing losses play in these experiences. The study is one of the first to describe in detail the experiences of university students who are hard of hearing Furthermore, the study is one of the first to describe the experience of persons who are hard of hearing, albeit in a post-secondary setting, and, therefore, potentially sheds light on the nature of simply being hard of hearing. This aspect could be informative about the experiences of persons who are hard of hearing in other contexts, such as the labour market; however, it is acknowledged that each context is different and, therefore, caution needs to be applied in considering relevance of findings from this research to other milieus. 9 In a third area of significance, the study is one of the few undertaken concerning students with a disability in a university and, thus, there are some issues that have implications for students with other disabilities. There are few studies of an interpretive nature about the post-secondary experiences of students, and research of this type may be expected to contribute to insights in a general sense and potentially contribute to what Weiss (1980) has described as "knowledge creep" about our understanding of students with disabilities. Fourth, the results of my study may assist in identifying policies, programs, and services for the retention of university students who are hard of hearing. From the body of information collected about the issues and concerns of these students, areas requiring program or other interventions are identified at the conclusion of this study. Thus, energies for interventions can be targeted, based on this research. Fifth, this study may shed light on the usefulness of existing retention models for students who are hard of hearing and other students within a disability population. It is hoped that findings illuminate whether existing retention models are sufficient to explain the experiences of students who are hard of hearing or whether further research is required to modify retention models to deal with disability-related issues and aspects. Overview of the Thesis In the next chapter I examine the literature about retention models and the post-secondary experiences of students in general. I connect these findings to what is known about the educational and socio-psychological experiences of students with hearing losses. 2 Knowledge creep refers to the building up of a body of knowledge about a given subject. Chapter Three describes the research design and methods for my study; in particular, the use of an interpretive framework is discussed. Remaining chapters describe the research results from interviews with study participants as well as their journal entries. There are four chapters detailing results: identity and transition issues are explained in Chapter Four; academic experiences are considered in Chapter Five; in Chapter Six, social experiences are related; and, finally, disability-related accommodations are discussed in Chapter Seven. The thesis closes with a discussion of research findings, followed by recommendations. 11 CHAPTER TWO LITERATURE REVIEW OF RETENTION MODELS A N D INDIVIDUAL EXPERIENCE IN POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION In this chapter the literature regarding the participation and retention of students in post-secondary education, with particular emphasis on the university sector, is reviewed. Retention theoretical frameworks, including Tinto's (1987) model of retention, are examined. This is followed by a discussion of literature findings about various aspects of retention: background characteristics, the academic system, the social system, and institutional factors. In addition to the review of findings about students in general, those pertaining to students with hearing losses, whether deaf or hard of hearing, are emphasized, including their use of disability services in post-secondary education. The use of disability services is an issue that is pertinent to the academic and social success of students who are hard of hearing and, yet, is one that is not covered in the existing retention literature to any significant degree. Before proceeding, one comment is necessary about the population under study. The designation of a person as being hard of hearing is not straightforward but, rather, complicated, as discussed subsequently in this chapter. Definitional complexity spills over to the interpretation of literature findings pertaining to this population. A problem stems from the plethora of terms used to describe persons who are hard of hearing: person with a hearing loss, hearing impaired, hearing deficit, hard of hearing, oral deaf, and deaf. Sometimes, the aforementioned terms refer only to persons who are deaf and other times the terms also, or 3 Throughout the thesis, the terms person "who is hard of hearing" and person "with a hearing loss" are used interchangeably. More than one term was necessary for style reasons. only, refer to persons who are hard of hearing. As a result, unless otherwise specified, it may be difficult to know to what population a researcher is referring. For example, in using the term "deaf," one researcher may be referring to persons who are deaf or Deaf4, while another may also mean those who are hard of hearing. Thus, findings pertaining to deaf students were also included in this literature review, either to illuminate the subject or for their possible relevance for the hard of hearing population. Theoretical Frameworks Retention Models The considerable body of research undertaken about the nature of the post-secondary experience of students has most often been empirically-based, focused on enhancing students' persistence in university and, conversely, examined factors resulting in students' departure from university. Theoretical frameworks have both resulted from the empirical findings and have guided the nature of the research. Foremost among the frameworks guiding research in this area is Tinto's Longitudinal Model of Institutional Departure5 (1987) shown on the next page (Figure 1). 4 The capitalized "Deaf refers to members of the Deaf community who consider themselves a cultural designation; because of the cultural definition, the use of the term Deaf or Deaf persons is common. The lower-case "deaf refers to individuals with a profound hearing loss who do not take on a cultural definition. As noted by Corker (1996), it is not always a simple matter to use terminology consistently, a difficulty reflected in the use of terms in the literature. In this thesis, I use Deaf when it is obvious that the person is part of Deaf culture or the original source uses this description, otherwise the lower-case deaf is used. Tinto initially developed the model in 1975 and modified it in 1987. The author was contacted and conveyed that his 1987 version best describes his model. 13 Intentions Goal and Institutional Commitment Intentions Goal and Institutional Commitment C/3 3 73 OH m o rmanc a +^  GO ons 'B rmanc Faculty/, cu" Acadi Perfo: Faculty/, Intera I 73 L •a 1 1 <L> Q el o o o o3 <S P 14! a P H OO o o 00 / Intentions M ^ Goal and Institutional Commitment ! Intentions Goal and Institutional Commitment ! ^  * .s? § .a J H w o 1 bilit 00 < 73 I ^ ' 14 Tinto's retention model provides a comprehensive, longitudinal approach to examining factors contributing to the academic and social integration of university students and, hence, their retention. Tinto's model considers both the individual and the institution and examines the "fit" between the two. In looking at the individual, Tinto considers family background (including socioeconomic status, quality of family relationships, and parental values), individual attributes (race and gender), and pre-college schooling (secondary school Grades and course of study). His consideration of the academic and social system of an institution takes into account both its formal and informal aspects. The academic system includes faculty and staff interactions, both formal and informal, as well as the student's academic performance. The social system consists of formal and informal peer group interactions and extra-curricular activities. According to Tinto, a student's initial commitment to a post-secondary institution is partly affected by individual characteristics. Once at university or college, the strength of the student's commitment depends on his or her academic and social integration. Drawing on the work of Spady (1970), Tinto's model is based on the proposition that a university departure represents a lack of institutional integration in the same way that Durkheim (1897/1951) explained suicide as a lessened connection to society. Tinto also applied exchange theory to his model to explain a student's decision-making process about whether to persist or drop out of school. Students will persist in post-secondary studies when they perceive or find it more beneficial to do so than to drop out. Key to this model is that perceptions are as important as reality. "Departure hinges upon the individual's perception of his/her experiences within an institution of higher education. The model takes seriously the 15 ethnomethodological proposition that what one thinks is real, has real consequences" (Tinto, 1993, p. 136). Tinto developed his model in 1975, and then modified it in 1987 to add external commitments. External commitments affect the ability of the individual to commit to the goal of post-secondary completion and can influence any intentions of dropout or persistence. He also added the importance of intentions to the drop-out process building on work by Fishbein and Ajzen (1975), who suggested that intentions are predispositions based on beliefs. Tinto also updated his model to take into account concerns expressed that depicting social and academic systems of universities6 as two separate boxes masked the fuller relationship between these two spheres of activity. In his revision, academic and social systems appear as two nested spheres to more accurately capture the ways in which social and academic life are interwoven and the ways in which social communities emerge out of academic activities in the classroom. Tinto's retention model was intended to be predictive of the retention and persistence of students, in other words, to be used to predict factors that could contribute to the continuation of a student's academic career. Pascarella and Chapman (1983b) found that although Tinto's model has predictive validity, it explains only a relatively small proportion of the variance in voluntary, freshman-year persistence/withdrawal decisions. They concluded that "perhaps a major portion of persistence/withdrawal behavior is so idiosyncratic, in terms of external circumstances and personal propensities, that it is difficult to capture in any 6 Tinto refers to colleges; in the Canadian context, universities would be more equivalent to U.S. colleges than community colleges. Other U.S. scholars also use college when, in Canadian terms, the closest equivalent institution would be universities. For ease of understanding I have substituted university for college throughout the thesis. 16 rational explanatory model" (p. 99). Despite the predictive difficulties, Tinto's model, at the very least, has utility as a framework for considering student experience in a more general sense, in terms of describing students' academic and social experiences, as well as students' individual characteristics and motivations to persist in university. Its strength is its parsimonious, explanatory framework for guiding inquiry about student persistence. Furthermore, the emphasis of Tinto's model on students' perceptions lends itself to a study such as mine, which is based on students' accounts of their post-secondary experiences. Nor does Tinto's model exclusively focus on student drop-out or persistence. The components of his model can be used to discuss many themes in post-secondary education. Other researchers have successfully employed Tinto's model to consider students' reports of academic skill acquisition, students' personal change, and change by students in their fields of study (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Despite its strengths, Tinto's model has three possible weaknesses: first, the type of student to which the model applies; second, the dynamic interplay between the individual and the organization on the individual, and, third, the disability-related aspects to retention. Each of these will be discussed subsequently. With respect to the issue of student type, Bean and Metzner (1985) and Metzner and Bean (1987) have made a significant contribution by distinguishing the retention patterns of traditional versus non-traditional students. Traditional students are usually defined as being the 18-to-24-year-old cohort, but age alone is insufficient to define non-traditional students. Bean and Metzner identified three factors which must be considered in a definition of non-17 traditional students: 1) they usually do not live in a college residence and therefore must commute to classes, 2) they are older, which means having already developed values and having been socialized in young adulthood, and 3) they attend part-time, which reduces the amount time the student has for interactions with other students and faculty. Other factors which may be involved have to do with ethnicity, gender and socio-economic status. However, Bean and Metzner also noted that "the difference between traditional and nontraditional students is a matter of extent; traditional and nontraditional students cannot be easily classified into simple dichotomous categories" (p. 488). Andres and Carpenter (1997) noted that non-traditional students are an eclectic category, which includes transfer students, older adult learners, commuters, part-time students, graduate students, women, students with disabilities, and ethnic minorities. The key difference between traditional and non-traditional students in terms of their responses to retention is that non-traditional students give more emphasis to academic than social reasons in any cost-benefit analysis of their education. They "emphasize utilitarian more than social outcomes" (Bean & Metzner, 1985, p. 489). Bean and Metzner's review of the literature led them to conclude that social integration is rarely a major actor in attrition decisions for non-traditional students. They developed a retention model that contained many of the same components as Tinto's model, but with different emphasis, depending on the student. Bean and Metzner proposed that four sets of variables affected dropout: (1) academic performance measured in terms of past and present grade point average (GPA); (2) intent, which is influenced by psychological outcomes and academic variables; (3) defining variables such as age, enrolment status, and resident status, as well as background variables such as 18 educational goals, high school performance, ethnicity, and gender; and (4) environmental variables, which are non-institutional factors such as family responsibilities. The second area of concern pertaining to Tinto's model relates to the individual vis-a-vis the institution. With respect to the institution, Pascarella (1980) contributed an understanding of organizational characteristics and defined these to include the following: faculty culture, organizational structure, institutional structure, institutional image, administrative policies and decisions, institutional size, admission standards, and academic standards. In Pascarella's model, student background characteristics and organizational features of the institution shape the university's environment. In turn, these clusters influence students' interactions with faculty and other students. Another contribution came from Bean (1980), who depicted a causal relationship between background characteristics and organizational determinants. He drew from theories on work by adapting Price's (1977) model of employee turnover in industrial organizations and stated that post-secondary students' satisfaction or dissatisfaction could result in institutional commitment or withdrawal. Taking a holistic approach, Benjamin (1994) identified eight domains that express a dynamic relationship between the individual and his or her environment. These domains, which influence a student's subjective well-being, include the following: satisfaction (cognitive), happiness (affective), multiple life domains (on and off-campus), short-term past, objective circumstances, institutional circumstances, psychosocial factors, and meaning structures. Issues such as health status, personal finances, and life events are incorporated into his model. Benjamin and Hollings (1995) developed a quality of life model that considers a 19 myriad of factors pertaining to student experience and looks at the dynamic relationship between the individual and the environment. Agency-Structure Nexus The implication of Tinto's retention model appears to be that the individual student is an autonomous actor in the environment, without interplay between the student, as an agent, and the environment. To be sure, the environment is identified, but without an explication of the dynamic relationship between the environment and student and vice versa. This is the third concern with Tinto's model. Coleman (1986) was among those to reject what he termed "individual behaviorism"; instead, he called for "a formal theoretical model that relates individual actions to systemic functioning" (p. 1332). Giddens (1984) endeavored to develop a theory of dualism between human agents and structure, which negates the depiction of them as being mutually exclusive, independent sets of phenomena. Agents have a capacity for independent action; at the same time, many of the rules of society are routinized, such as the rules of language. Some of these are taken for granted, but Giddens argued "that many seemingly trivial procedures followed in daily life have a more profound influence upon the generality of social conduct" (p. 22). Rules are part of the structure of society, and systems are the reproduced relations between agents and structures. Thus, there is a constant, dynamic tension between structures and agents. Giddens used the term "structuration" to describe the conditions governing the continuity or transmutation of structures and, therefore, the reproduction of social systems. 20 Bourdieu (1977, 1984, 1991) has also decried the separation of structure and agents, and has developed a "field of forces" concept to examine social structures, using the explanatory formula of "[(habitus) (capital)] + field = practice" (Bourdieu, 1984, p. 101). "Habitus" is defined by Bourdieu as "a way of being, a habitual state (especially of the body) and, in particular, a predisposition, tendency, propensity or inclination" (1977, p. 214). Thus, habitus organizes the way one acts, and also provides a way of structuring conditions of existence. "The habitus also provides individuals with a sense of how to act and respond in the course of their daily lives. It 'orients' their actions and inclinations without strictly determining them" (Thompson, 1991, p. 13). The orientation is in relation to the mental structures through which individuals perceive the social world (Bourdieu, 1990). "Thus, habitus implies 'a sense of one's place' but also a 'sense of the other's place' " (Bourdieu, 1990, p. 131). "Capital," as used by Bourdieu (1984), refers to the resources and powers of an individual or class, which can take the form of economic, cultural, social or symbolic capital. The volume of capital and its type influences how the habitus relates to the field of forces. Social capital is defined as social obligations or connections. Cultural capital relates to cultural aspects such as passing onto children the value of reading in a family. Bourdieu has applied his concepts to education and noted that social and cultural capital serves as means of the indirect reproduction of the dominant culture in the school system and indirectly affects educational intake and outcomes. Bourdieu (1991) uses the concept of "field" to refer to entities, such as a political space, a religious space, and an educational space. "I call each of these a field, that is, an 21 autonomous universe, a kind of arena in which people play a game which has certain rules, rules which are different from those of the game that is played in the adjacent space" (p. 215). Every field is the site of a more or less openly declared struggle for the definition of the legitimate principles of division of the field (Bourdieu, 1991). Thus, there is a struggle for positions within a field, and, so, a "field of struggles." "Positions are determined by the allocation of specific capital to actors who are located in the field. Positions can interact with habitus to produce different postures (prises de position), which have an independent effect on the economics of'position-taking' within the field" (Harker, 1990 p. 8). Thompson (1991) explains that individuals who participate in these struggles will have differing aims - some will seek to preserve the status quo, others to change it - and differing chances of winning or losing, depending on where they are located in the structured space of positions. To apply the field of forces concept to universities, educational institutions can be conceptualized as a field and both the given institution and the people in them create a field of forces and a field of struggles which tends to either transform or conserve the field as a field of forces (Andres et al., 1996). Harker (1990) noted that education is a field in which agents struggle for capital (credentials), but the struggle is not the same for all participants. "Educational institutions are structured to favor those who already possess cultural capital, in the form of the habitus of the dominant cultural fraction" (Harker, 1990, p. 87). Agents (i.e. students) enter post-secondary institutions enabled or constrained by varying levels of competencies, resources and strategies as they proceed through university (Andres et al., 1996). Although students have capacities for action, they encounter aspects of 22 university life, including people, policies and practices, both within and outside of the institution, that enable or constrain their ability to integrate socially and academically. Students are defined by their relative positions in this space; this is, relative to faculty, staff, resources, policies, and practices of a given post-secondary institution. Students' relative positions are also defined by other relevant "fields," such as family and work. (p. 5) Thus, agents who have greater amounts of capital than their peers are likely to be more successful in the struggle for position in the field of education, all other things being equal. However, despite the structural components to his theory, Bourdieu (1984) maintained that it is not deterministic and that individuals have the ability to change the field and events. The use of the concept of field of forces, or to use another term, the agency-structure nexus, which has been expressed by Andres et al. (1996), offers a perspective that deals with a weakness in previous retention models, namely, lack of attention to underlying structural influences. The concept of agency-structure nexus recognizes that there are structural impacts on the student. At the same time, it recognizes that individuals are agents who interact with the system, thereby also influencing the nature of the system. This concept offers a useful framework for understanding structural impacts and is compatible with my use of the descriptive categories for student experience, retention and persistence, developed by Tinto (1975, 1987,1993) and further elaborated on and modified by Bean (1980), Bean and Metzner (1985), and Pascarella (1980). 23 Disability and Retention Models One further issue requires attention, namely the relevance of retention and subsequent models for students with disabilities and, in particular, for students with hearing losses. The issue of how a student's disability relates to retention has rarely been discussed in the literature. A n exception is the research by Stinson et al. (1987) who analyzed data on the persistence of 233 deaf students enrolled in the 1984-85 academic year freshman class at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Stinson et al. (1987) collected data from three sources: NTID records, such as students' GPA; communication and achievement tests given to students; and questionnaires about background factors and attitudes that were distributed to students. Using path analysis techniques, the researchers considered factors contributing to persistence/withdrawal by identifying four predictor variables: academic performance, ability in oral skills measured by speechreading abilities, social satisfaction, and participation in college-sponsored extracurricular activities. Background predictor variables included high school academic achievement (Stanford Achievement Test results), proportion of elementary and secondary education in mainstreamed settings, and participation in high school-sponsored extra-curricular activities. Stinson et al. (1987) noted that freshman students who expressed greater social satisfaction were more likely to persist than those whose social goals were not met. As well, they found that social satisfaction and speechreading performance were related and reflected the tendency of students who are more comfortable with a hearing environment to 24 demonstrate better communication skills. Two groups of students were at risk: those who had unmet social goals and, at the other extreme, those who were too socially engaged in extra-curricular activities. Stinson et al. (1987) also found that distance from home was a significant retention factor and suggested that those closer to NTID could more readily get a break from adjusting to a new environment by home visits. "For many students, there may be no such breaks, thus resulting in greater dissatisfaction with college" (p. 254). Finally, the researchers saw no correlation between students' grades and persistence but noted that their study was of freshman year students and grades may be more likely to affect persistence in upper years. As well, they noted that NTID is a unique institution with four program levels, which may result in students' self-selecting the appropriate level for them, these levels being bachelor's degree, Associate of Arts degree, diploma, and certificate. In terms of a contribution to retention theory, the model by Stinson et al. (1987) proposed two disability-related factors, namely, the extent to which students were mainstreamed in previous levels of schooling and their speechreading abilities. The researchers did not endeavor to suggest that these factors would be relevant other than for the students they studied attending a particular post-secondary institution. The extent to which these factors are relevant for students who are hard of hearing is unknown. However, because such students already attend mainstream schools, it is likely that the mainstream factor would be less significant for them than it would be for students who are deaf. Speechreading ability is likely to vary from individual to individual; the extent to which it is a significant factor in the retention of students who are hard of hearing has not been assessed. 25 The rest of this chapter will consider the three major areas of Tinto's retention model: student background characteristics, the academic system, and the social system. Organizational issues are identified in the final section of this chapter. Student Background Characteristics Students come to a post-secondary institution with a range of background characteristics (e.g., sex, secondary school performance, family background, and personality orientations). These characteristics "influence, not only how the student will perform in college, but also how he or she will interact with, and subsequently, become integrated into an institution's social and academic systems" (Pascarella & Chapman, 1983a, p. 25). This section will discuss several characteristics and issues, starting with the identity issues of persons who are hard of hearing. Identity There are three ways of viewing the designation of being hard of hearing: empirical, functional, and socio-cultural. An empirical approach designates a person as being hard of hearing or deaf depending on his or her measured decibel loss7. The range of hearing loss 7 Categories of hearing loss are organized as follows: Profound - 91 decibels and greater often means signing, oral interpreting or captioning.. Severe - 71 to 90 decibels means students hear loud noises at close distances and require individual hearing aids, intensive auditory training and specialized instruction in language development. Moderate to severe - 56 to 70 decibels means that without amplification students with this degree of loss can miss up to 100% of speech information. Full-time use of amplification is essential. Moderate - 41 to 55 decibel loss means classroom conversation from 3 to 5 feet away can be understood if the structure and vocabulary is controlled. Hearing aids and/or personal FM systems are considered essential. Mild - 26 to 40 decibel loss means a student may miss up to 50% of class discussions, especially if voices are soft or the environment is noisy. Minimal loss - 16 to 25 decibels means students may have difficulty with faint or distant speech and if conversation proceeds too rapidly. (Ministry of Education, Special Education Branch, 1994, p. 3) 26 varies from mild to profound and beyond, to virtually no hearing. A profound loss means extreme difficulty hearing, with other ranges of hearing having varying effects. Using an empirical approach, a person who is hard of hearing would be defined as having a mild, moderate or severe hearing loss or a combination of these, whereas a person who is deaf would be considered to have a profound hearing loss. A functional perspective recognizes that factors other than simply degree of hearing loss affect a person's functional ability to hear, including nature of the hearing loss, age of its onset and age of diagnosis (Jamieson, 1994; Marshark, 1993; Schein, 1991). A loss in both ears is likely to be more severe than having a loss in one ear, although the latter, known as a unilateral loss, may also result in functional difficulties (Dancer, Burl & Waters, 1995). With respect to age of onset, a hearing loss at birth is quite different from a loss several years after there has been exposure to sound and language. Age of detection of a hearing loss is also relevant, along with age at which interventions commenced. In general, the earlier the age of detection and provision of interventions, the better the outcome is for the development of listening and speech skills. The type and extent of intervention, both in and outside the home, and the nature of interactions, also play a significant role in language development (Jamieson). From an educational perspective, one of the most important factors in a person's functional ability is reliance on speech or oral means of communication as opposed to reliance on sign language or some other visual means of communication. Educators tend to use a functional definition because it helps them know how best to communicate and respond to students (Paul & Quigley, 1990). The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (1998) uses the 27 functional approach in its definition of hard of hearing: "any person whose hearing loss ranges from mild to profound and whose usual means of communication is speech" (p. 1). By contrast, the Canadian Association of the Deaf (CAD) uses a sociocultural approach and considers deaf persons to be "those individuals who are Deaf or hard of hearing who identify with and participate in the language, society and culture of Deaf people, which is based on sign language. It is a sociological term in this sense" (Vancouver Community College, 1994, p. 8). As implied in the C A D definition, individuals with any degree of hearing loss have the right to choose to be Deaf by virtue of adoption of the language and culture of Deaf people. As noted by Jamieson (1994), the degree of hearing loss is not a criterion for membership in the Deaf community; it is possible for an individual to be considered hard of hearing in empirical terms, yet to be a member of the Deaf community. Persons who consider themselves as part of a cultural group refer to themselves with the " D " in Deaf being capitalized. The argument for a cultural identity is that Deaf persons share a common language, namely American Sign Language, and are a distinctive community (Padden & Humphries. 1988). However, many Deaf people are both deaf in an auditory sense and Deaf in a cultural sense and the use of the term "Deaf should not obscure their diversity (Padden & Humphries). A cultural definition means that deafness "is largely a problem of overcoming language barriers, not a problem of disability" (Lane, 1984, xiii). Nor should society "dispose of social problems by medicalizing them" (Lane, xiii). The social problem under discussion is the lack of acceptance of Deaf people and use of sign language. 28 Persons who are hard of hearing do not define themselves as a cultural group. "The hard of hearing do not form a community that is culturally or in any other socio-economic way homogenous" (Laszlo, 1985, p. 20). However, those who are hard of hearing have in common the experiences of not hearing and its associated effects. They do form a recognizable group "in terms of hearing disability, the hearing handicap which is greatly influenced by the acoustical environment in which they live, and the desire to use whatever means are necessary to communicate by speech" (Laszlo, 1994, p. 252). Persons who are hard of hearing are generally amenable to seeking medical means to improve their hearing loss, although most often, the condition is not operable. Cochlear implantation is a relatively new medical procedure that involves insertion of prosthesis behind the ear to stimulate the cochlea of the ear, and thereby the nerve fibers in the inner ear, to provide sound simulation (International Federation of Hard of Hearing People, 1994; Schein, 1984). Generally, persons with profound or total losses are considered candidates for the procedure and persons with some hearing are generally considered better off maximizing their hearing with hearing aids and assistive listening devices (International Federation of Hard of Hearing People). Nonetheless, i f there were a procedure to restore hearing, most persons who are hard of hearing would welcome it (Weisel & Reichstein, 1990) and have stated so publicly. Let's imagine all hard of hearing persons are given the choice of having full hearing. What would each of us choose? I know that I would choose full hearing. In saying that, I personally have no regrets about being hard of hearing. It has been a part of defining who I am, and there has been the opportunity to have experiences in a different way from hearing people. (Warick, 1994b, p. 56) 29 In choosing to maximize hearing potential, persons who are hard of hearing are not subscribing to a medical view of their condition. A hearing loss is usually neither sudden nor painful and, therefore, is unlike an illness (Dahl, 1995). A socio-political approach to their disability resonates because of its emphasis on societal change. Perhaps the biggest struggle for the hard of hearing lies here - namely, to convince themselves, their families, and others, including service providers, policy makers, and politicians, that the hard of hearing are not to blame for their impairment, that the disability is not in the person, and that society handicaps the hard of hearing. (Lutes, 1987, p. 72) As opposed to a medical approach which focuses on functional limitations, a socio-political approach regards disability as a product of interactions between the individual and the environment (Hahn, 1982) by recognizing that the fundamental restrictions of a disability may be located in the surroundings that people encounter, rather than within the disabled individual. "From a socio-political vantage point, the difficulties confronted by disabled persons are viewed as largely the result of a disabling environment instead of personal defects or deficiencies" (Hahn, 1988, p. 39). A socio-cultural approach means that persons with a profound hearing loss who rely on oral communication rather than sign language could choose to be considered hard of hearing, although on an empirical basis they would be termed "deaf." If they lost their hearing later in life, they could consider themselves "deafened." The Canadian Hard of Hearing Association (1998) recognizes deafened persons as a distinct category and uses the following definition: 30 "Deafened adults" refers to those who have experienced a complete or profound loss of hearing after developing speech and language skills. Late deafness can occur suddenly or over a period of time, so that ages range from early adulthood to seniors. (Warick, 1992, p. 26) A l l except 6 of the 33 students participating in Menchel's study (1996) defined themselves as being deaf. One of the requirements for participation in Menchel's study was that students have a 70 decibel loss.or greater. Students were also required to be beyond first-year and enrolled full-time in a four-year undergraduate institution in the New England region, and to agree to be interviewed by the researcher. Altogether 33 students from 18 higher education institutions met the criteria; information inviting their participation was distributed through Disability Service Offices, interpreters, the A . G. Bell Association for the Deaf, and students who were deaf. Furthermore, Menchel restricted the study to a maximum of three participants per university to get a wide representation of post-secondary institutions. Most of the participants in Menchel's study were born with profound or severe hearing losses. Of the students who did not identify with being deaf, Menchel noted: They saw themselves functioning more as a hard of hearing person than a profoundly deaf person. Some said that they identified themselves as either hard of hearing or hearing impaired and, since they did not know or use sign language, they did not see themselves as deaf in the sense of communication, (p. 27) As illustrated by the students in Menchel's study, students who are hard of hearing construct "their identities based on their position with regard to hearing and Deaf peers, and their differentness from both groups" (Israelite et al., 2002, p. 144). Thus, making comparisons 31 to others is part of how persons who are hard of hearing define themselves. Most comparisons are on the basis of observations and relate to functional differences from others. One point of comparison is that the hard of hearing label does not connote the same degree of disability or separation from society as does the deaf term and, therefore, it has been of less interest to society (Dahl, 1987). In fact, the common public stereotype has been that "of an elderly person with an ear trumpet, and it is one of the few, perhaps the only, one of the disabling conditions about which it is socially acceptable to make jokes" (Dahl, p. 40). As a result, a person with a hearing loss who chooses to identify with being hard of hearing may be choosing marginality. They may use strategies such as withdrawal or avoidance to resist the negative social reactions to the behavioral attributes associated with their condition (Dahl, 1995). Israelite et al. (2002) found that the students with hearing losses participating in their study were cognizant of their marginalized status due to the power differentials between themselves and the dominant hearing culture. The researchers conducted two open-ended group interviews with seven study participants, and each participant also completed an individual written questionnaire. Participants were all high school students who had been enrolled in the same classes with each other during grades 4 through 8. Israelite et al. describe the social oppression experienced by students who are hard of hearing as "othering," a term which refers to a process by which people are identified as inherently inferior and relegated to the outer margins of social power and cultural life. They noted that students who are hard of hearing may attempt "to reduce the effects of othering [italics added] by emphasizing the similarities between themselves and the dominant group" 32 (p. 135). The students they interviewed stated that "fitting in" or being part of the mainstream was important to them. "It was the students' view that, in order to fit in, 'we have to be normal,' that is, 'talk and act like hearing students' " (p. 141). Although all persons probably desire to have friends, belong to a group, and not be perceived as being different, these issues may be more poignant for the student with a hearing loss in a regular classroom setting (Hughes, 1996). Yet, despite the desire to fit into the hearing world, persons who are hard of hearing may feel uncertain as to whether they belong. They may feel they are in-between the two worlds, deaf and hearing, and that they belong to neither (Antonson, 1998; Israelite, 1993; Lutes, 1987; Warick, 1994b). "The hard of hearing are caught between 'the normal hearing' and the deaf, in 'no man's land' without a clear identity" (Lutes, p. 74). Nonetheless, significant numbers of persons having a hearing loss from mild to profound levels have joined together and formed hard of hearing organizations with purposes related to self-help, education, advocacy, and social change (Bruce, 1995, Dahl, 1994, Fraser, 1993). Consumer involvement has heightened self-acceptance and assertiveness. Through group identity, the sense of deviance and stigma associated with having a hearing loss is reduced (Israelite, 1993). Additional Disabilities and Other Characteristics Another significant background characteristic for some students who are hard of hearing is having additional disabilities. Wolff and Harkins (1986) have estimated that hearing impaired children are three times more likely than the general population to have an additional 33 handicapping condition. Both Canadian and American studies found that approximately 30% of children who are deaf and hard of hearing had two or more additional handicaps (Jamieson, 1994). Tell, Levi, and Feinmesser (1998) conducted a 20-year follow-up study of children with hearing losses born in Jerusalem during 1968-1987. The children were detected often before 6 months of age through baby clinics visited by 90 % of the population; those with more than a 40 decibel sensorineural hearing loss were included in the study. The researchers found that 23% of 246 children had additional handicaps. Of the 55 children with additional handicaps, 22 had profound hearing losses and 32 ranged from having moderate to severe losses, a range that is often consistent with being considered hard of hearing unless the individual identifies with being deaf. Of the participants with profound hearing losses, mental retardation was the most frequently reported additional disability, with 12 of the 22 profoundly deaf persons having this condition; learning disability was the next most frequently reported disability for those with profound hearing losses. Additional handicaps most prevalent for the 32 participants with moderate-to-severe hearing losses were as follows: learning disabilities (15), cerebral palsy (7), and mental retardation (7). The study by Tell et al. indicates that a significant number of persons who are hard of hearing also have other handicaps. Students with additional disabilities may experience incremental difficulties in communication as well as in their psychosocial development and physical well-being. An additional disability does not simply add the conditions of that disability to the mix; there is a multiplying effect from the combination of additional disabilities (Moore Family, 1995). "The 34 presence of a disabling condition in addition to hearing impairment compounds communication difficulties exponentially" (Jamieson, 1994, p. 612). The combined effects of the two disabilities are not well understood. Often, the second disability is viewed as more difficult to deal with than the first one. This was the case for the Moore Family (1995); besides not being able to hear, their child was found to be autistic. When I looked at parents of typical Deaf children, I thought, "They are so lucky!" They have so many opportunities for their child. With Deaf children, the primary concern is communication. With the addition of autism we also have such terrible behaviors we must deal with. (p. 1) Early detection and the education of parents and professionals are doubly important for treating multi-handicapped deaf children. The educational curriculum has to take into consideration adequate and complicated teaching methods (Tell et al., 1998). Teachers have little formal university-level training in dealing with multiple or severe handicapping conditions (Paul & Quigley, 1990). There is even less training for instructors at the university level. Other factors, such as English being a second language, may add further complications for individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing, both in terms of detection of a hearing loss and in terms of language development. A delay in detection affects a child's ability to develop language and to communicate with others. Persons with hearing losses who are First Nations or are from a visible minority culture may face some additional problems. For example, they may experience negative societal attitudes in double measure for having the marginalized status of both a disability and 35 their First Nations status. The challenge may be further intensified if the culture is uncertain about how to respond to persons with disabilities. Some students with hearing losses may be "gifted" insofar as they have demonstrated exceptional academic performance in high school; yet, their deafness may have masked their potential. Menchel (1996) has used the label of "high academic achievers" as being applicable to the university students with hearing losses whom he interviewed. He noted that it is "reasonable to state that, like any other student, some deaf students demonstrate the same academic ability and high achievement that some hearing students demonstrate" (p. 3). Bibby (1993) found that the incidence rate of giftedness among students who are deaf was 5%, although it varied somewhat depending on the study. In analyzing rates, Grayson (2001) noted variations by gender, family background, and ethnicity. One set of figures projected that 10% of females and 14% of males were gifted; rates were 5% for students from the lowest income groups, and rates varied from 4% to 13% depending on ethnic background. However, the definition of gifted is socially constructed and it is not always clear what is being defined (Grayson). Precisely because of a lack of criteria to define gifted, Menchel (1996) avoided using the term, and felt it was over-used. Furthermore, he stated that IQ tests to determine the academic potential of a student are poor indicators of the student's actual ability. Although certain students may be defined as high achievers or gifted by others, this may not translate to a self-definition. Menchel's high academic achievers did not consider themselves exceptional, but simply the same as other hearing students who were doing well in school. 3 6 Bibby (1993) found that there were differences between gifted hearing students and gifted students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Students with normal hearing tended to be developmentally advanced in language. Children who are deaf and hard of hearing did not have the same level of verbal skills because of their loss of hearing; in addition, some of them were below average in reading and writing compared to hearing students. However, they were the same as hearing students in terms of having a range of achievements as varied as that of hearing students. Because of their lack of communication skills, such students may not have had their potential recognized. Paterson and Vialle (1998) found that gifted deaf students experienced great frustration in school because they invariably were treated as intellectually inferior. The authors noted that they have "the double hurdle of overcoming their deafness in a hearing world and an educational service that does not meet their needs" (p. 497). Family Influences Parental education has a strong effect on the university attainment of youth (Anisef, 1985). This is also the case for students with a hearing loss. Quigley, Jenne, & Phillips (1968) found that families were the primary sources of influences in a student's participation in post-secondary education among students who are hard of hearing attending integrated programs. The next strongest sources of influence were high school personnel and friends. Andres and Looker (2001) concur that parental education influences expectations and attainments of post-secondary education, but note that it does not explain geographical variations, which appears to be an additional effect. 37 Few parents actively discouraged college attendance (Warick, 1994a). In a study aimed at youth who were hard of hearing, Warick found only 16% of the 290 youth who responded to the survey felt that their parents had discouraged post-secondary education. The surveys were distributed to youth across the country through various means including the national magazine of the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, in schools, and through personal contacts by C H H A members. Warick's findings were similar to earlier findings by Quigley et al. (1968). Danermark, Antonson, and Lundstrom (2001) reported that most of the youth in their study, aimed at those who were hard of hearing, felt that their parents had low expectations of them and did not provide any guidance for the future. Sixteen students making a transition from upper secondary school to post-secondary education participated in the study; half of the students went on to university. " A l l the students reported that their parents had told them when they were aged about 15, to do completely as they themselves wish" (Danermark et al., p. 122). The families were all working class and only those youths who were the only or eldest children in the family went on to university. Besides the importance of the family's involvement in the transition process to post-secondary education, families are important in terms of the supports provided to students as they proceed through university. Families can either support students' staying in school or students' leaving it (Tinto, 1993). For example, for married students and older adults with families, external support may enable them to withstand the difficulties typically faced in adjusting to university life. For younger students, parental support/encouragement may be a 38 source of support to continue. For minority or other students, external supports such as affiliation groups may provide support (Tinto). Impact of School System Another early socialization factor is the school system, which may unwittingly discourage post-secondary participation of children from lower socioeconomic backgrounds. The school system, with its norms for classroom interactions and preferred styles of behavior, favors those who inherit positions of privilege and advantage (Bourdieu & Passeron, 1979; Guppy & Arai, 1993; Pike, 1970; Porter, Porter & Blishen, 1982). For example, examinations put children from the working class at a disadvantage because their work may not have the same evidence of accuracy, neatness and verbal fluency as that of other children (Bourdieu & Passeron; Pike). Thus, the nature of schools is likely to reinforce a post-secondary disposition for youth from higher socioeconomic backgrounds than those of other backgrounds. The educational system may also give preference to those students who do well academically and fit into the environment for whatever reason. Anecdotal recounts of experiences in school suggest that children who are hard of hearing may encounter difficulties fitting in socially and academically because of their hearing loss. I collected a number of these accounts during a workshop, which were then published Q (Warick, 1998). Of his experience, John stated: "I remember kids harassing and kids making jokes. The school system wasn't aware of dealing with a hard of hearing person, such as facing the blackboard and talking at the same time and those things" (Warick, p. 24). Jane also Pseudonyms were used in the report; this was the case for John and the others quoted subsequently. reported that the kids teased her in elementary school, but in her teens she acquired friends who "accepted me so I don't feel embarrassed anymore" (Warick, p. 23). Jim stated that he had been viewed "as a bad boy. Every time I couldn't understand a student in a class I would get into a fight. I thought that the student was making fun of me" (Warick, p. 20). Carol went through school with no hearing aids and not even being aware that she had a hearing loss. "I thought I was stupid. I left high school early" (Warick, p. 21). Comments from these students provide clues as to what enabled them to carry on to further levels of education. "I think the sooner you get... [your] self-acceptance and understanding the better you cope with your hearing loss." "One thing I learned over the years is never to set limits. Just because I'm hearing impaired doesn't mean I can't do anything. I have to try." "I experienced embarrassment, but I guess a time comes in everybody's life when the embarrassment ends. That's what happens. We stop. Can't be embarrassed anymore. Hearing is more important than being embarrassed" (Warick, 1998, pp. 22-24). The previously mentioned students attended regular schools, which tends to be the case for most students who are hard of hearing9 . Terms such as "mainstreaming," "inclusion," and "integration" are used to describe their educational experience. These terms are often used interchangeably but there are substantial differences between mainstreaming and inclusion (Antia & Stinson, 1999; Stinson & Antia, 1999). "Mainstreaming implies that the child adapts to the regular classroom, whereas inclusion implies that the regular classroom Regular schools may offer a range of supports from a resource room where students spend all or part of the time, to being in the regular classroom all of the time, with occasion external supports or none at all. Some students who are deaf may have these experiences, but some may also attend residential or segregated schools. Students who are hard of hearing are unlikely to attend residential or segregated schools. 40 will adapt to the child" (Stinson & Antia, p. 164). In terms of classroom involvement, mainstreaming implies that children are "visitors in the regular classroom, whereas inclusion implies that the D/HH [deaf/hard of hearing] children are members of the regular classroom" (Stinson & Antia, p. 165). Language Development One of the crucial areas where students with a hearing loss may be impacted by their disability is in the area of language development, i f the hearing loss occurred at birth or early in life. Depending on a person's degree of hearing loss, there may be a limitation in the amount of language that can readily be acquired. Hamp (1972) estimated that children who are hard of hearing are approximately two years behind in academic achievement compared to hearing children, especially in reading and math. However, the performance of children who are hard of hearing can approach or even match that of hearing peers if they are provided with early amplification and auditory management (Jamieson, 1994). Language development may be at a slower rate but is still possible in the same sequence of auditory language development for children who are hard of hearing as it is for normal hearing children "provided that they are exposed to appropriately amplified speech at an early age" (Madell, 1992, p. 158). A source of amplified speech is through the use of hearing aids and, in some cases, the use of assistive listening devices10. An Assistive Listening Device (ALD) consists of two components, a receiver and a transmitter. The user wears a receiver to pick up sound via radio frequencies or light signals from a distance which are being broadcast or reflected from the speaker's transmitter. Usually, the user combines the receiver with his or her hearing aids, although the receiver may be worn without hearing aids through the use of earphones. 41 Hearing aids amplify sound by increasing its loudness. But hearing aids are unable to discriminate between speech and noise and, thus, amplify both to the detriment of hearing (Ross, 1992). " A hearing aid, despite how technically advanced it is, cannot fully restore normal hearing. No hearing aid can provide full access to the distinctive features and characteristics of the ecological hearing world" (Antonson, 1998, p. 244). Similarly, assistive listening systems, which serve to reduce the distance of sound reception through use of a transmitter for the speaker's voice and a receiver for the recipient, do not restore normal hearing. Speechreading may be used to aid in language comprehension by supplementing heard parts with visual cues from a speaker's mouth, face and movements. "Even at best, however, speechreading is demanding, tiring, and only partially accurate" (Luey & Glass, 1995, p. 178). Despite its limitations, speechreading can be a predictor of a student's ability to persist in college (Menchel, 1996; Stinson et al., 1987). Menchel found that all except one of the 33 students whom he interviewed, most of whom were deaf, used speech and speechreading as their main mode of communication throughout elementary and high school. Only four of the students used interpreting services and only seven of the students had notetakers in high school, and yet they performed well scholastically; all but one had good speechreading skills. Impact of Communication Difficulties on Learning If a student who is hard of hearing has experienced early language difficulties, there may be some delay in acquiring concepts and developing communication skills. The student's ability to think reflectively and develop internal control may be weakened. Difficulties with academic learning may result. When communication is impaired and tight controls are exerted on them, children are less likely to develop reflective cognition and an internal locus of control (Marschark, 1993; Meadow-Orlans, 1990). This has nothing to do with innate intelligence but, rather, with socialization patterns." Research on children who are deaf has found that parents' communication patterns are likely to be more controlling and directive in verbal and nonverbal interchanges with them than with hearing children (Marschark, 1993). A comparative study of hearing mothers, some who had children who were deaf and some who had hearing children, found three communication differences (Lederberg & Mobley, 1990). Mothers of children who were deaf (1) spent significantly less time interacting with their children than did the hearing dyads, (2) initiated interactions with their children more often than did the mothers of hearing children, and (3) terminated interactions more frequently because the child did not see or hear a communication. Because these studies refer to children who are deaf, it is not known whether similar findings would be found for children who are hard of hearing. A child's language development and subsequent cognitive development is further affected by continuing social and experiential deficits. It has been said that children who are deaf do not have the same opportunities to learn concepts and acquire vocabulary as do other children because they do not have equivalent experience; compared with hearing children they 1 1 Jamieson (1994) has traced the historical views of the cognitive development of children who are deaf. Initially these children were viewed as inferior in intelligence; then deafness came to be viewed as a form of sensory deprivation, leading to qualitatively inferior and more concrete mental processes than those displayed by hearing individuals. By the 1960s, the view was that poorer performance was due to lack of experience or task emphasis on English, a language to which children who are deaf had limited exposure by virtue of their hearing loss. 43 have less outdoor play, fewer playmates and less language input from adults (Marschark, 1993). Children who are hard of hearing may also have missed socialization and language development opportunities. Furthermore, their inability to hear may be mistaken for an anti-social response, causing further difficulties. Paradoxically, the child with a less severe hearing loss may be confronted with a conflict in the classroom not normally encountered by the deaf student. Because the hard-of-hearing child appears to hear and respond appropriately much of the time, the teacher may attribute unpredictable responses to inattentiveness and penalize accordingly. (Jamieson, 1994, p. 605) Students who are deaf and hard of hearing may lag behind their hearing peers in reading, writing and numeric skills (Paul & Qu ig ley , 1990; Rodda & Hiron, 1989). Deficits may arise from weak foundational knowledge in these subjects due to a lack of hearing content. Some youth with hearing losses who participated in a Canadian national survey attested to having academic difficulties in the areas of mathematics and reading (Warick, 1994a). However, many youth who are hard of hearing have excellent academic records and no particular deficiencies in any subject area, so that individual variations need to be recognized. A variety of factors, including language acquisition difficulties from an early age, lack of use of assistive listening technology, the nature of the early learning environment and family support, as well as individual characteristics, may help to explain why some youth who are deaf and hard of hearing have academic deficits. 44 Self-Esteem The amount of self-esteem possessed by individuals may affect their educational attainment. Studies on self-esteem suggest that children and adolescents who are deaf may have less positive ideas about themselves than do comparable groups of hearing peers; their self-esteem is lower and they lack a sense of personal control over events (Leigh & Stinson, 1991; Meadows-Orlans, 1990). In addition, it has been reported that students who are deaf feel that they are less socially accepted than their hearing peers (Capelli, Daniels, Durieux-Smith, McGrath, & Neuss, 1995). Whether the self-esteem of youngsters who are hard of hearing is affected by hearing difficulties is worth considering. Warick (1994a) found that over 80% of the responding youth in her study agreed with more positive statements about the self than negative ones. However, about 20% of respondents choose the more negative statements such as "I have few friends," "Others do not understand," and "I am discouraged by my hearing loss." No connection was found between the selection of negative statements and level of hearing loss, suggesting that level of hearing loss does not correspond to degrees of difficulty in self-perceptions. Dancer et al. (1995) found that children who are hard of hearing may experience lowered expectations matched by low results. In their study of 18 children, ranging in age from 5 to 17 years old, students who had unilateral hearing losses had lower ratings than hearing students in academics, attention, communication, class participation, and behavior. Despite this, teachers believed that these students were performing well. The authors concluded that this was because the teachers had lowered their expectations for them, and found a low performance acceptable. Gaustad (1999) reported that teachers themselves stated 45 that they had underestimated the potential of their students with hearing losses, whether deaf or hard of hearing, and these students had consistently exceeded their expectations. Contributing to self-esteem may be parental lack of acceptance of a child's hearing loss. It has been suggested that parents will undergo a grieving process about their child's hearing loss, a process that includes denial, guilt, depression, anger, and anxiety (Luterman, 1987). Although these stages are considered sequential, they sometimes overlap and may recur in parents at different decision-points in a child's life. Furthermore, there is no set time period for each stage (Luterman). Societal norms about the acceptance of disabling conditions may factor into parental views and the amount of supports available to them in dealing with this process. Not only do parents go through stages of adjusting to a hearing loss but, so too, do those who are adventitiously deaf or deafened, terms which refer to those who lose their hearing later in life. "For them, deafness is both a disability and a loss; it is something to be mourned" (Luey & Glass, 1995, p. 180). Those with a congenital hearing disability have grown up with a hearing loss as part of their identity; in contrast, the loss of hearing is new to those who are adventitiously deaf, requiring constant adjustment and readjustment to new roles, relationships, jobs, activities, and to a world of unending silence (Rutman, 1989). "The sense of loss and deprivation may be enduring and intense, as individuals lose access to their once familiar world" (Rutman, p. 306). Even those who have had a hearing loss from birth may deny their hearing loss and can endeavor to do so because, to outward appearances, a hearing loss is not visible. "Hard of hearing people try to deny or hide their hearing losses, have generally not joined organizations 46 of hard of hearing people and make efforts to blend into the normally hearing world around themselves" (Weisel & Reichstein, 1990, p. 1). The lack of disclosure and associated actions may be attempts to escape societal stigmas associated with having a hearing loss. "It is not uncommon for people to think of the hearing impaired as: not so bright, stupid, strange, not so capable, and they tend to expect less from those with a hearing loss" noted Lutes (1987, p. 75). Getty and Hetu (1994) found that the fear of stigma associated with a hearing loss governed the coping strategies of employees who were hard of hearing. These employees perceived that their co-workers thought of them as feeling inferior, lonely, isolated, stressed, rejected, and not being bright. Having a hearing impairment is seen as a condition that needs to be hidden. It leads to a negative self-image - seeing oneself as diminished, weak, less of a person. It is understandable that, with the threat of stigmatization surrounding an invisible impairment, one would do everything to conceal the impairment. (Getty & Hetu, p. 269) The stigma associated with a hearing loss may result in a lack of use of assistance and services because these will mark the user as being different from everyone else (Rutman, 1989). In university, students with hearing losses may decline to use disability services and supports. Sohn (1996) noted that she only self-disclosed her hearing loss and got help after not doing well in her first year and realizing that she would fail i f she did not use supports. "It was then that I recognized that succeeding in University was more important than my discomfort" (p. 19). 47 Even those who want to disclose their hearing loss may experience disbelief from others or a denial of the seriousness of the disability. The invisible nature of a hearing loss may mean that others are apt to forget that there can be difficulties (Bryant, 1996). Other reasons can cause a lack of confidence. Antonson (1998), whose study involved 11 Swedish university students with hearing losses, found that students felt a loss of control and security from encountering obstacles, such as a lack of integration in group activities, difficulty keeping up with the pace of study, or lack of contact with instructors. A variety of data sources were used for the study: interviews, participant observation, video recordings, stimulated recall, and text interpretations. Antonson noted that the students had the feeling of being regarded as inferior and, as a result, began to be uncertain and wonder whether she/he was good enough. The distance in relation to significant others at the university, such as fellow students and teachers, meant that this uncertainty could at times increase and result in a loss of self-confidence, (p. 249) Whether self-esteem issues, and the attendant difficulties of living with a hearing loss in a hearing world, translate into emotional and psychological difficulties has been addressed in the literature (Jamieson, 1994; Meadow, 1980; Rutman, 1989; Schlesinger & Meadow, 1972). Meadow noted that there tends to be a higher prevalence of personality and behavior disorders among deaf children: 8-22% compared with rates of 2-10% for the general population of American children. Hil l and Nelson (2000) noted that the incidence of severe I and persistent mental illness in the Deaf population is about the same as is found in the hearing population, that being 1-3% but the incidence of serious mental disturbance may be as much as four times higher in the Deaf population (40%) than in the hearing population (10%). 4 8 "There is a high incidence of severe stress and trauma disorders caused by lack of communication, family disconnection, isolation, daily systemic discrimination, physical abuse, and sexual abuse" (p. i). According to Jamieson (1994), children who are hard of hearing may face problems from lack of hearing or not belonging to a Deaf community. Although the likelihood of psychosocial problems increases when a hearing loss is present, this is not inevitable and individuals can vary enormously. Marschark (1997) noted that studies of over-protective mothers found both students, whether hearing or deaf, were likely to report being depressed, the point being that deafness per se does not cause the problems. Jamieson offered that parental and audiology support, along with the provision of mental health services, would reduce the incidence of emotional and behavioral difficulties. Transition Process Students bring to university their experiences from a prior institution as well as their immediate transition experience, such as with the admissions and program selection process. A n effective transition process is more likely to lead to the retention of students, than an ineffective process. The adjustment from one institution to another can result in anxiety because of the change in content, expectations, and grades at a university (Andres, 2001; Andres et al., 1996). This can happen even when students attending community colleges support transfer from college rather than high school as a viable and even preferable route to 4 9 university (Andres). The transfer process may be difficult due to poor counseling, difficulties with the transfer and registration process, loss of credit for coursework, or adjustment difficulties (Andres, 1996, 2001; Dougherty, 1987). In addition, students who attended college before going on to university may find university harder and more challenging. The work may be more demanding and require more independent activity without clear guidelines (Andres, 2001). Students may have difficulty integrating into the receiving institution (Andres, 2001; Dougherty, 1987). Transition is a "period of change, uncertainty, adaptation, adjustment, stress and accommodation" (Gilbert, Chapman, Dietsche, Grayson, & Gardner, 1997, p. 109). Effective transfer may be hampered by a lack of information. Although the majority of students find the transfer process is not difficult (Andres, 2001; Townsend, 1995), some students have considerable difficulty. A third of the 47 transferring students interviewed by Andres (2001) found the transfer experience "complicated and confusing" (p. 52). The students were transferring from a particular urban community college to university in 1996. Andres notes: The available information was insufficiently clear; it was hard to work out an acceptable program of studies that satisfied the necessary transfer requirements; it was difficult to determine whether the information was current, to understand what it meant, or what aspects of it were most pertinent, (p. 52) 1 2 Although college participation and university transfer are promoted in some jurisdictions, Dougherty (1987) has noted that college participation can hinder the attainment of a degree. Karabel (1972) viewed college as a component of the class-based tracking system with universities being intended for students of higher socio-economic status. Clark (1960) described colleges as "cooling out" places for students who don't meet university standards, thereby reducing the number of disappointed, disaffected youth in society. 50 Students require accurate information about the nature of the institution well in advance to make effective choices and to plan their transition to post-secondary education (Andres, 2001; Braxton, Vesper, & Hossler, 1995; Guppy & Bednarski, 1999; Tinto, 1993). Beatty-Guenter (1992) stressed the importance of providing up-to-date information to teachers and school guidance counselors, as well as encouraging them to make on-site visits. Campus orientation programs were also suggested whereby students visit prospective institutions. In compiling research on interventions, Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) found that programs, such as instruction on academic skills, advising, and counselling as well as comprehensive support services, had a positive effect on persistence. The effect was strongest during freshman year than thereafter. Yet, according to Gilbert et al. (1997), the difficulty with many programs is that they tend to rely on the voluntary self-selection of students to activate them, and those who would benefit most from them are least likely to select them voluntarily. The programs are passive or reactive, rather than being active or intrusive. Yet, mandatory programs may not be the answer because many persons who do not require them would be forced to attend. For students with disabilities, an important transition issue is the match between their disability-related needs and the institution's accommodations. Accommodations, in this context, refer to changes in processes or services required for students with disabilities to access the university environment or to have equivalent experiences to those of non-disabled students. Students may already have had prior experiences with disability-related accommodations in previous forms of schooling, but when they enter post-secondary 51 education, they will have to negotiate an entirely new set of arrangements with unfamiliar people. Their ability to handle these arrangements may be shaped by prior experiences, skills, and expectations about their new environment. Their anxiety about entering university may be heightened because of concerns as to whether they will obtain needed accommodations and adjustments in a new setting. Some students with disabilities select a particular post-secondary institution based, in part, on their perceptions of the availability of support services. Menchel (1996) found this to be a significant factor in choices of post-secondary institutions by the students with hearing losses taking part in his study. In some jurisdictions, itinerant13 teachers assist high school students with the transfer process to university by providing information and arranging visits to particular institutions. These visits are not only with admissions staff but also with disability coordinators to discuss what accommodations may be available. Despite such visits, Swartz and Israelite (2000) found that students who are hard of hearing are often not prepared for the realities of a post-secondary education. In 1996 Swartz and Israelite conducted semi-structured group interviews with five university students who were hard of hearing and, in the spring of 2000, conducted three interviews with three additional university students who were hard of hearing. They found that students may experience communication breakdowns due to not being aware of strategies for dealing with new realities. As well, the students may have difficulties obtaining support services, compounded by a lack of knowledge about the nature of their own hearing loss and the use of various technological and other support services. 1 3 Itinerant teachers are teachers who travel from school to school and serve as a resource for meeting the needs of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. 52 Furthermore, students may be misguided if they act on the information they have without checking it out. This was found by Andres et al. (1996) who conducted an action research study involving 21 first-year students attending three post-secondary institutions. The researchers conducted focus groups and asked students to keep weekly journals reflecting their experiences. The study also included interviews with key institutional staff. Not only did Andres et al. (1996) find that students often had inaccurate, incomplete, or wrong information about post-secondary life, but that they often had difficulty getting accurate information, either because of their own lack of knowledge and initiative or because bureaucratic processes were difficult or resources insufficient. The reality of maneuvering through the institution is far more complex as students encounter countervailing forces such as unhelpful and curt staff, limited access to or absence of materials, and reluctance to utilize existing resources. Sometimes students did not know what resources the institution offered; in other instances, utilizing resources was resisted because they did not fit the needs of the students, (p. 124) There is considerable written advice for students with a hearing loss on "navigating" the post-secondary system (Jones, 1993; Lingen, 1993; Patterson & Schmidt, 1992; Warick, 1997). For example, the handbook by Jones (1993) identifies barriers and possible ways to overcome them. A list of possible services to provide hearing access and support is provided. Usually, though, the material is generic, so that students need to make contact with a specific institution to find out about their policies and procedures. Moreover, although written materials are useful, they have limitations and need to be supplemented by human contact (Andres et al., 1996). 53 Academic Integration This section discusses issues related to the academic integration of students in university, including student experience with their courses, instructors, grades, and academic advising. Before launching into this discussion, a profile of the participation of students in general, and students with hearing losses in particular, will provide some idea of the scope of the population that attends university. Participation Rates The rate of participation of students attending university has risen dramatically over the last century in Canada. From a rate of only 3% of the population in the 1930s attending universities (Axelrod, 1990), the full-time participation rate increased to 30.6% for students aged 18-to-21 year in 1998-1999 (Statistics Canada, 2000). The participation rate of students with disabilities does not match their percentage of the population. University degrees are held by 7% of persons with disabilities, compared to 17% of the population (Human Resources Development, Government of Canada, 2002). In universities, less than 1% of the student population comprises students with disabilities (Hill, 1992). Of the 6,151 survey respondents to an undergraduate survey involving 23 Canadian universities, 3.5% of students self-identified as having a disability (Walker, 1999). Of the total group, 9.1% reported having a hearing disability. Danermark et al. (2001) noted that the number of students with hearing losses who continue their education at the post-secondary level is much lower compared to hearing peers in Sweden. Persons who are deaf or hard of hearing constituted 12.9% of the students with disabilities who responded to a Canadian study of students with disabilities attending colleges 54 and universities. Students with learning disabilities, attention deficit disorders, mobility impairments and visual impairments self-identified more than did students with other types of disabilities (Killean & Hubka, 1999). The participation rates of students in general are less impressive when their drop-out rates are considered. One-third of all its students who entered for the first time dropped out before they completed their first year, the University of Victoria reported in 1992 (British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer, 1992). Two colleges in British Columbia found that 20% of new fall registrants had not completed a single course by Christmas and that 50% of full-time students did not graduate from two-year programs (British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer). Drop-out rates of students with disabilities are not separated out in these studies14. However, another study found that students with disabilities have the same completion rates as other students (Jorgensen, Havel, Lamb, James, Barile, & Fichten, 2002). Whether this includes students who are hard of hearing is unknown. A study of the drop-out rates of students who are deaf found that the 70 percent rate exceeded national rates for hearing students in every category, despite differences in attrition rates among different schools (Walter, Foster, & Elliot, 1987). The foregoing information suggests that the rate of post-secondary participation of students with hearing losses is less than that for the general population. The first year at university is a particularly vulnerable time. However, in terms of completion rates, students with disabilities do not differ from the rest of the student population. Note that these figures are cited for colleges, not universities, and one cannot assume that the rates of drop-out would be the same for both types of institutions. 55 Quality of the Learning Experience Tinto's retention model (1987) stresses the importance of academic integration as the major factor contributing to student retention. According to Bean and Bradley (1986) students' positive perceptions of the quality of the learning they experienced in the classroom contributed to feelings of academic integration. Walker (1999) found that 88% of undergraduate students surveyed felt that their learning experiences were intellectually stimulating, and 85% were pleased with the quality of the teaching received at university. Students' evaluation of academic quality is related to course offerings, class size, advising, nature of the instruction, and career preparation. Positive evaluations are not related to year in school, grades, or gender of the student (Corts, Lounsbury, Saudargas, & Tatum, 2000). This does not mean that there are no differences based on year of study. Misra, McKean, West, and Russo (2000) found that students in their first or second year had higher levels of stress than did students in their third or fourth year. In Guppy and Trew's (1995) study, full-time students, whether disabled or non-disabled, stated that they were more dissatisfied than were part-time students. Guppy and Trew (1995) distributed questionnaires to 5,654 graduate students at a single university in 1994 and received back 3,314 analyzable surveys for a 59% response rate. Another finding from Guppy and Trew's (1995) study was that students with disabilities had lower ratings of their educational experience than non-disabled students. This was the case in four of five categories: overall university experience, academic experience, academic progress, and academic advising. In percentage terms, their ratings were below 65% in all categories. 56 The preceding studies did not separate out students who are hard of hearing, and so it is not possible to know the extent to which these findings are applicable to this group. Given that students who are hard of hearing experience difficulties with hearing in a post-secondary environment (Antonson, 1998; Mindel & Feldman, 1987; Warick, 1994a), it seems reasonable to assume that many of the issues raised in the survey by students with disabilities may have some application to them. Differences in attitudes were prevalent with respect to different program areas in Walker's study (1999). Arts and Humanities students and Education students had stronger ratings for their experiences than Business, Engineering, Physical Sciences, and Biological Science students. Despite differences in ratings among different program areas, selection of a major may be an indicator of the extent to which a student is integrated into university. The impact of not having a major was the reason why most students who were deaf left university (Scherer and Walter, 1988). Methods and quality of teaching were paramount concerns raised by undergraduates in a university survey of their experiences (Student Services Working Group, U B C , 1995). When discontent was expressed, it was about classes lacking stimulation. Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) found that it was the quality of interactions with instructors that mattered most to students, not the frequency of contact. "The most influential interactions appear to be those that focus on ideas of intellectual matters, thereby extending and reinforcing the intellectual goals of the academic program" (p. 620). In other words, students found interactions around course content with their instructors to be the most meaningful. 57 Students who are hard of hearing experience difficulties hearing in the classroom, which affects the quality of their learning experience. Youth who are hard of hearing have difficulties hearing instructors and other students (Warick, 1994a). They have difficulties hearing in specific situations such as in group discussions and in lecture-format classes (Antonson, 1998; Mindel & Feldman, 1987; Warick). Difficulties in hearing tape recordings, slide shows, and non-captioned films and videos1 5 were also experienced, along with difficulties hearing in situations such as cafeterias, auditoriums, and on campus grounds (Warick). As I noted in a presentation (Warick, 1998, February), I myself faced worries about hearing when I returned to university as a graduate student: One of my greatest fears was whether or not I would hear my instructors and the other students. Would it be hard to hear? Would it be impossible to hear? Would it be a pleasant hearing environment or would be it stressful and emotionally and physically draining? What would I have to do to hear? How many students would there be in the classroom? Would it be a large or a small class and would I be able to hear other students? What would be the quality of the instructor's voice? Would I need to use an assistive listening device in addition to my hearing aid? A l l of these questions were in mind when I started university again. These were not one-time questions. With each new semester and each new class the same questions arose again, (p. 1) Difficulties with hearing are, perhaps, not surprising for students who are hard of hearing. They are additional difficulties, however, that students without hearing losses do not experience, for the most part. What is not known is the impact of these types of 1 5 Captioned films and videos refer to the simultaneous display of text of the verbal content on the screen. 58 difficulties on the university persistence of students who are hard of hearing and on the quality of their post-secondary experience. However, a study by Walter et al. (1987) found that being unable to communicate with teachers was among the three top reasons students withdrew from post-secondary education. Interactive classes are problematic because students who are hard of hearing cannot identify the location of speakers in time to focus on them for lipreading. In addition, the effectiveness of hearing aids is limited because the wearer has insufficient time to become oriented to swift and sudden changes in speakers. Participation is a challenge for Deaf students using a sign interpreter because the interpreting follows the speaker, resulting in a lag time of 5 to 10 seconds after a speaker stops (Foster, Long, & Snell, 1999). By the time students have received the full message, the instructor has already identified and called on someone else. Furthermore, classes with considerable learning in work groups are challenging because of the rapid turn-taking in conversation, and interpreting lag-time (Antia, Stinson, & Gaustad, 2002). "Integration into the give and take of the mainstreamed classroom is often not achieved" (Walter et al., 1987). Students, who used oral means of communication as opposed to interpreters, were also found to have difficulties participating in class. Stinson, Liu, Saur, & Long (1996) noted that students who are oral deaf selected opportunities to speak up in class carefully, being strategic in doing so. Sometimes, they chose not to participate and, instead, waited to have a private moment with the instructor after class (Stinson et al.). Persons who are hard of hearing also experience participation difficulties (Antonson, 1998; Mindel & Feldman, 1987; Secord, 1999; Warick, 1998, February). Due to the time it 59 takes to process sound and to fill in missing gaps of verbal content, persons who are hard of hearing frequently experience a lag in comprehension of the message. t While my brain is engaged in the process of interpreting the content of what is being said, the same conversation is progressing! Hence, what I find myself doing, is trying to play "catch-up" with the ongoing conversation. The result is that I experience holes in the conversation as a whole and become unwittingly excluded from the conversation! (Secord, 1999, p. 18) Students who do not participate in classes are more akin to being visitors than members of the class. In contrast to being a visitor, being a member means being part of the classroom and school community (Antia et al., 2002). Visitors "face greater barriers in obtaining a quality education" (Antia et al., p. 215). In particular, students who do not participate, despite having a hearing loss, can face academic consequences. Some courses mark students on participation for a portion of the class grade. Unless students request an alternate evaluation, their marks may be affected when participation is graded. Because classroom participation has been found to be a good predictor of course grades, "the inability to participate in the classroom may result in poor academic achievement" (Stinson & Antia, 1999, p. 168). Another academic challenge identified by Foster et al. (1999) is that although students who are deaf rely on speechreading for information, instructors often break visual contact with them by writing on the board, reading from papers held too close to their faces, or pacing back and forth. The same visual need for speechreading exists for students who are hard of hearing. Other classroom challenges have been noted for students who are deaf and hard of hearing (Antia et al., 2002; Antonson, 1998; Foster et al., 1999; Stinson & Antia, 1999; 60 Stinson et al., 1996; Walter et al., 1987). One occurs when instructors speak at the same time as they manipulate physical objects, requiring students to divide their attention between the instructor/interpreter and the object. The other occurs when students with hearing losses are excluded from informal exchanges among other students regarding instructor expectations, study tips, and unspoken rules for class behavior and organization, thus missing important but "unpublished" information. Furthermore, they are not able to gauge what was missed because they don't know what was not heard, and so they cannot take steps to obtain the missed content. Once students lose the thread of a conversation it is difficult "to find the thread again or re-join the discussion. This meant that both short and long sequences in a communication situation were easily lost and most often impossible to deduce" (Antonson, 1998, p. 247). A student who is hard of hearing may find that a previously successful learning style does not fare well in university or for some courses. Learners have different learning styles, but a person who is hard of hearing may have adopted a particular style because of the hearing loss. As I noted about a statistics course I took: I learned from the statistics course that I had to change my learning style. I had learned to study from the book since I often did not hear the instructor. In the case of the statistics course, I learned that studying from class presentations was the most essential part so I had to consciously shift my studying strategies. When I did that, my grades significantly improved. (Warick, 1998, February, p. 7) Stinson et al. (1996) found that all students with hearing losses, regardless of their level of hearing, relied heavily on instructors to be sensitive to their communication needs in 61 the classroom. Furthermore, instructors were important in giving students opportunities to participate by controlling class discussion and being patient with slow communication. Besides structuring class activities to facilitate communication and the participation of students, instructors can also provide information about deafness and corroborate with support personnel (Stinson & Liu, 1999). However, students also found that they could not rely solely on instructors. Strategies such as asking classmates for assistance, reading more on one's own, having a teacher write more on the board, or obtaining a notetaker were employed by students with hearing losses to overcome their classroom difficulties (Warick, 1994a). Students also sat at the front of a class, requested others to repeat themselves, or met with an instructor after class. Schein (1991) noted that students can partially overcome difficulties hearing an instructor in a lecture by focusing on the speaker and choosing an appropriate seat. It also helps when instructors have strong, clear voices and face students directly (Stinson et al., 1996). In order to ensure effective communication, students who are hard of hearing need to be assertive and self-confident. Students with hearing losses who were surveyed about factors for success emphasized foremost a self-confident attitude, which is necessary for dealing with difficulties (Quigley et al., 1968). Yet, difficulties of hearing are likely to lead to a sense of isolation (Mindel & Feldman, 1987). "Uninvited isolation from others is one of the most painful of human sufferings. No one can survive in a vacuum. Our capacity to communicate meaningfully with others is inextricably tied to our capacity for living" (Mindel & Feldman, p. 20). 62 Formal and Informal Faculty Contact A n important aspect of academic integration is the relationship that students have with instructors. Tinto's retention model (1975) initially focused more on formal contact and, as a result of the research by Pascarella and Terenzini (1980) and Terenzini and Pascarella (1977, 1978), Tinto added the importance of informal contact, which Tinto incorporated into his revised retention model of 1987. Frequent interaction with faculty is more strongly related to satisfaction with university than any other type of involvement (Astin, 1984). As well, frequency of contact with faculty has positive associations with students' self-reports of academic and intellectual skill development (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). It is likely to "strengthen the personal bonds between the student and the institution thereby increasing the likelihood of social integration and persistence" (p. 394). There are differences in interactions based on types of institution, types of program of study, and year of study. Pascarella and Chapman (1983 a) found that residential students and students in the liberal arts had significantly more non-classroom interaction with faculty members than students in commuter institutions or those in other types of programs. Differences in faculty contact may also exist based on students' year of study and discipline. Hawkey's (2000) research led her to conclude that upper level students, as compared to other levels of students, were more apt to be involved with academic activities such as being integrated into the research culture of an institution, and to be more involved in activities of 63 their academic discipline.1 6 Schulte, Thompson, Hayes, Noble, and Jacobs (2001) found that student-to-faculty interactions and relationships were rated less positively by both faculty and students at the undergraduate level than at the graduate level. From a study of students at 74 institutions, Pascarella (1985) concluded that students who had aspirations to continue their studies were more apt to develop relationships with faculty than those students who did not have such aspirations. Students who are hard of hearing and deaf also vary in the extent to which they want contact with instructors. "One student might want close contact with teachers and other university staff, while another student might want to manage by him/herself as much as possible" (Antonson, 1998, p. 247). The extent to which professors are considered approachable affects the contact students make with them. Andres et al. (1996) found that some students were reluctant to seek assistance from instructors because they viewed them as power figures. Reluctance by some students to contact faculty was exacerbated when the instructor was perceived to be insensitive, uncaring, and overtly sexist, or a poor instructor (Andres et al.). However, not all students responded to instructors in this way. Some students who had been wary of approaching instructors at the outset of a term described the same instructors as "pretty approachable" by the end of their term (Andres et al, p. 88). Townsend (1995) and Andres (2001) also found differences between universities and colleges with respect to faculty attitudes and behaviors toward students. Whereas college 1 6 In 1998 Hawkey conducted 23 interviews with third-year psychology students attending a research intensive university, and, in the following year, she distributed questionnaires to third-year psychology students. A total of 130 questionnaires were returned. 64 instructors concentrated on developing students' academic abilities, by contrast, university faculty exhibited a Darwinian perspective about academic success, namely, that the strongest will survive (Townsend). From some faculty members' perspective, it is the student's responsibility to correct any deficiencies in academic preparation, not the faculty member's....Even at an institution officially committed to teaching and a student-centered approach, some faculty seemed reluctant to give students direct assistance i f they seemed to lack appropriate academic background. (Townsend, p. 189) Similarly, Andres (2001) found that some students felt university professors were occasionally "distant, inaccessible, and bound by fewer expectations to be clear and communicative" (p. 59). However, other students preferred the approach taken at university, as noted by the following student who felt "you shouldn't be spoon-fed because university is the time for you to be like independent" (p. 99). Academic Advising Academic advising refers to the process of students receiving advice related to their academic studies or programs. Crockett (1985) has stressed that academic advising is an important component of persistence. According to Crockett, an advisor assists students with exploring goals and choosing appropriate educational offerings consistent with those goals. Such advising is best when it helps students clarify their educational and career goals, relating these to academic offerings. Crockett also stated that academic advising, while not the only 65 means for an institution to demonstrate a caring attitude, does "represent an opportunity for a significant one-on-one relationship between faculty, staff and students to develop" (p. 245). Most often academic advising is provided by faculty members, although not exclusively so, depending on the structure of a faculty or department. Students report mixed levels of satisfaction with the quality of academic advising. In a study of undergraduate students at the University of British Columbia (Student Services Working Group, U B C , 1995) , students expressed concerns with academic advising and other types of advising (personal, career and financial). In another study, university students reported a range of academic advising experiences, from being very positive to being very brief (Andres et al., 1996) . Most notable was that lack of a declared major was considered an impediment to advising as noted by the following student: " A lot of people don't choose their major until third year so you don't get an advisor in your program until third year. But by that time you may have needed somebody before then" (Andres et al., p. 87). Corts et al. (2000) found that advising was at the bottom of the list of student satisfaction and was also the area of the greatest number of student complaints from students who are deaf. Student Expectations Students bring expectations to university. When expectations are met, there is a "goodness of fit" between an individual and an institution (Braxton et al., 1995): 66 The greater the extent to which expectations for academic and intellectual development are being fulfilled, the greater the degree of academic integration and social integration experienced by the student. Expectations for career development also wielded a positive influence on both academic and social integration, (p. 605) Andres et al. (1996) found that many first-year students tended to be overwhelmed by their workload and the adjustment to different, higher standards from high school. As a result, they experienced low or failing grades. Initially, the students started with higher expectations but by December reached consensus that in relation to achievement "first year's kind of a write-off (p. 85) and, that by the end of their first year, they were complacent about earning lower grades than they were accustomed to in high school. According to Andres et al., for this group of students "the game was to survive. Expecting to thrive was expecting too much" (p. 85). Expectations are also related to satisfaction levels, and there is some suggestion that i f students have achievable expectations that are met, they will be more satisfied and, hence, be able to perform better. Bean and Bradley (1986) concluded that "satisfaction had a greater influence on performance" (p. 403) than performance had on satisfaction. Student satisfaction contributes to academic, personal and professional achievement (Bean & Bradley; Pike, 1993). According to Bean and Bradley, four factors contributed to satisfaction: (1) institutional fit between the student and the type of institution, (2) a fair degree of academic integration, (3) a good social life, and (4) a feeling of self-development that one's education would lead to employment. 67 Commitment Commitment refers to the level of the individual's personal investment in their education (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Commitment is required for students to complete their university studies (Tinto, 1982). Tinto has identified two types of commitment, one being to persist because of the hope of graduation and the other, to persist because of a commitment to the institution; at least one but not necessarily both are required for a student to persist. Pascarella and Chapman (1983b) found that commitment to the goal of graduation was positively related to persistence in both residential universities and two-year commuter institutions. Commitment to the institution itself was a factor enhancing retention for students attending four-year colleges, especially if they had a low commitment to graduation and few friends. Institutional commitment was not a factor in retention for students at two-year commuter institutions, perhaps, because they intended to transfer to another institution following completion of their two-year program. Grades Reasonable grades are essential for a student to graduate. As well, Andres et al. (1996) students found that students are concerned about getting good grades to meet their own expectations, for self-satisfaction and, in some cases, for subsequent graduate school or scholarships. Grades were second to intent to leave in directly influencing drop-out, suggesting its importance (Bean, 1982). 68 Grades are not merely a result of academic ability and intelligence; they are significantly influenced by factors such as personal motivation, organizational skills, study habits, and quality of effort (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). In his study of 11 students with hearing losses, Antonson found that level of hearing was not related to level of performance. "There was no empirical connection between impaired hearing and the results achieved in university studies" (p. 246). Many first-year university students experienced a drop in their grades from high school (Andres et al., 1996; Menchel, 1996). This also applies to transfer students. Andres (2001) found that 42 out of 47 students who had transferred to university from a college experienced a decrease in marks. The main reasons for a decline in grades were increased academic rigour, the grading system (including the perception that a bell curve grading system was used), larger classes, and limited contact with instructors (Andres, 2001). They had found the move from college to university difficult and stressful, sometimes to the point where they felt they had encountered a serious setback in achieving their academic goals. A few students reported being on "academic probation" because their grades had dropped to a level of marginal acceptability, (p. 55) For those students who had been highly successful in high school, a marked decline in grades was traumatic and failing was a foreign concept to them: "The experience of earning low, and in some cases, failing grades within the first six weeks of university.. .was most distressing" (Andres et al., 1996, p. 84). Menchel (1996) noted that one of the coping strategies of successful students who are deaf was "learning to accept the fact that, while they might have been outstanding in high school with straight A 's , they were now 'just another student' and, perhaps, even, an average student" (p. 41). Andres et al. (1996) found that most students did not know the consequences of failing. Furthermore, they did not know the difference between failing a course and having a failing average or what courses of action could be taken when getting failing grades, including a mandatory year off and academic probation. Those who remained at university expected to improve in their second and third years of study (Andres et al., 1996). Students had concerns about grading practices (Andres et al., 1996). Some felt there was a process for culling students by grading "on a curve," while others thought the approach was to ensure that no one fails. These individuals felt that expectations differed between classes and that there were inconsistent grading processes between different sections of the same course. The latter was a particular reference to a first-year English course. Access Issues For students with disabilities, issues of access to instruction, programs, and services are of prime concern (Brinckerhoff, Shaw, & McGuire, 1993; Scott, 1994). Access to instruction relates to students' being able to "get" what is going on in the classroom and, for that to happen, instructors may need to modify their teaching and communication style. For example, instead of referring to an overhead, instructors might read aloud the contents for a student who is blind. For a student who is hard of hearing, instructors might make an effort to face the class rather than the blackboard when speaking about notes on the board. In addition 70 to communication strategies, Warick (1997) also identified such instructional supports'as accommodated exams and extra instruction. Students may also require accommodations17 for program success, and these accommodations may take the form of alternative scheduling, reduced course load, alternate exam and assignment-testing means, priority registration, use of auxiliary aids (e.g., calculators and spell checkers), and course substitution (Lingen, 1993; Warick, 1997). A different course may be substituted in place of a conversational language course due to a student's disability affecting the learning of a language; in the case of students who are hard of hearing, difficulties hearing a foreign language may qualify them for a course substitution. Access to services may include assistive listening devices, oral and sign interpreters, notetakers, tape recorders, preferential seating, room changes, and real-time closed captioning (Jones, 1993; Killean & Hubka, 1999; Lingen, 1993; Patterson & Schmidt, 1992; Warick, 1997). There may also be a need for other types of supports such as speech and hearing services (including hearing testing, hearing consultation, equipment servicing, and speechreading classes), funding support, career counselling, upgrading services, and modified course loads for students (Lingen). (See Appendix C for a summary and definitions of these services.) Schroedel and Watson (1991) found that interpreting services and notetaking services were used by 75% of the deaf students attending different types of post-secondary institutions. However, only 58% of deaf students at four-year colleges had tutoring services, compared to This term was earlier defined in this section as follows: accommodations refer to changes in processes or services required for students with disabilities to access the university environment or to have equivalent experiences to those of non-disabled students. 71 75% at other institutions. This may have reflected the availability of the service, the 18 researchers noted . Menchel (1996) found slightly higher use of services in university than in high school among the deaf students he interviewed. Only seven of the students had used notetakers in high school. In a Canadian study of students with disabilities, students who identified themselves as being hard of hearing and deaf were among the lowest users of all types of disability services compared to other disability groups. The study was conducted by Killen and Hubka (1999) under the auspices of the National Educational Association of Students with Disabilities. A total of 2,392 surveys were distributed in February and March, 1998, through disability offices and 153 surveys were also sent to students on N E A D S ' mailing lists. Overall 349 students from 102 different post-secondary institutions in Canada completed surveys. Killean & Hubka (1999) found that fewer students who are hard of hearing used exam accommodations, adaptive technology, and drugs or medical supplies than did other students with disabilities. For example, only 15.6% cited use of adaptive technology whereas the next lowest group was students with a mental health disability (27.8%) and the highest were blind and visually impaired students (65.5%). Only in the category of use of academic accommodations such as course or program modifications and extensions of assignment deadlines were they similar in usage to some other categories of students with disabilities. Schroedel and Watson (1991) distributed questionnaires to 1,703 deaf students expected to graduate with the classes of either 1984 or 1985 with a vocational, associate's, bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree. The completion rate of surveys was 44%; 743 students from 41 programs for deaf students across the United States filled out surveys. 72 With respect to the use of post-secondary support accommodations among students who are hard of hearing, Warick (1994a) found that 70% of students used notetaking services and 51% used tutoring, both of which are not highly visible services. More visible services were less used. A little over one-third used an assistive listening system and 22% reported using a sign interpreter while 12% used an oral interpreter. The use of sign interpreting is interesting insofar as the survey was specifically geared to youth who are hard of hearing who tend not to use sign language interpreting; however, it is possible that students who are deaf also completed the survey or that some students were encouraged to use a variety of communication means. Respondents reported little use of captioning in the classroom, a relatively new service at the time of the survey. Results are shown in Table 1 on the next page. In comparing results between post-secondary and other students, Warick (1994a) found a higher use of notetaking by post-secondary respondents compared to grade/high school students. The finding may be related to availability of the service. Use of tutoring services was also higher by post-secondary students but there was less use of assistive listening systems and less use of the services of a speech therapist. The other difference was the high use of itinerant teachers by grade/high school students, although this is not unexpected because itinerant teachers are not provided at the university level. 73 Table 1 Frequency of Types of Support Used by Post-Secondary Students Who are Hard of Hearing1 Category of Support No. Responses % Notetaker 47 70 Tutor 34 51 F M System 24 36 Signing Interpreter 15 22 Oral Interpreter 8 12 Itinerant Teacher 6 9 Speech Therapist 5 7 Electronic Notetaking 4 5 a Percentages relate to percentage of students who responded to the question; for example, 4 out of 98 students stated that they used electronic notetaking for a 5% rate. From A profile of Canadian hard of hearing youth by R. Warick (1994a), published in the Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, 18, 253-259. Copyright by Journal of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Reprinted with permission. 74 Warick (1994a) found that use of assistive listening devices, such as F M or Infrared technology,19 in elementary and secondary school was double the amount used in the post-secondary education environment. The use is low, despite the, often, lauded benefits of assistive devices. For example, Maxon (1992) noted that it is "a rare situation in which a child with a hearing loss cannot benefit from the positive signal-to-noise ratio provided by an F M system" (p. 109). However, the low use in the post-secondary context may be because assistive listening devices such as F M and Infrared systems have been found to have some drawbacks. As noted by one student, who attended a workshop that I facilitated: The way they are designed, they are perfect for elementary school because the teacher is boss.... The problem is in senior high school and university: F M systems are not made for that at all, and it is a real problem. The worse thing I ever had in my life was a seminar class. They are terrible. You can't do anything with an F M system in a seminar class. (Warick, 1998, pp. 30-31) McCormick, Pichora-Fuller, Paccioretti, and Lamb (1994) provide a further reason for non-use by participants in their project to provide hearing services at a Canadian university: In a university environment, where appearances of cognitive and verbal competence are highly valued, some participants of the Post-Secondary Hearing Accessibility Project may have decided that the stigma (perceived or real) of a publicly displayed hearing impairment outweighed the potential benefits of disability-reducing rehabilitative measures, and that the course of action with the most favorable cost-benefit analysis was to continue making the effort needed to pass as normal hearing persons, (p. 264) 1 9 See the appendix for an explanation of these terms. 75 Technologies such as classroom captioning have been introduced in the last decade, and are gaining in use. Rumball (1996) noted that captioning worked better for her than any other access accommodation. Captioning does not get 100 per cent of what is being said, but it still gives enough vital information. I have yet to see a better alternative to obtaining both interpreting and notetaking in one system. I came away with a real understanding of my classes and a sense of independence because I did not have to wait days for transcripts nor hope an oral interpreter would be available, (p. 17) Menchel (1996) found that some of the low use of support services stemmed from students' lack of understanding of the need for support services, and ways to obtain them and use them to advantage. Some students regretted not making more use of support services. Rodda and Hiron (1989) have suggested that without support services, students who are hard of hearing "are more likely to drop out, which tends to perpetuate the myth that they are unsuitable for higher education" (p. 49). This is not to say that lack of services is not a reason for withdrawal by deaf students; Walter et al. (1987) found that inadequate support services was one of three reasons for students' withdrawal, the others being a lack of communication with teachers and limited opportunities for social interaction with peers. In some cases students did not have support services. "In other cases, students had interpreters, notetakers, and tutors, and were still unsuccessful" (p. 17). Although certain types of disability-related supports, such as notetaking services, are important, they do not erase previous academic deficits (Stinson & Walter, 1992; Walter et al., 1987). Such supports may also be inadequate to address social issues in mainstream settings, particularly the informal type of peer interactions that take place outside of the classroom. Furthermore, Stinson and Walter indicated that there is a false assumption about support services. The assumption is that, once provided services, students who are deaf are expected to compete successfully with their hearing peers. As has been explained earlier under the academic section, there are still communication difficulties in receiving information for such students; a similar argument could be presented that accommodations for students who are hard of hearing do not provide for equality in the learning environment. Another assumption is that i f students are unsuccessful, failure is often attributed to a lack of innate ability or effort rather than to the educational environment or method of instruction. Stinson and Walter (1992) noted: Even though a deaf person has access to college, he/she may remain isolated both socially and educationally from the mainstream. Such isolation or lack of integration into the educational community may be an important cause of attrition among deaf persons attending college, (p. 58) One must look at, not only an individual's characteristics, but also the environment to determine what is happening (Antonson, 1998). To some extent, the nature of the environment mitigates against individual needs. "Teachers and students often have to work in an efficient way and at a high pace in order to remain on schedule. As a consequence, the individual and the individual's needs could suffer" (p. 250). Attitudinal Barriers Support services and accommodations may be insufficient i f students encounter attitudinal barriers to post-secondary participation. In a survey of students with disabilities at 77 the University of British Columbia (Educational Measurement Research Group, University of British Columbia, 1994), students identified concerns about attitudes. Difficulties were experienced in interacting with instructors, getting lecture notes, taping lectures, completing assignments, accessing libraries, finding tutors, and participating in class discussions. In particular, students felt at a disadvantage having to ask for accommodation with respect to tests and assignments. There were instances of a less than an accepting attitude on the part of instructors. Students mentioned "reluctance," "suspicion," "no empathy or understanding," "grudgingly accommodating," and "hard to convince" to describe some instructors' attitudes towards either the student or the request for test or assignment accommodation. (EMRG, 1994, p. 13) Two-thirds of post-secondary instructors have limited contacts with individuals with disabilities (Leyser, Vogel, Brulle, & Wyland, 1998). They have little knowledge of their legal responsibilities to accommodate students with disabilities and have limited knowledge and skills for making requested educational accommodations for them. "Despite the limited knowledge base, a large majority of faculty expressed a supportive attitude toward students with disabilities by indicating their overall willingness (behavioral intent) to make needed instructional accommodations in their courses" (Leyser et al., p. 12). Instructors were willing to make accommodations, although their preference was for accommodations that did not require a substantive amount of time or major modifications of the usual teaching practices (Leyser et al.). 78 In a study of students with disabilities attending Canadian universities, students expressed concern about the power of others in making decisions for them (Hill, 1994). Students also stated that decision-makers were inflexible in responding to the unique needs of students with disabilities. They also felt that some students with disabilities were being treated more favorably than other students (e.g., mobility impaired students being treated more favorably than students with learning disabilities). Swartz and Israelite (2000) found that some professors made assumptions about hearing loss based on a student's speech proficiency. The better the student spoke, the less inclined professors were to believe that their hearing had an effect on their ability to learn. "Students said they were sometimes accused of using their hearing loss as an excuse for poor academic performance" (p. 10). Another source of frustration found by Swartz and Israelite was that faculty and staff assumed that the needs, strengths, and preferences of all students who are hard of hearing are similar, i f not identical, to those who are deaf. This created misunderstandings in that the needs of persons who are hard of hearing do differ from those who are deaf. Menchel (1996) noted that, although numerous students reported that instructors were sensitive and understanding, some students found that instructors were often insensitive to needs related to their deafness. These students felt that some instructors "did not want to bother to make any special accommodations or even in some cases made it clear that they did not want a deaf student in their class" (p. 49). In these cases, students rearranged their schedule and dropped the class. Menchel described the students as taking responsibility for 79 resolving their problems, which contributed to these students' success in university. These students appear to have a strong internal locus of control. When faced with insensitive instructors, problems with obtaining support services, and coping generally with the environment as a deaf student in a "hearing" institution, they assumed responsibility for resolving problems, (p. 42) Social Integration Tinto's (1987) model is predicated on the integration of students into the academic and social life of a post-secondary institution. Social integration refers to interactions with peers outside of the classroom and involvement in semi-formal extracurricular activities. Successful encounters in these areas result in varying degrees of social communication, leadership support, faculty support, and collective affiliation, each of which can be viewed as important social rewards that become part of the person's generalized evaluation of the costs and benefit of college attendance and that modify his educational and institution commitments. (Tinto, 1975, p. 107) Social integration is important to Tinto's model because it is one more dimension that can contribute to the commitment of the individual to persistence. It becomes a factor in the cost/benefit analysis of persistence versus drop-out. In a longitudinal pattern of behavior, social integration may heighten an individual's willingness to stay the course; an individual 80 with no social contacts with any university personnel and no involvement in any activities will have less invested and, therefore, there is less cost to leaving an institution. Although Tinto's diagrammatic depiction of his model seems to imply equivalent importance of academic and social spheres of university life, Tinto (1993) has clarified that this is not the case. He acknowledged that some students can be academically integrated but have little or no social activity; however, the reverse cannot be the case because a lack of academic integration results in poor performance, which can lead to dismissal. It is not necessary that students be involved in all aspects of social life for them to be socially integrated. Even one area of involvement may be sufficient to create a sense of congruence with the social climate of the institution. Peer Interactions Peers are formative in the social integration of students. Student peers may play a role in reinforcing an institutional fit and individual commitment to completion (Bean, 1985; Pascarella & Chapman, 1983b). Student peers serve as agents of socialization, more so than informal faculty contacts (Bean). Involvement with peers may be a compensatory influence when students otherwise have low levels of commitment to the institution or to college graduation (Pascarella & Chapman). Students in different faculties may have different levels of social involvement. "Frequency of interactions with peers to discuss academic topics had a significantly stronger positive influence on persistence for students majoring in the liberal arts than for students majoring in pre-professional or applied fields" (Pascarella & Chapman, 1983b, p. 41). 81 Involvement with peers may take many forms, from students chatting after class to meeting for lunch together to interacting in campus clubs. Pascarella and Chapman (1983b) suggested that Student Services should provide programs to promote peer integration. Andres et al. (1996) recommended that peer networking programs be established as a powerful way for students to assist each other. Tinto (1997) recommended the establishment of shared learning communities to promote mutual learning and satisfy students' needs of meeting people and making friends. These needs are particularly prevalent during the first year of university when students are establishing new networks of social contacts. Making friends in a small, intimate residential university may be a relatively easy task compared to commuter institutions or very large institutions. Yet, in the latter institutions, the establishment of small learning communities presents a way for these communities to meet affiliation needs (Tinto). Institutional size has a negative effect on student social involvement (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Learning communities and networking groups may help students with hearing losses form attachments with hearing students. DeCaro and Foster (1992) noted that working together on projects is a way to increase dialogue and understanding among hearing students and students with hearing losses. A formal approach is required to overcome the peer difficulties, loneliness, isolation, and rejection that students with hearing losses experience, most particularly from hearing peers (Capelli et al., 1995; Charlson, Strong, & Gold, 1992). In particular, children who are orally deaf, especially those in primary grades, are more likely to be rejected by their peers than normally hearing children (Capelli et al.). Besides communication barriers, there may be a lack of awareness of social customs and behaviors, which add to social difficulties (Garbe & Rodda, 1988). For children with hearing losses in mainstream settings, peer interactions with other children who are deaf or hard of hearing may be more satisfying than interactions with hearing peers, but they have few opportunities for interactions (Stinson & Whitmire, 1991). Responding to a question about peer groups, half of the youth who are hard of hearing indicated that they would be willing to join a group of hard of hearing peers (Warick, 1994a). However, of the total number of respondents, one-quarter did not want to join a peer group centred around being hard of hearing, and another quarter was uncertain about the prospect. Of those who were interested in joining a peer group, two-thirds of these students felt that socializing was an appropriate focus of group activity and half felt that self-help support was appropriate. (More than one answer was possible.) Bruce (1995) found that several post-secondary participants who are hard of hearing were interested in associating with Deaf individuals and in learning more about Deaf culture and sign language. However, Menchel (1996) found that the students in his study did not decide to go to a particular institution to be with other students who are deaf nor did they have a particular interest in contacting other deaf students once on campus. "Each student had his or her own group of friends and, if there were other deaf students within that group, this happened more by chance than by intention" (p. 36). Furthermore, 31 of the 33 students taking part in the study made no effort to establish contact with the local Deaf community; the two exceptions to this established only limited contact. 83 Involvement in Campus Organizations Membership in groups is one indicator of social involvement and it is felt that belonging to several organizations indicates considerable social involvement. Research findings are mixed on the involvement of students with hearing losses in campus life. Students who are deaf and hard of hearing in mainstream settings spend little or much less time in social and recreational activities compared to hearing students (Quigley et al., 1968). They spend more time studying and on academic work than their hearing counterparts. Quigley et al. concluded, "Success in regular college and universities for hearing impaired students requires more time for study and less for social activities than is the case for normal hearing students" (p. 101). Antonson (1998) also found that few students who are deaf and hard of hearing took part in activities arranged on the campus such as joining an association or a club. Nor were they found to be social. Being with other people in noisy premises was not enjoyable. They got too tired, quite simply, and wanted to go home and rest and then get on with their studies in order to e.g. try to fill in anything they might have missed at lectures, etc. (p. 248) However, Menchel (1996) reported that the students in his group did not feel isolated nor did they feel left out of the social mainstream of college. Deafness did not stop these students from being involved in extra curricular activities, including sports, music, leadership positions in college organizations, working on the campus newspaper, coaching, and being part of a debating team. At the same time all of them maintained a B average. 84 Level of social interaction varies according to the individual (Foster, 1988; Schroedel & Watson, 1991). Schroedel and Watson (1991) found that 55% of deaf students were involved in student clubs and 35% were active in athletics; another 20% were involved in religious clubs. The type of post-secondary institution was felt to influence involvements. Participation rates were 75% from students in four-year colleges compared to 56% for those at technical institutions. For all students, Walker (1999) concluded that athletic services were among the most used services by university students. In a survey of 23 institutions, 60% of students stated that they used athletic facilities; only use of campus bookstores, computer services, and advising by faculty received higher rankings. Although social involvement is depicted as desirable to enhance integration into university life, Tinto (1975) has acknowledged that students who are too socially active may be at risk of dropout for poor performance if their social peers are not inclined academically. Students who are too socially active may not have sufficient time for studies (Stinson et al., 1987). Stinson and Walter (1992) found that being too engaged in social and extra-curricular activities, such as sports, fraternities and clubs, resulted in withdrawal for some deaf students: One interpretation of this result is that students who participate in many activities in their first year can be overemphasizing their social involvement, which can result in withdrawal...they are more likely to devote insufficient effort to addressing the basic needs they must meet in order to be truly integrated into the college environment, (p. 53) 85 Some students avoid being too socially active by compartmentalizing activities to designated times. The following student, quoted in (Andres et al., 1996) appears to make distinctions between the week and the weekend: I think that the more you get integrated into and you get to know everybody really good, I think it's just going to be the weekends are going to be like you're going to party during the night and stuff, but I think during the week it's going to get a lot more calmed down. (p. 85) The question is whether the reverse of social integration, namely, being uninvolved socially, results in academic risk. As noted earlier, Tinto's retention model does not depict social integration to be of equivalent importance to academic integration. Thus, i f a student is socially inactive, it does not necessarily mean academic risk, although it may lessen that person's commitment to the institution and contribute to voluntary withdrawal. Hanson and Taylor (1970) found voluntary withdrawers had less social contact than either persisting students or those required to drop out for academic failure. In this respect, it may not be the actual social contact that is the issue so much as students' perception of their "social fit." Rootman (1972) suggested that it is the individual's perceptions of social integration, rather than the actuality, that are important in persistence. Foster and Elliott (1986), Stinson and Walter (1997), and Walter et al. (1987) consider failure to make an adequate social adjustment, a major reason that students who are deaf and hard of hearing leave college before completion. Walter et al. (1987) interviewed students who dropped out and found that a contributing factor was limited opportunities for social interaction with peers. The researchers concluded that "social integration may be even 86 more difficult to achieve than academic integration, since the former is less amenable to formal intervention and support services" (p. 18). Students who are deaf and hard of hearing are isolated because so much socialization occurs in cafeterias and hallways, which are informal social settings (Walter et al.). Communication difficulties are often the reason for a lack of social involvement. Foster and Elliott (1986) interviewed 20 transferring students who stated that communication difficulties existed despite the provision of interpreters and additional support services. Schein (1991) also noted that communication difficulties might make social interactions difficult. Social Integration at Different Types of Institutions Students who attend residential universities are more likely to be socially involved than students who attend commuter institutions (Andres et al., 1996; Pascarella & Chapman, 1983a). For students at residential institutions, their close proximity to activities enhanced involvement (Pace, 1990; Pascarella & Chapman, 1983b). However, even among residential institutions there may be some differences. Pascarella and Chapman (1983b) found that students at four-year residential institutions, versus those at two-year colleges, were more likely to be socially integrated. Students attending two-year and four-year commuter institutions place less importance on social activities than on academic integration (Andres et al., 1996; Pascarella & Chapman, 1983a). Pascarella & Chapman noted that "the social and cultural experience of college by commuter students may be so limited that it assumes a much less pronounced role in 87 voluntary decisions to stay or leave than it does for students at primarily residential universities" (p. 99). Size of the institution also makes a difference. Student isolation and anonymity is likely to be greater in large institutions (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Social Integration for Different Types of Students Older students tend to have social networks away from campus; some may be heads of households with primary family responsibilities. They do not have the time or the inclination for campus social activities (Metzner & Bean, 1987). Andres et al. (1996) found that social integration was not as important for the students in their study, regardless of the type of institution they attended, whether universities, college transfer institutions, or community colleges. Many of their students were over 24 years old and most were considered to be non-traditional students. However, even first-year students, regardless of age, may have little time for social activities. Andres et al. (1996) found that first-year students feel pressed by a lack of time for juggling family and school responsibilities, and, hence, have difficulty engaging in campus social activities. Hawkey (2000) found that, over the course of their studies, upper level students moved away from social preoccupations and toward more academically-oriented activities. They were less likely to be involved in social outings, campus sports or campus clubs than were students in their first two years of university study. However, Terenzini & Wright (1987) found that senior students were likely to seek academic-related friendships and activities to socialize themselves into their major academic fields. 88 There are gender differences (Astin, 1975, 1993; Clifton, 1997; Guppy & Trew, 1995; Magolda, 1992; Spady, 1970, 1971). In a survey of students, Guppy & Trew (1995) found that women were less satisfied than men with their academic experience and with academic advising, whereas men were less satisfied than women with their academic progress and the quality of their course instruction. Astin noted that gender differences in roles and responsibilities may affect retention, with the demands of home and family resulting in voluntary withdrawal for some students. Other factors enter into retention decisions. Spady (1971) found that female students' decisions to remain or leave university was influenced by their general commitment to university and only secondarily by academic variables such as grade point average. However, for men grade performance was their primary determinant in the dropout process. More often than not, the reactions and behavior of the women have rested on primarily intrinsic, subjective, and social criteria, with academic and performance factors playing a more secondary role,... Not only is academic performance a less important component of their overall satisfaction in the College, they also seem more capable of adjusting to the realities (and deprivations) of the grading system. (Spady, 1971, 60-61) In terms of retention, the emphasis by women on relationships means that they are more influenced than men by forms of social integration or the lack of them, not solely by academic factors (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1983; Tinto, 1993). Clifton (1997) surveyed university education students in 1987 and again in 1992, obtaining 308 completed questionnaires for a 76% response rate in 1987 and 261 questionnaires for a 72% response rate for the second survey. Gender was identified as an exogenous variable in his 89 analysis. Clifton found that because women have more positive social psychological dispositions, they have a more positive evaluation of the social environment than men and are more motivated to succeed than men. Career Issues Positioning themselves for the labour market is an ultimate purpose of a post-secondary education for most students (Astin, 1993). Over three-quarters of students entering college provide "getting a job" as their reason for college attendance (Astin). Career development ranked ahead of becoming more educated and enhancing personal development as reasons for post-secondary education. If students consider university completion as important to their career prospects, their retention is enhanced. However, career advancement is not the only reason for university. Personal development ranks high on many students' lists as their prime reason for advanced study (Astin). Walker (1999) found that older students were more likely than younger students to have decided on their careers or occupations. At one institution, only 6.8% of students expected not to have difficulty finding suitable career-related employment after graduation; 51% expected "much" to "very much" difficulty (Walker). Students with disabilities tend to encounter more difficulties securing employment than non-disabled students. They face barriers related to their disabilities, such as discrimination in employment practices, lack of access to training, negative employer attitudes, and the ineffectiveness of federal employment equity and human rights legislation (National Educational Association of Disabled Students, 1995). Twenty percent of students 90 who are hard of hearing perceived that their parents limited their career aspirations because of considerations of their hearing loss (Warick, 1994a). Organizational Issues Thus far, the discussion about academic and social systems has been separated in this chapter in keeping with Tinto's model that defines these as two systems, albeit overlapping, with both their formal and informal aspects. As identified earlier, missing from this framework is a consideration of the dynamics between the individual and the institution. Bourdieu's concept of field of forces, which was introduced at the outset of this chapter, provides a way to examine the field of forces at play that affect an agent's, namely, a student's, actions. Overriding all of a student's actions are the issues related to the purpose and nature of the university. Debates have raged for some time about the purpose of universities (Barnett, 1990; Newman, 1852/1959; Pelikan, 1992; Sanderson, 1991). One view is that universities exist for utilitarian purposes, and the acquisition of knowledge is undertaken to apply it for specific purposes (Sanderson, 1991); thus, universities have vocational ends. The contrary view is that the purpose of universities is to educate its citizens, to provide them with a liberal education to learn for its own sake (Newman, 1852/1959; Pelikan, 1992). Another view is that universities encompass different purposes, combining elements of both utilitarianism and liberalism (Barnett). Bourdieu and Passeron (1979) take the view that the purpose of universities is to maintain the social order in society. "Among other functions, the educational system is required to produce individuals who are selected and arranged in a hierarchy once 91 and for all, for their whole lifetime" (Bourdieu & Passeron, p. 68). The university's "ultimate function is to ensure the acceptance of cultural values" (p.43). Because students from lower classes have some hope of a share in the privileges of the bourgeoisie, whether realistic or not, they tend to accept the values of the system and do not challenge the implicit ideology of the university. University as Community Regardless of its purpose, Tinto (1993) described the university as a community or series of communities, and the nature of the communities of a particular university will affect the nature of an individual's integration. Each subculture or community has its own distinct view of the world and helps to define the nature of a university's academic and social system. As noted by Tinto, the academic culture defines, in effect, what is appropriate and what is deviant for students. Thus, students are faced with a socialization process in adapting to and adopting the culture and community of their particular university, and departure may reflect a mismatch between the student and the institution. "Student institutional departure is as much a reflection of the attributes of those communities, and therefore of the institution, as it is of the attributes of the students who enter that institution" (Tinto, p. 136). Students' views about their institution may have an influence on students' commitments to it. With-in college attributes, such as the student participation in the decision-making processes at an institution, communication, and perceptions of fairness, affect students' academic and social integration (Braxton & Brier, 1989). 92 If an institution is seen as unfriendly and uncaring, the assumption is that students may be less involved and, hence, less committed to it. However, an institution may be criticized as being impersonal, yet its stature and reputation lessen the impact of a negative climate. Of one university, some students found it impersonal and other students stated that they were proud to be studying at it (Student Services Working Group, UBC, 1995). A university may not just be one community or have one culture. There may be a variety of different communities and, insofar as students may find a niche, it will enhance the students' learning and retention. "Membership in multiple communities allows individuals to play out a multiplicity of roles and satisfy a range of needs," according to Tinto (1993, p. 122). Thus, Tinto observed that his retention model "is a model of educational communities that places the classroom at its very center" (p. 137). However, the notion of community is not one with which students readily identify, Hawkey (2000) found. She interviewed students at a research-intensive university and found that they were more likely to identify with an academic discipline community, than to feel part of a university community. Their membership in the discipline community was facilitated when they selected their academic major; as well, such membership enhanced their identity formation as part of a discipline. Hawkey (2000) and Pace (1990) found that there were notable differences in formal program requirements in different faculties, namely that the actual requirements of a discipline varied from one faculty to another at the same institution. There can be so much variation from one faculty to another, that there is more diversity in a single institution than between different types of institutions (Pace). Pace found that students who majored in humanities or 93 social sciences were much more involved than students in the sciences, engineering or business. They had more use of the library, more contacts with faculty members, and gained more experience in writing, and activities related to the arts. They were also more active in broadening the range of their student friendships and experiences related to self-understanding than were engineering or business students. The culture of universities frequently receives negative ratings compared to colleges. Townsend (1995) found that students who have attended both college and university regarded university as being more competitive and course standards to be higher than in college. Universities placed more emphasis on writing and critical thinking than did colleges. Many college transfer students felt colleges were smaller, friendlier and more supportive than universities (Andres, 2001). Not all of the commentary about universities is negative in comparison to colleges. Liberal arts colleges were rated high in promoting student activities and outcomes (Pace, 1990). As well, students may value a university over other types of post-secondary institutions to the extent that they are willing to accept disliked aspects. Participants of a study by Andres et al. (1996) reported being concerned about the university placing too much emphasis on research at the expense of teaching, yet stated a clear preference for being at a university over attending a college. Student and Institutional Services One of the issues in the retention of students is whether their transition process to a new institution is effective and enhances their persistence. There is some suggestion that new 94 students, in particular, require special attention in making a transition to their new environment. Van Gennep's (1908/1960) theory of rites of passages suggests that new students are going through stages of separation marked by a decline in interactions with past associations; transition, in which there are interactions with new members; and finally, incorporation, which involves taking on new patterns of interactions with new contacts. Translated to the educational context, this means that students are moving from prior forms of schooling to a new institution with altogether different expectations and demands; however, Tinto (1993) cautioned about over-simplifying a complex, fluid situation and against considering the stages of separation, transition and incorporation as clearly distinct and sequential. In the transition process, the extent to which students are able to commit to the new institution is an internal process, dependent on how these new students perceive their experiences relative to their expectations. Witte, Forbes, and Witte (2002) discuss changes in terms of developmental theories and note that strong identity formation enhances the ability of students to interact in a new environment. Billson and Brooks Terry (1987) have defined nine institutional stages in the transition process: Outreach, Recruitment, Selection, Assessment, Preparation, Orientations, Integration, Maintenance, and Separation. They advocated for institutional support at each of the foregoing stages. Beatty-Guenter (1994) used four categories to separate out different retention strategies, as follows: (1) sorting to refer to strategies aimed at placing students into post-secondary programs best suited to their goals, abilities or status, such as 'at risk' status; (2) supporting, which involves assistance to students in meeting their financial, family, or 95 housing needs; (3) connecting, which includes techniques to increase student involvement and integration into the institution, and, finally, (4) transforming to refer to change initiatives, such as career counseling, or curricular reform. She noted that sorting and supporting are reactive strategies insofar as they react to problems, while connecting strategies are interactive in endeavoring to establish meaningful interaction between the student and the institution. Transforming strategies are proactive; they attempt changes in either or both students and post-secondary institutions in advance and, therefore, head off problems. Beatty-Guenter (1992) noted that strategies of institutional transformation are particularly appealing because they do not center only upon student retention, but act to improve all aspects of the teaching, learning, and working environment. Furthermore, "it may be that nothing short of institutional transformation will have a significant impact on endemic student attrition" (p. 45), although it may also be that the problems encountered by students are beyond the scope of an institution, and only piecemeal improvements will make a difference. Typically, Student Services have been leaders in offering student retention programs, but Tinto (1993) argued that faculty members also have a responsibility in this area. He explained that this is important because many students spend most of their time in classes and have little interaction with institutional staff other than faculty members. Andres et al. (1996) recommended that faculty incorporate instruction in library, writing, and research skills in their courses because students might not otherwise access stand-alone courses. The foregoing is not to discount the importance of student service programs in promoting the involvement of students. A variety of such programs have been described in the literature (Andres et al., 1996; Guppy & Bednarski, 1993; Tinto, 1993). Not only is an array of 96 programs important but so, too, is an approachable manner by student services staff (Andres et al.). Andres et al. found that students who had experienced uncaring behavior by staff in various Student Services were reluctant to ask for assistance for fear of a negative response. With respect to resources such as counselling services, these students preferred to turn to a friend. In terms of resources such as the library, which they described positively, they were not ready to use some of its capabilities, such as C D R O M technology. Furthermore, students were often unaware of available resources. The importance of support networks is underscored by findings in a study of reasons why students left high school. For some, their departure was more an act of an escape from negative circumstances than a strong desire to do something else, and one-third of these students felt that something could have been done to keep them in school (Larter & Cheng, 1979). Institutional interventions are particularly important for first-year students given the adjustment difficulties that these students may face in a new environment (Tinto, 1988). Institutional interventions for first-year students are being tried at different universities (Arnason, 2002; Heal, 2000; Reed & O'Callaghan, 2000; Teasdale, 2000). At the National Technical Institute for the Deaf a learning community was created for 14 deaf freshmen students with low reading and writing test scores (De Filippo et al.,1999). NTID project participants were all enrolled in the same section of English, Freshman Seminar, and a course in critical thinking. They were assigned an academic counselor who followed their progress; as well, an older student who was deaf was their Teaching Assistant for the Freshman Seminar. The instructor team and researchers for the project held weekly staff meetings throughout the year to discuss the project and the students' progress. A control group was also set up. • 9 7 Data collection from the study involved instructor perspectives of efforts expended by students, students' class attendance, record-keeping of the timeliness of assignment completion, and a review of the grade performance of students. As well, students were interviewed and were given a survey of 28 Likert items to indicate their perceptions of themselves as students and as members of the campus community. The students involved in the learning community were found to have a higher rate of class attendance, to have higher rates of assignment timeliness and to have completed more courses than the control group. In addition, they were perceived by instructors to be expending above average effort. However, students appeared to be less confident about handling college work than control group students, although the researchers noted that they were surprised to find these students were those who were performing best academically. "Upon reflection, this might be explained as a case of reality tempering some early enthusiasm" (De Filippo et al.,1999, p. 175). The researchers planned to continue the project and to monitor the students until they exit from college. Disability Support Services Universities are generally considered receptive to providing support services to students who are hard of hearing (Schein, 1991), but the post-secondary environment does not provide organized institutional support for the needs of these students in the same way as secondary school, according to Patterson and Schmidt (1992). Almost all universities have a 98 Disability Services Office (DSO) and professional staff who meet with students to discuss and deal with their accommodations. Menchel (1996) found that services provided by institutions varied from campus to campus, with some doing a good job and others, less so. A l l too often the needs of post-secondary students who are hard of hearing are overlooked; furthermore, their needs are not differentiated from the needs of students who are deaf, in terms of services and programs (Belknap, 1996). Patterson and Schmidt (1992) noted that most post-secondary educational institutions do not have personnel specifically trained to assist with the education of the student with a hearing loss. They added that where numbers of students warrant it, institutions may have specially trained staff, but at most institutions less than 5% of the students with disabilities population have a hearing loss. Financial resources do not enable an exclusive focus on a relatively small-sized population relative to other groups of students with disabilities. When the student with a hearing loss enrolls in a college or university program, he or she may be confronted for the first time with an educational experience lacking professional support specific to his or her needs (Patterson & Schmidt, 1992). The responsibility for obtaining an education and support services is left to the student in the new environment, in contrast to previous experiences (Menchel, 1996; Patterson & Schmidt). As noted by Patterson and Schmidt, it is the student's responsibility to be his or her own advocate. The student should find the handicap support person on campus and enlist his or her help when necessary. The student should let the instructor and/or the other students know when he or she fails to hear or understand something which was said. This may be especially true i f the student wears a hearing aid, since most people are unaware that wearing a hearing aid does not make one's hearing perfect, (p. 49) 99 Part of the emphasis on taking responsibility is recognizing that the post-secondary environment is different from previous forms of schooling and so, too, are expectations of parental involvement in one's schooling. As noted by Kingsbury (1997), at the post-secondary level students who are hard of hearing must take responsibility for themselves: "Your parents, or the teachers, will not take the responsibility once you reach post-secondary level" (p. 15). University students with hearing losses must be fully aware of their needs, and what the campus offers, in order to make wise choices (Patterson & Schmidt, 1992). This is a high level of expectation of students. A l l too often an awareness of what is available is lacking, noted Lingen(1993): Many integrated students are not aware that the services they have relied on in high school (such as tutorials, note taking and assignment modifications) do not automatically continue in the university or college setting. Students often do not understand that they must pursue and advocate for these services i f they are to receive equal opportunity and access at the post-secondary level, (p. 10) Menchel (1996) stated that service providers found that some students were overly dependent on them. They "wanted the service providers to take on the role of their parents and resolve all of their problems for them" (p. 51). This was clearly not viewed as the role of the disability service provider by the occupants of the role. Moreover, the problem is compounded when key administrators, faculty and staff are often not aware of the diversity and differences among deaf students and the different kinds of support services they require. "It is assumed that all deaf students who wish to enroll in that institution will be similar and that a new deaf student will need the same services" (Menchel, p. 56). 100 Physical Environment Although physical barriers are probably easier to remove than attitudinal barriers (Wilchesky, 1986), they continue to be a major issue. As mentioned previously, university students with disabilities rated physical access as their areas of greatest difficulty (EMRG, 1994). Considering the physical environment represents a shift from focusing only on the individual to recognizing that the environment contributes to accessibility. At one time the emphasis was on the rehabilitation of the individual with the individual being required to adapt to the environment. Over the last two decades recognition has occurred that environmental adaptations are also required and that, it is not only a matter of individual habilitation but also of environmental adaptations for all people with disabilities (Warick, 1994b). A poor acoustic environment can make hearing more difficult. Excessive classroom noise and/or reverberation can be detrimental and affect the academic achievement of students with hearing losses (Crandell, Smaldino, & Anderson, 2000). Hearing aid users can be assisted or impeded by the environment (Schein, 1991). For example, hearing aid wearers will find that hard surfaces reflect sound and create echoes that impair the ability of their hearing aid to perform. However, the "use of drapes on windows, acoustic ceiling tile, and carpets will dampen sound and vastly improve the functioning of hearing aids" (Schein, p. 150). Unfortunately, most post-secondary classrooms place students who are hard of hearing at a decided disadvantage. Hodgson (1994) found that none of the 45 of 450 classrooms 101 surveyed at a Canadian post-secondary institution met the ideal classroom speech intelligibility standard. Half of the classrooms were good and the rest were fair. Usually room standards are set for those with normal hearing, and thus someone with a hearing loss is at an additional disadvantage (Laszlo, 1995). Furthermore, Ross (1992) noted that the effect of noise is disproportionately greater on persons who are hard of hearing than on those with normal hearing. Many university venues are below par listening situations: they include classrooms, cafeterias and outdoor spaces. Almost every classroom has problems in terms of reverberation, noise, and distance; these factors negatively affect speech recognition (Hughes, Cantlie, & Rodda, 1995). The result of a poor acoustic environment is that students who are hard of hearing miss out on opportunities for socializing with students, and this will impact on social relations. These students miss the informal interactions that contribute to a student having feelings of being integrated into a social environment. The extent to which this is the case varies with the individual and the setting. Financial Aid Financial aid for post-secondary education has been stressed in terms of providing access; there has been less discussion about its role in relation to persistence (Moline, 1987). Pascarella and Terenzini (1991) noted that results of research on the impact of receiving financial aid during college on persistence were mixed. Although some studies suggest that aid increases persistence, others have not found this to be the case. For example, Moline found that awarding larger amounts of financial aid to students, or aid in the specific form of 102 grants, did not affect persistence, whereas Astin (1975, 1993) found scholarships and grants to have a positive effect, in contrast to that of loans. Yet, students themselves raise the issue of costs of getting a post-secondary education (Andres et al., 1996; Looker, 1997). Students expressed concerns about the cost of university and frequently considered a cost-benefit analysis. One student, quoted in Andres et al. wondered: I don't know if I'm going to come back to university next year...I don't know for sure.. .1 need to take some time off... .Right now, i f I have the grades I have now, then I've just wasted $6,000. (p .98) For students with disabilities, there are potentially additional expenses related to their disability. There is also the issue of sufficient funds for institutions to provide services and supports required by students with disabilities (Hill, 1992, 1994). Summary In this chapter, the research about the retention, persistence and quality of the post-secondary experience of students in university was reviewed. The literature was examined in terms of students' characteristics and transition experiences, followed by a discussion of academic aspects of university life from the quality of the learning experience to faculty contact and the impact of course grades on persistence. This was followed by an exploration of social dimensions, including the role of peers and social organizations. Issues such as the impact of being overly socially involved were reviewed. A discussion of organizational aspects concluded the chapter, covering issues such as university culture and physical 103 environment. Throughout the chapter, the experiences of students who are hard of hearing were incorporated, where findings pertained to the subject. A picture emerged that showed that students who are hard of hearing may face considerable academic and social challenges in university, not the least of which is their difficulty hearing in the classroom, which could affect their participation in class. Disability-related accommodations and supports may help to ameliorate the hearing difficulties encountered but they do not take away the disadvantages of a hearing loss. Students may be mainstreamed but not integrated and, therefore, are visitors to the classroom rather than being full members. Compared to other groups of students with disabilities, students who are hard of hearing are relatively low users of services (Killean & Hubka, 1999). The low use of services could relate to lack of encouragement, inadequate awareness of services, and, perhaps, to reluctance be identified as a person with a disability by virtue of service use. Israelite et al. (2002) discussed how students who are hard of hearing endeavor "to fit in" in order to resemble the dominant group ~ hearing persons. The construction of their identity is based on comparisons to those who can hear or who are deaf. Because they have some hearing and do not sign, they do not identify themselves as being deaf. Nevertheless, they do not hear the same as most hearing persons, and so they know they are different from them. Yet, they want to avoid the stigma associated with difference and being treated as an other. Frameworks for exploring the experiences of university students who are hard of hearing were identified and discussed in this chapter. Tinto's (1987) retention model was outlined and was felt to be a useful framework because it provides descriptive categories for identifying a range of academic and social issues facing students in university. Furthermore, a wealth of research has been conducted on similar themes expressed in his model. Because much of the retention literature has focused on the individual, concepts for recognizing that students are not independent actors were explored. Bourdieu's (1984, 1991) concept of field of forces was explored for its usefulness in providing a theoretical perspective, for analyzing the way in which the experiences of students who are hard of hearing are shaped in the academy, recognizing that students are agents within a structure impacting on their lives. The agency-structure concept provides a means to ensure that structural issues receive due attention throughout the examination of the experiences of students who are hard of hearing. 105 CHAPTER THREE R E S E A R C H DESIGN The purpose of this chapter is to outline the research paradigm used for this study and to discuss theoretical and methodological research issues. As well, the method for the study is outlined and the participants involved in the study are introduced. The goal of this study was to understand the nature of the university experiences of students who are hard of hearing. Three research components were intended to capture these students' perceptions of their experiences: 1) a series of initial, face-to-face interviews; 2) follow-up interviews with the same students who participated in the first interview, and 3) at least weekly journal entries completed by participants for a three-week period. The field research commenced in the fall of 1999 and concluded in the winter, 2000. Research Framework Interpretative Paradigm My research study was qualitative in nature, using an interpretive paradigm . The essence of such a paradigm is a focus on the products of the human mind and its inner-lived experiences (Smith & Heshusius, 1986). Qualitative research searches "for a deeper "Paradigm" refers to an accepted model or tradition of theory and practice (Kuhn, 1970). This definition is considered to encompass both theory and practice (Brannen, 1992) and to denote a comprehensive system of thinking that governs scientific research. Given these definitions, this thesis is based on the assumption that interpretive research is a paradigm that has both theoretical and practical implications for my research. 106 understanding of the participants' lived experience of the phenomena" (Marshall & Rossman, 1999, p. 60). It involves "the interpretation of the interpretations people give to their own subjective experiences" (Smith, 1989, p. 124). A n interpretive paradigm lent itself to my study of the post-secondary experiences of students who are hard of hearing, as told from the students' perspectives, because it emphasizes the importance of individual experiences as perceived by the participants themselves. An interpretive approach places individuals' voices foremost in the research, and ensures that the individuals' perceptions shape the findings and inform the theoretical constructs which might arise from the research. To date, there have been few studies where the voices of students who are hard of hearing have been heard. A n interpretive approach also lent itself to incorporating multiple perspectives. In the case of my study, participants provided their perspectives several times: during an initial interview, during a second interview, and through journal entries. Three different time periods for gaining the students' perspectives enriched the study. An interpretive approach was also beneficial in that it recognizes, and embraces, the researcher as integral to the research process. Because I have a hearing loss and am also a university student, I share much in common with the participants of my study. I feel that these similarities strengthened my research and provided me with valuable knowledge and experience to aid in designing the study and in interpreting the experiences of the participants in my study. Interpretive Research: Theoretical Issues Within the framework of qualitative research, interpretative research21 has defined epistemological, methodological, ontological and axiological assumptions for the conduct of research. Each will be discussed subsequently. There is some overlap in the discussion of these issues because, by its nature, interpretative research is holistic and so epistemological issues are related to ontological ones. In a subsequent section, pragmatic issues related to the actual conduct of the research will be discussed. Epistemology: Researcher's Stance in Relation to Subject There are four elements to the researcher's stance: first, relationship to the participant; second, the role of the researcher in interpreting participant findings; third, the researcher's own perceptions about the subject, and, fourth, the researcher's presentation of results. On the first issue, relationship to the participant, the researcher endeavors to understand human experience through "empathy with the subject of one's enquiries" (Miles & Huberman, 1994, p. 8). Understanding is generated by getting "inside" the participant's world (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Interaction between the researcher and research participants is part of the research process. "The knower and known are interactive, inseparable" (Lincoln & Guba, p. 37). The relationship between the researcher and the participant is "a dyadic interaction where the knower and known are inseparable" (LeCompte, 1990, p. 252). 2 1 Interpretive research is sometimes considered to be one of two types of a qualitative paradigm, the other being critical theory (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994; LeCompte & Preissle, 1993; Palys, 1997; Skrtic, 1990). Instead of interpretative, Lincoln & Guba (1985) have used the term "naturalist paradigm" and Guba (1990) "constructivism." Palys (1997) explained that different terminology is used because descriptions are still evolving. As well, some researchers have argued that qualitative research has no theory or paradigm distinctly its own, nor does it have a distinct set of methods entirely its own (Denzin & Lincoln, 1994). 108 With respect to the second issue of interpreting results, researchers are called upon to do "a great deal of interpretation to understand what in the world is happening because the meanings are slippery and multidimensional" (McCutcheon, 1990, p. 281). Qualitative researchers are not merely translators or technical accountants filing the data into this category or that. According to McCutcheon, we are also meaning developers. Although the data can "speak" to us as analyses emerge out of the data, it is through our active, mental work that we develop interpretations, and this is the more significant part of treating our work where we knit together seemingly disparate data and convey their meanings, (p. 281) Interpretivism is sometimes described as "storytelling." As noted by Greene (1990), the grounding of interpretivism in phenomenology, hermeneutics and value pluralism gives the impression that an interpretive researcher seeks to tell the story of the persons being interviewed. However, she finds this to be an over-simplification of the process of interpretive research. Rather than simply being a conduit for others' stories, Greene maintains that the researcher must analyze those stories in order to convey their essence. On the third issue of researcher perceptions, the interpretive paradigm embraces the researcher's perceptions and experiences as an important component of the process of the research. It is expected that the researcher's perceptions will be integrated into the research. On the fourth point about presentation, descriptions should be "thick" for a reader to have "a vicarious, deja vu experience.. .to aid the reader in understanding the nuances and subtleties of conflict and agreement in this place and at this time'" (Lincoln, 1990, p. 73). 109 Researchers are expected to integrate the personal with the scientific in their presentation, and to "demonstrate the passion, the commitment and the involvement of the inquirer with his or her coparticipants in the inquiry" (Lincoln, p. 73). To sum up the relationship of the foregoing points to my research project, I have a responsibility to be true to my research findings while endeavoring to uncover their meanings. The process of doing so is not only a rational one but also intuitive. Furthermore, it is appropriate for me to incorporate my own perceptions and experiences in the study, more so because I am a person who fits the definition of my study, being both a university student and hard of hearing. In any case, interpretive research acknowledges that it is impossible for researchers to separate out their perceptions; the perceptions permeate the entire research process. Indeed, that is considered to be a positive aspect of interpretive research. Methodology: Relationship between Theory/Concepts and Research The impetus for a qualitative inquiry can come from a researcher's review of the literature and existing theoretical traditions or from direct experience, tacit theories , political commitments, and interests in practice (Marshall & Rossman, 1999). The process of conceputalizing, framing, and focusing a study is complex. There is an inter-play of personal observation with a theoretical rationale that leads to focusing the research question and making decisions about where to go, what to look for, and how to move to real-world observations (Marshall & Rossman). Tacit theory refers to one's personal understanding as contrasted with formal theory which emerges from the literature review (Marshall & Rossman, 1999). 110 This early conceptualization work is the most difficult and intellectually rigorous of the entire process of proposal writing. It is messy and dialectic, as alternative frames (scholarly traditions) are examined for their power to illuminate and sharpen the research focus. (Marshall & Rossman, 1999, p. 32) Marshall and Rossman (1999) refer to this process as being a "cycle of inquiry" which expresses the dynamic relationship between the different components of the research process. In this process, the researcher moves from personal theory to formal theory. "These [theoretical assumptions] coalesce to frame a focus for the study in the form of a research question" (Marshall & Rossman, p. 29). Thus, the study may seek to modify or adjust the theory based on the feedback of informants in the study (Creswell, 1994). Or, a theory may emerge during the data collection and analysis phase of the research or be used relatively late in the research process as a basis for comparison with other theories (Creswell). Researchers pursue the complex realities of people's lives, not solely for their own sakes. "Rather, this route was undertaken in order to understand, as comprehensively as possible, the relations among the aspects of reality (or variables) of ultimate interest to us" (Holloway & Jefferson, 2000, p. 105). According to Tesch (1990), research data are examined in order to identify and categorize elements and to establish connections that are meaning-oriented. The purpose of discovering such relationships is to postulate conceptual linkages or, to use a more traditional terminology, to generate plausible hypotheses. Although not strictly seeking generalizations, these research approaches are theory-building in the sense that they aim at stripping away the particulars and arriving at some underlying principle that is likely to apply to similar situations. (Tesch, p. 98) Research questions or guiding hypotheses are framed at the outset of the study to guide the researcher. To arrive at guiding hypotheses, Marshall and Rossman (1999) noted that the researcher would ask the following questions: What is my focus? What will be the most creative and useful questions? What do I assume or guess I will see? What settings and populations can I observe and gather data from to explore these questions? What will I look at? How do I connect the concepts in the literature to behaviors and interactions in natural settings? (p. 30) Thus, interpretive research generates working hypotheses that are context-specific, and connected to often emergent inquiry, which may or may not be informed by existing knowledge (Greene, 1990). The working hypothetical explanation may be discarded in favour of a new one i f not found supported by the research; the explanation is confirmed if several cases support it (Brannen, 1992). Furthermore, interpretive researchers have great flexibility in changing and modifying their approach as they do research. Researchers can change their questions at any point during a qualitative study (Carspecken, 1996). The dynamic nature of interpretive research necessitates the constant rethinking of all working hypotheses and research questions. In my case, my interest in the topic of the university experiences of students who are hard of hearing arose from a number of sources: previous research on youth who are hard of hearing, prior experience as a student navigating university, life experiences of having a hearing loss, and an interest in retention theory of students in general. I felt that it would be useful to combine an interest in general retention theory with considerations of the experiences of students who are hard of hearing. Thus, in this study, I proceeded to outline 112 retention theories in the literature review in order to describe what has been suggested about the experiences of university students. Tinto's retention theory, with some modifications (Andres et al., 1996; Bean, 1980; Benjamin & Hollings, 1995; Metzner & Bean, 1987; Pascarella, 1980; Pascarella & Chapman, 1983b) served as a useful starting point for informing my study. My findings may either lend support to these theories or suggest that there be further study for modifications. It is possible that my findings will yield insight about the merits of retention theories for students who are hard of hearing, in which case I may be in a position to contribute to retention theories based on my research. As indicated in the literature review, the weakness of various retention models and research tends to ignore the juxtaposition between the individual as an agent and the structures of the educational system. The agency-structure nexus, expounded by Andres et al. (1996), which draws on the work of Bourdieu's (1984) field of forces concept, offers an approach for examining this issue. My findings will help determine if this approach has utility for examining the experiences of students who are hard of hearing. At the outset of my research I framed several research questions, which are described in the section on research strategy later in this chapter. Under these headings questions about the identity and transition of students who are hard of hearing were incorporated. After my review of the data, I realized that these topics merited recognition as separate research questions. This type of modification to the original research design is in keeping with the cyclical nature of interpretive research as outlined by Marshall and Rossman (1999). 113 Ontology: Image of Social Reality and Nature of Knowledge There are five salient aspects to interpretive knowledge. As outlined by Greene (1990), interpretive knowledge is grounded, emic in nature, holistic, internally consistent, and value-bound. These aspects are explained subsequently. Grounded. This means that knowledge is discovered and justified from field investigations and an inductive methodology. It is not developed from armchair speculations or elegant deductive reasoning (Guba & Lincoln, 1988). Interpretivists seek to understand the nature of a phenomenon and rather than looking for a structure, researchers seek to capture the essence of a matter (McCutcheon, 1990). Knowledge is socially constructed (Greene, 1990). Emic. Emic knowledge refers to knowing what those being studied think, as opposed to etic, which refers to the researcher's views (Creswell, 1998). Another comparison between emic and etic is offered by Denzin (1994). Emic means seeking contextual, situated understandings, whereas etic is abstract, non-contextualized interpretations (Denzin). A n emic approach places the focus on the individuals involved in the research project and the underlying meaning of their experiences (Greene, 1990). However, the focus on participants is not the sole way knowledge is created in interpretive research. Knowledge also arises out of the interaction between an object of study and an observer (Skrtic, 1990). Thus, the researcher is part of the research process, not outside of it. Holistic. Interpretive research consists of holistic pattern theories. Knowledge is viewed as "circular" or "amoebalike" as opposed to being viewed as "hierarchic" and "pyramidlike" (Greene, 1990). As further explained by Greene, reality is social and multiple. Multiple reconstructions are pluralistic and divergent. Another way to look at the holistic 114 nature of knowledge is to consider that it consists of three layers: one, the reconstruction of inter-subjective meanings, two, the interpretive understanding of the meanings humans construct in a given context and, three, how these meanings interrelate to form a whole (Greene). Consistent within. Interpretive research aims to be internally consistent and coherent by merging language to express the claims of participants (Howe, 1988). Internal consistency and coherence are sought. Value-bound. Knowledge is also value-bound, insofar as it is locally and politically situated (Lincoln, 1990) and is infused with the values of those studied as well as the values of the researcher and readers. Axiology: Role of Values Interpretive research is considered value-laden (Greene, 1990; Lincoln, 1990). Greene noted that interpretivism is "permeated by the values and interests of the enquirer... Interpretivist knowledge inevitably reflects the values of the inquirer, even as it seeks to reconstruct others' sense of meaning and supporting beliefs" (p. 238). Interpretive research recognizes that research does not take place in a vacuum; it takes place in a context. This means that interpretive research is "conflictual, problematic and contested" (Lincoln, 1990, p. 83). The recognition of the values, not only of individuals but also of their context, acknowledges the impact of social structures on individuals and provides scope for its inclusion in interpretive research. 115 Lincoln and Guba (1985) found the infusion of values within interpretive research to be an opportunity to be exploited. According to Smith (1983), values are an integral part of the research process for qualitative researchers, from the selection of what is to be investigated, to how the investigation is to proceed, to the meaning of the terms encountered in the investigation. Qualitative research is considered meaningful because it goes "beyond the notion of neutrality or value freedom" (Smith, p. 11). The acknowledgment and recognition of the role of the values of the researcher in interpretive research does not take away from the researcher's responsibility to be true to the results from the field. Greene (1990) acknowledged this responsibility when she noted that the researcher should monitor and minimize the intrusion of inquirer biases into the inquiry process. Issue of Trustworthiness Qualitative research is not directed at unearthing a single truth. This is not to suggest that phenomena is only socially constructed (Hammersley, 2000). "Researchers do not simply constitute or construct phenomena; phenomena do have an existence independent of accounts of them, but it is important to recognize that, just as language is part of reality, and so too are the authors of accounts" (p. 160). Thus, researchers represent phenomena from one or another point of view. Trustworthiness of the representation of phenomena relates to two aspects: the credibility and dependability of the research. Researchers' representations must be defined within the context of the research and must be consistent with the evidence presented 116 (Hammersley, 2000). "The reader must be able to follow the thought processes that have led to the conclusions and to accept them as valid" (Polkinghorne, 1989, p.57). Trustworthiness means asking first, whether a study is consistent within its methodological framework and, second, whether the findings are consistent with the results (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Determining consistency within a methodological framework requires articulation of the data collection procedures employed by the researcher and the steps taken to move from an interview to a general description of the experience under investigation (Polkinghorne, 1989). Readers can then follow the researcher's analytic process and thus understand how the transformed meanings and structural description have been arrived at. Although the documentation does not prove that the conclusions of the study are correct, they can allow the reader to check to see if the general description is indeed supported by and derived from the data. (Polkinghorne, p. 57) To consider whether findings are consistent with the results requires determining whether the researcher's presentation is supported by the evidence. A n argument is strong based on the consistency between the findings and the analysis of the findings (Polkinghorne, 1988). "The argument does not produce certainty; it produces likelihood. In this context, an argument is valid when it is strong and has the capacity to resist challenge or attack" (Polkinghorne, p. 175). When subjecting knowledge claims to assessment on the basis of the criteria of plausibility and credibility, Hammersley (1990) notes that researchers generally apply a more sceptical lens than found in other domains. This requires considering various conclusions. 117 Given that there are judgements, there is always the potential for systematic error, but it is the responsibility of the researcher to take proper methodological precautions to avoid error, for example, by assessing the relative validity of alternative interpretations. (Hammersley, p. 106) Polkinghorne (1989, p. 57) suggests that researchers ask themselves the following questions to ensure that an accurate portrait of the research is provided: 1. Did the interviewer influence the contents of the subjects' descriptions in such a way that the descriptions do not truly reflect the subjects' actual experience? 2. Is the transcription accurate, and does it convey the meaning of the oral presentation in the interview? 3. In the analysis of the transcription were there conclusions other than those offered by the researcher that could have been derived? Has the researcher identified these alternatives and demonstrated why they are less probable than the one decided on? 4. Is it possible to go from the general structural description to the transcriptions and to account for the specific contents and connections in the original examples of the experience? 5. Is the structural description situation specific, or does it hold in general for the experience in other situations? The plausibility and credibility of findings are enhanced when more than one research strategy yields consistent findings. Denizen (1989) has identified a variety of strategies: prolonged field engagement, persistent observation, peer debriefing, and triangulation. Triangulation means employing multiple methods of observation "because each method 118 reveals different aspects of empirical reality" (Denzin, 1989, p. 25). According to Jick (1979), the effectiveness of triangulation rests on the premise that the weaknesses in each single method will be compensated by the counter-balancing strengths of another. Denzin (1978) identified four types of triangulation: by data sources (which can include persons, times, places, etc.), by method (observation, interview, document), by researcher (investigator A , investigator B, etc.), and by theory. To this, Miles has added a fifth type of triangulation and Huberman (1994), namely, type of research method, whether qualitative or quantitative. Triangulation is not without some shortcomings, Jick (1979) noted. Among them is that multi-methods are of no use if the research is not clearly focused at the outset and explores the "wrong" questions. A major drawback is when different sources contradict each other. However, divergent findings are often an opportunity for the researcher to search deeper to understand what is happening. "Divergent results from multimethods can lead to an enriched explanation of the research problem" (Jick, p. 609). My research endeavoured to meet the criteria of trustworthiness, in the first instance, by describing my methodological framework and method. By laying out a framework, the reader can assess if my method was sound and was implemented. My research design included triangulation by incorporating three opportunities for data collection, two of them being in interview settings and one of them being journal entries. Furthermore, I incorporated sharing transcripts from the first interview with participants and so provided them with an opportunity to affirm or negate the findings of the first interview. Consistent with qualitative research, additional research questions may be added in the field. That was the case with my research; I 119 have identified my changes in the discussion under research questions. Above all, my goal has been to produce an account consistent with my understanding of the experiences shared by students who are hard of hearing. Significance and Transference Qualitative research looks for two types of significance, one in terms of understanding what is meant by the research results and the other in terms of the overall significance of the study. The first type of significance involves understanding what is happening to the persons who are the participants in the research (McCutcheon, 1990). The second form of significance requires consideration of the practical significance of the research results. According to McCutcheon (1990), this is illuminative significance and requires considering a study's "implications for operating on the world by contributing to and perhaps changing actions and thinking in education" (p. 282). She noted that one way we can think of illuminative significance is to consider the ability of our research to implant concepts, ways of viewing the world, and language into educators' thinking, literature, and actions. This is "the extent to which our research shapes our field's consciousness in its interpretations and the sort of questions raised, that is, its mark on education" (McCutcheon, p. 282). McCutcheon (1990) explained that, although research results are unlikely to be neat and tidy, interpretations may be considered transferable to other settings, even when those situations are observably different. "Such interpretations then move into our thinking and help us frame our questions in our research" (p. 282). She noted that this conceptual movement is referred to as "knowledge creep," a term previously defined by Weiss (1980). Thus, while 120 interpretive research does not lend itself to generalizability, some categories or themes may emerge from data analyses which have implications for theory and practice (Creswell, 1994). Greene (1990) noted that the issue of transferability requires a sufficient description of the particular context, so that it can be examined from another context. According to Greene, the concept of transferability: shifts the inquirer's responsibility from one of demonstrating generalizability to one of providing sufficient description of the particular context studied so that others may adequately judge the applicability or fit of the inquiry findings to their own context. The locus of judgment about transferability thus also shifts from the inquirer to potential users, (p. 236) Yin (1989) suggested that while a study cannot be exactly replicated, it might be undertaken in another setting if there is a detailed protocol for data collection. This also means the research protocol for the study must be clearly described. Two issues arise out of the transferability discussion for my study. First, it will be crucial to determine what is significant among my findings. Second, it will be important to consider the illuminative significance of findings and how interpretations may contribute to knowledge creep in relation to our knowledge about students who are hard of hearing and also, possibly, in a more general sense, about university student issues. In this respect, transferability of findings might be considered. However, for this to happen, my research must be transparent and descriptions "thick," both in processes and reporting. 121 Methods Issues F i v e issues related to research method were germane to this study: research strategy, scope o f f indings, nature o f the data, language o f the research, and def ining the popula t ion for study. E a c h o f these w i l l be discussed i n turn. Research Strategy Interpretive research is generally considered naturalistic and semi-structured. T h i s means that the research is expected to be embedded i n the f ie ld and to be conducted i n natural condi t ions . A s w e l l , the research is not expected to be r ig id ly control led. Nonetheless , structure is expected i n terms o f overa l l design but not w i t h i n the design. F o r example , m y research strategy was wel l -def ined. A s l a i d out i n the introduction, there were three components to the study; each component had a specific purpose, a specif ied target audience, and a defined t ime frame for the conduct o f the research. F o r both the in i t i a l and fo l low-up interviews, I developed a semi-structured in terv iew guide o f areas for d iscuss ion; however , w i t h i n that f ramework I was f lex ib le about exp lo r ing areas indicated by the respondent. Thus , m y research was both structured and semi-structured. Furthermore, consistent w i t h the interpretive tradit ion, research questions were formulated to provide guidance to the study. S i x questions were in i t i a l ly framed as fo l lows : 1. W h a t are the academic experiences o f universi ty students w h o are hard o f hearing? 2. W h a t are the socia l experiences o f universi ty students w h o are hard o f hearing? 122 3 . How does being hard of hearing impact on students' academic and social dimensions of university life? 4. To what extent, and in what way, do disability-related supports and issues impact on the experiences of students who are hard of hearing? 5. How do the experiences of students who are hard of hearing compare to those of other students? 6. To what extent do existing retention models encapsulate the experiences of students who are hard of hearing? Do existing retention models describe the experiences of these students? If not, in what ways are models insufficient and, hence require modification? In keeping with qualitative research, whereby focus and questions may be revised throughout the research process, two research questions were added during the research phase. These questions were: 7. How do participants define themselves in terms of hearing loss? 8. What transition-to-university experiences do students who are hard of hearing face? The questions were of two types; one type focused directly on the perspectives and experiences of students. This was the case for the majority of the questions. The other type of question drew from the responses to the other questions. This was the case for two of the questions, which dealt with comparisons to other students and the relevancy of retention models. 123 Scope of Findings The scope of interpretive research is usually single cases or groups of small cases. The purpose is to promote the study of a small number of participants through extensive and prolonged engagement to develop patterns and relationships of meaning (Creswell, 1994). This approach was consistent with my own, whereby I planned to interview 8 to 15 students who are hard of hearing. I ended up with 14 participants. Interpretive research does not claim to be generalizable because it acknowledges that it is context-bound and time-specific; it is a snapshot at a moment in time, in a given place, with certain players and cannot be said to transfer to other situations, all of which vary in terms of the players, the context, and the time. However, as discussed previously under transferability, interpretive research adds to the body of knowledge about a given topic that goes beyond the individual person and his or her situation. Nature of the Data Interpretive research yields rich, full, and often complex text. Data are analyzed by an inductive process that is suitable for identifying multiple realities in the data. The search for patterns in data is an on-going one in the research process and requires researchers to be wary of either buying into folk explanations or rejecting them without considering their merit (Bernard, 1994). 124 Language of the Research Greene (1990) noted that interpretivists are storytellers versus being social engineers (postpositivists) or critical theorists (social activists). Telling stories means an emphasis on descriptions; however, as discussed previously, this does not mean that interpretive researchers simply tell stories or serve as a vehicle for the voice of others. They interpret what it is stated and provide their own perspective while remaining true to the voices of others and findings from the field. Traditional forms of describing and using language are not fully adequate for the task (Lincoln, 1990). Population Defining Participants My population for the study was students who are hard of hearing. As discussed in the literature review, there are empirical, functional, and socio-cultural ways of defining whether someone is hard of hearing. M y approach was to invite students who are hard of hearing from the universities involved in this study to volunteer as participants. I simply used the term "hard of hearing" on posters and invitational letters and accepted all who responded to that designation. In essence, I used a socio-cultural approach to the issue of definition of hard of hearing because I accepted students' self-definitions. I did request copies of their audiograms, but this was after they had been selected and it was for reporting purposes, not for participant selection. 2 3 As discussed in the literature review, a socio-cultural approach to defining hearing loss accepts an individual's determination as opposed to defining hearing loss based on a person's level of hearing. 125 Recruitment of Participants My goal was to interview 8 to 15 university students who are hard of hearing. Recruitment of participants was primarily through co-ordinators of Disability Service Offices at three universities. A batch of contact letters (See Appendix C) in stamped envelopes for distribution was provided to co-ordinators to mail to students. Each envelope also contained a stamped return envelope addressed to me. At one institution the co-ordinator also e-mailed students to inform them about the study. Another co-ordinator chose to wait until students arrived at her office rather than mail out the letters; as a result, information was not distributed unless the student happened to come by the office. I did not learn about this until the recruitment process was near its end. At that institution only two students responded to the call for participation and it is suspected that the method of distribution played some part in the modest response. A third co-ordinator assumed that the study was restricted to only those students who had significant hearing losses; once I clarified that there was no such restriction and that students with any level of hearing loss could participate, more students were contacted. Another student came forward to participate in the study from that institution. Notices about the study were sent to community agencies or associations such as the Western Institute for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association, the Audiology Clinic of the Vancouver/Richmond Health Board, and the B.C. Association of Educators of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. In addition, one university's campus publication published a notice inviting participants for the study. 126 As an enticement for participation in the study, participants were offered, and given, a $15 gift certificate to a university bookstore for completion of each phase of the study: interview, journal entry, and the second interview. Total possible amount of the remuneration per student was $45. Whether this contributed to a high rate of retention in the study is unknown, but all participants took part in two interviews and most completed a journal entry. Selection of Participants Fourteen students volunteered to take part in the study during the recruitment period and all were selected to participate in the study. With one exception, all of these students who participated in the study responded as a result of communication received from the researcher via the DSOs at the participating universities. The exception was a student who was informed of the study by a community agency. Another two students also volunteered, but not until the timeline for the call for participants had expired. Unknown to the researcher, a campus paper ran a notice about the research project long after the date for which participants were sought. In embarking on the study I had been concerned that by using self-definition for inclusion in the study that I might hear from Deaf students rather than from students who are hard of hearing. However, I need not have worried. Only students who used oral communication responded to the call for participants. This demonstrates that students exercise a form of self-selection, or possibly DSO co-ordinators were precise in disseminating materials. 127 Research Method Aspects Study Components As outlined in the introduction to this chapter, my study consisted of three components involving students who are hard of hearing: an initial interview, a follow-up interview, and journal entries. The initial interview with participants focused on their experiences being hard of hearing and, at the same time, university students. Six areas were covered in the interview guide: 1) general university experience, 2) academic experience, 3) social experience, 4) disability-related supports and services, 5) family connection, and 6) nature of a hearing loss, identity, and demographic issues. Once the interviews were underway, it became apparent that a seventh area merited identification, namely, transition issues. The second interview consisted of two parts. Participants were provided with transcripts of the first interview and were asked for their comments and changes. Then they were asked to discuss changes in four areas since the first interview: 1) academic university experience, 2) social university experience, 3) and disability-related supports and services, and 4) hearing loss issues. For both interviews interview guides (See Appendix E & F) were used, but only as a guide, so that the flow of the conversation followed the individual's direction. This semi-structured format was in keeping with interpretive approaches to interviewing. A pilot of the first interview guide was conducted before going out to the field; as a result of the pilot the interview guide was refined. 128 Besides taking part in interviews, study participants were asked to write a journal entry twice a week over a three-week period in the fall, 1999. The journal was a means for them to record their thoughts while they were fresh. In order to encourage participation, a format for responses was designed that was limited to only two questions to avoid over-taxing respondents. These two questions were: (1) Please note a positive experience you had this week at university and how you felt about it, and (2) Please note a negative experience you had this week at university and how you felt about it. (See Appendix G for the journal guide given to students.) Interviews The first series of interviews with students was conducted in November and December of 1999. One person who joined the study late had her first interview in January; she heard about the study later than other students did. The second round of interviews commenced in February of 2000 and continued until April of that year. Students completed journal entries during a three-week period anywhere from November 1999 to April 2000. Most interviews with students were set up by e-mail. Students' e-mail addresses had been requested on their agreement form. Students informed me of their willingness to participate either by mailing back to me a signed release or by contacting me by e-mail. In the latter case the signed release was completed at the first interview. At the outset of each interview, students were assured of anonymity. Interviews were conducted one-on-one in a private room, with three exceptions. In one case the student selected a quiet corner of the cafeteria. In another case, the student's first interview was in a 129 restaurant booth in her hometown. Her second interview was in her study space, which was also occupied by another student; the participant advised that she was comfortable with this arrangement because the other person, being deaf, would not hear the conversation. First interviews varied in length from one to two hours, usually depending on the extent of the student's replies or the time the student had available. The second interviews varied from 45 minutes to an hour and a half, again depending on the situation. Communication with participants was not found to be problematic during the interviews. None of the students requested an accommodation, whether an assistive listening device, an interpreter, or other form of assistance. This was not surprising because one-to-one communication is less difficult for persons with hearing losses than group communication.24 Furthermore, the nature of the interview was such that respondents could ask for questions to be repeated. In fact, there were few instances of this; any repetition was usually more for clarity of a question than for not hearing it. Sometimes, I did not hear participants' replies, due to my hearing loss; however, this did not happen often, and participants readily compiled with a request to repeat a response. A l l interviews were taped and then transcribed. The first transcription was given back to participants prior to the second interview for any changes to the transcript and further comment on any aspect of the interview. Only one participant requested changes; her interview had been conducted in a restaurant and the quality of the tape was affected by the background noise. Eleven students completed journal entries and three did not. Of these, one person was In the literature review, students' difficulties with communicating in groups were discussed. 130 still a student because of her thesis work but was no longer taking classes. In the other two cases, one student did not understand the nature of the request but still did not submit an entry when the nature of the journal entry was clarified. The other student did not offer any explanation. Students were not contacted more than once for the journal entries to avoid any sense on their part that they were being pressured. Data Management A n interpretive approach to data management requires an explication of the approach. A n inductive process is used for data analysis and writing, which involves comparing incidents applicable to categories, integrating categories and their properties, delimiting and writing the theory (Denzin, 1994). The process is a complex, reflective one and ultimately "interpretation is an art that cannot be formalized" Denzin, p.512). My approach to data analysis was to begin with reading transcriptions and journal entries to absorb the material, and then to identify patterns and themes. A key word index of themes was generated. For example, under service delivery words such as notetaking, tutoring, and exams were identified. Each transcript was searched by computer using the "find" function for key words. A l l relevant sections that matched a particular key word or reasonable facsimile were copied onto a document coded with a particular theme. In some instances, several different key words were used to come up with the same information. For example, words such as professors, profs, instructors and teachers were all searched for the subject of instructor relationships. Journal entries were re-read and relevant portions were 131 added to the summary documents. Transcripts were re-read to ensure that information relating to a theme had been captured. Data were organized into summary documents according to themes. In some cases the same data were duplicated on several themes because components of the data were relevant to the theme or the context of the data were important to retain. The data were reviewed and analyzed for common themes and patterns. Following writing up results, data were rechecked to determine if alternate explanations were possible. A l l transcripts and journal entries were reread to ensure that the writing of the results reflected the totality of the students' shared meanings. Limitations of the Study Most research has limitations, and this study was no exception. The five limitations of this research relate to sample size, geographic scope, institutional scope, the scope of the literature, and the interview flow of questions. Sample Size The sample size, although robust for a qualitative study, was limited to 14 persons. Because hearing losses vary considerably, as do individual experiences, it would be desirable to learn of the experiences of other students. However, a researcher must always come to a point of deciding when a study has a sufficient number of persons for its research purpose in order to conduct the study in a reasonable timeframe and with finite resources. Furthermore, there is a point of saturation whereby sufficient understanding is generated on the themes 132 under study with the number of participants involved in the research project. Creswell (1998) refers to this as reaching the point where "I[as the researcher] no longer find new information that adds to my understanding of the category" (p. 242). Geographical Scope Just as there are limits in the number of participants involved in any study, so too there are geographical boundaries. In the case of my study, the context was the province of British Columbia and within the province, three urban universities. Institutional Scope This study focused on students attending universities, rather than colleges, for consistency of institutional type. Thus, the findings are related to universities. This does not mean that major themes do not have significance for other post-secondary institutions but a limitation is that the study could not encompass students from other post-secondary backgrounds. In keeping with interpretive research, the findings are applicable to the participants and context of this study. Literature Scope Much of the literature in the retention field is from another country and, most often, the literature was from the United States. One cannot assume that universities in Canada and the United States are similar in all respects, even though there are similarities in some respects, such as sharing a similar Judeo-Christian heritage and Western democratic 133 foundations. There are some Canadian studies in higher education and these were drawn upon extensively while, at the same time, the literature elsewhere was also referenced. Flow of Questions A n interview guide was developed; however, the intent of the interviews was to follow the flow of the participants' comments. This approach was appropriate given the method employed in the study, but also made it more challenging for the interviewer to ensure sufficient coverage of all questions in the interview guide. It also meant that the same question was not necessarily asked in the same way in each interview. Again, this is consistent with the methodological design, but it may also be perceived as a limitation i f there is a sense that a particular flow and interview approach would have made a difference to a respondent's answer. Conducting a second interview helped to mitigate the impact of this limitation. Profiles In this.section a series of profiles are presented, first of the institutions attended by the study participants, followed by a profile of the students and, finally, of the researcher. The three universities in the province of British Columbia, Canada, which consented to the research study, are referred to by pseudonyms. Students were also given pseudonyms to preserve confidentiality. 134 Institutions25 University X The population of this urban-based university is 22,525 under-graduate and 2,971 graduate students (all figures are for 2001-02). The university has 681 faculty members and 2,971 staff. Its buildings take up 2,276,197 square meters and the university occupies 174 hectares. The operating budget of University X is $201 Million. Five faculties are identified including Applied Sciences, Arts, Business Administration, Education, and Sciences. As well, there are more than 30 institutes and extensive Continuing Studies and Co-operative Education programs. There are 1,125 residence units available on campus.The Disability Service Office is part of student services and an estimated 300 students with disabilities seek its services annually. University X describes itself as being a comprehensive university; it is located in a population base of two million people, half of the province's entire population. University Y This university is also located in a population base of two million persons and has 28,893 undergraduate students and 6,489 graduate students (2000-01). As well, it lists 5,686 distance education students. About one-quarter of its students are housed on campus in one of 9,000 residence spaces. Full-time staff number 1,740 and full-time faculty, 7,339. 2 5 The source of most of the institutional information was the quick facts guides available from the universities' websites. The information is not the same for each institution because they used different budget years and descriptors. Information about DSOs was supplemented by written information or information obtained from DSO Co-ordinators directly. 135 University Y describes itself as a research-intensive university. It has 12 faculties encompassing virtually all study disciplines; it is the only university in the province with a Faculty of Medicine. The annual operating budget is $870 Million and university buildings occupy over 1 million square meters. The university is spread over 402 hectares and maintains an additional 172 hectares. The DSO has approximately 500 students registered as having a disability. The DSO is located within Student Development and Services. University Z The student population at University Z is 13,145 full-time students. The overall total is 18,036 students, of which 2,305 are graduate students and, of these, two-thirds are full-time students (as of Nov. 1, 2002). The University is located in a community of 75,000 people but draws from a larger population base. It has 1,576 housing units plus 181 units in a family/student-housing complex. The population of students with disabilities served by the DSO is 350 students. The DSO is a unit within Student Services. The faculty complement of the university is 628 regular continuing faculty, 441 sessional instructors, and 670 specialist/instructional staff. In addition, there are 1,555 other staff members. Total revenue for 2001-02 was $282 million (expenditures were not cited). University Z describes itself as a comprehensive university and lists 10 faculties: business, education, engineering, fine arts, graduate studies, human and social development, humanities, law, science, and social sciences. 136 Participants A brief profile of each of the 14 students is presented, which will be followed by a summary of demographic aspects of all of the students. The order of the presentation of the students relates to the order in which they were first interviewed. Charlie is a 49-year-old graduate student with a severe-to-profound hearing loss, which occurred gradually. He wears hearing aids in both ears and uses an F M system. He completed an undergraduate social work program at another university and is now pursuing graduate studies in educational counselling. He hopes to become a counsellor. Charlie is First Nations and maintains regular contact with his band on the reserve. He is single and is involved with a campus religious support group. Kathy is 27 years old and only recently began to lose some of her hearing. She has a mild hearing loss and is going through an emotional and physical adjustment to the change in her life. She does not wear a hearing aid but does use an F M system with a headphone. After teaching for several years, she enroled in the Masters program for teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. She is single and has a boyfriend. She plans to return to teaching after getting her degree. Mark is a 21 -year-old Commerce student who is in his fourth and final year of his program. His career aspiration is to become a human resources officer and he hopes to pursue a Masters degree. Mark has a moderate-to-severe hearing loss in his right ear and a severe-to-profound hearing loss in his left ear. His hearing loss was detected at age three. He wears hearing aids in both ears. Mark is single and is active in campus clubs and sports. 137 Yvonne, 22, is in her fourth year of Arts at university with two or three more years to go because she is taking three, rather than five, classes per semester and is still deciding what her major will be. She has a profound hearing loss, which was first detected at age one-and-a-half. She believes that her hearing loss was a result of medication she received for an illness. She wears hearing aids in both ears. She works on campus and lives in residence. She is single. She has not decided on a future career but has an interest in writing. Carol, 18, is in the first year of a Bachelor of Arts program. Her hearing loss is moderately severe in one ear and moderately profound in the other ear. She hears high frequencies better than low frequencies. Carol's hearing loss was uncovered in elementary school but she believes she had it earlier. At two years of age, she had a severe reaction to medication given for an ear infection. She wears hearing aids in both ears and uses an F M system. She also has a condition whereby she pulls out her hair. She plays rugby and is single. She would like to be involved in humanitarian or relief work. James, 18, is in his first-year of university and came to university with a 92% average in high school. He is in the Bachelor of Science Honours program, but, in his second semester, was thinking of switching to Arts. He has a moderate-to-severe hearing loss and wears hearing aids in both ears. He also uses an F M system. Hearing loss is hereditary in his family; his father and brother are also hard of hearing. James was born with his hearing loss. He is single and lives on campus; he is involved in sports and clubs. He is undecided about his future career. Sarah, 36, is in her last year of a Masters program to become a teacher of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. She worked after high school, and entered a community college 138 at 27 years of age. She went on to university for her undergraduate degree and attended a different university for a particular graduate program. She has a moderate-to-severe hearing loss from birth and wears hearing aids in both ears. In her late teens she began to lose her eyesight and is now legally blind. She is single and owns her own apartment. Gayle, 23, is in her fourth year of Arts at university but because of a change in institutions she is in her first year in a new institution. Single, she lives at home but finds it stressful because her father is an alcoholic. She wears two in-the-ear hearing aids for her moderately severe hearing loss. She has used an F M system in the past but no longer does so. She hopes to go on to graduate school, possibly in environmental studies. Her career aspirations are related to environmental studies. She has been hard of hearing from birth. Darcy, in his mid-3 Os, is in his fourth year, having spent two years at college before coming to university. After getting a Bachelor of Arts degree, he hopes to get a Masters degree and possibly become a college instructor. He turned to university after an accident left him unable to continue physical work; he had been a janitor. From an early age, he has had no hearing in his left ear and a severe hearing loss in his right ear, for which he wears a hearing aid. It helps him with speech-reading by giving him sound cues but not full speech comprehension; he does not use an F M system. He is married with two children. Rachel, single and 28, lives at home while she is completing a Bachelor of Social Work degree. She has worked as a government financial aid officer and would like to be a social worker. She thinks she always had a substantial hearing loss but it was not recognized until she was 16 years old. Her hearing loss is severe-to-profound. Only recently did she get a hearing aid. She has not been acquainted with assistive listening devices. She attended a 139 college before going to university; after a year on campus, she is now taking all of her classes by distance education. Ben, 28 years old, worked after high school, and then went to a community college for a year and a half. He transferred credits to university and is now in his third year of science studies. He defines his hearing loss as being moderate and he wears hearing aids in both ears. He was in Grade 5 or 6 when he became hard of hearing. He tried an F M system in grade school, but did not like it. His mother is also hard of hearing. Ben is single and plans to work in the geological field; he may pursue graduate studies, depending on the job market. At 58 years of age, Heather is the oldest student who took part in the study. She became hard of hearing in her early 20s after her language skills and speech had developed. Now she has a severe-to-profound bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and has hearing aids but mostly relies on speech reading. She has not tried an A L D system. She started taking courses two years ago as part of a continuing education diploma in a humanities program and has enjoyed it so much that she plans to get an Arts degree. Married with grown children, she finances her education by boarding international students. Jennifer, 40, returned to university after teaching for numerous years to get a Master's degree in a specialized program for teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. She lives on campus and has retained her home in her original residence, which her fiancee maintains. Frequently, he visits her. Her hearing loss is hereditary; her father also is hard of hearing. From birth she has had a moderate-to-severe loss in both ears. She had one hearing aid until her 20s when she acquired a second one. Now, she also uses an F M system. She plans to return to teaching after graduation. 140 Ann, 24, is in the elementary program for a Bachelor of Education degree. She is in her sixth year of studies because of taking partial loads to get a four-year degree. She grew up in a family where Italian and English were both spoken because her Italian-born parents were immigrants to Canada. Her father is hard of hearing and she was born with a hearing loss but she only recently got a hearing aid for her moderate-to-severe hearing loss. She plays on a university athletic team. She plans to be a teacher. Overall Participant Profile A n overall profile of these students shows that they range in ages from 18 to 58 years, with six persons being under 24 years. The students attended one of three universities in the province of British Columbia, Canada as follows: University X (n=2) University Y (n=7) University Z (n=5) Table 2, on the next page, provides an individual participant profile of salient demographic information. Subsequent tables aggregate information. 141 Table 2 Individual Participant Profiles Name Age University Faculty Status Charlie 49 Y Education Undergrad Kathy 27 Y Education Graduate Mark 21 Y Commerce Undergrad Yvonne 22 X Arts Undergrad Carol 18 X Arts Undergrad James 18 Y Science Undergrad Sarah 36 Y Education Graduate Gayle 23 Y Arts Undergrad Darcy 30s Z Arts Undergrad Rachel 28 Z Social Work Undergrad Ben 28 z Science Undergrad Heather 58 z Arts Undergrad Jennifer 40 Y Education Graduate Ann 24 z Education Undergrad Table 3 shows some overall demographic information about the participants. Nine were female and five male. Most of the students were single, with only two being married and one student cohabitating with her fiancee. Three students came from small rural communities, while the others were urban dwellers. 142 Table 3 Overall Demographic Profiles of Participants Gender No Male 5 Female 9 Age Range 18-24 yrs. 6 25 yrs. - 40 yrs. 6 41 yrs. + 2 Geographic Profile Urban 11 Rural 3 Marital Status Single 11 Married or Common-law 3 Father's Occupational Background Middle Class 11 Working Class 3 First Language English 10 Other 4 English was the first language for 10 of the participants; other students learned either another language or were bilingual. Other languages learned were Sikh, French, Italian, or a native Indian language. The academic profiles of the students (see Tables 4 and 5) shows variations. Eleven students were in undergraduate studies, two of whom had just started and four of whom were 143 about to finish. A l l three graduate students were enrolled in a program to educate them to become teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing; they were working toward a Masters degree. Altogether, five students were in Education and five were in Arts. Other students were in Science, Social Work, and Commerce. Table 4 Academic Profiles: Program Status Program Status No. Undergraduate 11 Graduate 3 Total 14 Table 5 Academic Profiles: Program Specialty Program Specialty No. Education 5 Arts 5 Science 2 Commerce 1 Social Work 1 Total 14 144 The audiology profile of the students participating in the study shows a wide range. As shown in Tables 6 and 7, the profile of these students reflects a range from mild (n=l) to profound (n=l) with considerable variations among them.2 6 The largest cluster was the moderate-to-severe loss category, numbering five students. Four persons had a severe-to-profound hearing loss. None of the students had undergone a procedure to get a cochlear implant.27 (More detail on audiology terms was included in the literature review; Appendix A provides more detail on terminology.) The hearing variations of the students reflect the wide differences that can be found in persons with hearing losses. These variations are all that much greater because an individual person can have one level of hearing loss in one ear and another level in the other ear. Even in one ear, the type of loss can vary. One student had an unusual loss in one ear that went from being a moderate loss to being a profound one, depending on the frequency. Most students had more losses in the higher frequencies that affect human communication than in the lower frequencies. Even in the case where two students shared the same category it did not mean that they heard similarly because there may be differences in frequencies heard, ability to comprehend words, and adaptation strategies. 2 6 In one case the student reported a profound hearing loss but her audiologist report indicated a severe-to-profound hearing loss. She was placed in the latter category for this study. 2 7 As discussed in the literature review, a cochlear implant is a medical procedure whereby an electronic sound processor is implanted behind a person's ear, providing some access to speech and sound. 145 Overall, the profile shows that the level of hearing loss of most of the students was substantial and, without additional strategies or support, the students would have difficulty hearing in many verbal situations. Table 6 Degree of Hearing Loss in Both Ears Name Hearing Loss Left Ear Hearing Loss Right Ear Charlie Severe-to-profound Severe-to-profound Kathy Mi ld Mild Mark Severe-to-profound Moderate-to-severe Yvonne Profound Profound Carol Moderate-to-severe Moderate-to-profound James Moderate-to-severe Moderate-to-severe Sarah Severe Moderate Gayle Moderate-to-severe Moderate-to-severe Darcy Profound Severe Rachel Severe-to-profound Severe-to-profound Ben Moderate Moderate Heather Severe-to-profound Severe-to-profound Jennifer Moderate-to-severe Moderate-to-severe Ann Moderate-to-severe Moderate-to-severe 146 Table 7 Overall Degree of Hearing Loss Degree of Hearing Loss No. Mild T Moderate 1 Moderate-to-severe 5 Moderate-to-severe and severe-to-profound 1 Moderate-to-severe and Moderate-to-profound 1 Severe-to-profound 4 Profound 1 Total 14 Profile of the Researcher I was born with a hearing loss, which is moderate-to-severe at 70 to 75 decibels in each ear. Without hearing aids, I am unable to hear three feet away and, even then, I need to have visual contact to supplement hearing with speechreading. My hearing loss went undetected until age five; the family doctor advised against hearing aids because of the dependency that they would be sure to cause! I attended regular schools and, as a result of an annual health checkup where I failed the hearing test, I was recommended for further audiologic testing. Thus, at age 12,1 received my first hearing aid, 147 one for my right ear, although both ears are equally affected. I relied on lipreading to augment heard sounds and communicated orally and continued to do so throughout my life. I went to university directly from high school and during my four years I received no disability-related accommodations, whether notetaking, technical equipment, or tutoring. I was unable to hear the instructor in many of my classes and had difficulty hearing other students in virtually all of them. However, because I was an independent learner and classes were small, except in first year, I managed to do well academically. I took part in swimming and figure skating and wrote for the campus newspaper, being editor of it during one summer. I also had an active social network. I graduated with an Honours B A in 1970.1 returned to university as a part-time student while in the workforce. I received an M . A . degree in 1983 and an M.Ed, in 1990, both at the University of Regina. In 1996 I entered into a doctoral program as a full-time student at the University of British Columbia. Before taking my first full-time job, I acquired a second hearing aid and a few years later, an F M system. Now I sometimes use captioning in extremely difficult listening situations. I am active with the Canadian Hard of Hearing Association and the International Federation of Hard of Hearing People, as well as being on the board of the B.C. Family Hearing Resource Centre. I am also active with work-related disability service provider organizations including the Association of Higher Education and Disability and the Canadian Association of Disability Service Providers. I am also involved with non-hearing related organizations, including the National Women's Reference Group on Labour Market Issues. I 148 have friends who are hard of hearing, deafened and Deaf, and I have a brother who is Deaf, also from birth, who communicates mainly by sign language. Since 1991,1 have been employed with the Disability Resource Centre at the University of British Columbia and work with students with disabilities and the campus community in facilitating academic, social, and institutional accommodations. I took leave from work during a significant portion of my studies. At the time that I was engaged in field research, I did not know any of the students prior to interviewing them and had no direct service delivery role with them. Subsequent to completion of the interviews and my return to work in 2001, three of the students became my clients but that is no longer the case; all three successfully graduated from university. Summary This chapter has outlined the research design for my study. I have chosen an interpretive approach as the methodological framework for studying the post-secondary experiences of students who are hard of hearing. Interpretive research is part of the qualitative tradition which enables one to gain a rich and deep "understanding of participants' lived experience of the phenomena" (Marshall & Rossman, 1999, p. 60). This approach allows for emphasizing the stories of the persons being interviewed, and my role as the researcher was to, not simply be a conduit for the stories, but, rather, to analyze them in order to convey their essence (Greene, 1990). The research design outlined in this chapter described three components: initial and follow-up interviews and journal entries with 14 self-identified students who are hard of 149 hearing attending one of three universities in the province of British Columbia. The eight research questions which guided the study were elucidated. The fourteen participants in the study were introduced, and, as a group, two-thirds are female and a third, male; 43% were between 18-24 years, considered the traditional student group, and the rest, non-traditional students, depending on the definition used. Most students were single with 20% being married or in common-law relationships. English was the first language for 71%, and 79% had fathers with a middle class occupation; 21% had fathers with a working class occupation. Eighty percent of the students were undergraduates, with Education and Arts being the predominant areas of study. In terms of audiological profile, the range was considerable, from one person having a mild loss to one person being profoundly hearing impaired in both ears. Five students were moderately-to-severely impaired; four persons had severe-to-profound hearing losses; one person was moderately impaired, and the rest were a combination of several categories. Yet, despite the variations in hearing loss, these students identified themselves as being hard of hearing when the call to participate in this research study was issued. In the next chapter the first issue to be explored in this study is how they define their hearing status. 150 CHAPTER FOUR IDENTITY A N D TRANSITIONAL ISSUES Students come to university with their background characteristics and transition experiences. Tinto's retention model (1987) incorporates these aspects as being significant in influencing the motivation and commitment of individuals to continue studies. Students' background characteristics are central to who they are as individuals and influence their perceptions and expectations. For this study, two research questions were framed to explore identity and transition issues. The first question focused on the nature of students' identities in relation to their hearing losses. The second question dealt with students' transition experiences into university. In the first section of the chapter, findings about the identity perceptions of students in relation to their hearing losses are presented. In the second section of the chapter, transition issues are discussed, including factors influencing post-secondary educational choices. Identity and Hearing Status A l l of the interviewees, by virtue of participating in this study, recognized that they have hearing losses. The call requesting participants for the study invited responses from students who are hard of hearing. The students' voluntary participation in the study meant that they identified in some way with the hard of hearing label. There are various labels that may be used, and Table 8 provides a summary of terms used most frequently by the participants of this study to describe their hearing losses. 151 Table 8 Students' Definitions of their Hearing Status Label 3 No. of Responses hard of hearing 13 Deaf 0 deaf 3 oral deaf 0 deafened 0 hearing impaired 1 hearing loss 2 respondents could refer to more than one label In arriving at the hard of hearing designation, most students compared themselves to persons who are hearing and who are deaf. This finding is consistent with that by Israelite et al. (2002), who found that persons who are hard of hearing conduct dual comparisons, viewing themselves as being similar and dissimilar to persons who hear and persons who are deaf. Communication was one of the areas of comparisons identified by students in my study. The participants stated that they were similar to hearing people in using verbal means of communication, and, at the same time, they considered themselves different from hearing people because of their difficulties with hearing and rarely with speaking. As Yvonne explained, "People who are hard of hearing share a common process of acquiring speech in 152 terms of having the same kind of difficulties or similar difficulties in communicating and understanding what other people are saying. " Some students compared themselves in functional terms. Ann said "I can't hear in full capacity as everybody else " and she referred to her hearing as being "damaged. " For Mark, a lack of hearing was also a functional matter. Mark: As a result of my hearing loss I may not be able to hear everything in a conversation, what others will hear and what it means. I have the inability to understand or hear what is being said in all situations. Students compared themselves to Deaf persons, citing differences in communication and community affiliation. Whereas they saw themselves as being similar to hearing people, they saw themselves as being very different from Deaf persons because they are not fluent users of sign language and are not part of Deaf culture. Kathy put it this way: "7 am very much in the hearing world. The Deaf community is a political concept as well. I will never be part of the Deaf community because I am not Deaf. " Charlie also noted being apart from the Deaf, and also from affiliating with hearing persons. "I am not part of Deaf culture and hearing culture. " His view of being neither part of the Deaf or hearing worlds is similar to other depictions in the research (Israelite, 1993; Lutes, 1987; Warick, 1994b). Consequently, persons who are hard of hearing feel that they are in a "no-man's land" (Israelite). 153 Several students distinguished between themselves and persons who are deaf in relation to level of hearing. In this respect, they were viewing those who are deaf28 in functional rather than cultural terms. They viewed themselves as having some hearing, whereas they viewed persons who are deaf as having none. Ann defined anyone with a profound hearing loss as being deaf, assuming that this was substantially different from those with mild to severe hearing losses. Use of hearing aids was one way some persons distinguished between persons who are hard of hearing and those who are deaf. Charlie stated that for persons who are deaf "wearing hearing aids doesn 't make any difference. You hear very little. Hard of hearing - you need hearing aids for assistance. " Choice of label is very much sociocultural and can sometimes be situational. Heather, whose audiogram shows that she has a severe-to-profound hearing loss, responded to the call for hard of hearing participants yet she identified herself as being "beyond hard of hearing. I am profoundly deaf." However, she does not feel herself to be part of deaf culture. "I am just a person who can't hear." She had hearing until her early mid-adulthood and so has always functioned in hearing contexts. Two other students, one with profound hearing losses in both ears and the other with a profound loss in one ear and a severe loss in the other ear, had mixed identities. Yvonne, who has a profound loss in both ears, defined herself as being hard of hearing when she is with hearing people but stated that she might define herself as being deaf when she is with other 2 8 The lower-case for the "d" in deaf is used when talking about a person who is considered deaf because of level of hearing loss. Deaf, with the "D" capitalized, is used for designating a person who is part of the cultural group of Deaf persons. A fuller discussion of these issues is in the literature review. 154 persons who are deaf. Her definition was situational, depending on the people with whom she associated and the purpose of the identity label. Darcy, who has a profound loss in one ear and a severe loss in another ear, also defined himself with two labels: hearing impaired and sometimes as deaf, again depending on the circumstances: "I have always considered [myself] hearing impaired. As well, I use the term 'deaf.' Out of respect for real deaf I don't use it around people who might not make a distinction. " Students were asked about their identity in an open-ended way: What do you consider yourself in terms of identity? However, occasionally students were asked i f they defined themselves as hard of hearing, deaf or hearing impaired. The term deafened did not come up in either the students' responses or the interviewer's questions. The lack of use of this terminology is not expected to have influenced responses significantly although the term might be considered applicable to Heather who lost her hearing in adulthood and, to a lesser extent, to Charlie who experienced a continual gradual decline in his hearing. Some students raised concerns with the use of labels, finding them to be depersonalizing and, in this context, they didn't really like the hard of hearing label. Other students did not like the use of a specific label because of connotations attributed to it. For Mark, the hard of hearing term had connotations of difficulties, which he did not feel that he had experienced. Mark: I prefer to say I have a hearing loss because to me 'hearing loss' focuses on hearing loss whereas 'hard of hearing' implies there's difficulties in other areas as well. It's not that I have a problem with other aspects of my life. I have a hearing loss. 155 Nor did Darcy like the hard of hearing terminology. He believed it blames the person for having a hearing loss. Darcy: I don't like that term that much anymore. It [having a hearing loss] doesn't really bother me. It almost implies that it's my fault. Hard of hearing is hard for me to hear. If I could try a little harder I could be better at it. But it's not something I dwell on. I am not too worried about [using] the politically correct term. A couple of students stated that they disliked labels because they wanted to be considered a person first and as having a disability, second. As well, the sentiment was expressed that too much was made of using certain terms as opposed to using other ones. Sarah: I just want to identify myself as a person. When I first came to this master's program I told people I was hearing impaired. Now I've been told, "That's horrible; you shouldn't be using that term. " Whatever. I can't hear you very well. It's too political. My attitude is like 'Get on with your life'. Neither does Yvonne like to define herself by her hearing loss. Yvonne: I don't define myself by my disability and I never really have. People ask me what on earth they are supposed to call me. I have professors saying, "Do you prefer being called deaf or what? " And, I say, "I couldn't care less. " The eschewing of labels could be part of trying to be normal and avoiding any marginalization in status that being hard of hearing may bring. Dahl (1995) has referred to strategies such as withdrawal and avoidance that are used by persons who are hard of hearing and deafened to resist negative social reactions to a hearing loss. Avoidance of labels is part of 156 an attempt "to reduce the effects of othering by emphasizing the similarities between themselves and the dominant group" (Israelite et al., 2002, p. 135). Some persons, however, wanted others to understand their identity and the distinctions between those who are hard of hearing, hearing, and deaf. Jennifer noted: "When people say I am a hearing person, I always correct them and say, 'I am hard of hearing,' and when people say 'She is deaf,' I always correct them and say, 'I am hard of hearing.' " Sarah noted that there are significant differences among those who are hard of hearing and persons who are deaf, and that there is a need for public education for people to understand this aspect. Her approach was to view hearing loss on a continuum with enormous differences among individuals within it. Sarah stated, "There will have to be educating of people who are not hard of hearing to realize that there are different degrees of hearing loss. They are not going to meet someone with the same kind of hearing loss. " The identity of being hard of hearing was one that took time for some students to adopt. Now 40, Jennifer used to refer to herself as hearing. Jennifer: I always said I was hearing when I was growing up. I faked it, but when I finally came out with it in my 30s, to me deaf was you can't hear anything. I can hear things. To me hearing is you hear everything and I knew I didn 't hear everything, so it seems that's where Ifit. Although few students cited speech difficulties as a distinguishing feature of being hard of hearing or an aspect that would make them part of a hard of hearing community, a couple of students noted that they had had to work on their speech when growing up. For example, Mark received speech therapy while in grade and high school. 157 Mark: It's [speech] one of those things that is really a barrier to me. It's got better over the years. It varies with my stress level. If my stress level is high my speech quality decreases. If I am calm and relaxed my speech level goes up. Even though Mark cited difficulties with speech, he did not refer to this as part of his identity. Israelite et al. (2002) also found few students defined themselves as hard of hearing in relation to their speech capabilities even when acknowledging speech difficulties. Yet, speech difficulty is sometimes considered one aspect that is different about persons who are hard of hearing, depending on the quality of their speaking voices or manner of speaking. For example, Swartz and Israelite (2000) found that participants in their study felt that professors made assumptions about hearing loss based on speech proficiency. Mark experienced this when his speech was a characteristic used by a professor to separate him out from those selected into a co-op program. Mark was one of three persons not accepted into the program and was subsequently told that his speaking ability was a factor in the decision. Mark wrote in his journal: Mark: I felt upset, disappointed and frustrated because the Internship could have benefited me in the future. It was also unexpected that I was going to be denied and it was difficult for me to handle....This example of pure discrimination angered me. There may also be different treatment for persons based on assumed levels of hearing losses. In the literature there is some suggestion that persons who are hard of hearing are not considered as seriously disabled as persons who are deaf. Dahl (1987) noted that the hard of hearing label does not connote the same degree of disability or of separation from society as 158 does the term "deaf," and so it has been of less interest to society. One participant in the study with a mild hearing loss at the low end of the hearing loss continuum found that her hearing loss was less attended to than that of another student in her class who had a greater degree of hearing difficulty. When she got an F M system, the instructor thought it was intended for the other student. As well, a classmate asked to borrow it for another student who had a greater hearing decibel loss than Kathy. As written in her journal, Kathy felt that there was an implication that her needs were not of equal merit. Kathy: This made me feel as if I didn't count as h/h [hard of hearing] because I don't have aids + therefore not as important to have support. Maybe it is a personal relationship unrelated to my hearing loss but by her not acknowledging it, it is somewhat an attack on me, making me feel less worthy of the equipment because I am less hh/ than another. The foregoing dynamic suggests that there are hierarchies of need, and that some persons with greater levels of hearing loss are assessed as having more difficulties and more needs. Although this may seem logical, Kathy's experience was that her needs were less attended to, and it affected her relationships with some students in her classes. Double Disability/Other Conditions Wolff and Harkins (1986) estimated that children who are deaf or hard of hearing are three times more likely than the general population to have an additional handicapping condition. Tell, Levi, and Feinmesser (1998), found that learning disabilities, cerebral palsy, and mental retardation were the most frequently occurring additional disabilities of students who are hard of hearing. None of the 14 students in my study self-identified as having any of 159 these conditions. However, three students identified themselves as having other disabilities: one student was legally blind and two had mental health disabilities. Another student described herself as having been fragile in high school. Sarah has Usher's Syndrome, a condition whereby symptoms of vision loss developed in her late teens. Sarah described her hearing loss as being less traumatic than her visual loss. She has had a hearing loss from birth, which has not changed over the years. She has adjusted to it all of her life. However, her blindness occurred when she was in her teens and her condition, Usher's Syndrome, could result in more deterioration in her sight and hearing as she ages. Sarah: I have no knowledge of what it's like to hear normally whereas I remember what it is like to see perfectly. I remember what it's like to move around at night-time. I remember that. So I think having that experience, you don't want to lose that. At present she can still see in the daytime, but has limited spatial and peripheral vision and little night vision. As well, i f objects are low, such as a low table, she is apt not to see it because it is out of her field of sight. Sarah stated: "It's not easy to get around. My peripheral vision is not good. I need light. I take time going down the stairs. During the days, I occasionally run into chairs. " When Sarah returned to university she felt that she needed to come to terms with her sight disability. She was training to be a teacher who might deal with other students with 160 disabilities and their parents, and needed to be comfortable with her own disabilities. Sarah: I did some looking inside of myself and said, "Okay, I need to deal with it. " I am going to be working with kids with different disabilities and I am going to be working with parents who are not willing to accept their own child very well.... I need to get over my vision problems, you know, my feelings about it. But it wasn't easy. One of her assignments was about Usher's Syndrome and Sarah recalled that working on the paper "was the worst time of my life. As I was doing the research my personal feelings took over my professional feelings. ...I literally cried every time I did that paper. " She worked on the paper for three months and was given the option of selecting a different topic but was determined to face the issue and to complete the paper. She was glad she did because she proved to herself that she could overcome her own fears. Sarah had another extremely difficult experience with her disability at university. She was informed by a guest lecturer that persons with her condition would end up totally blind. It was a year before she saw a specialist who ruled out the prognosis for her. Meanwhile, she almost had a nervous breakdown, but did not go to a counsellor to discuss her anxieties. Sarah: I thought of it but thought, "How can a counsellor or a psychiatrist or psychologist, how can anybody tell me it's okay when I have the fear that I may lose all my sight and all my hearing? What do I say to this person? " No matter what, you are going to live in darkness: no sight, no hearing. In Sarah's case her visual loss is not entirely visible because she does not need to use a cane nor Guide Dog; at the same time, her hearing loss is also mostly invisible. Thus, she has two invisible disabilities. This was also the case for three other students, although their other 161 disabling condition did not involve vision. The student's other disability, particularly if it is a mental health condition, may go either undetected or undisclosed, and possibly both, i f the individual is unaware of having a second condition. The effects of the condition may be attributed to the hearing loss, masking the existence of a second condition. Thus, to most persons the student may present himself or herself as being a hard of hearing student rather than as someone with dual disabilities. The foregoing was the case for Carol. She has a hair-pulling disorder, and when she is under stress she pulls her hair. Her condition led to depression for which she obtained counselling and medication. Because stress exacerbates her condition, she takes three, instead of four, courses. Asked if her illness was related to her hearing loss, Carol stated, "I think that the stress which hearing loss can cause can trigger it. " She has not mentioned this condition to her instructors. "If I did [discloseJ it may make them more understanding, but I don't think it will and I don't want it to change the marking scheme or grading scheme. It should be the same for everybody." Ann was very frail both physically and emotionally in high school, although she was not clinically diagnosed as having a mental health condition. She found it hard to connect with others because she couldn't always follow what was being said. She did not seek help for her condition, and just gave herself additional time to deal with her difficulties. Ann: I couldn't really fit in well. I felt isolated and alienated because of that and there was a discrepancy ...a huge discrepancy in how I felt. When something went wrong I hid that part or I had to take time away and needed extra time. That's why I took longer to finish school because I needed that extra time. I gave myself that extra time. 162 The hearing loss may be less traumatic than the second disability, depending on the nature of the other condition, its severity, and its effect on being able to function. Darcy, who has been diagnosed as being clinically depressed, found his mental disability more disruptive than his hearing loss. When affected by it he suffered from a loss of confidence and an inability to keep up with coursework. Darcy's condition was diagnosed when he was an adult, but he was suspected to have been depressed as far back as 9 to 10 years of age. Darcy has been advised to take medications for his depression, although he has been reluctant to do so. Darcy: I have found that when I got married, my depression almost went away, that is to say I was so euphoric about being married and it lasted so long that it was able to override any chemical imbalances or whatever else might cause depression. Since coming to University ZI have found that I am sort of starting to slide back into depression again. Darcy said that he has been having second thoughts about his ability to continue his education, to graduate with a degree, and then to find employment as a teacher because of his hearing loss. Darcy: I have started to doubt myself. "Am I kidding myself? Can a person with a hearing problem become a teacher? Will I get hired? " Because of that I am leaning towards the direction of depression. When I start to get depressed I don't do too well in school. I get more depressed. It's really hard to break out of Darcy's worries and difficulties with his hearing loss exacerbated his stress and vice versa. The combined effects of the two conditions increased his difficulties. This seems to 163 support comments that the presence of two disabilities is exponentially more than one disability (Jamieson, 1994; Moore Family, 1995; Moores, 1987). Several other students discussed seeking counselling for various reasons. One student was stressed because he wanted to meet his own high expectations, another student felt depressed because she nearly failed a semester, and one student was recovering from alcoholism and was prone to feeling anxious and overwhelmed. In only one case, the difficulty was not hearing-related, as in the case of Gayle, whose father's alcoholism caused her distress. Another student discussed her difficulties in high school and her close monitoring of her mental and physical health. Altogether, two students identified having diagnosed mental health conditions and another five students discussed mental health issues. Commentary on the emotional and psychological difficulties of persons with hearing losses has been addressed in the literature (Jamieson, 1994; Moores, 1987; Rutman, 1989; Schlesinger & Meadow, 1972). Viewpoints of ascribing such difficulties as innate to a person with a hearing loss have been repudiated. At the same time, it has been recognized that the communication difficulties ensuing from a hearing loss (which are prevalent for a number of sociocultural reasons) give rise to these types of difficulties. As noted above, only two students in this study disclosed diagnosed mental health conditions and a few other students discussed issues related to their mental well-being. This study was limited in the extent to which these issues could be explored, but findings suggest that this may be a subject worthy of further exploration. 164 Academic Profile Finally, a word about the academic competence of the students participating in this study is in order. It is not improbable to consider that some of the students are "high academic achievers," the term used by Menchel (1996) to refer to the university students with deafness who took part in his study. Several students, who participated in my study, entered university with A averages and continued to get As in university. They clearly demonstrated high academic performance. At the same time, there were other students whose grades were in the C and B range, and sometimes lower than that. In some cases, the grades did not seem to match the students' academic potential and, in other cases, the students felt that they were performing at a suitable level. Thus, the individuals demonstrated a range of academic levels, and, I believe, individual qualities that made them university persisters based on their self-reports of tenacity and their handling of adversity. Not a single student was a drop-out casualty. This high rate of retention is quite exceptional considering the usual drop-out rates among students (British Columbia Council on Admissions and Transfer, 1992). Transition Issues The foregoing discussion on identity is important in order to understand the influence of a hearing loss on shaping identity. In the following section, issues of transition into post-secondary education for students who are hard of hearing will be discussed. Numerous researchers have described university and high school as being two different types of institutions (Andres et al., 1996; Guppy & Bednarski, 1993; Stinson & 165 Walter, 1997). A key difference is that students are expected to be more independent and self-reliant in university than they are in secondary school. The independence students are expected to exert in university relates not just to arrangements for disability-related services, but also to university life in general. The students who participated in this study found this to be the case. They also found that there was some tendency to be over-protected in high school, and there was a considerable adjustment to university life, especially if they were required to live away from home. There was also an adjustment academically, both in terms of scholastic achievement and study patterns. Four of the students in the study entered university directly from high school and five students went to college first, and then transferred to university. Of the other five students, two had recently transferred to their present university from a different university, one had been a homemaker, and two had been in the labour force prior to entering university. Independence Emphasized As mentioned, university students are expected to be independent, self-motivated and self-directed in their studies. Students found this to be the case and felt that i f the way was prepared for them in earlier forms of education, it was easier to adapt to new expectations. Yvonne's experience was that her high school teachers tended to do too much for her and did not allow her to be independent, which she knew would be required of her in university. She noted that her mother had to tell her teachers to allow her room to make decisions. 166 Yvonne: In high school it was my mom who talked to the teacher and let them know, "Now I am in charge of that. " It's my responsibility to actually make sure that things are going the way they are supposed to, that I'm getting what I need and basically I become the one that determines what it is that I need and not other people. It's a whole different playing field that way. I have to learn how to negotiate things, discuss with the Disability Resource Centre just how many notetakers I need for a semester. Students welcomed the higher expectations. Yvonne noted that the greater amount of responsibility required of her in university is good preparation for the labour force. Mark was also appreciative of the benefits of the approach in university, despite the extra work. Mark: Lots more work now; lots more emphasis on doing your own thing. You really have to be independent. You really have to be a motivator, initiator. Now you have to get your own work done. You have to do your own research. You have to do this and do that. In high school it was all given to you. I think post-secondary really taught me how to sort of think better, think for myself, and how to solve problems better. In elementary and secondary school, some of the students received services from an itinerant teacher of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. An itinerant teacher travels from school to school to work with students who are deaf and hard of hearing. There are also itinerant teachers for visually impaired students. These specialist teachers assist the classroom teacher in providing suitable accommodations for their students. At universities and colleges there are no similar positions. The closest equivalent to itinerant teachers are Disability Services Office (DSO) co-ordinators, but their caseloads are quite large and, unlike itinerant 167 teachers who often take the initiative to meet with students, disability services coordinators usually expect that students will contact them when assistance is required. Several students noted that their itinerant teachers helped prepare them for post-secondary education. One type of assistance related to providing remedial education and tutoring supports. Mark noted that he benefited from such assistance, although his need was greater in elementary school than in secondary school. Mark got the help he needed from his itinerant teacher to develop study skills to improve his writing, and to work on his speech in elementary school. Visits were twice-weekly in elementary school and weekly in secondary school. Mark: I didn 't really need as much [in secondary school]. I just needed it for other things like applying for scholarships, sort of learning how to cope with the post-secondary school system. In Grade 12 and, after that, I didn't really notice any change because I was so dependent on myself that I didn't really notice any change. I didn't really miss a beat or anything. Gayle also received assistance from her itinerant teacher with school subjects, but she found that her teacher was less helpful than she could have been. She said their relationship evolved into a friendship, and they spent a lot of time just talking. Gayle: But, in retrospect, through it all as far as really helping me with the needs of English language and all that which is what we ultimately should be working on, we weren't working on. So it's hard for me to say that. She's a friend so I like her. It brings in different politics. But, as far as her job and that goes, I have to say it's a little problematic because we ended up talking about her own personal life, which is really not the place. 168 G a y l e felt the itinerant teacher d i d not help her to develop her w r i t i n g sk i l l s . A s a result, G a y l e d i d not enter universi ty w i t h good wr i t i ng sk i l l s . Gayle: This is the result of not really working on it; just the approach that was taken back in high school was her editing papers and me directly copying it. There wasn't enough practice of me actually doing it. I was too young back then to know [any different]. James had an itinerant teacher w h o vis i ted week ly and enquired about h is F M system and h o w things were go ing . Howeve r , James found that the teacher was unable to help h i m get his F M system w o r k i n g i n his senior h i g h school years. W h e n it came to m a k i n g the transi t ion to univers i ty , James chose not to get the assistance o f his itinerant teacher. H e decided this after he d i d not get a universi ty entrance scholarship for students w i t h hear ing losses; the itinerant teacher was o n the selection commit tee and advised h i m that he d i d not get the award because o f his f ami ly income. James felt he had been mi s l ed about the scholarship. James: This is from a guy I have worked with all my life and this is what he said to me. He was on the committee to help decide.... I was very upset. I went through a lot of work to get this organized My attitude changed towards him. Itinerant teachers often arranged for students to v is i t post-secondary insti tutions and D S O coordinators. Y v o n n e v is i ted both Un ive r s i t y X and Unive r s i ty Y and chose Un ive r s i t y X . One reason was that she thought that Un ive r s i t y Y , by offering her early admiss ion , was over-eager. C a r o l met w i t h a D S O coordinator at the Un ive r s i t y Y , but not at the Un ive r s i t y X , 169 which she decided to attend. She was subsequently surprised to find that captioning services29 available at one institution were not available at the one that she was attending. She assumed it would be the same and was disappointed not to have captioning for her classes. Carol's lack of accurate information had serious consequences for her. Her example illustrates what is already known: all too often students lack accurate information (Andres, 2001; Beatty-Guenter, 1992; Braxton et al., 1995; Guppy & Bednarski, 1993; Tinto, 1993). Menchel (1996) and Swartz and Israelite (2000) found that students lack information about disability-related accommodations. For students with disabilities this is an area of knowledge that is crucial for effective transition to university. As Carol found, students cannot make assumptions that the services at different institutions will be the same or, i f similar, offered in the same way. More Negotiation for Disability-related Needs Almost all students found that they were expected to negotiate for their services more in university than they had done in other forms of schooling. Besides the expectation of being a self-directed adult in university, there was also the practical aspect of interaction with the instructor. Whereas students may have known teachers throughout high school, in university they may have an instructor for a class one semester and never see the person again. Although this is true for all students, for students with disabilities it means that they have to spend more time educating instructors about their disability-related needs. As explained in the Appendix, captioning services in the classroom refers to a printed rendition of verbal content by a typist; the lettering appears on a computer monitor or television screen visible to the student. 170 Yvonne: In high school you had teachers that you had interacted with on an intimate level. They got to know me much more and I had some teachers that taught you in a small school setting. You had teachers that you had in Grade 8 that you knew right through high school whereas in university you only know for one semester. That's a different situation. They could completely forget you, even if you had them again later. You have to re-educate them all over again. Just because university students had to spend more time ensuring for the provision of disability-related accommodations, they did not find that the accommodations were any less than those they had received previously. The extent to which services were less or more than those that had been received in high school or at another post-secondary institution depended on the institution and its policies and people. In some cases students may not have received any services previously, as was the case for Yvonne, who stated, "Considering I didn't have service in high school, it's quite impressive. " Three students noted that they got more services in high school, but they had not expected that to continue in university. Although these services had been necessary in elementary and high school, they felt that university was different and that they themselves were older and more self-reliant, and so less in need of the same services. Carol noted that she has found that it is up to her to arrange for her notetakers and technical equipment. She has to expend more effort to ensure she gets accommodations than she had to previously. 171 Carol: I had a lot more support in high school. I had a teacher that visited me every week, sometimes twice a week. I was a bit vulnerable back then in high school, whereas now I am more independent. I think everybody who comes to university experiences that kind of a change where there is more independent decision-making. So the support I am getting right now is really the concern. That I have the equipment. Make sure I have notetakers. It's up to me to ask for that. Being Prepared Eases Transition In his three-part explanation about drop-out related to transition, Dougherty (1987) found that attrition can occur before transfer, during the transfer period when problems are encountered, and after the transfer process. Problems after transfer could include credit loss, decline in grades, lack of financial aid, and social integration problems. Students with disabilities have unique transition issues related to managing their disabilities in a new environment and ensuring that their disability-related needs are met. Both of these requirements are eased by advance knowledge and planning. Carol managed her disability at university by having been prepared that university would be different from high school. She was told that taking a full schedule of classes might be too much and was advised by her itinerant teacher and her counsellor at a service agency to take a reduced load of classes. Carol heeded the advice and felt that a reduced courseload eased her transition into university. Although some transition issues may be unique to students with disabilities, other issues are applicable to them, just as they are for other students. Academic standing is one such issue. Andres (2001), Andres et al. (1996), and Dougherty (1987) have noted that either 172 disappointment over dropped grades or low academic standing can result in problems adapting to university. When students ease their expectations, lowered grades will be less likely to lead to drop-out. Carol was warned by her teachers that this frequently occurred, and her grades did drop, from As and Bs to Bs and Cs. Because she was forewarned, it did not throw her. Carol: It's the change itself that comes as a shock to many people and having to be independent. All those other factors, makes starting a new page of your life just a bit more difficult than the last. I am not surprised. I was prepared for that. Yvonne was not prepared for the drop in grades she experienced in her first university semester. She was accustomed to getting good grades and working hard, but found that she relished the freedom of university and, in her first year, she did not apply herself. She failed one course and got Cs in two others. Yvonne: Oh, I bombed in my first semester. I was goofing off. It was a combination. I worked so hard in high school...and I was always academically driven. Making the grades was important to me. I came to first-year university. I am thinking, "I don't have to wake up everyday at six or seven o 'clock every morning. I don't have to do homework everyday. I can have fun. " The experience of getting low grades was a wake-up call for Yvonne. "I basically pulled my socks and the next semester I got a GPA of 3.7. I didn't like not doing well in school. That was a big thing for me to do well in school. " 173 Adjustments Differ in Relation to Family Yvonne's adjustment to university was affected by her being separated from her family. James also found it difficult to adjust without having his family close to him. Although he liked his residence, he missed his family to such a degree that he wasn't sure he would be able to handle it. During the interview, he was visibly in tears when he said he was homesick. "The first while it was like I never realized I am not going to see these people everyday. The first day it was really bad because I didn't have anything to do. " He continued to feel homesick, saying "I wish I was home and could talk to them. " He said he dealt with his homesickness by recognizing that university is something he has to do. "I basically just think of it as I got a chance to do this and I have got to be here. I have got to do this. This is something I have to learn to do. " Adjustments to changes in family proximity have a developmental component. James illustrates the separation anxiety from their families that younger students may face, and Yvonne also cited adjustment difficulties. None of the older students cited such experiences. These differences are similar to those cited by Bean and Metzner (1985) between younger and older post-secondary students. However, older students may still experience anxieties upon entering university. These anxieties may be more pronounced for older students than for younger students when they are making a significant role change. This was the case for Heather, who had been a homemaker for many years before deciding to go back to school. She found returning to school very demanding. "Going back to university was an emotional, social [experience], and everything. This really took an enormous courage for me. " Heather enrolled in a program for mature 174 students to return to university and found that this helped ease her transition back to university. Heather's reaction is consistent with literature findings by Pascarella & Terenzini (1991), who surveyed the research on interventions such as programs and services. They found that interventions enhanced student retention and adaptation, and the effects were most pronounced in students' first year of studies. Academic Adjustments Required Part of the transition stage at university is making academic adjustments. Menchel (1996) and Warick (1998, February) have discussed how students who are hard of hearing may need to change their learning approach at university, especially if they had been text-reliant previously. Several students spoke of changes they were required to make in their new environment. James found that he needed to adjust to a different style of instruction from that to which he was accustomed in high school. He found that university instructors emphasized their lectures, as opposed to the text. James: I found it a little bit hard to digest because I am from a small town and I found some things have been difficult to get used to, such as the history course, the way the professors do things. They don't write anything out. They just talk about the subjects. Carol found that she needed to modify the way she studied and absorbed information because she had always been dependent on the written text. In university that approach did not serve her well and she did not do well at the outset. 175 Carol: At university level, the exam and course work and course material is based on that instructor's lecture or the information they are sending across to the students. So I studied mainly from the textbooks and notes and came to realize that that exam was stuff that was not in the textbook, and then I found out later that it was something that was orally communicated I had missed and not picked up on. As a result, Carol changed her approach to focus more on what the instructor taught and to review her class notes carefully. She also asked other classmates for assistance and checked the Internet for the class notes. For many of her classes, information was posted on the web. For a couple of the older students, their first year back at university was not a pleasant experience because of the courses in which they were enrolled. Jennifer had been advised to take both statistics and research courses in her first term. Jennifer: It was hell. It didn 't work very well. I didn't pass Research. I made it through Statistics. I don't know how. Later I was told, "Maybe we should have known better than to tell you to do both of them side by side. It's a course needed to do alone. " I was told later, "Did you know we have tutors available? " I didn't know that. I could have used tutors. It was a terrible experience for me. Very terrible. Charlie also had a difficult start because he was enrolled in the wrong set of courses. Difficult starts almost cut short both his and Jennifer's university stay; their experiences are discussed in more detail in the next chapter on academic experiences, but are mentioned here to underscore how the initial year at university was found to be crucial for the students in this study. 176 Transition Eased by Going to College First? Four of the 14 students in the study had gone to a community college previously and two of them, to another university. This may be considered a substantial amount of inter-institutional flow, in keeping with a provincial post-secondary system that tries to promote transition from college to university (Andres, 2001). On the question of whether they would recommend to other students who are hard of hearing that they go to college before attending university, only a few students were definite in their responses. Those students who favored initial experiences at college tended to be students who themselves had gone to college first. However, most students felt that individual factors would indicate which option is better. Among factors for consideration were (1) program choice, nature of the program, and its availability at a given institution, (2) culture and size of the institution, (3) personal factors, such as level of academic ability, age of the person, and strength of personality, (4) social status and reputation of the institution, (5) location of the institution, and (6) financial viability. Program Choice For a number of students, the choice of institution related to program offerings. For example, Mark started out at a college but would not have been able to continue because it did not offer a Commerce program that he was keen on taking. Choice was not only related to subject-matter; it was also a matter of course quality. Darcy felt that a choice of a university or college would depend on whether one wanted a more theoretical or a more practical type of 177 program. Kathy, Jennifer and Sarah choose University Y because of its program to train teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing. Mark and Ben felt that a year or more at college helped prepare them for university. Mark: A college is pretty good because colleges are a little bit different. College is more like high school, but it is kind of half between full-fledged university and high school. I don't think I would have made the transition very well from high school to university. I don't think I would have done that well. I am glad that I have done one year at college. That really helped me. Ben also supported going to college before university because there was more opportunity for hands-on experience. However, Ben clarified that his view was from a science program perspective and that he did not know if it would apply to the Arts courses as much. Ben: College made university life a lot easier.... University you don't do field trips. College you will be doing hands-on experience.... College classes are smaller, and it is more hands-on. It is easier to get a feel of it. In university you get the really large classes. You don't have any idea what's going on, and you are lost. Mark's and Ben's sentiments echo findings of a study by Andres (2001) in which over a third of the participants described a community college "as a 'stepping stone' to university, a way of easing out of high school before tackling the rigours of university life" (p. 47). However, Ben's experience also demonstrates one of the transition difficulties students may face when transferring from a community college to university, namely, that some credits are not transferable and it may take longer to complete studies. Ben found that he might have finished his program sooner if he had gone straight to university. However, he said he was 178 "fairly content" with his choices because he felt college was a good step for him and he benefited from the experience. Not all students were content with using college as a stepping stone if it prolonged their total time in post-secondary studies. Darcy attended a college and stated that he benefited from the smaller classes, which helped to reduce the effects of the hearing loss on his learning. However, like Ben, he felt that he paid a price for going to college first because it lengthened his program of studies. Darcy: I almost wish I hadn't taken any courses at a college and had just started at university. It would have shortened my time. I took my second year at college. I got second year standing but there were so many second-year courses I had to take here. The only thing positive about it was a much smaller environment. Culture of the Institution Some students believed that a college would be a more conducive environment for students with a hearing loss than a university because of its smaller size, more approachable culture, and, in some cases, a friendlier disability office. Rachel was one such student who felt more welcomed at the college level than at university. Rachel: Maybe because University Z is so big. I found University Z a bureaucracy with red tape I am just a number. I am not a person. I am a number. At College I could ask for anything. At University Z it was like, "Oh, what do you want now? " However, not all students felt this way. A few students felt that there was more tolerance at a university and felt that the institution was more responsive to them. Darcy, who 179 felt that some of the people he had encountered in college had intolerant attitudes, stated, "University is so much better. There's a wider variety of experiences and there's so many resources." Personal Factors Age and a student's level of maturity were cited as factors affecting choice of a post-secondary institution. Sarah recommended that older students might want to go back to college first because it would be "easier after so many years being out of school. " That is what she did. For someone coming right out of high school, however, she said the choice of institution really depends on the person. If students are strong academically, they could go to university, but if they were not so strong, college would be better. Their level of independence may also factor into the choice. Sarah: If average in high school, you know what, high school is very different from college and university. Better go to college first. Classes are smaller than university classes. First two years at university level you are in a lecture hall with 200 and 300 students whereas at college there's little more than 40 students. You get used to using and finding the resources you need - resources from Students with Disability Services, then it is not so overwhelming because some students are so overprotected by their parents. I would recommend college because university might turn them off completely. Linked to the issue of program choice are the individual's own interests and future aspirations. Sarah noted that a choice of going to university or college "all depends on the individual as to what they want, where they want to situate themselves, whether they want to study in B. C, abroad, finances, one's marks when they graduate. " 180 Location Living next door to a certain type of post-secondary institution may influence one's choice of post-secondary education. When Ben went to college he lived only a block away from the institution. However, a number of students preferred to move away from home, considering that a positive feature of university life. Some students may not get to make this choice i f their hometown does not have a post-secondary institution. Both of the former reasons were at play for Ann. Her hometown did not have a post-secondary institution and she aspired to go away to fully experience university life. Finances Cost was cited as another factor in determining the viability of post-secondary studies and the appropriate type of institution to attend. James chose University Y over an out-of-province institution, partly because he felt it was just as good a financial choice. Ann felt that college would be a better initial choice because of lower tuition, and she perceived little difference between college and university courses. At the same time, she advised that i f students could afford university, they should go there, although other factors would play in the decision. Ann: If they have the money, why not university? It really depends. Are they looking for a small environment or large environment? Some people like to get lost in a big crowd. Other people like more friendly, warm environment. I would ask "What do you want? " and go from there. 181 Social Status/Reputation Even those students who felt a college had a lot to recommend it were still drawn to a university education because of its higher status and reputation. Mark noted that university "has more marketability even though the quality of the education may be the same. " Gayle stated that a university was her preference for similar reasons. " 7 think it is also a societal thing as to how university has been construed as giving more status than college. Striving for the best- perhaps that's why I chose to go there, " she stated. Ann did not go to college because she was encouraged to go to university. Ann: The advisors and teachers in our high school really pushed for university as opposed to college for me because I was the top five in my Grade 12 year, and they said, "Go to university. The education would be higher; competition would be higher; opportunities would be more". They pushed for university and I never thought otherwise. Looking back now I probably would have entered college first and then university. Ann's last comment is made on the basis of believing that a college would have been smaller and, therefore, easier to manage. Despite this she felt that the university she had attended was well-suited for her and she had chosen it despite the fact that all her friends had chosen another university. Ann: At the last minute I changed my mind and decided to go to University Z to a campus I had never been to unlike my best friends, who were going to University Y. I don't know. It was one of the best decisions I ever made. I love this university. I really can't explain it. 182 Ann went on to explain that the university she chose to attend was sufficiently small for her to feel connected to it. Furthermore, she felt part of a community, a dimension of importance cited by Tinto (1997). Summary Participants shared a common identity of being hard of hearing, most often choosing this term to distinguish themselves from hearing and Deaf persons. They considered themselves similar to hearing people in communication style, but different because of the difficulties with hearing. In contrast, they considered themselves quite different from Deaf persons by virtue of having some hearing, communicating orally and not being fluent users of sign language nor being part of Deaf culture. Another distinguishing aspect was use of hearing aids, which was considered of benefit to persons who are hard of hearing but not those who are deaf. One characteristic, which was not highlighted as part of being hard of hearing, was speech difficulties, although a few students cited such difficulties. This supports findings by Israelite et al. (2002) that speech is not part of the identity definition for persons who are hard of hearing. Meanwhile, hearing persons make a link between vocal qualities and hearing loss, thus considering it to be a defining characteristic. Although most students agreed with the hard of hearing label, several stated that they disliked labels, finding them to be depersonalizing or having an edge of blaming the person • for having a hearing loss. This could be because they wished to avoid stigmas frequently associated with having a disability. They endeavored to reduce the sense of "othering" and emphasize similarities rather than differences to do so. As an agent, the student who is hard of 183 hearing is seeking to be considered, by the institution, as a hearing student although the nature of a hearing loss and the need for certain accommodations to overcome it may not make this entirely possible, as will be discussed in subsequent chapters. Three students participating in this study had additional diagnosed disabilities, one who was defined as legally blind and two with mental health conditions. Of these, two students spoke of the considerable difficulties experienced with their additional disability. This chapter also explored transition issues into post-secondary education. Although transition experiences varied, two unique aspects for these students were, first, a need to be knowledgeable about disability-related supports at their new institution and, second, the necessity of developing skills to negotiate for disability-related services. Sometimes students were not fully informed of the services available, expecting institutions to be alike in their availability of services. As well, these students had experiences not unlike other students making a transition to university, including the common experience of a decline in grades. Matching expectations to experience was a successful adjustment strategy, and taking steps to improve was necessary for those in academic jeopardy due to poor grades. Academic adjustments were faced by students, notably in adjusting to different styles of instruction and changing study patterns. Another important dimension in successful transition was the extent to which students were able to be independent and take responsibility for themselves, which they felt was required at university. As well, their transition was eased i f they already had the level of writing skills required at university. One student felt she had not received the assistance required in this respect. 184 Age-related differences were noted in terms of family relationships. Two younger students were away from their families and experienced adjustment difficulties; older students did not report such feelings. As noted previously, these are age-related differences in keeping with differences between older and younger students noted in the literature (Bean & Metzner, 1985; Metzner & Bean, 1987). Four students had gone to college before studying at a university. Their view on whether this was desirable was mixed. One student stated that she found it beneficial in preparing her for university, whereas another student would have gone to university directly i f he were doing it again; he lost credits in the transfer process. Other students felt that a decision to go to college would depend on a variety of factors if they were advising someone, including such factors as programs offered, institution size, location, personal finances, reputation of the institution, and personal factors such as the student's academic ability, age, and maturity. As summarized above, this chapter shed light on how study participants define themselves and on various factors that affect their transition. Subsequent chapters will explore the nature of students' university experiences. 185 CHAPTER FIVE THE A C A D E M I C EXPERIENCES OF STUDENTS WHO A R E H A R D OF HEARING The literature on the retention of students in university emphasizes the importance of the academic and social integration of students (Tinto, 1975, 1985,1987, 1993). Academic integration refers to congruency between the "needs, interests, and skills of the individual and those of the communities of the institution" (Tinto, 1985, p. 36). Tinto is clear that academic integration involves not only the formal climate of the classroom, but also the informal realm including day-to-day interactions with faculty and staff. In Tinto's Longitudinal Model of Institutional Departure (see Figure 1 in the Literature Review), the academic system comprises academic performance and faculty/staff interactions. The persistence of students is affected by their intentions, goals, and institutional and external commitments. As well, the individual's own family background, skills and abilities and prior schooling all play a role in influencing the commitment and subsequent integration of the student in university or college. In Tinto's model, the academic system is not completely separate from the social system; academic and social life are interwoven because what happens socially affects the classroom, and vice versa. As shown in the literature review, there has been considerable research that has further illuminated components of academic integration, some of which have lead to refinements of the model. These contributions include the importance of recognizing diverse patterns between traditional and non-traditional students (Bean & Metzner, 1985; Metzner & Bean 186 1987); the value of informal faculty contact (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1977; Terenzini & Pascarella 1977, 1978), and elucidation of organizational components (Bean, 1980, 1983; Pascarella, 1980). The third research question of this study was to understand the nature of the academic experiences of university students with hearing losses. Students were asked about their interaction and communication with instructors, their classroom experiences, and their approaches to their academic programs. Their experiences with academic advising were also explored, as well as the nature of their commitment to the completion of their university studies. This chapter will discuss the findings from the interviews and journal entries of 14 participants in this study to convey a picture of their academic experiences in university. Subsequent chapters will describe the participants' experiences with the social aspects of university life, as well as their experiences with disability-related accommodations. Classroom Dynamics Approaching Professors Student-faculty interaction has been found to be a key aspect of students feeling part of a university community. Students feel a sense of belonging when faculty express an interest in them and convey a sense that they matter (Hawkey, 2000; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1977, 1991; Terenzini & Pascarella, 1977, 1978). Good rapport increases the likelihood of students approaching instructors after class or during their office hours. Furthermore, by making such 187 contact, students feel more connected to the class and, thus, more integrated into the academic life of the institution. However, students with disabilities often have to take a step that students without disabilities do not have to take, namely, informing professors of their disabilities. Self-disclosure is even more important for a student with a hearing loss because the disability is often invisible. A professor might not know a student has a hearing loss without being informed of the condition. Furthermore, even knowing of the existence of a student's hearing loss, a professor might not know the student's needs without them being spelled out. Self-disclosure of a hearing loss is not an easy and simple step for a student. Part of the psycho-social dimensions of a hearing loss may result in some reticence to disclose (Swartz & Israelite, 2000). Students may experience social stigma (Dahl, 1987; Getty & Hetu, 1994) and feel between the worlds of the hearing and the deaf (Antonson, 1998; Lutes, 1987; Warick, 1994b). Thus, persons who are hard of hearing often try to pretend to be "normal," that is, like hearing peers (Swartz & Israelite). Students participating in my study were varied in terms of their self-disclosure about their hearing losses. To some extent, by participating in the study, they were already indicating a disclosure behaviour that may not resemble a typical university population of students who are hard of hearing. Many of the students stated that they self-disclosed and were required to do so to obtain disability-related accommodations. Disclosure to professors was eased for some students by having a letter from the Disability Services Office that introduced the students and their requirements in the classroom. The letter served as a starting point for a discussion. 188 Other students, however, did not use a letter and were more informal in their introductions to professors. Some students clearly saw it as their responsibility to inform their professors of their hearing loss. Charlie noted "I, as a hard of hearing adult, have the responsibility to tell the prof that I am having difficulty understanding them. If they don't know, it's my responsibility that they don't know. " Students learned from experience how to do an effective introduction. A first-year student, James, handled his first-term introductions in the few busy moments preceding class. One such introduction resulted in a misunderstanding over use of his F M system. At first, the professor thought the F M system was a recording device, and so was initially reluctant to wear it. James said he learned that he should meet with professors during their office hours. "7 find not only does it help [get accommodations], it also helps with my relationship with the prof. I go in and actually meet them, " James stated. Not all students self-disclosed at the outset of the term, but they usually did so i f problems arose. Gayle said she would tell professors i f "it is absolutely necessary; if it is going to impose on my marks. " For example, she might be expected to demonstrate a level of class participation which her hearing would make difficult and, i f graded accordingly, her class mark might suffer. In such a situation she would inform the professor about her hearing loss and request consideration. Some students preferred not to self-disclose because the professor's teaching already met their needs and because they did not want to be treated differentially. Heather noted that she has no need to tell the majority of her professors. "Everything is going along smoothly; I 189 just let it go along smoothly. " Moreover, when she casually informed a professor about her hearing loss on one occasion, she didn't like the way it changed their relationship. Heather: She [the professor] is feeling bad, which is one of the reasons why I don't say anything. I tried to tell her it's okay after all these years you just carry on and I deal with it.... She's got the problem, not me. She tends to make me very dubious about going up and telling the professor. Hearing Professors One of the crucial issues for students who are hard of hearing is being able to hear their professors. Frequently, they encounter difficulties doing so. Students who are hard of hearing have difficulties hearing when instructors do not face them when speaking (Stinson et al., 1996; Warick, 1994a, 1998). Students in this study experienced difficulties hearing when professors paced in front of the classroom while speaking and faced the blackboard instead of the class. Yvonne said that some professors have a tendency to wander around the lecture hall while they are talking. She suggested that "if they must pace around, to do it in a way where I can actually see their faces — that would be great. " Carol noted that, although she might catch the first part of what was said by a mobile professor, she would miss the last part. The difficulty was compounded by having to constantly shift her attention between the professor and the blackboard or overhead. Carol: I am having to watch what is being written and having to watch the professor so that I miss that oral part...so I have to make a decision [whether] to watch the speaker or what is being written on the board. 190 Another problem was that professors provided additional or new information about an assignment or an exam at the end of a class. At the same time, the noise level in the classroom had risen because students were packing up their books and getting ready to leave. Yvonne had the experience of finding out about an exam after the fact because the change in the date for the exam had been announced when the class was near the end. On occasion, some students had difficulties hearing professors even when they faced the class or spoke in a quiet environment. This was particularly the case i f professors were soft-spoken or had a strong accent. Mark had this experience: "The only concern that I have had is I had one to two profs from some other country and they have accents which I have a hard time understanding." Differences in hearing losses mean that some students have difficulty with certain sounds, such as consonants or vowels, and have difficulties with the pitch of sound. Speakers contribute to the difficulties when they change the cadence of their voice or lower their voices at the end of sentences. As a result, some students may miss hearing some words or parts of a sentence. Carol: I think I do hear them, but I don't always understand it in terms that I mistake words for other words, or understand half of a sentence. Usually it's towards the end of the sentence and I make assumptions of the beginning. Difficulties could also be experienced in hearing teaching assistants for similar reasons. James noted that he had to contact the lab instructor because his experiment was not giving him the desired results. 191 James: I contacted my TA, who has an odd accent. I find it very difficult to understand him when he speaks. This makes an awkward situation even more awkward. If I was able to hear better I would not be mishearing him all of the time. After a frustrating discussion, we both understood each other and tried to correct the problem. Three students said that they were hardly able to hear their professors. One such student, Darcy, noted that he continued attending classes "because they keep me motivated more so than because I learn from them. " He also attended classes to get information about due dates for assignments and exams. Students' hearing strategies included the use of technical supports, such as F M systems in some cases, to obtain notes from classmates or the instructor, and to request that the professor change her or his communication style. However, as Darcy noted in his journal, it was stressful having to do so. Darcy: The professor today spoke whole swaths of information directly to his overhead, looking down or with his back turned to me. I spoke with him after class to once again ask him to please remember to speak looking forward so I can read his lips. He seemed a bit annoyed (but then again, he seems that way all the time), but apologized and said he would try to remember that. Another strategy employed by students was to sit at the front of the class or to carefully select their seat based on their better hearing ear and where the dialogue in the class was likely to be directed. Darcy was usually the only student in the front, which he preferred 192 so that he did not have to worry about hearing over other students' side conversations. Darcy wrote in his journal about his negative experience of this nature. Darcy: I find myself in the relatively unusual position ofjockeying for seats in the front row due to the professor's unwillingness to use a microphone in this auditorium-setting classroom. The class can seat nearly three hundred and is the size of the average movie theatre; when the prof doesn 't use a microphone, it is nearly impossible to hear him in the back rows, so people crowd the front and I am suddenly not alone in wishing to sit as close to the front as possible. Darcy went on to note that the other students did a great deal of talking and giggling, which prevented him from hearing the professor. He again requested that the professor use a microphone, which was turned down. Darcy ended up writing that the class was progressing poorly and that he was "just in way over my head. " Other strategies employed by students were to select classes based on prior knowledge of the speaking voice of the professor or the acoustical condition of the classroom. If students found that they were already in a class with a difficult-to-hear professor or which had poor acoustics, they might try to switch to take a class from another instructor in a different section of the course. However, this was not always possible when another section was unavailable. Nature of Interactions with Professors Positive interactions with professors are critical in the academic integration of students in university (Andres et al., 1996; Hawkey, 2000; Pascarella & Terenzini, 1980, 1991; Terenzini & Pascarella, 1977, 1978; Tinto, 1982, 1993). Students who can relate to their instructors are more inclined to continue with classes and to complete them than are students 193 without such relationships (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1991). Informal contact is important to retention, not solely formal contact (Pascarella & Terenzini, 1980, 1991; Terenzini & Pascarella, 1977, 1978). Students tended to rate their interactions with professors positively (EMRG, 1994; Walker, 1999; Warick, 1994a), although there can be the occasional difficulty with refusal to wear an F M system (Warick), singling out of the student (Schwartz & Israelite, 2000), or treating students in a stereotypical manner (Schwartz & Israelite). Leyser et al. (1998) found that professors had limited knowledge about disability-related needs, but were receptive to providing accommodations i f the alterations were not extensive or time-consuming. The students participating in my study tended to confirm these previous findings. Most cited positive experiences with instructors. Gayle noted that several of her instructors were open and accommodating. "I feel well respected after notifying my professor [that] I have a hearing impairment. She encourages me to ask whenever I don't hear what she is saying. " Charlie observed that one of his professors made him feel very comfortable. "She doesn't put me down or anything; she has a way of using her natural humor to make things a lot easier. " Mark was glad that one of his professors lived on the same street. "It's positive because he knows me well and is fully able to teach knowing of my hearing loss. It's also nice to have a professor who knows me personally. " Nevertheless, students also cited negative experiences, and, in some cases, extremely negative ones, stemming from a lack of understanding of their disability and a lack of willingness to provide consideration. Rachel said that she found a lot of her professors were unsupportive and not knowledgeable about hearing loss in many respects. She found them to 194 be "very standoffish. [The professor] did not want to deal with me. Felt I was going to make their life difficult." Charlie had a professor who initially refused to wear the transmitter part of his F M system. Even more offensive, though, was how the professor handled wearing the hearing device after relenting to do so. Charlie said that, in a loud voice, the professor told the class, " We have a deaf student in our class. That's the reason why I am wearing this thing. " That was not the only hurtful experience he had with this instructor. In the presence of a teaching assistant, the instructor talked about Charlie as if he were not present. The instructor also told him that she could not understand why he could not take notes for himself. Another student had an instructor who did not want to tell the other students that she was using an F M system, even though the equipment was visible to other students. As a result, the other students in the class misunderstood what the F M system was all about. They thought it was a microphone that the instructor only needed to turn on for them. Carol: There weren't a lot of people in that Math course, and they always asked if he would use a microphone because they can't hear what he was saying. And he said, "No, I am not going to use a microphone because I know my voice will carry over so you better come sit down in the front. " But he was wearing a microphone so they must have been confused about what that was. I didn't feel that it was my place to intervene there. Carol said she felt uneasy when the same professor did not want other students to know that he was providing her with his notes. With respect to other professors, she felt that the experiences were more positive, but she still found that initially most professors were uncertain about how to respond to her. 195 Carol: In general, I think at first they are a bit cautious. Sometimes I think they perceived that I very much need help and that I am not as independent as I think I am - "maybe I can't keep up with the course load; it needs to be modified. " Sometimes they do ask me, "Do you need exam modifications or to be excluded from certain things?" It's rarely that they would suggest an alternative. Kathy, who was in a class with another student with a more pronounced hearing loss, felt that one of her instructors was more sympathetic to the other student and tended to ignore her needs. Kathy: Because I got my FM so late, it was the first time I wore it to this class. The teacher, quite abruptly, asked me why I was wearing headphones. I was taken back by this comment, but I also realized that this was the prof that forgot I was hard of hearing. Some students felt that professors tried to be accommodating in the way that they communicated but tended to forget about adaptations. Darcy noted that he found that "they are really good the first couple of times and then they start to forget. " He had one professor who looked annoyed when being reminded to speak louder and face the class. Darcy concluded, "I realized that I was on my own and need to deal with it however I can and not worry too much about getting the professor to deal with it. " Several students remarked that the invisible nature of a hearing loss contributed to the tendency to forget about them. Because they do not look any different from their hearing peers it was easy for a professor to interact with, and regard them, as i f they were the same as 196 other students. Jennifer felt that because her hearing aid was not visible, it was easy for instructors to forget that she had a hearing loss. Mark shared this sentiment. Mark: It's their own perception of me. I had people tell me that "I totally forgot you have a hearing loss. " I still have my problems and still deal with them, but it's normal for them so they don't think about it anymore. Not only do instructors "forget" that students have hearing losses, but they may also assume that students have heard what has been said, when, in fact, they have not. Instructors may not be attuned to cues as to what constitutes reception of the message, or the students themselves may not give any obvious cues. Charlie: People think hard of hearing students understand and we don't because the manifestations of the symptoms of our hearing loss is different. Mine is quite serious because I could sit there and talk to you and then you will say I can understand. "He can understand me. " But in fact I don't. Program differences affected the interaction of professors with students, as found by Hawkey (2000). Students who felt that their professors were extremely knowledgeable tended to be in a specialized program where the professors have previously worked with students who are hard of hearing. Jennifer, who was in a program to train teachers of students who are deaf and hard of hearing, said "I think I have been fortunate enough to have very understanding professors because of the program I am in. " Gayle, a fourth-year student, found one of her professors was very receptive to her. This had more to do with her discipline, than her being hard of hearing. 197 Gayle: She [aprofessor] is supportive, largely because there aren't a lot of people in that field. There aren't a lot of women who participate in gender work and international development planning. There is real demand for that, particularly women. She wants to see as many women as possible in that area. Is it a political thing? Is it a personal thing? I think it's both. It's not just because I am who I am. I think it's overall. Nature of the Approachability of Instructors Many of the participants in the study spoke of the need for professors to be willing to spend an extra five minutes or so clarifying class content. For some, this is one of the most important accommodations which helped students to pick up class material that had been missed or not well understood. Mark noted that he regularly approached his professors for help and that frequently he received substantial assistance. Mark: I am practising for the final now. He [the professor] will give me example questions and I work through it and when I run into problems I will say "What has happened here?" and we will go back and he knows exactly why. However, not all students were comfortable approaching their professors for additional assistance. Some students felt they were not able to follow what transpired verbally to the extent that they felt able to approach a professor after class. They felt they needed to have some knowledge of exactly what to ask a professor. As well, i f they had an initial negative reception they would not be inclined to go back. 198 Ann: I would avoid asking questions of the prof because I wouldn't know enough to base the question on. I couldn't follow the lecture enough to be able to ask questions so I would often avoid entirely asking profs questions.... I went to students first. There were a couple of times I went to profs but they were more negative than positive. Ann's preference to go to students first was echoed by a few other students. They simply found it easier to approach peers. This reinforces findings (Andres et al., 1996) that sometimes students feel most comfortable seeking help from classmates. One reason for the limited contact with professors could be that students expected that university professors would be extremely busy and not have a lot of time for them. Even students who approached instructors frequently had this view. Mark: They are busy and have a lot on their plates, so there's not so much time for students. One professor did not even finish my meeting because he had something else. I didn't like that too much but it happened. A couple of students noted that there were considerable differences between high school and university in terms of the amount of support provided by instructors. They did not get the same level of support, nor did they expect to get the same level of support. They perceived that students were expected to be more self-reliant and independent in university than was the case in high school. Their perceptions were confirmed when they found that instructors were not readily available in university and did not monitor their progress to the extent they had previously experienced. 199 Carol: I don't think I can ask for [the] same degree of support as [I] could with my high school teachers.... It is expected that people become more independent as they go on with a formal education, and when I do go their office hours are very limited and there's usually a line-up. I have asked a few times to meet at different times and that just [did] not always work out because of scheduling conflicts. First- and second-year students were less likely to connect with professors than were students in their senior years. This supports Hawkey's (2000) findings that senior level students have more interactions with faculty and are more involved academically than first-and second-year students. According to Ann, "The first- and second-year courses are really just a mass of students and you are just a face in the crowd, and profs don't have that sort of time to commit to each student. " Some students felt that the size of an institution affected interactions with professors. Heather noted that she was happy that her university was small, which she felt facilitated more professor/student interaction than would be possible at a large institution. She knew of someone at a larger institution who felt that he was a just a number. Providing Specific Accommodations Professors varied in how they provided accommodations30. With respect to getting a copy of the professor's notes, Carol found that one professor gave her notes in advance of the class, whereas another professor didn't give them to her until a few days after the lecture. She 3 0 Accommodation, in this context, refers to changes in processes or services required for students with disabilities to access the university environment or to have equivalent experiences to those of non-disabled students. 200 found that receiving them later, rather than in advance, made it hard for her to follow the lecture. Sometimes a professor will want to provide more accommodations than the student actually wants and needs. James felt that one of his professors had over-stepped matters by arranging for him to write an exam at the DSO in case he needed extra time. James said that he had not requested such an accommodation and wanted simply to write with the class. Students also faced situations in which it was difficult for them to get accommodations. As previously noted, Charlie had difficulty with a professor refusing to wear his F M system and James almost had a similar difficulty, though based on lack of information, rather than a disagreement. Ben had difficulty getting a professor to understand that being graded for class participation was a problem for him because of his hearing loss. Ben: I have had trouble with one instructor. Because we had a group presentation and I got marked down for class interaction and I previously explained my problem. Eventually, it got worked out, but it was a bit of a pain. Ben felt it was important for professors to provide accommodations but not to give him preferential treatment. He felt that this was generally the case. "They don't treat you any different. It [having a hearing loss] doesn 't bother me too much. I don't really want to be out of place; [I] don't expect too much preferential treatment. " Hearing Classmates Students experienced challenges hearing instructors, but they faced even more difficulties hearing other students. Difficulties with hearing peers have been documented in other studies or in commentary related to students who are hard of hearing (Schein, 1991; 201 Warick, 1994a). The difficulties related to two aspects: first, quality of students' voice, and second, positioning, either on the part of the other students or on the part of the students with hearing losses. Under the category of quality of students' voices, these students had difficulties with accented voices or voices that did not clearly articulate words and project sound. Gayle noted that she found it "challenging understanding what a girl in my law class says; she has such a strong accent. " Kathy noted the following difficulty in her first journal entry: Kathy: One classmate in particular has been muttering and mumbling in class. Perhaps, they were side comments but clearly, at one point, it was not. I am extremely frustrated because all my courses are with this particular classmate and I am starting to feel it is on purpose. Difficulties with positioning could take several forms. Gayle noted that she had a hard time hearing the people she sat behind in class, especially when they spoke softly. She said it was "very aggravating as I cannot hear what is being said; found most often in my history class where we sit in rows. " Carol noted another type of positional hearing difficulty. She had been standing in the middle of the hallway and realized too late that someone wanted to get by her. She was placed with the awkward dilemma of how to explain what had occurred, while not really wanting to disclose her hearing loss to the students. Carol: Since I didn't hear them I didn 7 move and they became annoyed and probably repeated themselves. I was embarrassed when I turned around because I felt like there was someone behind me. If only I had explained then maybe they wouldn't think 'ill' of me - but then do I really need to explain? 202 Darcy found that when he explained the misunderstanding, the other student responded positively. The situation that gave rise to the misunderstanding was a simple, everyday occurrence that was an all too frequent experience by students who are hard of hearing. Darcy: A student whom I do not know asked me a question as I walked by, but I didn't hear him and kept walking.... He had a look on his face that said he was ready to challenge me for being so deliberately rude to him as to ignore him. Recognizing this look (I've seen it a number of times), I quickly apologized for not hearing him, gesturing to my ears so as to inform him of my "condition. " He smiled, apologized back, and asked me how he could get to a certain building. If I had a buck for every time this scenario has played itself out, I'd still be broke, but it has happened many, many times. The hearing difficulties faced by Darcy and Carol created tension and feelings such a sense of aggravation, frustration, or embarrassment. Sometimes, the situation was partly salvaged by an explanation, as in Darcy's case. In other situations, sometimes a temporary solution was achieved, such as when classmates spoke louder, but all too often the students reverted to their usual ways of speaking. Gayle commented on this problem. Gayle: I ask people to speak louder because I am hearing impaired, and often times people won't because it's not ingrained in them. They don't really think about it. Like practice makes perfect. Because of the fact they don't change, I am not going to continuously hound on it. It's not worth my time. It means it doesn 't matter if I don't hear. 203 Some participants were so shy that they were uncomfortable asking classmates to repeat unheard statements. Ben preferred not to interrupt other students even if he didn't hear them. "I don't like to intrude," he stated. Although some students let it go when they could not hear, other students made it a point to remind their classmates to speak up. They felt comfortable doing so. Jennifer: I am assertive. It's okay to keep it up, to keep reminding people, to say "Pardon, I didn't hear that. " And I've also been told by other colleagues that in my doing so, having people repeat it, help hearing people learn too. They are hearing it again; they are hearing it in a different way. It's really quite beneficial for a lot ofpeople. Another strategy was for participants to be asked to repeat unheard phrases. Kathy found that classmates were receptive to repeating their names when they started their group discussion, but she also found resistance from the occasional classmate. In her journal she noted that one particular student in her class was quite negat