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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Concealed intelligence : a description of highly emotionally intelligent students with learning disabilities King, Clea Larissa


This multiple case study describes students who are highly emotionally competent yet have learning disabilities. The study sheds light on how such students perceive their educational experience and begins to answer inter-related questions, such as how emotional strengths assist with learning disabilities. A multiple case study design was used. The participant group ranged from 11 to 16 years of age and came from two separate schools which actively work with students diagnosed with learning disabilities. The study was divided into two phases. In the first phase, the Mayer—Salovey—Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test-Youth Version (MSCEIT-YV) was given to students in the two participating classes. The two students from each class who achieved the highest scores on the MSCEIT-YV were then asked to participate in the second phase of the study. Here, the researcher conducted observations of the participants within the school environment. Additionally, the participants attended a semi-structured interview, with interview questions based on the MSCEIT-YV and school related scenarios. Themes that emerged were then analyzed and compared within and between cases as well as with emotional intelligence research. Case study descriptions emerged from this analysis and a brief follow up interview was conducted with one family member and the participating student as a means of sharing and verifying findings. Participants revealed varying ability with emotional intelligence. However, all students demonstrated strong abilities with the ‘Strategic Emotional Reasoning’ Skills associated with Mayer, Salovey and Caruso’s (2004) theory of emotional intelligence. Moreover, all students showed a strong ability to use their emotional intelligence to improve academic functioning, with one student in particular displaying outstanding abilities and insights into emotional intelligence. The study contributes to our understanding of the complexity of ability and disability that can exist within students diagnosed with learning disabilities; this understanding, in turn, may be reflected in how these students are perceived and understood by researchers and teachers alike.

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