Persistence in Higher Education for Students With Disabilities: A Mixed Systematic Review

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Abstract

Students with disabilities contribute to the diversity of postsecondary campuses but face many unique challenges in completing their programs of study. The purpose of this systematic review was to develop an understanding of what is known about persistence in and graduation from higher education programs for students with disabilities, focusing specifically on malleable student- and institution-level factors that may influence persistence. This review integrates findings from studies that analyzed qualitative (16 studies) or quantitative (10 studies) sources of data. Quantitative data were converted into odds ratios, to allow for comparison across studies, and common themes were identified across the qualitative data. As a result of the integrated review, 13 facilitators, falling within three major domains (i.e., personal characteristics, academic and social engagement, and accommodations) emerged as potentially related to postsecondary education success. This review provides a starting point for institutions and researchers as they work to advance postsecondary students with disabilities in achieving their academic and future goals.

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