Date of Award

Winter 1991

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Urban Services - Urban Education

Committee Director

Dana Burnett

Committee Member

Garrett McAuliffe

Committee Member

Robert Lucking

Committee Member

Donald A, Myers


This research study addressed the question, "Is there a difference in psychosocial developmental levels, as defined by Arthur Chickering, between male and female traditional-aged urban university freshmen with and without learning disabilities?" Twenty students with learning disabilities, as diagnosed by independent practitioners who exhibited spelling disabilities on a writing sample placement test, were compared to two comparable groups of twenty students. One comparison group did not exhibit spelling disability. The second group while demonstrating spelling problems, did not have documentation of learning disabilities. The Student Developmental Task and Lifestyle Inventory, a measure of Arthur Chickering's theory of psychosocial development, was administered by university personnel during the summer prior to matriculation. Scores were analyzed by an analysis of covariance using Scholastic Aptitude Test scores as the covariate. Structured interviews to confirm the data were conducted with eight of the students in the group with learning disabilities.

Findings revealed no significant differences between the three groups. This knowledge is helpful to professionals in higher education as they work with students needing accommodations for learning disabilities. Programs should emphasize the academic needs for these students. These findings contrast with the professional literature which predicts that these students would be less developed in psychosocial characteristics.