Preferred Name

Spencer Brookbank

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Date of Graduation

Summer 2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Educational Specialist (EdS)


Department of Graduate Psychology


Ashton Trice

Deborah Kipps-Vaughan

Patricia Warner


As school progresses, the importance of self-advocacy becomes more evident. Before a student is able to become an effective self-advocate for their needs and services, it is essential for them to have an appropriate understanding of their academic strengths and weaknesses. Students with learning disabilities are often faced with the difficult task of understanding what it means to have a learning disability, and school psychologists do not have a clear set of guidelines as to how to inform these students in the most developmentally appropriate way. To provide school psychologists with more information regarding the formation students’ academic self-perceptions, to gain insight into the developmental language that students use to communicate their strengths and weaknesses, and to investigate students’ ideas about why they have certain strengths and weaknesses and what they can do to improve their learning, the researcher interviewed 26 fourth and fifth grade, general education students and three students with an identified Specific Learning Disability. Results from the study revealed that students develop a normative measurement of their ability based on observations of their classroom environment through peer comparison and teacher feedback. While the majority of fourth and fifth graders appeared to list strengths and weaknesses that were reflective of their SOL performance, those who failed their most recent SOL appeared to demonstrate a more inflated self-perception of their reading and math ability. Additionally, students attributed academic weaknesses to a variety of different factors, and many listed effort, attention, or lack of interest across subjects. Finally, students showed that they picked up on specific concepts taught in class and were able to list a variety of practice strategies to improve their academic weaknesses.