Narratives and metaphors of college students identified as learning-disabled

Ann Leslie Johnson (1997)

This study explored the use of a semistandardized interview to investigate the experience of college students identified as learning disabled. They described how they learned about their disability, the range of impact of the disability in their lives, and the types of supports they found helpful. They generated metaphors that conveyed self understanding. A volunteer sample of 14 students participated in audiotaped interviews. The interview data were coded and meaning was revealed through cross-case comparison of narratives. Explanations for academic problems almost universally included the self diagnosis "stupid." Satisfying answers about what was wrong and what would help were missing for many. Managing motivation was a pivotal task, especially short term motivation for frustrating academic tasks. Internalized stigma kept most from using the full range of supports that might enhance their learning. Metaphors were found to be diagnostic, explanatory and prescriptive.