Examining Intra-Personal and External Support Factors Supporting Academic Success in Post-Secondary Students with ADHD

  • Author / Creator
    Sulla, Erin
  • Young adults with ADHD are less likely to graduate from high school and pursue post-secondary education than young adults without ADHD (Barbaresi et al., 2007; Barkley, 2006; Molina et al., 2009). University students with ADHD, given their enrollment in postsecondary education, have likely experienced relatively greater academic success and have good compensatory skills (Glutting, Monaghan, Adams, & Sheslow, 2002). Yet, little is known about those students with ADHD who persist in school and do well academically, specifically with regard to understanding their lived experiences with academic persistence and success. To begin to address current gaps in research in this area, this study explored the question “What is the experience of persisting in school with a diagnosis of ADHD?” Factors influencing the experience of academic success were explored from a developmental assets framework, specifically, potential internal and external assets that helped students with ADHD to persist through high school and university, despite the academic challenges and high dropout rates in this population (Young, Toone, & Tyson, 2003). Purposeful sampling was used to recruit ten undergraduate students with a confirmed adult diagnosis of ADHD, who completed semi-structured interviews. An exploratory, qualitative interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) design was used to explore the research objectives in the transcripts (Smith, Flowers, & Larkin, 2009). Analysis of the data revealed six superordinate themes emerging from the participants’ interviews, three reflecting internal assets: interest in academic subjects and love of learning, awareness of learning style and individual study strategies, and internal drive and perseverance, and three reflecting external assets: technology as a double-edged tool, engagement in treatment (e.g., medication, therapy), and supportive relationships and environment.

  • Subjects / Keywords
  • Graduation date
    2017-11:Fall 2017
  • Type of Item
  • Degree
    Doctor of Philosophy
  • DOI
  • License
    This thesis is made available by the University of Alberta Libraries with permission of the copyright owner solely for non-commercial purposes. This thesis, or any portion thereof, may not otherwise be copied or reproduced without the written consent of the copyright owner, except to the extent permitted by Canadian copyright law.
  • Language
  • Institution
    University of Alberta
  • Degree level
  • Department
    • Department of Educational Psychology
  • Specialization
    • School and Clinical Child Psychology
  • Supervisor / co-supervisor and their department(s)
    • Dr. Alison McInnes, Educational Psychology
  • Examining committee members and their departments
    • Dr. Christina Rinaldi, Educational Psychology
    • Dr. Alison McInnes, Educational Psychology
    • Dr. Emma Climie, Department of Psychology, University of Calgary
    • Dr. William Whelton, Educational Psychology
    • Dr. George Buck, Educational Psychology