The Effects of Structured Work Experience on the Work-Readiness Skills of Students with Disabilities
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It is common knowledge that employment is a large part of participation in society for all adults; and, one role of public education is to prepare students for these adult roles. Despite increasing school accountability measures for post-school outcomes of students with disabilities, a significant gap in employment between those with and those without disabilities remains. Work experience during high school has been established as the most consistent predictor of post-school employment. The problem is the lack of intervention research demonstrating ways of implementing programs that are associated with acquisition of work-readiness skills. The purpose of this study was to investigate the effects of structured work experience on the work-readiness skills of students with disabilities, and examine whether or not disability, or type of program, affected student outcomes while controlling for number of participant contact hours. To accomplish this purpose, a quasi- experimental one-group pretest-posttest design was selected and used. The target population for this study was high school students with disabilities in three high schools in Texas. The final sample included 37 students. The Becker Work Adjustment Profile: 2 was the instrument used to measure the participants’ work-readiness skills. The pretest was administered within two weeks of student entry into the program. The posttest was administered within two weeks of student exit from the program. Descriptive and inferential analyses were conducted to answer the primary and exploratory research questions. Inferential analyses included a dependent sample t test and an ANCOVA using number of participant contact hours as the covariate. Results indicated participation in a structured work experience program had a positive effect on the work-readiness skills of these participants. ANCOVA results indicated (a) disability type was not a significant factor affecting the work-readiness of the participants, (b) program type produced a statistically significant main effect, (c) there was no statistically significant interaction effect between disability type and program type, and (d) number of contact hours produced a statistically significant main effect. Future research studies should focus on replication of the current study results and examination of the long-term effects of participation in structured work experience programs on post-school outcomes.
Pacha, Jacqueline K (2013). The Effects of Structured Work Experience on the Work-Readiness Skills of Students with Disabilities. Doctoral dissertation, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from