Date of Award

Fall 2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


College of Education


Department of Education

Primary Advisor

Dr. Sarah Yates

Second Advisor

Dr. Thomas Gollery

Third Advisor

Dr. Melanie Park


Opportunities for individuals with exceptional needs to participate in inclusive environments have increased in recent years due to the implementation of various laws. Throughout the history of education, individuals with exceptional needs were prevented from attending higher education institutions; however, the Higher Education Opportunity Act (HEOA) of 2008 provided opportunities for individuals with intellectual disabilities to attend higher education institutions. The purpose of this study was to evaluate how a university’s program to assist students with intellectual disabilities successfully transition from high school to adulthood impacted undergraduate students’ perceptions and comfort level of working with individuals with intellectual disabilities. This quantitative study was conducted at a small, private, Midwestern university and was comprised of 91 participants having contact with the university’s program designed to assist students with intellectual disabilities. The study’s research instrument was researcher-created and measured undergraduates’ general attitude toward individuals with intellectual disabilities and undergraduates’ perception of personal effectiveness in addressing the needs of students with intellectual disabilities. Although studies have shown that postsecondary higher education programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities are beneficial for those with intellectual disabilities, the findings from this study indicate these programs are also beneficial to individuals without intellectual disabilities that are attending the same university and have contact with the program. Universities should be encouraged to pursue offering postsecondary programs for individuals with intellectual disabilities based on the positive impact the program can have on the perceptions and attitudes of students without intellectual disabilities toward individuals with intellectual disabilities.