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Linking Friendship and Self-Determination

A new study co-authored by Brittany Dorn, MED, an itinerant teacher of the deaf and a Clarke Summer Camp advisor, finds that friendships and self-determination are two factors that positively influence success in school and adult life.

The researchers in this study, “Friendships and Self-Determination Among Students Who Are Deaf or Hard of Hearing,” examined the relationship between self-determination and quantity and quality of friendships among a sample of students who were deaf or hard of hearing who used listening and spoken language to communicate.

Self-determination, in particular, has been identified as “the ultimate goal of education” (Halloran, 1993, p. 214). Self-determination is the sense of being “in the driver’s seat” of one’s own life, and includes self-awareness, the ability to set goals, the ability to monitor progress toward goals, and the ability to advocate along the way.

Significant correlations were found between self-determination and both the quality and quantity of friendships among the study sample. The findings support those of previous studies indicating that autonomy and social networks are related.

Another one of the co-authors, Kaitlyn Millen, previously developed social programming for Clarke students. You can find the full study in the American Annals of the Deaf, Volume 163, Number 5, Winter 2019, pp. 576-595.


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