Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Human Resource Education and Workforce Development

Document Type



The purpose of this qualitative case study was to examine how 4-H programming may support positive youth development in youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). Using Wehmeyer‟s Functional Model of Self-Determination as the theoretical framework, sixteen youth aged 14-21 years in an intact vocational training classroom engaged in a semester-long program utilizing direct instruction and environment theorized by Wehmeyer to enhance the emergence of self-determination in youth with IDD. This study drew from the fundamental principle that a person who was self-determined exhibited behaviors that reflected certain essential characteristics (Wehmeyer & Field, 2007). The study utilized data collected from three phases; pre-program, on-going, and post-program, and multiple sources including the students, their parent(s), the classroom teacher and the researcher. The data points elucidated the experiences of these participants and provided evidence as to the degree their 4-H experience supported positive development of independence, primarily in the realm of self-determination, by youth with IDD. Findings suggested that 4-H programming provided a context for youth with IDD that enhanced understanding and performance of behaviors related to self-determination. 4-H members demonstrated changes in their personal autonomy and autonomous functioning within their families and community settings. They demonstrated greater interest and competence in self-directed lives; and their families expressed increased confidence in permitting the youths to exercise more autonomous decision-making behaviors. 4-H members developed a higher level of cognitive understanding of self-regulation and demonstrated an increased ability to perform the behaviors related to self-management: self-monitoring, self-instruction, and self-reinforcement. 4-H members revealed a psychologically empowered personal posture within their families and community settings in reporting an increased feeling of control in their lives, realistic self-efficacy, a heightened sense of ownership and response to coaching for more effective performance of behaviors related to self-determination. Lastly, the 4-H members became better able to identify personal strengths and limitations and transfer this self-realization to other settings. Implications for 4-H agents and volunteer leaders and recommendations for future research on youth with IDD in 4-H programming were provided.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Burnett, Michael F.