Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education in Higher Education (EdD)

Degree Level



Rehabilitation, Human Resources and Communication Disorders


Michael Hevel

Committee Member

Ketevan Mamiseishvili

Second Committee Member

Karen Hodges


Learning Disabilities, Online Education


The body of research concerning college students with learning disabilities is sparse relative to the percentage of college students with learning disabilities who attend college. Further, the majority of existing research fails to capture the student voice and the lived experiences of the students themselves. The purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of college students with learning disabilities who utilized online education at a public university centrally located in the United States, resembling numerous comprehensive regional universities. Using a qualitative, phenomenological research framework, this study uses in-depth individual interviews to collect data from eight participants. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and thematically analyzed. Four categories emerged as central to their experiences as college students with learning disabilities: (1) faculty engagement, (2) student engagement, (3) course organization, and (4) needed resources. These four categories and their interconnections resulted in five major themes determined to be the results of this study: (1) students with learning disabilities like the convenience and flexibility of schedule afforded by online classes, (2) online structure and organization affords students with learning disabilities more time to process and understand information (3) students with learning disabilities feel more independent and confident with the structure and organization of online courses, (4) students with learning disabilities perceive a lack of interaction in online classes, and (5) instructors lack understanding and support of accommodations and students with learning disabilities.

This study provides numerous opportunities for future research related to the topic and findings. The findings from this study may also provide context and insights for postsecondary institutions, faculty, student services personnel, and family of students with learning disabilities, as well as the students themselves.