Grit-based curriculum and experiences of community college students with executive functioning challenges: A collective case study
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Students with disabilities are rarely mentioned in national discussions of student success at public 2-year colleges, despite the increasing number of students with disabilities who transition to community colleges each year. A growing number of high school graduates with executive functioning challenges (such as those experienced by individuals diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder or ASD) are enrolling in community colleges that inadequately support these students’ academic success, retention, and preparation for the workplace. Concurrently, strategies for cultivating grit in students as one way to support students in achieving personal and academic goals have been gaining popularity in mainstream media, as well as K-12 and higher education. The purpose of this case study was to explore how community college students, diagnosed with executive functioning challenges, described their experiences with a grit-enhanced community college transitional program. Data sources included transcribed responses from multiple, semi-structured interviews with students who were enrolled in a grit-enhanced course offered at a select community college system in the Southern United States. Thematic and content analysis served as the overarching data analysis approaches involving first and second cycle coding. Then, frameworks of Grit theory and Critical Disability theory were applied to inform the interpretation process.