Thus am I: a narrative inquiry into identity
This study sought to understand how students who were enrolled in postsecondary education and received support through special education services understand their identity. It was influenced by developmental theories of identity development and the professional interests of this researcher. It utilized narrative theory as conceived by Dan McAdams (1985, 1993, 2001) as both the methodology and a way of conceiving identity. Data was collected through a series of individual interviews. Participants were found to relate their identity as a series of stories. Their conception of self-identity views special education status as a trait, but not one central to their identity. Their families were viewed as central to how they understand their identities. Individuals outside of their families also had a strong impact on how they viewed themselves. Participants view differences as common both inside and outside of the special education population. Participants indicated a desire to help others heightened by their own struggles. Goals were well-articulated and used for self-motivation during times of academic difficulties. All shared negative school experiences unrelated to identity without prompts about the quality of their educations.