Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences


Sport and Exercise Psychology

Committee Chair

Samuel Zizzi


This research utilized a mixed methods design to explore the differences between students with and without disabilities in perceived social support, coping style, self efficacy, and college adjustment. In addition, the influence of athletic participation on the above variables was examined in the sub-sample of students with disabilities. Neither survey nor interview results supported any differences between students with disabilities and students without disabilities on the study variables. Results suggested that discrepancies in college outcome variables (i.e. matriculation and persistence) were not a result of differences in disability status, but are the result of differences in adjustment, perceived social support, self-efficacy, and coping style. Quantitative results found the strongest correlations between self-efficacy, coping style, and adjustment factors. Qualitatively, students reporting more adjustment difficulties perceived more challenges within the week, fewer factors that lent to stress management, and more factors that added to the experience of stress. A more active coping style, the use of refraining techniques, and perception of shared social reality support were associated with fewer adjustment difficulties. Interview results also suggested participation in athletics for students with disabilities provided several incentives, such as academic motivation, increased self-efficacy, and campus integration that could lend to adjustment.