Cognitive functioning, social skills, and vocational performance for secondary students with learning disabilities in regular education vocational classes
Although cognitive functioning levels have been widely used to make placement decisions for students with learning disabilities, the current study illustrates that for many students these scores may be of limited value. Traditional predictors of performance in a regular education environment (e.g., verbal and nonverbal cognitive functioning) were used along with social skills variables (Cooperation, Assertion, Self-Control) to evaluate the best model for understanding secondary vocational performance for students with learning disabilities. Canonical analyses were used to determine the best predictors of secondary vocational performance. A canonical correlation indicated that a single generalized dimension linked cognitive functioning and social skills to secondary vocational performance. The characteristic of this dimension was a high score on all three social skills. Students who scored high on Self-Control also scored high on Cooperation and Assertion. Cognitive functioning variables were not meaningfully related to the respective canonical root. Therefore, the predictor composite was characterized as Social Skills. A second canonical analysis was performed using only the social skills variables. The canonical correlation of .51 was virtually identical when the two cognitive variables were present (.53). Social skills accounted for 26% of the variance in secondary vocational performance. Results are discussed in light of providing the information needed to increase access and successful completion of vocational programs for students with learning disabilities.
0525: Educational psychology
0747: Vocational education