Mueller, Tracy G.

Committee Member

Pierce, Corey

Committee Member

Peterson, Lori


Special Education


University of Northern Colorado

Type of Resources


Place of Publication

Greeley, (Colo.)


University of Northern Colorado

Date Created





142 pages

Digital Origin

Born digital


The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that students 15 years of age or older must receive an invitation to the meeting for their Individualized Education Program (IEP). However, few guidelines for family and student involvement are provided by the law. Thus, little is known about how to most effectively include students and their families throughout the IEP process. To ensure that students are best prepared for post-secondary pursuits through the development of self-determination and self-advocacy skills, creative solutions to this dilemma must be harnessed and implemented. Opportunities for students to foster these skills can exist during the IEP meeting; however, not all students are prepared to lead a full IEP meeting. For some students with disabilities, their involvement may be less clear. In addition, small and large scale conflicts between families and educators have continued to present themselves as a major concern in special education. The relationship between student involvement and conflict has not yet been defined. Finally, the need for specific instruction around student involvement to prepare pre-service educators for this process has not been identified. With the lack of a clear model to define involvement options, educators may shy away from opportunities to help students become more creatively involved. Such hesitation negatively impacts the student and the IEP team. This study used qualitative research methods to collect ideas from twenty different special educators, creating a continuum of involvement for students with a differing needs and strengths. Strategies for involving students with a variety of disabilities emerged in the data. Specifically, ideas for working with students with cognitive, communicative, or emotional disabilities are outlined. Student involvement was identified as a factor with the ability to significantly reduce conflict. Finally, information on challenges and barriers faced by practitioners attempting to involve students along with suggestions for addressing these issues are provided. Such information offers input for teacher preparation programming, as a theme regarding lack of preparation for involving students also emerged. Applications for practice and directions for future research are described. As a toolkit of creative and flexible strategies, the model provides a starting point for educators attempting to involve students of varying ages, maturity levels, and developmental stages.

Degree type


Degree Name




Local Identifiers


Rights Statement

Copyright belongs to the author.