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What is Self-Determination?

Self-determination is a dispositional characteristic manifested as acting as the causal agent in one’s life. Self-determined people (i.e., causal agents) act in service to freely chosen goals. Self-determined actions function to enable a person to be the causal agent in his or her life.

Students who are self-determined act autonomously (make choices and decision as needed), are self-regulated (have some personal control over actions), are psychologically empowered (feel and act capable), and are self-realizing (understand the effects of their actions). Youth can begin to be self-determined by learning problem-solving and decision-making, self-advocacy and self-regulation, goal setting and attainment, and self-management techniques. Many of these components of self-determination are typical of what students are already working on in school, prior to graduation.

Developing New Measurement: Self-Determination Inventory System

We are developing an efficient and effective way to measure self-determination for all students between the ages of 13 and 22 years. The Self-Determination Inventory Student and Adult Self-Report versions will measure student self-determination for transition to adulthood for ALL students, to support learning and achievement. Now we are refining the system.

The Self-Determination Inventory: Student-Report (SDI:SR) survey is a new measure of students’ perception of their ability to engage in self‐determined actions, like goal setting, planning and decision making. Self‐determination is a vital set of skills students need to achieve success in school and beyond.

In 2016, the SDI:SR was validated by researchers at the University of Kansas for use by youth and adolescents ages 13 to 22 years old with and without disabilities. Though anyone, regardless of age, can take the assessment if they choose to. There are no right answers and it takes approximately 20 minutes to finish. There are built-in accessibility features including: reading level of 2.8, audio playback, and scroll-over definitions.