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The transition to college affects not only students but also the entire family system. Parents sometimes become quite involved with a student’s college education, a phenomenon that is beginning to get significant attention in the student development and higher education literature (Wartman & Savage, 2008). When students who have documented learning disabilities enroll in college, the concerns of family members can be even greater (Brinkerhoff, 2002). The purpose of this study was to investigate identity development in college students who have language-based learning disabilities. This study utilized the method of multiple case study design (six cases). Each case involved a student attending the Program for the Advancement of Learning (PAL) at Curry College in Milton, Massachusetts, and a family member of the student’s choice. Eighteen interviews were conducted–two with each student and one with each family member. The study also included four home visits with family members. Voice-centered method (Gilligan, 2003) of analysis was used and “I-Poems,” constructed from each student interview, were shared with students in the final interview. Results from this study support modifications to both Tanner’s (2006, 2010) and Baxter Magolda’s (2001, 2004, 2007, 2010) models of identity development. Findings from this study have implications both for services offered to students with learning differences and for the approach colleges take in responding to their family members.



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