The use of coping strategies as a means of fostering personal development for students with a disability: a case study

Cristiaan van Meurs


Students dropping out of mainstream education are considered a problem for students themselves, schools and society as a whole. Unemployment rates are higher for school dropouts, and besides economic consequences for both the individuals as well as society, there are also several social consequences involved. Within the group of school dropouts, a subgroup can be distinguished; students with a disability. These students can have a physical disability, a psychological grievance, learning disorder or a combination of these. Many students with a disability experience difficulties during their study. Some are related to a lack of specific adaptations, others involve a lack of social or planning skills because of a disorder, or an inability to cope with the daily demands in school and life and general. Based on reports from these dropout students, a trend can be seen that as long as they are in a classroom situation, in which there is a certain amount of guidance and understanding, students experience less trouble then when participating on the employment market in an internship. This study examines the reasons we see students dropping out during this phase in the later stages of their study. Applying a case study approach it examines the practice of the coping programme, a specific programme delivered at the institute EEGA, targeted on creating insight in students’ own coping mechanisms. Findings indicate that although the programme is evaluated as useful by students in general, there is a difference between having insight in one’s own behaviour, and actually changing this behaviour or adopting a new way of coping. While many students report a change brought about by coping strategies, it is uncertain whether the outcomes have been influenced by socially desirable answering.


school dropout; coping strategies; coping programme; disabilities; personal development; participation law


Bridgeland, J.M., Diiulio, J.J. and Morison, K.B. (2006). The Silent Epidemic - Perspectives of High School Dropout. [online]. Washington, D.C., Civic Enterprises. Last accessed 01 March 2014 at:

Combs, J.P. and onwuegbuzie, A.J. (2012). Relationships among Attitudes, Coping Strategies, and Achievement in Doctoral-Level Statistics Courses: A Mixed Research Study. International Journal of Doctoral Studies, 7 (1), 349 - 375.

Covic, T., Adamson, B. and Hough, M. (2000). The impact of passive coping on rheumatoid arthritis pain. Rheumatology, 39 (1), 1027 - 1030.

Firth, N., Greaves, D. and Frydenberg, E. (2010). Coping Styles and Strategies: A Comparison of Adolescent Students With and Without Learning Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43 (1), 77 - 85.

Holter, N. (2008). Oorzaken van voortijdig schoolverlaten. [online]. Utrecht, Nederlands Jeugdinstituut. Last accessed 11 May 2014 at:

Houtman, I., Jettinghoff, K. and Cedillo, L. (2007) Raising Awareness of Stress at Work in Developing Countries. Protecting Workers Health Series, 6 (1), 1 – 44.

Patton, M.Q. (2002). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. 3rd ed., London: Sage Publications.

Robertson, K. and Frydenberg, E. (2011). Coping strategies used by young people with autism spectrum disorders. Children Australia, 36 (3), 136–143.

Rumberger, R. and Ah Lim, S. (2008). Why Students Drop Out of School: A Review of 25 Years of Research. [online]. Santa Barbara, University of California. Last accessed 11 May 2014 at:

Schreurs, P.J.G., Van De Willige, G., Brosschot, J.F., Tellegen, B. and Graus, G.M.H. (1993). De Utrechtse Coping Lijst: UCL – Omgaan met problemen en gebeurtenissen. Amsterdam: Harcourt Assessment B.V.

Verstraete, B. (2008) Het sociaal wenselijk antwoorden bij adolescentenenquêtes. MscRes Opleiding jeugdgezondheidszorg, KU Leuven.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

ISSN (online) 2049-7385
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License.