"Society likes to put people into socially constructed boxes": Exploration of the liminal space through undergraduate students' reflections on disability

Marisa Kofke


As undergraduate students engage with disability studies coursework, they learn about sociocultural concepts that address issues of ableism, normalcy, equity, and inclusion of disabled people in all facets of society. A transformational ideological change in how students view disability often occurs during these courses. To further explore this phenomenon, I completed a study on the capstone course for a DS minor program at a mid-sized public university. Two research questions asked: 1) How do undergraduate students make sense of and understand disability while completing a DS course? and 2) Which pedagogical decisions made by course instructors promote undergraduate students' development of new understandings of disability? A review of the scholarship on DS pedagogy in postsecondary contexts and the transformative learning theory (Mezirow, 1990) concept of critical reflection situated how these students' perspectives shift over a semester. The weekly reflection assignment of 69 students over two semesters were coded with qualitative methods. Findings include themes related to the process of reflection unearthing realizations and identifying both problems and solutions, connecting to moral obligation. The findings explore connections to the process of reflection while the students were within the liminal space of understanding course content that contrasted their prior assumptions about disability. I discuss implications for postsecondary educational pedagogical methods to understand and utilize the liminal space while teaching DS courses.


transformative learning; liminal space; undergraduate pedagogy; disability studies minor; critical reflection; disability studies in education

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.18061/dsq.v40i2.6592

Copyright (c) 2020 Marisa Kofke

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