Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type


Degree Name



Communication Sciences and Disorders

First Advisor

Derek Daniels






MAY 2017

Advisor: Dr. Derek Daniels

Major: Speech-Language Pathology

Degree: Doctor of Philosophy

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore and further understand the ways in which middle school and high school students perceive their school experiences within the school environment.

School has an important impact on the social development of children (Milsom, 2006). Learning is not done individually as classrooms are inherently social places. This suggests that students do not learn alone, but rather in the presence of many peers (Ryan & Patrick, 2001). The school environment, and even more, the classroom, affects student motivation and student engagement. Past research on stuttering and school experiences suggest that the school environment can be problematic for children and adolescents who stutter. For example, adults who stutter have reported being teased or bullied by peers, and being fearful of talking in class. These retrospective accounts have been supported by numerous research studies. In addition, there are numerous studies that seek to explore the ways in which teachers can interact with students who stutter. The literature, however, reveals limited research on the ways in which adolescents who stutter perceive their school experiences. This lack of research is noteworthy because prior research in other areas of stuttering suggest that individuals often have negative memories of their school experiences. The purpose of this study is to explore and further understand the ways in which middle school and high school students between the ages of 12 and 18 years old who stutter perceive their school experiences, and their strategies of coping in the school environment. A phenomenological qualitative research paradigm was the methodology used to conduct this study. For this study, 7 adolescent students who stutter (middle school and high school) were interviewed. The study examined their school experiences; more specifically, variables, which were explored included the effect of stuttering on academics, learning experiences, teacher relationships, peer relationships, speech therapy experiences, and self-image. Data collection and analysis consisted of transcribing interviews and looking for any reoccurring themes within the responses of the participants (coding). Findings revealed that there was a different perception between middle school age and high school age. There was no significant data linking stuttering to a negative school experience, however, although not verbally expressed as a negative experience, participants of middle school age reflected on more recent occurrences of teasing, bullying feelings of embarrassment and that “stuttering is not fun”. This age group felt isolated and did not like speaking in front of others. Participants of high school age revealed that at this point in their lives, teachers, staff and peers are all receptive and accepting of them and their stuttering. With this said, there was no significant data between both age groups which linked the relationships with teachers and peers and overall school performance. In fact, all participants indicated that their stuttering does not affect the way that they learn. And that they feel that their teachers did everything in their power to “protect” them (through accommodations and anti-bully efforts) as a student.

Lastly, it was revealed by all participants that the speech therapy that was received (no matter how recent) helped with strategies for the classroom.