Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name



Urban Education


David Connor

Committee Members

Stephen Brier

Wendy Luttrell

Subject Categories

Disability and Equity in Education | Teacher Education and Professional Development


history of education, oral histories, norms, Disability Studies, Mad Studies


The purpose of the study is to examine the effect that dominant cultural schemas (norms) had on the educational outcomes and identity formation of students with mental disabilities. Through an examination of histories of psychology and public schooling in the United States, as well as oral history interviews with 7 participants, the research investigates how these cultural schemas have shifted over time and what role students with mental disabilities have played in reproducing or resisting schemas which marked them as deficient. Sewell’s (1992) theory of structure and agency, Disability Studies theory, and theories of labeling and intersectionality are utilized to analyze the identity formation of students with mental disabilities in light of those cultural schemas. By using a collage of narrative vignettes, leading to theoretical analysis, the practical implications of the above-mentioned theories upon the lives of people with mental disabilities are examined and discussed.