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Hope, optimism and loneliness among first-year college students with learning disabilities: a brief longitudinal study

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The goals of the study were to examine personal resources and social distress during the first month in college among students with learning disabilities (LD) and to compare their experiences with non-LD peer. The sample consisted of 335 first-year undergraduate students falling into two groups: 85 students with LD and 250 non-LD students. Questionnaires assessed hope, dispositional optimism and loneliness. We hypothesised that, after participation in a single-session hope intervention workshop, the hope and optimism levels of both students with LD and without LD would increase, while their loneliness would decrease. However, after a month of facing the academic and social demands of their new college environment, we expected that the hope and optimism scores of students with LD would be lower than their peers without LD and that their loneliness scores would be higher. As hypothesised, both groups reported enhanced hope and optimism, as well as lower loneliness, immediately after the workshop. However, students with LD – but not their peers – returned to baseline levels of hope and loneliness after a month. Loneliness after a month predicted lower hope, after controlling predictors from the beginning of the year.
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Keywords: Hope Theory; learning disabilities; loneliness; optimism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: School of Behavior Sciences, Peres Academic Centre and Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel 2: School of Education and Counseling Psychology, Santa Clara University, Santa Clara, CA, USA 3: School of Business Administration, Peres Academic Centre, Rehovot, Israel 4: School of Behavior Sciences, Peres Academic Centre, Rehovot, Israel 5: School of Behavior Sciences, Peres Academic Centre and School of Education, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv, Israel

Publication date: 03 July 2015

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