Communication Disorders Ph.D. Dissertations


Recounting the School Experiences of Adults Who Stutter: A Qualitative Analysis

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)


Communication Disorders/Speech-Language Pathology

First Advisor

Rodney Gabel (Advisor)


The purpose of this study was to gain a detailed understanding of the K-12 school experiences of adults who stutter. This study made use of a qualitative, phenomenological approach to recount the K-12 school experiences of adults who stutter. The primary investigator conducted 11 semi-structured interviews with adults who stutter (8 males, 3 females), and 2 focus group interviews (N=6, N=4). These interviews were videotaped and audio-recorded. The primary investigator transcribed and analyzed the interviews for major and minor themes. To establish credibility, participants were provided with a copy of the transcript analysis in order to validate, clarify, or question the results. In addition, two independent investigators performed separate thematic analyses. Their findings were compared with those of the primary investigator to establish consistency of themes. Participants spoke at length about how stuttering affected their school experiences. Major themes involved student characteristics, such as emotions, coping strategies, and personality; school characteristics, such as relationships with teachers, relationships with peers, classroom interactions (e.g., oral presentations, volunteering information, introducing oneself), and interventions (e.g., speech therapy, parent-teacher conferences, or lack thereof); and post-educational consequences of stuttering. In addition, participants provided personal reflections on the present school climate for people who stutter, the visible and less visible experiences of stuttering, the experience of having a disability in school, and suggestions for classroom teachers. Results suggest that the experience of stuttering in school is influenced by many factors, and that attention should be given to not only one's speech characteristics, but also to emotional and psychological needs and the sociocultural environment of the individual.