College students' comfort with assertive behaviors: An analysis of students with and without disabilities in three different postsecondary institutions



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas A&M University


First-year college students have many new responsibilities and challenges. They are faced with increasing autonomy and must find resources and people to help guide them. Students with disabilities face an even greater need to be independent and juggle more responsibilities, as they must disclose their disabilities to campus personnel if they need accommodations and become a self-advocate. In order to self-advocate, students must feel comfortable with being assertive. This study examined the differences in comfort with assertive behaviors between students with and without disabilities at three different types of postsecondary institutions (junior college, 4-year regional university, and 4-year Research 1 university). Two hundred seventy-eight freshman and sophomore students completed a questionnaire concerning their comfort with many different assertive behaviors. The following three variables were examined: a) college students' comfort with overall assertiveness; b) college students' comfort with verbal assertiveness; and c) college students' comfort with prosocial verbal skills. iv There were no significant differences between students with disabilities and students without disabilities in terms of their discomfort with assertive behaviors on any of the three variables. Males were more comfortable with assertive behaviors than females in terms of their overall assertiveness and their verbal assertiveness. Students from the 2-year junior college were more comfortable with overall assertiveness and verbal assertiveness than students at either the 4-year regional university or the 4-year Research 1 university. There were no differences between groups in terms of their prosocial verbal skills. Conclusions about the differences found in the study are reported. Recommendations for disability service providers are provided, as well as suggestions for future research.