Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)


Educational Leadership and Policy Studies

First Advisor

Sean Hurley


While the media frenzy focuses on the physical risks of concussion, there is also growing concern about the academic repercussions for students who sustain the injury. We do not currently have a uniform evidence-based approach for optimally returning a student back to learning activities after a concussion. We also do not understand how the diverse consequences of a concussion may affect academic self-efficacy and performance. The purpose of this study is to explore the effects a concussion may have on college students who are navigating the return to learn (RTL) process. This research aims to inform whether there are measureable deficits in academic self-efficacy using the previously validated and abridged survey measure, the Self-Efficacy of Learning Form (SELF-A). Time of injury during the academic semester is also considered, as we hypothesize greater healing should negate the concussion's effects on the measure of self-efficacy. In addition, the research explores students' experiences with RTL using a semi-structured interview approach.

The results suggest that college students who suffer a concussion during an academic semester have lower measures of academic self-efficacy compared to a control group of their peers. In addition, results show that students are returning to learn while still suffering from the effects of their concussion. This study found no significant correlation between the healing time of a concussion and the scores on the SELF-A. The interviews served to underscore the diverse myriad physical and psychological challenges a student faces, as well as the precarious variance in RTL strategies.

This study highlights the challenges that students face while they RTL following a concussion, and begs the investigation of whether better RTL practices can help mitigate the negative effects. It underscores the necessity for further research, evidence-based medical care, instructor accommodations, and institutional policies to support students' safe RTL and ability to perform at their maximal academic potential.



Number of Pages

123 p.