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The Self-Determination Project

The Self-Determination project is administered by The University of Tennessee Health Science Center on Literacy, Education and Employment (CLEE).

What is Self-Determination?

Self-determination is a process of learning about oneself, his/her interests, talents/skills, and preferences as well as his/her dislikes. There are five primary principles of self-determination:

  • Freedom – to choose and plan your life
  • Authority – to control your environment
  • Support – for building a life in your community
  • Responsibility – to choose, control, and direct your actions
  • Confirmation – to realize your dream

Project Description

The Self-Determination project works directly with individuals and their support networks to assist with the development of approaches that promote empowerment, advocacy, and self-direction.

Project Goal

The overall goal of this project is to provide opportunities for students in high schools, middle schools, and elementary schools to learn about themselves, take a strong role in the IEP process, and learn about post-school resources that will lead to employment.

Current Study

The Self-Determination Project is presently conducting a study that will determine the effectiveness of the self-determination approach toward participants applying the principles of self-determination in their transition to community employment.

Practicum and Internship Opportunities

The self-determination project offers practicum and internship opportunities to graduate students interested in developing skills in the areas of self-determination, person-centered planning, community employment, and transition school to work.

Expected Outcomes

The expected outcome of the self-determination project is that through the training and technical assistance with students, teachers, and families self-determination practices will evolve.

  • Students will take an active role in their IEP process and plan for post-school employment and/or education opportunities
  • Teachers will incorporate self-determination practices and curriculum in to the existing school curriculum and experiences
  • Families will demonstrate the ability to support the growth and post-school career planning for their family members.

Representatives from post-school resources (Division of Rehabilitation Services, Division of Mental Retardation, Developmental Disabilities, and Mental Health Services, One-Stop Centers, higher education [technical colleges, and universities], and employers) receive technical support to increase their involvement and linkages with the students and their circle of supports to be a positive stakeholder in the seamless transition process.


Research activities under the Self-Determination Project are intended to compliment self-determination services by collecting and reporting the outcomes of the self-determination project. Research and development activities include developing an infrastructure for dissemination of self-determination practices through practice briefs and customer satisfaction products.


For additional information on Self-Determination project, contact the Center on Literacy, Education and Employment at

May 26, 2022