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Purple arrow points at titleEnabling Students with Learning Disabilities: Insights from Research

REFERENCE: Anderson-Inman, L. (1990-91) . Enabling Students with Learning Disabilities: Insights from Research. The Computing Teacher, 18 (4), 26-29.

Description of article:

CONTEXT (overall): The author provides a selected review of the literature and describes four research projects that used technology to support reading and writing activities of students with learning disabilities. Two research projects involved reading with speech feedback. The first, conducted at the University of Colorado by Richard Olson, Barbara Wise and their colleagues, involved the use of computerized speech feedback to improve reading skills of elementary students with severe reading disabilities. Secondly, the research conducted by Kyle Higgins and Randy Boone at the University of Washington looked at the use of three hypertext enhancements to improve the reading comprehension of ninth grade students with learning disabilities, remedial students, and regular education students.

Outcomes/Reflections:

In general the "research suggests that supporting the reading process with computer-based speech feedback, explanations, and/or restatements is an effective way to increase word recognition and reading comprehension. With the support of these types of enhancements, students with learning disabilities get immediate, individualized assistance designed to clarify unfamiliar words and phrases." (p. 29)

Two other research projects involved collaborative writing and are considered in greater detail below.

CONTEXT (CAST): At the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST), Anne Meyer and Bart Pisha used projection plates (projecting the computer's video signals to a large screen) to facilitate collaborative writing projects for students with learning disabilities. Nine students with learning disabilities who were usually reluctant to work with others worked in three-person teams on an advertising simulation. Their task was to write a joint letter to the "chief" about their progress each day. Using the projection plate, each team dictated sentences about their activities. The entire group was able to discuss and revise the letter as a group effort.

Outcomes: In the collaborative writing project at CAST Meyer and Pisha found that use of the projection plate (or PV viewer) encourages collaboration among students who are usually reluctant to work with others. They found that students who typically have difficulty writing a letter experienced seeing their ideas accepted and incorporated into a group project. It appears that the projection plate creates an environment with a certain anonymity that encourages risk-taking.

CONTEXT (Vanderbilt): The multidisciplinary team at the Learning Technology Center at Vanderbilt University have been exploring ways to use videodisc technology to structure the learning experiences of students with learning disabilities in a way which enhances problem solving abilities and facilitates independent learning. In their research they use videodiscs to "anchor" or situate instruction in "macrocontexts" or large-scale, real-world environments that allow repeated exploration from multiple perspectives. One project involved the participation of 24 sixth-grade students with learning disabilities in a news reporting curriculum. Reading and writing instruction was anchored in video footage from national network news. "News segments on 14 topics were placed on videodisc and used to teach elements of comprehension (e.g., identifying story parts and selecting point of view) and writing (e.g., using story parts, story leads and endings, and follow-up stories). Using the macrocontext of news reporting, students developed expertise as news reporters, gathering information from the videodisc and from related news stories in written format." (p. 29)

Outcomes: Research results at the Learning Technology Center indicated that students with learning disabilities perform better and with more confidence when the writing task is placed within a meaningful context and emphasis is placed on real-world forms of communication. The students wrote better stories after seeing a video prompt, and they transferred the skills they developed by also performing better when receiving a more traditional oral prompt.

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Dr. Lynne Anderson-Inman, College of Education, University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97405. Email: lynneai@oregon.uoregon.edu

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This material was developed by the National Center to Improve Practice (NCIP), located at Education Development Center, Inc. in Newton, Massachusetts.  NCIP was funded by the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs from October 1, 1992 - September 30, 1998, Grant #H180N20013.  Permission is granted to copy and disseminate this information.  If you do so, please cite NCIP.   Contents do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Department of Education, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products, or organizations imply endorsement by NCIP, EDC, or the U.S. Government.  This site was last updated in September 1998. 

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