Technology has enabled the US educators significantly improve the quality of training and facilitate students’ academic performance. Now, more students can benefit from the use of technology and it is especially true for students with learning disabilities.
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Inclusive classes and educational strategies are aimed at ensuring equal opportunities for all Americans (Floyd & Judge, 2012). Admittedly, it is essential to develop efficient intervention strategies to make sure that inclusive approach is effective and beneficial.
The intervention strategy suggested will be complex and comprehensive. It will consist of several stages. The first stage will include implementation of assistive technology in assessing and measuring students’ performance and needs.
The assessment will be held with the help of the program Children’s Progress Academic Assessment which enables educators to learn more about the student’s cognition on the basis of his/her correct as well as incorrect answers (Bechard et al., 2010). This assessment will help the researcher choose participants of the research.
The second stage is implementation of teaching intervention. Younger students will be provided with the program Read & Write Gold which is aimed at facilitating reading and writing skills development through assisted reading (text-to-speech output with highlighting words) and writing (the program predicts the following word on the basis of the context and first letters) (Hasselbring & Bausch, 2005).
For older students (4-12 grades), the program READ 180 will be used as it has text-to-speech output and it provides broader context which helps students understand the text better (Hasselbring & Bausch, 2005). Notably, these interventions will include parents’ support and they will help their children study at home while educators will work with students during academic hours.
It is necessary to note that the use of technology in education has gained a lot of attention from researchers and there is quite extensive research on the matter. Nonetheless, the use of technology and assistive strategies in students with learning disabilities still needs further research. There have been a number of valuable insights, though.
Thus, Bechard et al. (2010) focus on the use of technology in assessment as the researchers claim that it is vital to understand students’ cognition. Hasselbring and Bausch (2005) provide insights into the use of certain assistive strategies in terms of inclusive educational approach. The researchers reveal benefits of the use of such assistive technologies as Read & Write Gold and READ 180.
Epps (2007) gives a brief account of the use of the program Kurzweil 3000 with students with reading disabilities. Importantly, reading disabilities are not present in young learners only and can be found in postsecondary students. Floyd and Judge (2012) highlight certain assistive strategies which are applicable in postsecondary settings.
It is necessary to add that researchers report about positive effects of the use of the programs as students’ performance improves.
Nonetheless, these are only first steps as it is essential to implement comprehensive research and reveal advantages and limitations (if any) of the use of technology in students with learning disabilities training. It is important to implement nationwide research and cover significant number of diverse participants.
The benefits of the present research are manifold. Obviously, students will benefit from participation in the research as their academic performance will improve and they will acquire new skills and will be able to cope with learning issues they have. Hasselbring and Bausch (2005) claim that students reveal better results and report about their satisfaction with the new ways of training.
Hence, the present research is likely to bring the same results. Apart from obvious academic improvements, the present research will have a positive impact on psychological state and self-esteem of students (Epps, 2007). Moreover, participation of parents will help them better understand their children’s needs and obtain the necessary skills to help them. Again, this is important for students as family support is crucial for them.
As has been mentioned above, the present research will be complex and will include several stages (see Table 1). The first stage is choosing participants of the research. The study will include students of a number of local schools. First, educators of these schools will be addressed and the written consent will be acquired. The next step is to train staff to make sure that the assistive technology will be implemented properly.
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After that, students with learning disabilities as well as their parents will be addressed and the written consent will also be taken. There will also be several meetings with parents on the way they can facilitate their children’s studies.
The next stage of the project will involve assessment of students’ cognition and academic performance. Notably, this research will not take into account gender, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status of students (though, these data will be included into database). Age is an important variable and it will be taken into account while choosing an appropriate assistive technology.
The next stage is implementation of the strategies mentioned above. It will take place for two months. After that period, reassessment will be carried out. The final stage of the research is analysis of the data obtained.
Timeline of the Research
|Activity / |
Time + Setting
|Instructing participants and introducing changes to the curriculum||Schools: staff room, hall|
|Selecting project members||Schools: staff room||Schools: staff room, classrooms|
|Implementation of AT||Schools: classrooms||Schools: classrooms|
|Analysis of data|
I would like to add that the present intervention fits my philosophy of teaching. I believe that all students have to obtain as much instruction and assistance as possible to meet their educational needs and abilities. Assistive technology enables the teacher to expand the domain of assistance.
Teachers will be able to better understand each student’s needs and capabilities. This will help educators come up with the most efficient strategy and, as a result, will enable each student obtain education and achieve equal results with the rest of the students.
This intervention also fits my social principles as an educator. I believe the teacher is an inspirational leader who guides students and helps them acquire the necessary skills to be able to study effectively. I also believe the teacher can fulfill this role when he/she provides comprehensive instructions and uses all possible tools to facilitate learning. The use of technology meets these goals.
It is necessary to add that the intervention is likely to bring positive results. The scope of literature available suggests that the use of similar strategies has proved to be effective and beneficial for students. The use of programs which are included in the present research was effective with several students. It is likely to be useful in a broader context with more participants.
Admittedly, it is important to make sure that the present research will not make any harm to participants. First, it is impossible to ensure proper communication with stakeholders during the research.
It is also necessary to make certain that all stakeholders understand the purpose of the research and are aware of the necessary details. One of steps to ensure these points is to obtain written consent with all details on the research from the participants. Clearly, all results will be anonymous.
Finally, it is possible to state that the data analysis will be unbiased. After completion of certain questionnaires, each student will obtain a code and all results will be processed with a reference to this code only. Educators will be supervised and the supervisors will make sure that the strategy is implemented properly.
Data Collection Procedures
To ensure that the study is comprehensive and unbiased, data will be collected through completion of tests during the research. These data will be divided into primary and secondary which will also enhance relevance of the research (Mills, 2014). Therefore, primary data will be collected twice (initial assessment and evaluation at the end of the research).
Qualitative and quantitative methods of analysis will be utilized. Performance of students as well as their and their parents’ (and educators’) attitude towards the use of the new technology will be analyzed. Primary data will be collected in classrooms through tests and completing questionnaires as well as interviews with participants selected randomly.
Secondary data will be collected in libraries and with the help of numerous online resources. These data will help compare the data obtained with the scope of knowledge which exists. Analysis of secondary data will also help justify the use of the strategy developed as there is certain evidence on efficacy of this or that approach.
Bechard, S., Sheinker, J., Abell, R., Barton, K., Burling, K., Camacho, C…. Tucker, B. (2010). Measuring cognition of students with disabilities using technology-enabled assessments: Recommendations for a national research agenda. Journal of Technology, Learning, and Assessment, 10(4), 5–40.
Epps, J. (2007). The influence of assistive technology on students with learning disabilities in the inclusive classroom. Valdosta State University, 6(1). Web.
Floyd, K.K., & Judge, S.L. (2012). The efficacy of assistive technology on reading comprehension for postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Assistive Technology Outcomes and Benefits, 8(14), 48–64.
Hasselbring, T.S., & Bausch, M.E. (2005). Assistive technologies for reading. Educational Leadership, 63(4), 72–75.
Mills, G.E. (2014). Action research: A guide for the teacher researcher. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc.