How learning is affected when having a Learning Disability
From starting a fire to writing a thesis learning has always been the bridge to any goal attainment. It generates new knowledge which in turn gives us the ability to make better choices in both daily and academic life. Almost every western society promotes the importance of learning because it can be a determinant of a good job and high wage. Because of this, governments and leaders created educational institutions to equip the individual with the knowledge needed to do jobs safely and efficiently. The educational system is constructed in a way that in order to keep on improving, students are required to read and write. This can be seen by some that it limits the individual’s ability and creativity by only giving them the chance to express themselves by using only two mediums. This is the point where it also limits people that have a learning disability. About five percent of the total public schools population have learning disabilities (Lyon, 1996). Having a learning disability means that one has a disorder of psychological process in both using and understanding language. According to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act or IDEA, it is the imperfect ability to listen, speak, read, write, spell, or doing math (Lyon, 1996). Throughout this paper, I am going to focus on three different challenges students face when having a learning disability and also how this leads to the person to be affected holistically.
Note-taking is quite crucial when it comes to learning. It is considered as important as attention and studying. When students start to learn complex things, taking notes could be quite helpful for doing well in exams. Many researchers have conducted studies related to this subject. In the last few decades’ research related to note-taking has been mainly related to three different aspects. The first one is how note-taking affects cognitive variables like attention, memory and comprehension. The second is a comparison between note-taking quality and how it affects learning efficiency. And the third is about using technology in note-taking. Taking notes does not only affect reading ability but also enhances comprehension and recall. It helps the individual to analyze the information presented and think critically about it. To write good notes the learner should find a way to make the notes as clear as possible while minimizing the writing so that he or she could focus on the next part. Good notes are considered as text that is different from the original learning source but still maintains the actual information and the student’s critical thinking. In order for a student to reach the maximum ability to learn, he or she should be given appropriate note-taking instructions (Chang & Ku, 2015). Note-taking is considered as a barrier that limits students with learning disabilities to learn in both academic and professional lives. As the number of students that have a learning disability is increasing by the years, researchers are getting more interested in this area. Hughes and Suritsky (Ruhl & Suritsky, 1995) argued that students having a learning disability find it difficult to take efficient notes from lectures. This is because students that have a learning disability find it frustrating to group information given by the lecturer and using it to elaborate mentally on it. Other difficulties related to note-taking Hughes and Suritsky mentioned are processing auditory information, writing, spelling, and maintaining selective attention. Other research (Boyle, 2012) found that people with learning disability write fewer notes, perform poorly on tests and find it difficult to recall, even right after taking notes when compared to other students without a learning disability. Different researchers have attempted to find a way that benefits and encourages students with learning disabilities to take notes more efficiently. Ruhl (Ruhl & Suritsky, 1995) studied a teaching method called the pause procedure, in which, the lecturer stops three times for two minutes during the lecture to give students time to discuss the lecture and adding on the notes. The results of this procedure managed to show some learning improvement for recall information. Note-taking should not be seen as is because it is a process that consists of understanding, writing, spelling, and reading.
Reading is another significant requirement for having an educational career. Reading enables students to access and understand information of what someone has written in the past. It is crucial for academia because it is almost impossible to teach students in a limited amount of time the knowledge books potentially provide. Reading can be used for revising past lectures but also gives the ability to learn new things. Many studies were carried out to prove the importance of reading especially from an early age (Gabrieli & Norton, 2012). Others, through research, managed to evaluate the differences of reading strategies between students that have a learning disability and those who don’t. One particular study was conducted online by filling a questionnaire. The research consisted of three hundred and seventy-two students. Seventy-seven of these students had a history of some kind of reading difficulties. The main goal of this study was to evaluate the use of metacognitive reading, learning, and studying strategies of both students with history of reading difficulties and not. The study found that students with difficulties to read would increase the chance of academic success if they use metacognitive reading strategies and study aids (Chevalier, Parrila, Ritchie, & Deacon, 2017). Other researchers have written specifically about reading difficulties of students that have a learning disability. The more the student progresses through the educational system the more difficult stories become to understand this is because of increased complexity and the assumption that the more students advance the more they are capable of recognizing and imagining stories. A research (Stetter & Hughes, 2010) comparing different story grammar abilities and age of students found that have a learning disability makes it more difficult when it comes to understanding and recognize reading comprehension. This is because students that have a learning disability are able to call fewer parts of the story and also find it difficult to understand the abstract part of it. The research has found that there are possible methods that could be used in order to help students that have a learning disability to increase the chance of understanding from reading stories. One method is that teachers should actively teach comprehension strategy instructions and metacognitive awareness of comprehension monitoring. This can only be done if the teachers plan the teaching of comprehension and implement comprehension strategies in a way to make it manageable to grasp and understand.
Apart from reading theories, stories, and concepts a student is required to write throughout his or her academic career. It is considered a crucial asset because writing gives proof to what the student has learned and what his or her thoughts on the subjects are. Writing is also emphasized today in society because we are living in a time where technological communication is of vast importance. Moreover, writing is also something that is used in almost all professional careers. Some students might end up working for low-wage jobs just because they do not realize the general process of writing. This process (Kaldenberg, Ganzeveld, Hosp, & Rodgers, 2016) can be divided into three, planning, converting the plan into written text and reviewing the text. Some students might find a problem in one area while others might find difficulty in all. There are multiple different learning disabilities and not all of them mean that these difficulties will be present. Learning Disabilities have been the main research topic to investigate expressive writing (Wheeler, Nickerson, Long, & Silver, 2014). Apart from just investigating the writing of students that have a learning disability most research is more based on finding the best way to help in improving this skill. An interesting research was conducted to try to provide an effective means for student writing. Throughout this research (Chalk, Hagan-Burke, & Burke, 2005), the researchers found that by using Graham and Harris’, Self-Regulated Strategy Development model (SRSD) proved to be beneficial to the students and helped them to improve different strategies like planning, setting goals and reevaluate what was written. SRSD consists of six different stages of instructions created to aid the students that have a learning disability in writing tasks and regulating work that might hinder good performance. Difficulties that students might face when having a learning disability are, creating new ideas, selecting topics, using different writing strategies on different situations, and expressing knowledge about the subject. Some students that have a learning disability might also overestimate their ability to write (Kaldenberg et al., 2016). These are all barriers that could play a role in slower learning because knowing how to write effectively gives the students the ability to express themselves and therefore reflect constructively about their own writing which in return could improve their knowledge.
After discussing three main difficulties students face that have a learning disability, it is also important to consider how these affect the individual as a whole throughout the daily life. Adolescence plays an important role in this issue. It is a time where students experience different things and are being prepared to become an adult. As one might assume this is time of stress for the adolescent because the choices he or she makes might affect a big chunk of their life. Career choice is one of the decisions they must take in order to prepare themselves to join the workforce later. Students that have a learning disability are more susceptible to drop out of school (Arunashree, Sanghvi, & Kadkol, 2016). This is because of emotional disturbances and a higher probability to engage in destructive behavior. These difficulties might leave the students looking toward life in a negative way. Other known issues students with learning disability face are loneliness, problems adjusting, and higher chance of using drugs. Having a learning disability does not mean that one is going to fail in life, in fact, there are some worldwide known people that managed to succeed when having this disability, like Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, and John F. Kennedy. It simply means that with the right mindset and self-determination anything is possible. An important research (Arunashree et al., 2016) related to this issue is “The Relationship between self-determination and life satisfaction among adolescents with learning disability”. They wanted to conduct this research because most of the previous research was based on the assumption that self-determination and life satisfaction are not correlated with each other when it comes to students that have a learning disability. It was found that students who felt that they were able to plan and making decisions ended up more satisfied than the others. The outcome of this research might help us understand how students with learning disability have to think in order to tackle life issues. This is important because it can guide parents and teachers to help the adolescents be more independent so that way he or she could have a better expectation of the future.
Throughout this paper I managed to explore three different difficulties students with learning disability face in their academic life. Apart from difficulties, different research was pointed out to explore this area in order to find better solutions to aid these people in progressing through different stages in school. The first thing mentioned was note-taking because according to research (Chang & Ku, 2015) knowing how to take effective notes is a good skill for a student that wants to reach his or her maximum potential. Another issue mentioned that is crucial in academia is writing. Reading was discussed in this paper because if used correctly it can give the ability to a student with learning disability to expand his or her knowledge outside the learning environment. Another important skill that goes hand in hand with reading is writing. Writing is important because it equips the students with the independence to share their thoughts and knowledge. The last thing mentioned was how learning disability can affect the person as a whole. Having a learning disability does not mean that failure is vital, it just means that with some effort both from society and the individual, students can achieve their academic goals. After all (Bottley, 2016), “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its life thinking it is stupid”.
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