University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
In “ Embedded Learning Strategy Instruction: Story-Structure Pedagogy in Heterogenous Secondary Literature Classes”, Michael Faggela-Luby, Jean Schumaker, and Donald Deshler examine the problem of uneven learning structures among literature students. Their previous research found that a majority of secondary education level students were reading below the reading comprehension level appropriate for their age level.
This was attributed to the inability of teachers to find a structure of teaching reading comprehension and story structure in a method that would both allow LD students to comprehend narrative story structures while still challenging higher level learning students. They present a number of relevant studies done over the years that have presented different story structure learning models to different focus groups of students to examine the results.
However, these results are largely inconclusive because some studies failed to produce graphs that explained their results and others did not separate LD students from other students, therefore failing to examine the experimental structures in terms of these two distinguishable groups. Their research attempted to find a reading comprehension structure that could be applied to all levels of students and be used as a universal tool towards learning comprehension and story structure for students of all learning aptitudes and levels.
They conducted a research experiment using 79 students to examine the effectiveness of the embedded-story structure. Some students were limited readers, while some were strong readers. Students taught in their regular classrooms with regular materials and were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group would use the embedded story structure (ESS) while the other would use the comprehensive skills instruction (CSI) method. A graph and statistical data was included to present the statistics of these two groups in terms of age, gender, and test scores.
Another figure displayed the categories of self questioning, story structure analysis and summary writing that were utilized in ESS. The CSI group used the categories of vocabulary strategy, question-answer relationships, and semantic summary mapping. More tables listed the statistical information for which students received which test form. Results of all tests administered revealed data that proved learning improvement and comprehension advancement in students using the ESS method.
These increases in comprehension were in the non-LD students on both lower and higher reading strengths. The conclusion seems to be that ESS benefits readers on any reading level, but does not necessarily provide marked improvement for LD students. The results of the research seem positive, and it seems that the ESS method could represent a solution to the problem of uneven learning comprehension in students at different reading levels. But one of the limitations pointed out by the researchers is that in the experiment, the teacher was also the researcher.
I found this interesting because it helped to ensure study viability, but does not guarantee that improvement results would be the same with other teachers, which makes it questionable as to its practical application in the classroom. A possible solution to this, and a way to help ensure that ESS is being taught similarly at learning institutions everywhere, would be to implement an educational forum to instruct teachers how to properly utilize ESS in the classroom. This could also give teachers suggestions for implementing the method with LD students in an effort to give them the same benefit.
Further research could be done into streamlining ESS to better benefit LD students and instructing teachers accordingly. The article, “Ensuring Content-Area Learning by Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities”, Donald D. Deshler, Jean B. Schumaker, B. Keith Lenz, Janice A. Bulgren, Michael F. Hock, Jim Knight and Barbara J, Ehren research the problem of preparing learning disabled students to handle heavier course loads and learning expectations at the secondary and high school level. They provide background statistics finding a large number of LD students that experience self-esteem issues at these school levels or drop out.
A graph included shows the performance distance between LD students and the general population students they are often put in classes with and illustrates how the two groups acquire knowledge differently. The researchers examine dual elements of a study done at the University of Kansas Research Center on Learning. The purpose of the article was to examine the study done at KU-CRL and determine whether its dual-intervention approach was beneficial to LD students and could be implemented in classrooms at all levels.
The researchers at KU-CRL found that there needed to be two levels of intervention to help LD students. The first, according to the authors, needed to be done by the teachers and involved implementing teaching strategies that were accessible to students on all learning backgrounds. The second focused more on the students themselves and teaching them learning and studying methods that helped them understand and comprehend material. There are five levels of intervention teachers can use to impact learning levels of students.
They vary according to the methods of intervention used by the teacher and the direct impact on the student, ranging from implementing overall learning routines to providing the student with individual strategy structures designed for them. The authors cite studies in which these strategies of embedding learning have worked with limited results. They also point out that the method of delivery for the strategies is important to their effect. A model explains the inclusion strategy for use.
Overall, the authors find all of the studies done on the KU-CRL research finds that general learning strategies can be beneficial to LD students to help them with learning comprehension, and that once these are implemented in the classroom that many LD students are able to utilize these strategies outside the classroom too. It recognizes that placing LD students in general classroom settings doesn’t mean that they will be able to learn successfully according to general strategies. I found this article interesting for its examination of the learning needs of the LD student at both the individual and institution-wide level.
The authors stress that individual attention and tutoring are still vital when implementing these blanket learning strategies, and I think that’s important to remember. My recommendation if these intervention level learning strategies were to be implemented would be to simultaneously implement a tutoring program for LD students that find themselves requiring a different level of intervention or a different strategy than what is being implemented in the classroom. This would assist teachers attempting to implement the intervention model but still finding that some LD students aren’t receptive.
This tutoring could also encourage LD students to keep learning new methods for knowledge comprehension. The authors also emphasized proper training and ongoing support for teachers implementing this learning strategy in the classroom and I think that’s important as well. Teachers learning a new approach for helping LD students in their classroom should have the benefit of accessing new research and findings into the most effective methods of teaching to bridge the gap between normally developed learners and LD students.