Technology Integration in Special Education

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Introduction

Students with learning disabilities (LD) often struggle in their attempt to obtain marketable job skills (Bakken, Rotatori & Obiakor, 2009). The disorder affects many parts of a person’s life. Students with LD who enter higher education or vocational training find it difficult to master the necessary skills to be successful in classes or on the job (Bakken et al., 2009). The Fairfax County Public Schools, a local education authority (LEA), recommends alternative methods of instruction for students with an impaired ability to comprehend and process college level and technical information.

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The updated No Child Left Behind Act of 2009 mandated that educational institutions include students with disabilities in mainstream academic programs (Bakken et al., 2009). Bakken et al. (2009) argued that educational institutions must include current and up to date instructional material to engage students in the learning process. The Fairfax County Public Schools (2010) called for user-friendly applications with features like picture clues as a compliment to hands-on instruction for the benefit of LD students. These techniques have been shown to help students acquire information processing skills, marketable job skills, and develop a sense of accomplishment in their ability to be involved in technical training at the college level (Bakken et al., 2009).

Researchers continue to study LD, such as dyslexia (a brain-based type of learning disability that impairs a person’s ability to read), dsygraphia (a neurological disorder that impairs one’s ability to write), and dyscalculia (a learning disorder that limits one’s ability to understand and perform calculations or arithmetic), in search of appropriate treatments and interventions (National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, 2010). In conjunction with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institutes of Health supports ongoing research into the diagnosis and treatment of persons with learning disabilities.

The use of computer based applications, as suggested by Kim, Vaughn, Klingner, Woodruff, Reutebuch, and Kouzekanani (2011), has yielded positive results in increasing reading test scores of students with LD. Students with deficiencies in reading comprehension showed tremendous progress after receiving special instruction involving computer-assisted teaching methods. The comparative qualitative case study of technology integration in special education investigated the academic achievement of students with LD. The study further defined the current problems confronting LD students in academic instructions.

Background Information

Roblyer (2009) defined the problem of improving the performance of LD students in terms of the use of specialised educational technology. Anderson (2008) opined that the use of specialised software in a variety of skill training formats provides superior access to educational materials. Integrating computer-assisted approaches in a classroom setting requires that teachers also acquire working familiarity with technology-driven teaching methods (Bauer & Kenton, 2009). Bauer and Kenton argued that teachers should be proactive in seeking out training programs that are closely related to their classrooms, students, and content area.

Institutions that integrate computer technology in the instruction of students with severe disabilities help such students to increase their achievement in formal coursework (Bauer & Kenton, 2009). In addition, such institutions help to develop a greater sense of self-esteem and improve communication skills among the aforementioned students (Bauer & Kenton, 2009). Vermillion and Hannafin (2008) cited the Technology Related Assistance for Individuals with Disabilities Act (TRAIDA) of 1988 (as amended in 1994). The two suggested that it is significant with regards to the growth of computer-assisted learning for LD students.

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Vermillion and Hannafin (2008) argued that TRAIDA requires all special education programs in the U.S. to provide technology that assists LD students with basic communication related issues. Bauer and Kenton (2009) pointed out that educational professionals need more programs that make information on educational technology more readily available. The same would help to increase the academic achievement of LD students. The proposed comparative qualitative case study will examine the effectiveness of technology integration as mandated by institutional instructional protocols in increasing academic achievement of LD students.

Statement of the Problem

Students with LD tend to experience difficulties maintaining satisfactory academic achievement from the beginning of their academic career (Floyd, 2009). However, computer-assisted learning has shown great promise. Technology can be integrated in the education of LD students in a number of ways. For example, it can be used in instructing the students. To this end, learning materials may be delivered to LD students in electronic format through pictorials and such other elements. In the proposed study, the effectiveness of such integration will be analysed.

Purpose of the Study

The proposed study will examine the ways in which the integration of technology is related to the academic achievement of LD students. The study will focus on those students that have dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia. The reason is that the three are the main learning disabilities reported among students (MacIntyre, 2008). The proposed study will analyse whether this integration will increase or decrease (or have no effect) on the performance of LD students. In addition, the study examines the effectiveness of a number of different software packages, all of which are identified in the Research Method section.

The Washington, DC Public School District and several other LEAs recommend techniques like hands-on instruction, user-friendly computer programs, and picture clues as part of classroom work for LD students. MacIntyre (2008) found that when LD students in reading comprehension received interventions that included computer assisted teaching methods they made remarkable advances in reading comprehension. MacIntyre (2008) suggested that understanding the ways that software enhances the teaching process requires a careful consideration of what each program adds to the ability to instruct. In addition, such an understanding requires the execution of specific activities and the computation of results.

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Ellis and Hayes (2009) showed that students are able to increase their reading comprehension as a result of computer-assisted formats. Through this avenue, the learning process becomes more engaging. In the opinion of Cosby (2009), students benefit greatly from training programs with modern technology in instructional methods. The National Education Association encourages a continued emphasis on training educators in the ways that computer technology may be integrated into existing curricula for LD students in order to maximise their academic achievement.

Research Questions

The proposed study will address a set of questions meant to evaluate the impacts of technology integration on the academic achievement of LD students. Pellegrino and Quellmatz (2010) studied the effects of technology in the assessment of students in testing modules at the state, national, and international levels. Muijs (2009) found that increased engagement of LD students and their greater involvement in the learning process qualitatively demonstrates the effectiveness of technology-assisted learning for this group of students. The following are the questions that the proposed study is meant to respond to:

  • Q1. What differences in achievement exist in reading comprehension when LD students receive interventions that include academic software packages?
  • Q2. What differences in achievement exist in vocabulary development when Ld students receive interventions that include academic software packages?
  • Q3. What differences in achievement exist in communication skills when LD students receive interventions that include academic software packages?
  • Q4. What differences in academic achievement exist when teachers receive appropriate training in the implementation of technology-based instruction?

Definitions of Key Terms

Assistive technology. Assistive technology is defined as “any piece of equipment, or product system that is used to increase, maintain, or improve functional capabilities of individuals with disabilities” (Roblyer, 2009, p. 410). The definition is based on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997.

  • Dyslexia. Dyslexia is a brain-based type of LD that impairs one’s ability to read (National Institute of Neurological Disorders, 2010; National Institutes of Health, 2010).
  • Dyscalculia. It is an impairment of the ability to understand and perform tasks related to counting and arithmetical calculations (National Institute of Neurological Disorders, 2010; National Institutes of Health, 2010).
  • Dysgraphia. It is a disorder or a deficiency in the ability to write (National Institute of Neurological Disorders, 2010; National Institutes of Health, 2010).

Local education authority (LEA). LEAs are the regional school boards that regulate the public and private schools in each educational district in the country (Fairfax County Public Schools, 2010).

National Educational Technology Standards (NETS). Trotter (2010) suggests that NETS is the accreditation board that establishes standards for technology infusion in teacher education.

Technology integration. Technology integration is the process of determining which electronic tools and which methods for implementing them are appropriate for given classroom situations (Scott, 2010).

Theoretical Framework

In this study, the researcher appreciates that there are several theoretical frameworks in the topic under review. That notwithstanding, the researcher will rely on three main concepts. Technology integration is aimed at ensuring that whatever is entailed in a curriculum finds accommodation in the persons who receive the education. In this study, the target group is students with LD. To this end, three theoretical concepts will be employed in the study. The three are technology integration, integrated curriculum, and developmentally appropriate practice.

Brief Review of the Literature

Learning Disabilities and College Students

With reference to a national survey, Ellis and Hayes (2009) indicated an increase in the number of students with disabilities joining college. A significant percentage of the persons with disabilities who enrol in colleges are those diagnosed with LD. MacIntyre (2008) suggested that LD persons represent the largest disability group in today’s educational system. Ellis and Hayes (2009) administered a national survey to 4-year colleges. In their survey, they sought to find out from each freshman whether they had a disability or not. The results revealed that 2.8% of students self-reported a learning disability.

Most of the students arrive on campus with academic issues that result in placement in remedial courses for the development of basic skills. They also display higher levels of anxiety, less academic knowledge, and lack developed strategies for learning. As stated by Ellis and Hayes (2009), these students increased their comprehension and retrieval of reading materials upon introduction to computer-assisted learning technologies, which made reading and learning come alive for them.

Intervention in Education

The National Educational Testing Service suggests that improving student performance is a primary concern for teachers and administrators. Broad social changes, including advances in science and shifts in the role of technology in educational settings, have all influenced the instructional methods used in today’s schools. Every area of the curriculum in today’s educational system includes information technology using computers, software, and interfacing systems. The aforementioned elements connect students and classrooms all over the world (Fichten et al., 2009). The instructional systems cited use powerful computer systems to research complex problems and help students learn to produce the correct solutions (Roblyer, 2009). The integration of technology in the curriculum of schools is currently the most discussed issue in educational reform.

Floyd (2009) found that there is a significant increase in the number of students with disabilities in institutions of higher learning. The increase results, partly, from legislation that requires such institutions to provide LD students equal access to education and the opportunity to participate in the academic process (Reid & Lienemann, 2010). Klingner, Vaughn, and Boardman (2010) further emphasised the effects of integration of educational technology in increasing academic achievement of students with LD. Floyd (2009) noted that the provision of assistive technology in both computer hardware and software resulted in marked improvements in the rates of reading comprehension, word attack, and recognition test outcomes.

Scott (2010) found that LD students who experience problems in reading fall victim to low self-esteem, discipline problems, higher dropout rates, and criminal activity. As stated by Scott (2010), LD students struggle in attempts to master educational information. In their view, Roblyer (2009) suggested that LD students can greatly improve with the inclusion of educational technology. Scott (2010) found that students with reading-related learning issues experienced difficulties reading. They tend to struggle on every subject in their curriculum. The scholar further investigated the high school graduation rate of a typical LD student and found that even if the LD students graduate, their opportunities for advancement in higher education and employment after graduation are severely limited.

Improving Student Achievement with Technology

Clark and Mayer (2008) studied the impact of e-learning as an innovative method of academic instruction. Clark and Mayer pointed out four main principles that should be included within the curriculum to make the e-learning experience beneficial to the academic environment. Clark and Mayer suggested that students should have access to instructor feedback, software with self-directed study activities that permits for self-review, adaptive instructions adaptable to the rate of student comprehension, and the use of simulations and games integrated within the overall learning experience.

Clark and Mayer viewed e-learning as educational activities that allow the student to be informed through the performance of computer-driven tasks. Such a delivery method of academic instruction has the ability to seduce and engage the LD student so that they become involved in and captivated by the learning process. Computer technology also enhances the instruction of the challenged learner in development of knowledge and skills.

Saba (2009) pointed out that the integration of technology in the instruction of students with LD increases academic achievement. Students with dyslexia improved significantly in reading when computer remediation was introduced. As stated by Saba (2009), this technology integration improved scores and brought LD students into the average and normal range of achievement. Improvements were noted in various aspects of learning. The areas included language and performance of the students in reading. Other enhancements were noted in the activation of various regions of the brain, which are related to phonological processing.

Specific Learning Disabilities

Thomas and Woods (2008) suggested that LD students comprehend at a level that is significantly lower than the average person in the society. Such students are challenged in their attempt to master academic subjects in every discipline during their education. Reid and Lienemann (2010) found that learning disabilities have been studied in education, psychology, medicine, and sociology. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia are categories of LD that significantly affect a student’s ability to achieve. The learning disabilities affect the student’s ability to master academic tasks, including reading, writing, listening, speaking, spelling, and calculating.

Reid and Lienemann (2010) found that students with LD represent the largest group of students with disabilities in our educational system. LD affects nearly every aspect of the student’s life and creates a downward spiral of academic failure and frustration. The disabilities affect not only graduation rate, but also the ability of the affected student to participate in post-secondary training and in the job market as well. Students with learning problems exhibit a number of problems, including academic achievement and behavioural, social-adaptive, and emotional difficulties.

Teacher Preparation

In the opinion of Asplund (2008), the needs of LD students are of great concern to educators. Research is needed to determine how computer-based technology can assist such students in their education (Kyei-Blankson & Nur-Awaleh, 2010). Research into questions of how teachers select, integrate, and apply technology to increase academic achievement of this increasingly identifiable population will continue to attract the attention of educators working with LD students (Lawless & Smolin, 2011).

Bauer and Kenton (2009) found that teachers face four common challenges in their efforts to integrate technology into their curriculum. The challenges include lack of adequate time to identify and adapt to the relevant software and scheduling time to access computers (Adams, 2009). Other challenges include lack of adequate equipment and time to attend to the needs related to overall professional development. As stated by Bauer and Kenton (2009), these barriers can reduce instructional time and discourage teachers from introducing the relevant technology. To overcome these barriers, teachers must receive the necessary financial and instructional support to achieve the goals and objectives of technology integration (Matropieri & Scruggs, 2010).

Bauer and Kenton (2009) found that teachers lacked the time and expertise to find, evaluate, and learn about software that was compatible with existing institutional computer hardware and their specific teaching goals and objectives. Anderson, Anderson and Cherup (2009) recommended that resources should be developed, previewed, and pre-evaluated for effectiveness. The scholars also argue that it is important to allow time for teachers to familiarise themselves with the technology.

Research Method

The Case Study Method

The proposed research method will use a case study format to qualitatively assess the academic achievement of two groups of students with LD. The case study format is chosen over a body of literature related to critical theory in order to yield quantitative measures of academic achievement. In the opinion of Biggam (2008), the critical theory framework answers the question of how many students would benefit from technology integration in teaching methods.

The case study method in this dissertation will show how the integration of technology increases academic achievement and student engagement in the learning process. Creswell (2009) pointed out that a theoretical point of view is seen as a supplement to case studies. However, the critical theory approach privileges the effects of technology integration in the academic achievement of groups defined by cultural, racial, gender, class, and economic status. The research undertaking seeks to understand the effects of computer technology on the LD student population more generally.

Research Design

Case studies are recognised as useful methods of qualitative research. As stated by Merriam (2009), a case study examines individuals, events, activities, episodes, or specific phenomena that have a broad and deep effect on society. Such information will add to our general knowledge on the education of people with LD. In addition, it will suggest ways to improve existing state of affair in educational institutions for the greater benefit of students without LD. Such students are expected by law to coexist well with others in institutions that serve the needs of people with LD.

A case study is a highly useful research tool in qualitative analysis. The case study method is used to define the problem, design the study, collect and analyse relevant data, and report the findings produced through that data. An effective case study will collect, present, and analyse data objectively. In this case, the researcher study will investigate the effects of technology integration in academic instructions that serve students with LD.

For the purposes of the proposed study, the LD students under consideration attend adult education classes at the Career Technology Centre in Falls Church, Virginia. They found it necessary to increase skills in reading, vocabulary, and communication skills. The students receive instruction in typical reading, language, vocabulary development, and communications skills. They will be given the opportunity to use academic software to enhance their studies.

The first group will be evaluated and observed with regards to their daily activities and will be engaged in the standard Adult Basic Education curriculum. The proposed study will make a specific definition of “activities of daily living”. The concept, in the context of the proposed study, is regarded as active and passive conversation. The use of radio, television, newspapers, telephone, as well as the general classroom activities are listed in the standard curriculum for adult education. The listing is mandated by the state council of higher education commission of Virginia.

The second group will be made up of students who elect to use the software packages, such as Look, Listen, and Speak, by Evan-Moor (2006). The application of such software is in conjunction with the aforementioned standard adult education curriculum. Other software packages will include LeapFrog, Read out Loud, Dragon Talk, Write Outloud, and ClassMate Reader.

Data Collection and Analysis

A pre-test of basic skills will be administered on the students enrolled in the adult basic education class for placement in the program. The reading pre-test will identify appropriate placement levels for each student based on the Comprehensive Adult Student Assessment System. The test scores will be ranked on a scale of literacy 0-180, low beginning 181-190, high beginning 191-200, intermediate low 201-210, intermediate high 211-220, and advanced 221-235. Similar pre-testing will be administered for language and vocabulary to measure the student’s advancements and the development of effective instructional plans for each of them.

The participants will be observed and interviewed with respect to their participation in the program and their level of perceived interest. The study will evaluate the rates of academic achievement by students in the two groups. Students in the adult education program who agree to participate will be evaluated using both multiple-choice and objective base test. Twenty students will be randomly selected to participate in an unstructured open-ended interview. Their responses will be recorded in note form with respect to the ways they perceive the value of the ABE training.

The group will be compiled of 10 students from the first group and 10 students from the second group. As suggested by Creswell (2009), basic questions will be asked, starting with their personal observations concerning the course. The sub-questions will determine which activities they found most engaging and beneficial.

Summary

The proposed research undertaking will evaluate the academic achievements of LD students when technology integration is included in their instructional protocol. To this end, the proposed study will seek to determine the effectiveness of educational enhancing technology available to today’s teachers and students. The information will be obtained through student participation in the adult basic education classes, interviews and observations, surveys, pre-testing, and student self-reporting of the perceived value of the academic software. The qualitative research will seek to identify the most academically enriching software packages to be used as interventions or treatments for the purposes of increasing achievement of LD students.

References

Adams, A. (2009). Instructional strategies for studying content area texts in the intermediate grades. Reading Research Quarterly, 18, 27-55.

Anderson, C., Anderson, K., & Cherup, S. (2009). Investment vs. return: Outcomes of special education technology research in literacy for students with mild disabilities. Contemporary Issues in Technology and Teacher Education, 9(3), 337-355.

Anderson, T. (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Edmonton, CA: Athabasca University Press.

Asplund, S. E. (2008). Two technology-enriched inclusion classrooms that promote learning for students with learning disabilities. Humanities and Social Sciences, 68(7-A), 2905.

Bakken, J. P., Rotatori, A. F., & Obiakor, F. E. (2009). Advances in special education: Current issues and trends in special education: Identification assessment and instruction (Vol. 19). Bradford, West Yorkshire, GBR: Emerald Group Publishing, Ltd.

Bauer, J., & Kenton, J. (2009). Toward technology integration in the schools: Why it isn’t happening. Journal of Technology and Teacher Education, 13, 519-546.

Biggam, J. (2008). Succeeding with your master’s dissertation: A practical step-by-step handbook. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Educational, Open University Press.

Clark, R. C., & Mayer, R. E. (2008). E-learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

Cozby, P. C. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approach (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

District of Columbia Public Schools, Washington, D.C. (2009). District of Columbia public schools. Web.

Ellis, C., & Hayes, R. (2009). College preparedness and time of learning disability identification. Journal of Developmental Education, 32(3), 28-38.

Evan-Moor. (2006). Look, listen, and speak software. Web.

Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax, Virginia. (2010). Fairfax County public schools. Web.

Fichten, C. S., Ferraro, V., Asuncion, J. V., Chwojka, C., Barile, M., Nguyen, M. N., & Wolfforth, J. (2009). Disabilities and e-learning problems and solutions: An exploratory study. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 241-256.

Floyd, K. K. (2009). Dissertation abstracts international section A. Humanities and Social Sciences, 70(4-A), 1232. Individuals with Disabilities Education Act Amendments of 1997, Part A, Sec. 602.1.

International Society for Technology in Education. (2008). National educational technology standards for students. Web.

Kim, A., Vaughn, S., Klingner, J. K., Woodruff, A. L., Reutebuch, C. K., & Kouzekanani, K. (2011). Technology and media services for individuals with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 27, 235-249.

Klingner, J. K., Vaughn, S., & Boardman, A. (2010). Teaching reading comprehension to students with learning difficulties. New York: Guilford Press.

Kyei-Blankson, L., & Nur-Awaleh, M. (2010). An examination of faculty effectiveness in technology integration in teaching from students perspectives. The International Journal of Learning, 17(6), 90-97.

Lawless, K., & Smolin, L. (2011). Evaluation across contexts: Evaluating the impact of technology integration professional development partnerships. Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education, 27(3), 134-140.

MacIntyre, G. (2008). Learning disability and social inclusion. Edinburgh, Scotland: Dunedin Academic Press Limited.

Matropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (2010). Advances in learning and behavioral disabilities, literacy and learning. Bradford, West Yorkshire, GBR: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.

Merriam, S. B. (2009). Qualitative research: A guide to design and implementation. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Muijis, D. (2009). Doing quantitative research in education with SPSS. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. (2010). Neurological disorders. Web.

Pellegrino, J., & Quellmalz, E. (2010). Perspectives on the integration of technology and assessment. Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 43(2), 119-134.

Prince George’s County, Maryland Public Schools (2010). Maryland public schools. Web.

Reid, R., & Lienemann, T. (2010). Strategy instruction for students with learning disabilities. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

Roblyer, M. D. (2009). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.

Saba, A. (2009). Benefits of technology integration in education. Boise, ID: Boise State University.

Scott, F. (2010). Effective strategies for tech integrators: Getting teachers onboard. Retrieved from www.iste.org

Thomas, D., & Woods, H. (2008). Working with people with learning disabilities. New York, NY: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

Torchim, W., & Donnelly, J. (2008). The research methods knowledge base (3rd ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

Trotter, A. (2010). Teacher technology standards unveiled at Ed. Computing Conference.

Vermillion, J., & Hannafin, R. (2008). Using technology to promote expression and self-concept. Journal for the Integration of Technology in Education, 5(2), 22-34.

Appendix: Annotated Bibliography

Anderson, T. (2008). The theory and practice of online learning (2nd ed.). Edmonton: Athabasca University Press.

An evaluation on the use of technology, in teaching as an integral component in development of skills for students with learning disabilities, is made. The author concludes that the use of specialized software in skill training provided efficient and timely access to materials being taught. Students benefited significantly from audio-visual, and computer media when compared to conventional instruction. As stated by Anderson (2008), this delivery method of instruction demonstrated flexibility of access and could be used at any time and in any place with the appropriate hardware. Clark and Mayer (2008) present similar findings in their study of online educational instructions.

Asplund, S. E. (2008). Two technology-enriched inclusion classrooms that promote learning for students with learning disabilities. Humanities and Social Sciences, 68(7-A), 2905.

The author investigates the needs of LD students and the methods used by educators to address them. More research is needed to determine how computer-based technology can assist LD students in their education. Research questions involving the selection, integration, and application of technology by teachers to increase academic achievement of this growing population require continued study. Kim et al. (2011) also focused on LD students in remedial settings.

Bakken, J. P., Rotatori, A. F., & Obiakor, F. E. (2009). Advances in Special Education (Volume 19): Current issues and trends in special education: Identification assessment and instruction. Bradford, West Yorkshire, GBR: Emerald Group Publishing Ltd.

Bakken, Obiakor, and Jeffery (2009) found that institutions of learning must make the latest instructional material available to engage fully students in the learning process. They recommended techniques as hands on instruction, user-friendly computer programs, and picture clues for the benefit of LD students. Also, when institutions introduced vocational courses geared toward eventual employment in the service industry, LD students received them well. The students gained valuable information, achieved marketable job skills, and developed a sense of pride in their ability to be involved in technical training at the college level.

Bakken et al. (2009) point out that LD learning has been studied by the fields of education, psychology, medicine, and sociology. Dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia represent key categories of educational learning disabilities. These learning disabilities affect the student’s ability to master academic tasks, including reading, writing, listening, speaking, spelling, and calculating.

Bergeron, B. (2011). Developing serious games (game development series). Hingham, MA: Course Technology.

The author studies how educational games or simulations involve students in decision making in ways that allow them to evaluate the outcomes of their decision making processes. The exploration of new information and technical material can be made more approachable and user-friendly if presented in the form of a game. In the view of Bergeron (2011), lurking within every good game is a general message about how to think and act when confronted with real problems. The games and simulations in educational instruction are designed to engage the active student in problem solving in real life situations. Roblyer (2009) further emphasizes the inclusion of educational games in the instructions of LD students. Students are able to develop high level thinking skills and decision making techniques as they explore the learning process hidden in games and simulations. Clark and Mayer (2008) also study the inclusion of academic games and simulations in instructional methods.

Checkland, P. (2010). Systems thinking, systems practice: Applying systems engineering thinking to management practices. New York, N.Y: John Wiley and Sons.

The study examines how academic programs can best provide quality instructions n today’s changing world. Checkland (2010) argues that courses should be designed according to real-world demand, and with a focus on high quality educational training. The study concludes that institutions must design their curriculum according to the current trends and job market. As stated in Creswell (2009), educational institutions must continue to reinvent them to address the needs of an ever changing society.

Christensen, L., & Johnson, B. (2010). Educational research: Quantitative, qualitative, and mixed approaches. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

In the view of Christensen and Johnson (2010), qualitative research employs a naturalistic approach to finding meaning in real world settings. The researcher seeks to investigate a problem in order to further understanding and suggest ways to improving real world social conditions. This type of research does not depend on mathematical test results alone; however, the credibility of the study depends on research that produces meaningful, portable, and trustworthy work. Christensen & Johnson (2010) further emphasizes terms and conceptual categories associated with the scientific method like credibility, neutrality, verifiability, dependability, applicability and portability to determine the validity and quality of a study. Christensen and Johnson (2010) state that validity in qualitative research depends not only on the instrument used in a study, but also the researcher and his credibility, skills, competence, and rigor as an investigator. As stated in Creswell (2009), the qualitative method performs experiments from which data is collected and evaluated to either verify or contradict a hypothesis. The qualitative approach according to Christensen and Johnson (2010) involves the researcher seeking to examine phenomena for understanding, exploration, and definition from within the context of their everyday states of affairs. The researcher is further able to observe the behaviors, attitudes, and interactions of subjects involved in the study.

Clark, R.C., & Mayer, R.E. (2008). e-Learning and the science of instruction: Proven guidelines for consumers and designers of multimedia learning (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Pfeiffer.

The authors study the impact of e-learning as an innovative method of academic instruction. They examine four critical principles that make the e-learning experience beneficial to students. Clark and Mayer (2008) suggest students should be engaged in practice with instructor feedback, the use of appropriate software with self-study activities for review, adaptive instructions which have the ability to change based on the rate of student comprehension, and the utilization of simulations and games to make the total experience realistic and attainable. These authors viewed the e-learning experience as educational activities to both inform and perform. This delivery method of academic instructions has the ability to seduce and engage the LD students to become involved in the learning process. It can also tutor and instruct the challenged learner in during development of knowledge and skills. Anderson (2008) has also studied the impact of e-learning on today’s educational community.

Conrad, R. M., & Donaldson, J. A. (2011). Engaging the online learner. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

The authors study the readiness of LD students to use and benefit from technology integrations in the classroom. According to Conrad and Donaldson (2011), it is never too early to introduce computer skills, keyboarding, and the use of the Internet. Once these students have acquired computer skills they will experience fewer frustrations and anxieties as they approach the task of learning. Ellis and Hayes (2009) also discuss the relationship between learning disabilities and today’s college students.

Cozby, P. C. (2009). Research design: Qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

The author examines three methods of research design. According to Cozby (2009), qualitative research is based on defining key concepts in relation to the ways the object of study responds to stimuli in a natural setting. Quantitative methods reduce phenomena to numerical values in order to establish and prove a theory. The mixed method approach employs both research designs to verify hypotheses. Cozby (2009) further evaluates the use of theoretical lenses to examine phenomenon from different perspectives. Patton (2002) also emphasizes the importance of selecting the appropriate method of research design.

Creswell, J. W. (2009). Research design. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

The author studies research designs using qualitative, quantitative and mixed method approaches. The constructivist worldview, in the opinion of Creswell (2009), is more often incorporated in qualitative research. The outcomes of situations being studied yield results that are interpreted and so that generalizations may be formed from observable patterns. Such generalizations then become theory and establish social and cultural norms. A constructive approach to technology integration in the instruction of LD students would not necessarily look for increases in achievement but observe the effects of the inclusion of LD students more broadly. The constructivist research design would investigate how the learning process changes with the inclusion of technology in the teaching process.

Ellis, C., & Hayes, R. (2009). College preparedness and time of learning disability identification. Journal of Developmental Education, 32(3), 28-38.

Following from a national survey that shows an increase in the number of students entering college with learning disabilities, Ellis and Hayes (2009) point out that the largest disability group identified among freshman entering college is LD. The study draws on a national survey of 4-year colleges which asked incoming freshman if they had a disability. From the survey, 2.8% of the students self-reported a learning disability. These students arrive on campus with academic issues that cause them to be placed in developmental courses. They also display higher levels of anxiety and a less fully developed repertoire of learning and study strategies. The students increased their ability to engage with and comprehend reading materials upon introduction to technical integrations which made reading and learning come alive for them. Floyd (2009) further evaluated the increase in the number of LD students entering post-secondary education. The author cited the need for more special programs to meet the needs of this increasing population.

Fichten, C. S., Ferraro, V., Asuncion, J. V., Chwojka, C., Barile, M., Nguyen, M. N., & Wolforth, J. (2009). Disabilities and e-learning problems and solutions: An exploratory study. Educational Technology & Society, 12(4), 241-256.

The authors study e-learning problems and solutions reported by 223 students with disabilities, 58 campus disability service providers, 28 professors, and 33 e-learning professionals. These four groups were surveyed concerning problems with accessibility, management systems, digital, audio, video, and flexibility of the online learning courses. Institutions used these findings used to make recommendations and develop new formats for presentation of e-learning courses for LD students. The study parallels the research of Ellis and Hayes (2009) and Floyd (2009) in evaluating the needs of LD students entering college.

Floyd, K. K. (2009). Dissertation abstracts international section A: Humanities and Social Sciences, 70(4-A), 1232.

The author studies the large increase in the numbers of students with disabilities in postsecondary education owing to legislation requiring the accommodation of LD students. Floyd (2009) further emphasizes the ways that the integration of educational technology increases academic achievement. The provision of assistive technology, including both hardware and software integrations, results in marked improvement in the rates of reading comprehension, word attack and recognition test outcomes. This research appears to be further validated by Kim et al. (2011), which demonstrates how technology integration increases academic achievement in LD students.

International Society for Technology in Education (2008). National educational technology standards for student. Web.

The study argues that technology in the classroom should be a used at every level of education today. From the point of view of NETS (2008), teachers, schools, and districts must share an approach that includes technology in teaching and contend that learning is the first step to improvement in the education system. Changes in our society, science, technology and the educational system have all influenced the instructional methods used in today’s schools. Every area of curriculum in today’s educational system includes information technology using computers, software, and interfaces that connect students and classrooms all over the world. Such a system of instruction uses powerful computer systems to research complex problems and guide students to the correct solutions. Computers have the ability to connect to other classes and schools in remote locations and share information using hypermedia and multimedia links.

Kassem, D., Mufti, E., & Robinson, J. (2009). Educational studies: Issues and critical perspectives. Berkshire, EG: Open University Press.

The research examined the effects of national legislation in educational trends. The authors contend that education policy defines and directs the learning goals and objectives of LD students. The policies must insure equal opportunity for all students regardless of disability or academic achievement. They suggest that academic instructions be teacher-centered with technology integration to increase the student’s achievement. The authors study policy not only from the implementation of programs but also the intended or unintended affects and outcomes they have on any given group. Roblyer (2009) shares similar views on the effects of technology integration in the academic process. They argue that this need will only increase with the development of new and improved computers, hardware, and educational software.

Kim, A., Vaughn, S., Klingner, J. K., Woodruff, A. L., Reutebuch, C. K., & Kouzekanani, K. (2011). Technology and media services for individuals with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 27, 235-249.

The authors study the effects of technology integration in the instruction of students with learning disabilities. Kim et al. (2011) find that when students with disabilities related to reading comprehension received interventions that included computer-assisted teaching methods, these students made remarkable advances in reading comprehension. The program used in this study, Computer Assisted Collaborative Strategic Reading, resulted in marked improvement in reading comprehension of students with learning disabilities. Their findings demonstrate gains in students identifying the main idea, relevant questions and responses, and improved scores on standardized reading test such as the Woodcock Reading Mastery Test, Passage Comprehension. The study reported that the majority of the students remarked positively on the experience and believed that their reading had improved. Reid and Lienemann (2010) present similar findings in their study of LD students. The authors examine federal regulations requiring all public special education programs to integrate educational technology in the instructions of students with learning disabilities.

Klingner, J. K., Vaughn, S., & Boardman, A. (2010). Teaching reading comprehension to students with learning difficulties. Guilford Press: New York, NY.

The authors studied methods for teaching reading comprehension to students with learning disabilities. They present specific strategies for teachers to implement as they attempt to increase reading comprehension of LD students. Klingner, Vaughn, and Boardman (2010) examine possible reasons why good readers are able to master the skill of reading comprehension and how they differ from students with limited understanding when presented with written text. They further examine the tools used by educators to evaluate, diagnosis, and plan for intervention for students with reading disabilities. These tools include standardized tests, curriculum-based measurements, informal reading inventories, interviews and questionnaires, observations, retelling, and think-aloud procedures. The authors also explore methods to increase vocabulary learning and demonstrate how this can improve reading comprehension for LD students. Kim et al. (2011) present research confirming the benefits of integration of educational technology in the instruction of LD students.

Lackaye, T. D., & Margalit, M. (2009). Comparisons of achievement, effort, and self-perceptions. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 30, 432-446.

The authors qualitatively examine academic achievement of LD students. In the opinion of Lackaye and Margalit (2009), LD students are expected to work even harder than students without learning disabilities. Teachers, parents and other adults who are involved in the academic process incorrectly view these students as investing minimal effort in studying. Many of these students initially see themselves as hard working, self-confident, and motivated to achieve academically. Such self-perception often changes as they enter higher levels of academic involvement. As stated by Lackaye and Margalit (2009), LD students become less self-confident, less motivated, and influenced by the idea that they are not investing maximum effort in their studies. Students with learning problems experience extreme difficulty in understanding the concept of effort, a concept which proves difficult to define and even harder to measure. Effort is not only invisible but internal and has different meanings to different students. The amount of time and energy one student invests in studying may vary greatly from that of another student. The rate of academic gain in this population continues to fall short when compared to students of similar ages without specific learning disabilities. Floyd (2009) also examined the challenges faced by LD students as they pursue post-secondary education.

MacIntyre, G. (2008). Learning disability and social inclusion. Edinburgh, Scotland: Dunedin Academic Press Limited.

Complexities and critical impact of policy development in providing services to this underserved population are examined. The study further explores the services provided in community, education, employment, health care, and leisure for persons with disabilities. MacIntyre (2008) studies the impact of programs such as on-the-job training, support for employment for persons with disabilities, and how these programs can increase achievement and success in the work place. The study by Thomas and Woods (2008) further demonstrated the social impact of learning disabilities on the life of special education students as they enter the world of work.

Muffatto, M. (2010). Series on technology management, volume 10: Open source: A multidisciplinary approach. London, UK: Imperial College Press.

The author studies the effects of software when integrated in the instructions of students with learning disabilities. Muffatto (2010) is of the view that understanding how software can enhance the teaching process requires that it be viewed in its ability to instruct, permit for the execution of specific activities, and computing results. It is noted that LD students will greatly benefit from this intervention. Such kind of information can be delivered incrementally with the introduction, development, and ultimate mastery of the subject. The information can be provided to learners either via a website or software. Integration of technology in education provides unlimited opportunities for mastery of the subject matter. It increases comprehension and skill development in all areas of the curriculum. Roblyer (2009) studies the integration of educational technology in the academic instruction of students with learning disabilities.

Murray, D., & Aspinall, A. (2011). Getting IT: Using information technology to empower people with communication difficulties. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

The authors study the impact of assistive and educational technology on the academic achievement of persons with learning disabilities. Murray and Aspinall (2011) state that computer permit people to feel safe from the effects of social rejection of LD students. At the computer, the authors contend, people who do not speak have a voice. The study reports how information technology expands the skills and knowledge of persons with disabilities. The acquisition of computer skills changes lives, inspires inclusion into the main stream of life, and empowers persons with disabilities. Muffatto (2010) emphasizes the importance of educational technology in the instruction of LD students.

Muijis, D. (2009). Doing quantitative research in education with SPSS. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications, Inc.

The author explores experimental research design using a case study method. According to Muijs (2009), the control group is usually determined by which settings such as schools, classrooms, or factories have volunteered or been selected to be part of the intervention. When random selection is not a part of the experiment, the researcher must choose a control group that is as similar to the experimental group as possible. Such a group then becomes the comparison group rather than the control group. In quasi-experimental design, the researcher has the responsibility of selecting the groups with as many similarities as possible in order to protect the internal validity of the experiment. Creswell (2009) expands on the many research designs and their implications in the research of phenomena.

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2010). Neurological disorders. Web.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (2010) emphasizes that dyslexia is a brain-based type of learning disability that impairs a person’s ability to read. Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder that impairs one’s ability to write. Persons with this disorder are characterized as having writing that is disconnected, uses inappropriate size and shape of letters, uses misspelled words, and distorts sentence structure. Dyscalculia is a learning disorder that limits one’s ability to understand and perform calculations or arithmetic. Individuals with this learning disability have difficulty understanding place values, number lines, word problems, fractions, handling money, addition, subtraction, dividing, and multiplying. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, and the National Institutes of Health support research for continued study in treatment and interventions for persons with learning disabilities.

Patton, M. Q. (2009). Qualitative research & evaluation methods. Thousand Oaks CA: Sage Publicatons.

The author examines qualitative research and evaluation methods. The researcher is responsible for taking appropriate cautions to protect the confidentiality of both the participants and the integrity of the data being collected in the research process. Trust should be established in the relationship between the participant and the researcher. As stated in Patton (2009), the researcher has the responsibility to be mindful of cultural, religious, gender, and other significant differences within the research participant group. Schram (2009) further discusses the importance of validity and ethics in the research process.

Reid, R., & Lienemann, T. (2010). Strategy instruction for students with learning disabilities. New York, NY: Guilford Press.

The authors investigate the challenges faced by LD students in their pursuit of academic achievement. The LD students are identified as the largest group of at risk students being served in special education. Reid and Lienemann (2010) study how learning disability affects nearly every aspect of the student’s life. The study showed how the learning disabilities slowed the development of academic skills and achievement in this population. Learning disability has been recognized as a disabling condition under federal law in the Individuals with Disability Education Act (IDEA). Kim et al. (2011) reported similar findings in their work on students with learning disabilities.

Roblyer, M. D. (2009). Integrating educational technology into teaching. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc.

The author studies the integration of technology in special education with hands-on approach to teaching students with disabilities. Roblyer (2009) states that when a person is unable to perform an activity in an expected manner, including communication, hearing, moving, manipulating, comprehending, and calculating, this impairment is considered a disability. A hands-on intervention includes the integration of assistive technology in every aspect of special education curriculum. The integration of technology increases opportunities for learning, productivity, and independence for students with disabilities. To increase academic achievement of students with disabilities Roblyer (2009) examined the latest in no-tech, low-tech and high-technology which makes learning possible for these students. Reid and Lienemann (2010) and Kim et al. (2011), both reported similar findings in their work on students with LD.

Saba, A. (2009). Benefits of technology integration in education. Web.

Technology in education is neither novel nor a fad. It is an integral component in today’s standard of instructional methodology. In their view, Saba (2009) insists that technology in education has the ability to not only increase students’ achievement quantitatively, but also to increase the qualitative value of the students work. Students who use computers when learning to write appear to be more engaged and motivated in their writing. They produced work of higher quality and greater length than those who used traditional writing methods. Saba (2009) further states that students with dyslexia improved significantly in their reading ability when computer based remediation programs were used as an instructional method. When students with dyslexia were introduced to the software package “Fast For Word Language,” test scores improved into the normal range of achievement for their grade levels. LD students demonstrated marked improvement in language skill and overall reading performance.

Schram, T. H. (2009). Conceptualizing and proposing qualitative research. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Merrill Prentice Hall.

The author examines qualitative research methods. He gave clear guidelines for establishing validity, ethics, and integrity in a study. They state that the informed consent process for this research project gives the participants the opportunity to decide on the protocol of the investigation. Schram (2009) argues that the informed consent letter should include information concerning the purpose of the investigations and the specific procedures to be used. Detailed information should be given so that the participants will fully understand the research process, and subjects should understand that their participation can be ended without fear of penalty. Shank (2010) further examined techniques to increase validity and ethics in qualitative research.

Shank, G. D. (2010). Qualitative research: A personal skills approach. Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Person Merrill Prentice Hall.

The study explores methods to increase validity in qualitative research approaches. The interactions between the researcher and participant must reach a comfort level of familiarity and trust. This relationship is necessary to give the participant a feeling of engagement and ownership in the process. The nature of interview and conversation requires the researcher to provide leadership and initiation throughout the study. The researcher often has to reveal some background information, and this is usually stated as a personal experience, which should generate an intimate or personal rapport. Shank (2010) suggests that when trust is established, the interviewee will respond with slightly more intimate and personal information. The researcher must keep in mind that his job is to create an environment conducive to full disclosure and not to create opinions or conclusions for the participant. Schram (2009) gives clear guidelines for establishing validity, ethics, and integrity in the area of qualitative research.

The National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities, (2010). Comprehensive assessment and evaluation of students with learning disabilities. New York: National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities.

In the opinion of NJCLD (2010), the Response to Intervention (RTI) as an educational initiative seeks to prevent academic failure through early intervention. The same is in contrast with the traditional means of identifying students with LD, which has been through the discrepancy model. The newer method of LD identification looks at students’ score on both subtest of an IQ evaluation and evaluation of achievement as indicated by the student’s grades, teacher evaluations, and test. The RTI method allows schools to provide interventions as soon as a student presents difficulty in achieving, which avoids the “wait-to-fail” approach that has long been the standard for Special Education referral.

Thomas, D., & Woods, H. (2008). Working with people with learning disabilities. New York, NY: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

The authors study learning disabilities as student teachers in their pursuit of degrees in Social Work. The study investigates practices and experiences in residential, day care, and community based services. Thomas and Woods (2008) defined learning disabilities and the social impact it has on student in their everyday lives. The study further explores practice, oppression, and discrimination against LD students. Kim et al. (2006) research the effects of learning disabilities on the lives of students as they engage in post-secondary education and employment activities.

Torchim, W., & Donnelly, J. (2008). The research methods knowledge base (3rd ed.). Mason, OH: Cengage Learning.

According to Torchim and Donnelly (2008), the random assignment of groups created to test a hypothesis determines the success of any experiment. The groups should be given the appropriate levels of treatment or intervention to prepare for the test or evaluation. When the appropriate amount of treatment has been received under the controlled conditions, the outcomes can be said to represent a valid test of the validity of the hypothesis. In a study to increase academic achievement among LD students and those studying English as a second language, the appropriate level of intervention will result in increased academic achievement. The control groups of students given adequate preparation in terms of skill development, vocabulary enrichment, and reading comprehension activities demonstrated increased preparedness for the testing program. The students in the experimental group who did not receive the appropriate interventions or preparations achieved less than favorable outcomes on the test. Patton (2009) also studies the researcher and his responsibility to be mindful of cultural, religious, gender, and other significant social differences within the research participant group.

Walmsley, J., & Johnson, K. (2008). Inclusive research with people with learning disabilities: Past, present and future. Philadelphia, PA: Jessica Kingsley Publishers.

The authors study methods to increase academic achievement of students with learning disabilities. In the opinion of Walmsley and Johnson (2008), LD students feel disconnected from academic work and view the integration of technology as their chance to bridge a gap in academic achievement. The study focuses on the types of technology integration, the specific hardware and software to be used, and the value associated with each in increasing academic achievement. Kim et al. (2011) also study the impact of educational technology on the academic achievement of students with learning disabilities.

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