Educating teachers about learning disabilities in children

Educating teachers about learning disabilities in children



Educatingteachers about learning disabilities in children

KyreniaO`Neal-BaileyEDCI 569: The Developmentally Appropriate EarlyChildhoodDr. Pollia GriffinNovember 19, 2015

Educatingteachers about learning disabilities in children

Learningdisability in the education sector has an important impact on thelearning environment and learning outcomes. There are severaldefinitions of learning disabilities, which vary from onejurisdiction or discipline to another. However, there are specificdefinitions that have been adopted by authorities in the educationsector. In general, learning disability refers to any condition thathave as impact on the learning process in a student. This conditionhas an influence on the ability of learners to acquire knowledge,organize the acquired information, retain or use the knowledgeacquired. These conditions affect the learning ability of anindividual who could otherwise show average thinking and reasoningabilities (Wong, 2004). This means that learning disabilities,although related, are not the same as intellectual disabilities.Learning disabilities have been associated with impairment of processor processes that are involved in the learning process. For example,processing of language, visual spatial processing, memory process andattention among others are associated with learning disabilities.Learning disabilities are diverse within the learning environment andthe severity varies from one case to another. Additionally, theirimpacts on the learning process vary from one case to another.Although the expression of these disabilities may vary depending onthe stage of development, learning disabilities exist throughout thelife of an individual. The way they are exhibited may vary indifferent stages of life depending on the environment and othercharacteristics of the individual (Wong, 2004).


Therenumerous studies that are related to learning disabilities and theirimpacts on the learning process. These studies are aimed atidentifying the factors that contributes to learning disabilities.Additionally, these studies have played a critical role in developingguidelines and interventions for educators dealing with children withdisability at different stages of learning (Bourke, 2000). Studiessuggest that learning disabilities can be attributed to geneticfactors as well as neurological factors such as brain damage, or acombination of both factors. These factors have an impact on thefunctioning of the brain and processes that are critical in thelearning process. Additionally, it is important to note that majorityof factors that have a direct contribution to learning disabilitiesare not primarily attributed to hearing and vision disabilities. Theyare also not related to social and economic factors, differences inlinguistic and cultural backgrounds, learning motivation factors, andinadequate instructions as well as factors related to the learningenvironment. However, it is important to note that although thesefactors may not have an impact on the existence of learningdisabilities, they can significantly complicate the challenged andthus impending learning among individuals with learning disabilities.For example, a learner with learning disability is more likely to beaffected by poor instructions or hearing disability thus lowerlearning outcome. It is also important to note that learningdisability can exist together with other conditions that havesignificant impacts on the learning process, for example sensorydisorders as well as behavioral and attention disorders (Wong, 2004).

Ofincreased importance in modern studies on learning disability istheir impact on the learning outcomes and how teachers can deal withthe challenge to increase learning outcomes. Learning disabilityinterferes with the intellectual potentials of a learner and thus hislife potentials. This is because learning disabilities are associatedwith underachievement in academic work. Despite the complexity oflearning disability, it is largely influenced by the stereotypicalperception associated with the learning process such letterreversals. Usually, learning disabilities in children can not bedetected until the child begins formal schooling. This is because thelearning disability can not be displayed until when the learnerattempts a task that challenge the cognitive processing functionsaffected by the disability (Bourke, 2000).

Despiteits impacts on learning outcomes, majority of children with learningdisability can and should attend regular classrooms. The regularclassroom is designed to accommodate learners with diverse learningneeds. However, although it is appropriate for some of theselearners, not all learners with learning disabilities can beaccommodated in a regular classroom. Nine out of ten learners withlearning disabilities are schooled in the regular classrooms. Ifthese learners are provided with appropriate support that recognizestheir special needs within the normal learning environment, theselearners can develop social skills and self esteem in addition toacademic achievements. The regular classroom is the first educationaloption for learners with learning disabilities. However, thepresence of special needs learners in the classroom should besupported by all the facilities and resources necessary to provideappropriate learning for disabled learners (Ford, 2013).


Studentswith learning disability are major challenge in the modern educationsystem. This is because it significantly affects the learningprocesses and thus the learning outcome of the student. Majority ofthese learners are schooled in regular classrooms. It is critical forteachers to be able to identify these special need students anddevelop teaching strategies that takes care of the special needs ofthese students.


Open ended questions were used in the survey. Teachers from randomlyselected schools in the district were required to fill a teacher’ssurvey on their experience of students with learning disabilities.The questions in the survey were guided by the rationale and aims ofthe study. Some of the issues that the survey intended to indentifyinclude the observations teachers are able to make on students withlearning disabilities, how they accommodate these learners in thenormal classrooms , additional time and resources required by theselearners and how their interventions impacts on the learning outcomesin these learners. The survey questions will be sent to therespective teachers electronically, where there will fell thetemplate and send it back to the researcher. Diversity of teachersand the learning environment was considered in the selection ofteachers in the survey. There are several reasons that make teacherssurvey an appropriate method in this study. Teachers are in the bestposition to identify the challenges that faces students with learningdisability. Every student has unique challenge which requires uniqueintervention from the teacher. On the other hand, teachers use a widerange of interventions to increase the learning outcome. The mainadvantage of using a survey in the study included increased number ofrepresentatives representing the teacher’s population, reduced costof the study, more significant findings, less subjective andincreased convenience. However, it is not ideal for controversialissues and reduces the flexibility of the study.


Outof all the teachers contacted in the survey, 98 percent responded tothe survey. The survey indicated teachers experience learningdisabilities in all learning environments. Additionally, teacherswere able to identify several symptoms that characterize learningdisabilities in children. Some of the most common characteristics oflearning disabilities in children identified by teachers include theaffected learners being less engaged in classroom tasks, lack ofconfidence in learning abilities, unwillingness to engage in riskylearning activities, difficulties in coping with multipleinstructions, undeveloped work habits and organization of thoughts,frustrations and discouragement when dealing with challenging tasks.Majority of teachers stated that they always make initiative increating an inclusive learning environment that takes care of theneeds of the special learners. Based on the survey, generally, moreexperienced teachers exhibited greater abilities in identifyingstudents with learning disabilities and adopting appropriatestrategies.


Teacherscan easily identify individuals with learning disabilities in theirclassrooms. Also, there is evidence of initiatives from teachers aswell as learning institutions in the education system to accommodatelearners with learning disabilities in the regular classroom. As aresult, majority of learners are able to achieve significanteducational outcome in the normal classrooms. This is influenced bythe learner’s factors, teacher’s factors as well as institutionalfactors. The severity of the learner’s disability has a huge impacton the ability of a normal classroom to accommodate him or her. Onthe other hand, the ability of the teacher to handle learners withdiverse learning abilities can also influence learning outcome inspecial need learners. The foundations of inclusive learning providedby the learning institution have a huge influence on the learningoutcomes among learners with learning disabilities.

However,based on the high number of learners with disabilities in theeducation system, there is a need for more interventions. This isbecause even in cases where are well organized and developedinclusive programs in the normal classroom, teachers in a regularclassroom are faced with several challenges when dealing with specialneeds students. This is especially because of the special needdirectly impacts on the core of the education system. This studyrecommends an increased collaboration between teachers in a normalclassroom and special education teachers on a more regular basis.Although majority of these learners do not require special education,the corroboration of normal classroom teachers and special educationteachers with shed more light on the most appropriate approaches tolearning disabilities (Scorgie et al, 2010). Co-teaching is one ofthe most common approaches to inclusive learning programs.Co-teaching can occur with the help of a special education teacher,although it mainly occurs without a special teacher. It enables boththe general teacher and the special education teacher to worktogether in supporting students with learning disabilities. Forexample, a “one teach one assist” co-teaching model isrecommended for classrooms with higher severity of learningdisability. As one teacher teaches, the second teacher can providesupport where necessary. This model does not require a specialeducation teacher and benefits all students, those with learningdisabilities as well as normal students resulting into improvedoutcomes (Ford, 2013). Other models of co-teaching include stationteaching, parallel teaching, team teaching and alternative teaching.In addition to co-teaching, there are other programs that can supportstudents with learning disabilities. For example, differentialinstruction can be used in where students with learning disability ina normal classroom are provided with learning materials and methodsthat match their special needs. Peer mediated instruction andintervention where faster learning students assume the role ofinstructors in the normal class can also improve learning outcomesamong student with learning disability (Ford, 2013).


Bourke,A. B., Strehorn, K. C., &amp Silver, P. (2000). “Faculty Members’Provision of Instructional Accommodations to Students with LD”.Journalof Learning Disabilities,33(1), 26-32.

Ford,J. (2013). “Educating students with learning disabilities ininclusive classrooms”, Electronicjournal for inclusive education,3(1), p 1-21.

Scorgie,K., Kildal, L., &amp Wilgosh, L. (2010). “Post-Secondary Studentswith Disabilities: Issues Related to Empowerment andSelf-Determination”. DevelopmentalDisabilities Bulletin,38(2010), 133-145.

Wong,B. (2004). Learning about learning disabilities, San Diego: ElsevierAcademic Press.