The central debate pertaining to students with learning disabilities is not limited to their needs; rather, this discussion extends to issues of how best the education sector can teach the students. Prominent in the ‘how best dialogue’ is the pullout or inclusive approach to the SLDs. The pullout side proposes educating students with special needs together with normally able students, which will deprive the students of the appropriate approaches tailored for their sake. They contend that this amounts to taking away the merit of requiring special attention; the majority of the ‘pullout’ proponents interpret the Individuals with Disabilities Act, among others, as restricting the conclusion that a particular situation is appropriate for all students.
On the other hand, ‘inclusion’ proponents opine that legally, any student has a right to receive educational guidance in the age-appropriate settings amongst their peers. In light of these arguments and with regard to other contentions, Rea et al. (2002) examines how best middle school students perform under the different approaches of ‘pullout’ and ‘inclusion’. The researcher took a sample of 58 students with learning disabilities. These SLDs were distributed between two schools; 36 students who had received special education for SLDs for over 2 years in Enterprise Middle School were under a general/inclusive program in receiving special education. The other 22 students who had also benefitted from special education for over 2 years in Voyager Middle school were under a ‘pullout’ program.
The researchers reviewed the differences in service delivery of the two models in the areas of the amount of teacher consultation, area of skill addressed in class, number of students in the general and pullout models, intensity of service delivered, among others. They found out that, within Enterprise Middle school’s inclusive model, their teachers co-taught four times in a day, collaborated in planning and set time for consultation with general education teachers. The team planning and consultation between them involved issues of formats of presentation, planning academic content, evaluation of approaches and planning of activities. Teaching was either together (interactive), by shifts, parallel and then the groups were exchanged or one taught and the other monitored progress.
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On the part of Voyager Middle school, the researchers observed that the school had four qualified special education teachers. Their roles were not inclusive in mainstream teaching, and neither were they consulted. SLDs attended classes with general educators and only met the special education teachers at a specific time; this time was not set, but students had to forfeit an elective to attend the ‘pullout’ session. The special education teachers were not seen as an integral part of the teaching staff but as paraprofessionals, and their assistance was circumstantial in aiding SLDs to complete assignments given by the general education teachers.
The researchers presented their results on students’ outcomes through measuring performance in behavior, academic achievements and school attendance. They found out that students from Enterprise Middle school performed better than Voyager Middle school students in all the areas. Thus, the results indicate that students in the inclusive system perform better than students in the pullout programs in major grades of science, language arts, mathematics and social studies.
The study relates to the usefulness of a different approach models to a student’s needs and the efficacy of the intervention method chosen. The results by Rea et al. (2002) on the high academic performance at Enterprise strongly indicate that development of a standard school curriculum that focuses on inclusion is within SLDs abilities. This is because they perform better than when left in pullout programs. It also indicates that an intervention for SLDs offers adequate support; it enables achievement and maintenance of acceptable standards of performance. The results emphasize a need for teacher intervention in a manner that balances the needs of all the students. In addition, it dispenses with the argument that a small group approach (pullout) is more effective. The findings of the study have long term implications on higher learning and employment of SLDs. It indicates that interventions catered for within the general and inclusive curriculum will foster confidence, academic achievement, lower drop out and better social skills.
Validity of Approach
This study offers highly valid results since it is based on empirical data. The approach to the data is particularly valid due to the intense statistical comparison between the two schools; the researchers set a high standard on inclusion criteria and proved through chi and t distribution tests that the data was comparable with few disparities. However, the validity of the results suffers a major shortcoming in terms of time. The researchers made use of data collected consistently between 1994 and 1996. However, there has been a major change of approaches towards students with a learning disability. Thus, the results may be out of phase with current assessment approaches. In addition, the aspect of inclusion discussed under this paper focused on a sample size of 58 students, which is relatively big but should be made bigger in later studies. Rea et al. (2002) offer insights on the effects of inclusion or pullout on outcomes; however, this is in a narrow spectrum of two schools adopting differing policies. Thus, there is the limitation of applicability in a large scale context (national).
Prevalence of Learning Disabilities in Primary Schools and the Emotional Problems Therein
This study conducted by Dilshad (2006) is based on the understanding that students with learning disabilities are on the increase, yet it attempts to address the problem that fails to meet the students’ needs on all levels. He contends that LDs is often a shallow indicator of other learning issues that need attention. Since emotional issues attached to a child’s educational development might mask the disabilities he/she experiences, Dilshad (2006) argues that there is an immense need to understand SLDs on a wide scale approach. His study sought to find out the prevalence of SLDs, the etiological factors that affect their learning, emotional problems faced by SLDs and the academic achievement of these students. The study involved Indian pupils in classes 3 and 4 in Dharwad city; it was comprised of 12 divisions, 10 schools offering English and a total of 198 students. The researcher made use of academic data to monitor academic performance, administered questionnaires to parents of SLDs, developed an emotional scale for the emotional observation and used a Socio-Economic status scale to measure other factors affecting learning.
The results of the research after comparing SLDs with normal able students revealed that the prevalence of SLDs was high at 17-20% in the district; SLDs had more writing errors compared to the rest, and boys were affected more than girls; etiological factors affecting learning of SLDs were related to changes in the medium of instruction, nature of child’s activities, crowding in classrooms, among others. The study showed that factors such as years spent in pre-school had no effect. Concerning emotional problems of SLDs, the results indicated that SLDs showed higher prevalence of emotional issues such as aggression; again, the extent of emotional was gender specific with boys being worst affected. Lastly, SLDs performed much lower academic rate in comparison to other able students especially in writing.
The results by Dilshad (2006) indicate a need for collective responsibility of education stakeholders in aiding SLDs. The results are particularly important in understanding the gender specific nature of some aspects that affect SLDs and thus develop an effective approach. The emotional needs should be understood as being inter-twined to learning needs and outcomes since teachers and parents might focus on a child’s behavior and forget their actual needs. This is because the emotional instability in SLD boys such as aggression, fighting, among others, might be conspicuously noted leading to focus on a child’s personality without regards to the LD shaping such a response.
In addition to the results of this study on different emotional needs of SLDs and thus, a different teacher and parental approach, the study offers vast contribution in the area of etiological factors affecting SLDs. The results on the effects of changing the medium of instruction indicate a need for developing a suitable instruction model that allows teacher-parent participation. The study also indicates a need of focus on SLDs performance in spelling and wring, which is rarely insisted on. Its results, inductively, indicate that a focus on this area is merited since it is more difficult to remedy at later stages; as the results indicate, SLDs had writing and spelling errors in class 5, a relatively advanced level of learning.
Validity of the Results
A wide percentage of the results presented by Dilshad (2006) study are valid since they are based on elaborate statistical models and sources. The results are more appealing due to their wide scope coverage of the learning disability issue. However, there is the fear of subjectivity especially on the area of data obtained through questionnaires filled by SLDs parents. There is also a shortcoming within the approach towards student’s emotional needs since it was based on a short period observation, a teacher’s appraisal and awarding of a student’s score in the emotional scale. This approach may not appropriately capture various shapers of emotional orientation and is also prone to subjectivity and value judgments.
Self Determination in SLDs Life Outcomes
While a lot of studies on the need for intervention in SLDs abound, there is scanty of information on the effects of these interventions on later life outcomes. In line with the concept of self determination, Wehmeyer and Schwartz (1997) conducted a research of adult outcomes of 80 early SLDs in Texas, Virginia, Alabama and Connecticut states. The researchers used surveys and interviews on collection of self-determination data to inform after school outcomes of these ex-students who graduated in 1994-95. In face to face interviews with the ex-students, the researchers found out that those who rated highly as self-determined had better after-school achievements such as paying bills, mortgages among others. The results from surveys filled by parents or an ex-student’s teacher indicated that adult outcomes were also better for self-determined ex-SLDs (Fowler, 2002).
These results indicate that there is a vast need for intervention on SLDs that focus on acquisition of knowledge that fosters self-determination. This is because self determined individuals utilized knowledge and skills in a manner aiming at optimizing their potential. The study results imply a need for an approach that teaches SLDs enduring skills that they will carry out of the schools system and thus, better education outcomes.
Validity of Approach and Results
The results and approach by Wehmeyer and Schwartz (1997 is highly valid in many scales since it deals with mature respondents and observable aspects of outcomes. However, its approach of self-determination which was based on self reporting of the ex-student is highly subjective. On the other hand, the study asserts its validity because, despite using parents or teachers to fill the surveys, it reports observable and measurable aspects such as employment or unemployment of the ex-student (SLD).
Sample Characteristics of the Proposed Paper
The sample to be used in the proposed research on the need for teacher intervention will be based on a more recent cohort groups. This would aid in capturing the events, new approaches and knowledge in the area of SLDs that many studies in the area fail to capture. In assessing what comprises an effective classroom intervention (as per the research question) and thus answering on what intervention model to adopt, the sample population will be fairly large. This will be important in capturing the learning outcomes of broader scale ‘inclusion’ or ‘pullout’ approach hence offering results that can be applied in a wide spectrum development of one curriculum for all (Gray, 1994).
The sample proposed for the research will also entail extensive use of empirical data; however, it is likely to have some variables that will require value judgment. To mitigate for bias and subjectivity, the sample will be composed in such a way that it will capture a wide range of observable details. In addition, the researcher will create elaborate procedures that will counter check the values attached to value judgment (Fowler, 2002).
Since previous researches have opined on the importance of teacher planning and effective classroom practice, the sample selected in the proposed research will endeavor to capture issues that deal with instruction mediums, length of teacher-student interaction, nature of activities SLDs involve in (within and without the school system), among others. The sample, in a bid to develop a sufficient answer that can offer guidance on the school curriculum, will involve different players in the education sector. It will involve teachers, students, parents, administrators, ministry officials, text book publishers, among other relevant stakeholders. The sample will also endeavor to capture after school aspects of SLDs in order to ascertain the effectiveness of intervention and skills imparted to the students on his later life outcomes (Gray, 1994).
Challenges in Sample Population
A major challenge in collecting a sample population with regard to SLDs and teacher interventions pertain to the sensitivity of the issue to the students and the teachers. It is clear that some results obtained, or some questions asked might reflect the failures, errors or omission of a teacher, administrator, principal or any other stakeholder; this might lead to lack of participation in the view and thus few samples. In addition, collecting a sample in attempts to know an effective classroom practice might appear like an assessment of a teacher’s performance; this might also lead to lack of participation or untruthfulness.
In addition to the respondents’ issues, the researcher is likely to face challenges in obtaining a sample that is comparable on many dimensions. Due to the lack of uniformity in the intervening for SLDs and the researcher’s endeavor to have a wide scope study, he might have sets of data that are fundamentally different in characteristics. The challenge will be to access fundamentally same sets of data in diverse locations (Gray, 1994).
To mitigate for this problem, the researcher will be professionally clear on the aims of the research. The researcher will make it clear that the respondent’s role in a sample is not an assessment but a role in improving the general approaches to SLDs. The researcher will also create a good rapport with his respondents to foster trust, offer a good access to honest responses and a wide range sample. To mitigate for the difference in data issues, the researcher will base his sample and approach his study on a fundamental basis that hold true in differing environments.
Advantages and Limitations of Survey Research
Survey researches are highly preferred by many researchers due to their advantages of a better description of the respondent population; this is because they allow huge participation in answering surveys hence a high capacity of representation. In addition, research surveys enable elimination of a researcher’s bias; they offer uniform questions and thus, equal stimuli. Subjectivity is, therefore, minimized and reliability enhanced. However, these surveys suffer major shortcomings in covering controversial issues; surveys may accurately capture some truths. Additionally, surveys also suffer from design inflexibility. The fixity in collecting data may be difficult tp modify in case new information requires such a modification (Gray, 1994).
Ethical Issue in Survey Research
A major ethical issue in survey research involves the sensitivity of the respondents and the information sought for. This proposal is specifically predisposed to such ethical issues since it will involve respondents who are teachers and the information they give is sensitive to their professions and employment. It will also involve students who may be minors; these are sensitive to information and may feel pressured to respond. In mitigating for these shortfalls, the researcher will observe confidentiality of any information obtained from the teachers or students. He will also be careful to the information he asks from minor SLDs or exposes to them (Fowler, 2002).
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