According to the Association of Higher Education and Disability (AHEAD), a learning disability is the condition that affects the manner in which the student of average or above average intellectual aptitude acquires, retains, and expresses knowledge/information. AHEAD considers SLDs as deficient in either all, one, or a combination of oral expression, comprehension reading, listening, writing, mathematical calculation, general problem solving, basic problem solving, or logic areas. SLDs may also have trouble sustaining attentiveness, cultivating social skills, or managing time (Davis, n.d).
Since effective learning is a function of the student’s ability to deal with the above issues, it becomes imperative to develop a deeper understanding that would aid the teacher in developing strategies that would facilitate effective delivery of knowledge. This is particularly important since SLDs require more accommodation than other students. Therefore, in order to provide for effective learning, the teacher should respond creatively and knowledgeably to specific student’s needs. It is also important to note that SLDs demand more teacher’s attention. Some of such students may suffer from the inability to combine two learning tasks, such as listening and writing; they may be unable to recall effectively, lose focus in classrooms, or struggle in relating different pieces of knowledge that build upon each other (Hallahan et al., 2001).
This paper opines that teacher interventions in teaching that are specifically tailored for the SLDs would enhance learning outcomes. This proposition follows previous research in the area of learning disability and brain functioning, which indicates that SLDs are normally above average in intelligence. According to research, what they require is accommodation in learning, a change of teaching approaches, and use of alternative knowledge delivery strategies. Hallahan et al. (2001) report a study involving SLDs of Iowa who had IQ scores of as high as 110 with 90% scoring above 80. This study indicates that teacher intervention occurs in two areas; one involves explicit instructions in which the teacher intervenes in a manner that enhances the content learnt through better directions. This approach may extend focus into interventions on learning strategy. These strategies are mostly on regulation, cognitive and meta-cognitive approach modification. The second form of intervention pertains to the above elements. This combination, known as eclectic approach, meets SLDs’ needs on a wide spectrum base (Hallahan et al., 2001).
With regards to the nature of intervention, teacher must innovatively intervene into SLD learning process through introducing novel learning methods. According to the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), learning is an active process involving the interactions between the learner and the material (ERIC, 1997). The learner is able to obtain and retain information through complex interactions of individual abilities, beliefs, and expert guidance, among others. Teachers must intervene to create opportunities through which SLDs can practice with the information, apply it, and receive feedback. In this process, innovativeness in approaching a particular student is imperative, since each student’s learning process is a function of personal abilities, ideas, beliefs, attitudes, and previously acquired knowledge (Davis, n.d). In attending to these divergent needs, intervention must involve creativity (American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and RMC Research Corporation, 2006).
Teacher intervention into teaching SLDs how to learn is very complex but effective. The reason being, it underscores the need for student specific intervention and also cuts across eclectic and explicit instructions. SLDs often have a wide spectrum of issues that affect their performance. It may involve how they view themselves, which calls for a psychologically driven intervention within the class context (Hallahan et al., 2001). Teacher guidance in cognitive and meta-cognitive strategies will be effective. However, the wide spectrum of meta-cognitive strategies is likely to call for more dedication. They are useful to a student when he wants to plan, monitor and evaluate leaning; however, they require more accommodation and teacher-student relationship (Purdie et al., 2005).
Thus, this paper proposes to conduct an intensive study proving that teacher intervention in teaching SLDs is critical. It goes on to propose that such teacher interventions should be based on empirical and theoretical evidence; however, it must be achieved particularly through innovative approaches, since every SDL has a unique need that would require modification of universal approaches.
1.1 Study Hypothesis
Effective teacher intervention in teaching SLDs through innovation and specialized classroom approaches is effective in enhancing positive educational outcomes and student performance. This is because most of the students are of good mental aptitude and the teacher’s role is fundamental (Hallahan et al., 2001). Teacher intervention is effective because it accommodates the special needs of a SLD and thus enhances his/her chances of success. Teacher innovation, on the other hand, within the confines of educational ethics and class practice, is fundamental in meeting the specialized needs of individual students. The reason being, SLDs do not have difficulties that manifest in a universal manner, neither do they face a usual combination of deficiencies.
1.2 Research Questions
What constitutes effective classroom practice?
What critical aspects should a teacher teaching SLDs know?
How does appropriate teacher planning and assessment of SLDs affect their performance and learning outcomes?
How do SLDs respond to specialized attention and interventions in performance?
1.3 Significance of the Study
Given the diverse areas in which SLDs could be deficient and the reality that a learning disability manifests itself differently in different students, the findings of this research paper would be invaluable to the entire teaching fraternity. It must be understood that effective classroom practices can only be achieved on the occasion that a teacher is able to understand both the content and the learner. This paper underscores the need for teacher intervention in teaching students with learning disability. Thereby, the knowledge is acquired through instructions, while the effectiveness of the instructions is assessed through results. Thus, the teacher’s preparation of instruction and assessment of SLDs should incorporate the insights of SLDs’ specific needs. This study builds upon a reservoir of knowledge from which teachers can draw such insights.
In addition to the effective delivery of instructions, the findings of this study will extend into offering knowledge on how a comprehensive curriculum that meets the needs of all students can be developed. The education system still lacks an all-inclusive curriculum that meets the needs of all students and is at par for all. Thus, the multi-method approaches that this paper proposes, as well as the guidance on teacher’s innovation in a classroom, will still be applicable to other students. This means that they can be incorporated into developing an entire curriculum without distinction among groups. Lastly, the findings of this research will raise new questions; some of these questions will pertain to the effectiveness of the interventions proposed or their applicability, the limits of teacher innovation, and the rationale for having a curriculum that caters for the needs of all, among others. Thus, the paper will propose further research involving long-period observation of the impact and effectiveness of the intervention employed.
1.4 Interview of Education Professionals
This paper proposes to interview the school administrators/ heads and a district education officer in charge of children with learning disability. The rationale behind interviewing the school head is to assess the number of SLDs in the school, the existence of teacher intervention, and the documented effects of performance. On the other hand, the district officer in charge of children with disability may offer a wide spectrum of administrative responses about intervention. He will also offer a chance for comparing different schools performance after the intervention within a particular area of his coverage. The analysis of different schools’ interventions and the overall comparison between schools, as well as the district level approach, will guide the research into some critical findings, especially in the area of a common curriculum.