PSYC 389/589: Learning Disabilities: Issues and Interventions Report a Broken Link

This course is designed to increase awareness of learning disabilities from a number of viewpoints and theoretical perspectives. While the course emphasizes understanding the issues surrounding the field of learning disabilities, it also examines the assessment and remediation of learning and behaviour problems. Topics range from legislation pertaining to learning disabilities to providing services to individuals with learning disabilities.

Supplementary Readings

Unit 1

Basic Concepts
The article uses question/answer format to describe the etiology, characteristics, prognosis, and identification processes of learning disabilities. It provides useful checklists for identifying learning disabilities in students at the pre-school, elementary, and adolescence and adult levels. The Teaching LD home page is found at
Dudley-Marling critiques the current understanding and acceptance of learning disabilities that situates individual success and failure in the minds of individuals. He introduces social constructivism as an alternative perspective that locates learning and learning problems within the context of human relations and activity. Examples illustrate how performance aspects of learning disabilities emerge within the context of human relationships.
The authors respond to the current focus on the effects of the social construction of learning disabilities on families of children from devalued racial and ethnic groups. They argue that many culturally diverse families are disenfranchised from the discussions of learning disabilities.
Describes learning disabilities and provides links to other useful resources on the topic, including assessment protocol, articles, and tips for parents. The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario home page is found at
Adopts a research-based, national definition of learning disabilities to describe the cognitive and behavioral manifestations of learning disabilities that occur over time and across environments.

Unit 2

Causes of Learning Disabilities
Summarizes what is currently known about learning disabilities based on research.
Discusses the significance of neurological science and reading research to the improvement of reading instruction.
Describes the research findings on the neurological basis of learning disabilities.

Unit 3

Eligibility for Special Education Services
Describes the processes for developing Individualized Program Plans for
students who have learning disabilities. Also describes strategies for involving parents. The Alberta Learning home page is found at
Describes the key components of educational programming for students who have learning disabilities, including collaboration, parental involvement, identification and assessment processes, individualized program plans, accommodations, and instruction. The Alberta Learning home page is found at
Outlines the requirements for school boards regarding the delivery of
educational programming and services to students with special education
needs. These requirements are organized into four areas: access,
appropriateness, accountability, and appeals. The Alberta Learning
home page is found at
Traces the trend in the United States toward greater integration of students with disabilities into general education from its origins in mainstreaming to the present call for full inclusion. Discussion focuses on the ideological nature of the debate about full inclusion, which, Kavale asserts, ignores research evidence and makes a more rational and incremental approach to integration difficult to achieve.
Case report of a 7-year-old boy with learning disabilities.

Unit 4

Parents and Families
Offers information and strategies for parents of children with special needs who want to be meaningfully involved in their children’s education. The Alberta Learning home page is found at
Reviews and synthesizes quantitative and qualitative research evidence with regard to the family-centeredness of early intervention, preschool, and elementary and secondary school practices.
Introduces issues relating to research on family involvement in special education.
Outlines risks to children associated with their parents’ difficulty in accessing appropriate antenatal care and the risks of developmental delay arising from both genetic and environmental influences.
Report of a study revealing that the process of assessing children for learning disabilities contributed little to parents’ understanding of their child’s learning needs. Discusses a family-centred approach to assessment.

Unit 5

Prevention and Intervention in Early Childhood
Describes issues topical to early childhood education, including developmentally appropriate practices, placement practices, transition to other placements, assessment practices, and cultural and linguistic diversity. The LD Online home page is found at
As early childhood education moves front and center in the public policy debate, more attention is being paid to early literacy. Early childhood professionals have long recognized the importance of language and literacy in preparing children to succeed in school.
Describes six stages of assessing young children for learning difficulties. The LD Online home page is found at
Checklists of student characteristics within the following domains: general functioning and social-emotional development, speech-language development, and sensory-motor development. The LD Online home page is found at

Unit 6

Transition Programming in Adolescence and Adulthood
Discusses the use of an academic intervention that was effective in enhancing the academic performance of middle and high school students with learning disabilities.
Presents a model for integrating transition planning into the IEP process, focusing on developing quality student-centred strategic plans. Describes strategies for developing effective transition planning practices, following effective processes, and creating efficient and effective IEPs.
Describes a summer work program in which students with and without disabilities work together. The authors share their perspectives about the experience through the voices of the participants and offer thoughts to stakeholders in community-based projects for individuals with disabilities.
Describes how various technologies can be implemented effectively in the transition to post-secondary education for students with learning disabilities.
Practical advice for students who have learning disabilities and who are transitioning to a college setting.
Discusses the importance of connecting outcomes, goals, and objectives when planning transition from school to post-school life for students with disabilities.

Unit 7

Social, Emotional, and Behavioral Problems
Discusses the impact of LD definitions on policy and practice, the prevalence of social-emotional deficits among youth with LD, relevant social-emotional terms, and the rationale for teaching social-emotional skills.
Discusses the current status and future directions of behavioral interventions used in schools. Presents four themes that are considered critical for future research and practice in school-based behavioral intervention work. Also discusses functional behavioral assessments.
Examines ways in which students with learning disabilities process social information. Discusses implications for practice and future research.
Evaluates structured training approaches that are designed to enhance the social functioning of individuals with learning disabilities.
Explores the social adjustment and functioning of students with learning disabilities in inclusive classrooms. The LD Online home page is found at

Unit 8

Cognition, Metacognition, and Memory
in Students with Learning Disabilities
Presents various perspectives on cognitive and learning styles. Includes discussion of individuals’ psychological characteristics, learning styles and learning preferences, and the relationship between students’ cognitive processes and their learning strategies.
Report of one school district’s implementation of a brain-based instructional plan to help students learn how to read, write, and spell.

Unit 9

Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder
The author describes his experiences as a person who has AD/HD. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association home page is found at
Richardson addresses the use and misuse of stimulant medication to treat AD/HD. The Attention Deficit Disorder Association home page is found at
A case report of a nine-year-old girl with educational underachievement and behaviours that suggest an inattentive form of AD/HD.

Unit 10

Educational Approaches
Compares current understanding of cognitive development with previous knowledge gained from psychologists such as Piaget and Vygtosky.

Unit 11

Students who Experience Difficulties with Spoken Language
No online supplementary materials designated for Unit 11. Please refer to the Mercer and Mercer (2005) and the Winzer (2005) materials referenced in the “Print and Video Supplementary Materials” list found in the online course materials.

Unit 12

Students who Experience Difficulties with Reading
Presents research-based practices for teaching decoding and fluency to students who continue to struggle with basic reading skills.
The authors advocate for instructional reform based on collaboration among researchers, educational practitioners, teacher educators, and policymakers, with the common goal of improving outcomes for students who might otherwise experience reading failure.
A comprehensive synthesis of reading research on how children learn to read, why some children and adults have trouble learning to read, and how we can help children learn to read. The National Center for Learning Disabilities home page is found at
This report synthesizes research findings on teaching children to read. The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development home page is found at
Presents research findings on learning to read and recommends instructional practices known to be effective with a focus on Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3. The Ontario Ministry of Education home page is found at
Addresses phonological skills in reading using a question/answer format. The Teaching LD home page is found at
Describes our current understanding of the nature of reading and reading difficulties and their implications for the classroom teacher.

Unit 13

Students Who Experience Difficulties with Writing
An excellent case study of Ashley, a fourth-grade student who struggles with writing. The All Kinds of Minds home page is found at
An excellent case study of Jeff, a tenth-grade student who struggles with writing. The All Kinds of Minds home page is found at
An excellent case study of Simone, a sixth-grade student who struggles with writing. The All Kinds of Minds home page is found at
This report synthesizes the research on expressive writing. The National Center for Learning Disabilities home page is found at
Describes a variety of instructional strategies for supporting students who struggle with the kinesthetic process of writing. The LD Online home page is found at
Describes a variety of instructional strategies that can be implemented to support students who are struggling with the writing process. The LD Online home page is found at
Report on a study comparing the speed and legibility of handwriting produced by children exposed to either traditional instruction or whole-language instruction in an attempt to determine whether children who received traditional, intensive classroom instruction in handwriting produce more legible and faster handwriting. The major findings showed that the student who received traditional instruction produced more legible handwriting than did those who received whole-language instruction, Further, students who received traditional instruction were able to write significantly more words under time pressure, and the differences between the groups did not diminish with increased grade and age. The report also discusses the practical implications of the results.

Unit 14

Students who Experience Difficulties with Mathematics
Discusses the incidence and assessment of mathematical disabilities, and describes the characteristics of students who have mathematical disabilities. The LD Online home page is found at
Reviews the mathematical competencies of children who have some form of memory or cognitive deficit that interferes with their ability to learn concepts or procedures in one or more mathematical domains. Discusses underlying memory and cognitive deficits.
Introduces different perspectives on mathematics and learning disabilities.
Note: This is a large file. Summarizes research on the development of mathematics understanding and skill as well as effective instructional strategies with a focus on Junior Kindergarten to Grade 3. The Ontario Ministry of Education home page is found at
Report on the implementation of a research-based practice using self-instruction in an inclusive classroom with students with learning disabilities and students for whom English was a second language.
Describes mathematical learning disabilities, and assessment and intervention approaches and strategies. The Learning Disabilities Association of Ontario home page is found at

Unit 15

Participation in General Education Classrooms
for Students with Learning Disabilities
Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a set of principles for curriculum development that give all individuals equal opportunities to learn. UDL provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone--not a single, one-size-fits-all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs
Discusses the characteristics of adolescents who have learning disabilities relative to their interactions in high school settings.