Strategies in working with students who have a Learning Disability:
- In designing lectures, build multiple sensory information into the presentation when possible:
visual (outlines on the board, slides, overheads, Power Point, video, etc.)
auditory (repetition of key ideas, audiotapes that might augment the
lecture, sequencing and transition verbal cues)
tactile/hands-on ( presentations or demonstrations by groups of students, labs, studio format)
- Syllabus with due dates, reading assignments, additional AV or supplemental materials in the library collection, descriptions of projects and papers, grading & attendance policies or rubrics. Put online as well as in print, if there is a class web site.
- For each class, start with an outline – what is to be covered – and end with a brief summary.
- Guided notes, Power Point, or notes put online at the end of class have improved the performance of all students, as seen by the ANGEL courses offered in the most recent semesters. If students know the note framework will be available before class, they can download and print it out and use it as an outline. If the notes are online after the lecture, they can spend their time listening and responding to questions in class, knowing that the notes will be available later.
- If preparing a study guide for the course (often done with ANGEL course formats), use a similar format for what constitutes a complete or ideal answer for an exam.
- To reduce the intrusion of too many questions in class, encourage students to ask questions online or to hand them in on 3X5 cards at the end of a class. Some faculty already have found this a successful way to structure lectures.
- Asking the whole class to form study groups can alleviate notetaking requests – the group shares notes, and different perspectives emerge in these discussion groups. It is a model used in many graduate programs (med and law school, some education programs), and team-building is an additional outcome. If someone cannot be part of a group because of work or other issues, that’s okay.
- When selecting a new text for the class, check with the Disability Services office to see if the text is available on tape or CD or e-text. If it isn’t and time permits, it may be recorded by one of the agencies that provides audio books for students. This will save the college and the student who needs audio texts significant time and money.
- Spellcheckers and calculators are used by many students, not just students with disabilities. Unless using them is a breach of test security, this is a good modeling tactic – it’s the equipment we use in our work.
- Tape recorders are one way of giving students access to class notes – some students learn best by hearing what is said. If this is an issue, please discuss other options with the Disability Services office.
- Research projects can be daunting for students with learning disabilities. Give assignments early, with instructions about how it is to be completed or asking for it to be turned in by sections. These strategies can improve the quality of the work. Some feedback may be needed to assist students who require help with the process.