Investigation of tutor and tutee’s perception of challenges faced in virtual tutoring. Secondly, reasons for service refusal were investigated to inform future planning and training.

The perceptions of online peer tutoring

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The skills necessary to be an effective tutor

Research shows that peer tutoring can be beneficial for all participants. Yet, it is essential that tutors possess the technological and pedagogical skills necessary for community building and engaging teaching in an online medium. Online tutoring is only successful if tutees engage with the content and speak during sessions to ensure they progress in their language learning.

Tutors need to be taught

Email interviews were conducted to collect qualitative data from both tutors and tutees. Their responses were then coded, and the main themes were identified for the analysis. It is recommended that tutors receive thorough instructions on how to teach in an online medium to ensure the success of peer tutoring. Moreover, different communication channels could be employed to share schedules and the effectiveness of the available services. Nonetheless, more research must be done to investigate the program’s long-term impact on students’ academic performance.

Necessary steps to support tutors

Peer tutoring can benefit the tutor and tutee in an online medium. However, tutors require clear guidance from core professors and must receive support in planning their sessions to ensure student progress. 

Online teaching and tutoring will play a more significant role in education, not just during the pandemic. Therefore providing adequate training for educators and tutors is essential in delivering peer tutoring to students. Nonetheless, other factors may contribute to the success or failure of a program. Struggling students reported they required support in managing their time and attending virtual sessions. As a result, peer-tutoring schedules should be flexible.

Notable Quotes: 

Peer tutoring is a very effective approach to fostering learning when used in an inclusive and collaborative atmosphere.

Indeed, the teaching session is much more comprehensive and coherent for both tutors and tutees with the guided method and material. 

The results of this paper are valuable not only for the stakeholders in the studied institution but also for any educational institutions that are considering this student support service.

Personal Takeaway: 

I have seen peer tutoring to be successful in person. This article is helpful in considering how peer tutoring can be offered virtually to effectively meet the needs and context of tutees. Equally, it highlights that tutors require guidance before starting peer tutoring. Some of the recommendations will help me to adapt peer tutoring for my students.—Frankie

Quoc Luong, B., Thi Thu Tran, H., & Thi Minh Nguyen, N. (2022, March). Online Peer Tutoring in Online English Courses: Perceptions of Tutors and Tutees. In 2022 3rd International Conference on Education Development and Studies (pp. 58-63).

The authors of this paper wanted to provide evidence that working memory could explain word learning variance in children, “over and above the contributions of expressive vocabulary and nonverbal IQ.”

Working memory – a predictor of word learning

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Working memory can act as a predictor   

Verbal working memory measures positively correlated with vocabulary and grammar scores in a person’s first and second language. Studies have also suggested that verbal working memory measures were stronger predictors of language than attention. There is a small relationship between working memory domains and static measures of reading. 

Working memory is a more powerful predictor of later academic success than IQ. Existing vocabulary and nonverbal IQ have already been shown to relate to vocabulary acquisition in children.

Testing working memory through word learning

The study recruited 167 English-speaking second graders from two U.S. states with typical development. The children involved had to meet a series of requirements, such as passing hearing and vision screenings and achieving certain levels of mastery on academic and language testing, as well as having no history of neuropsychiatric disorders (such as ADHD or ASD). Tasks were presented as part of a computer-based game that took about six two-hour sessions to complete over the course of two weeks. The children took the test with a trained research assistant present to record and transcribe responses. The children played a series of games (tasks) that comprehensively targeted word learning (assessing “the creation, storage, retrieval, and production of phonological and semantic representations of novel nouns and verbs and the ability to link those representations”) and working memory. “The authors then established a model of working memory in children to predict an established model of dynamic word learning to determine whether working memory processes as a whole explained word learning variance over and above the contributions of expressive vocabulary and nonverbal IQ.” The model established from the data demonstrated that “expressive vocabulary, nonverbal IQ, and three working memory factors predicting two-word learning factors fit the data well.” Working memory explained 45% of the variance in the phonological word learning factor (letter-to-sound mapping) and 17% in the semantic word learning factor (storage and retrieval of word meaning). From this, the authors were able to conclude that working memory is a significant predictor “of not only what has already been learned (academic achievement) but also what is actively being learned (dynamic learning).”

Teaching strategies used to strengthen working memory

However, these results do not necessarily mean that if working memory capacity were improved then we could optimize learning. Rather educators can “tailor teaching strategies to support children with particular working memory profiles. Comprehensive working memory assessments have the potential to identify sources of word learning difficulties and help to tailor word learning teaching and interventions to a student’s strengths and challenges. 

Moreover, there are existing studies that show that “different manipulations of encoding practices, such as repeated and spaced retrieval and effortful retrieval, may benefit recall and retention in children. Further research is needed to determine whether tailoring instruction based on a child’s working memory profile could increase learning.

Notable Quotes: 

“It is possible that the relationship between working memory processes and word learning processes changes over the course of development; therefore, findings may not generalize to younger or older students.”

“It is important to note that structural equation modeling offers several advantages previously discussed, but such models cannot definitively pin down causation or thoroughly represent the complex working memory and word learning processes occurring in the real world.”

“An earlier study (Gray et al., 2019) found that children’s working memory profiles were not synonymous with learning disability diagnoses. […] The same was true of children with developmental language disorder, developmental language disorder and dyslexia, and TD [typical development].”

Personal Takeaway: 

This work highlights the importance of working memory for learning, particularly literacy, but also the importance of looking at a student as a whole when it comes to teaching. Working memory is undoubtedly a crucial executive function and is a skill that should be explicitly taught and targeted, especially for students who may need more support in this area. However, it may be equally as important to tailor interventions and teaching to a student’s strengths and challenges. By leveraging strengths educators can find opportunities to personalize instruction to best suit the needs of each student, ultimately enhancing the learning taking place for them.—Ayla Reau

Gray, S. I., Levy, R., Alt, M., Hogan, T. P., & Cowan, N. (2022). Working Memory Predicts New Word Learning Over and Above Existing Vocabulary and Nonverbal IQ. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 65(3), 1044–1069. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_JSLHR-21-00397

The number of students with registered disabilities enrolling in colleges and universities across the United States is continuing to increase, speaking to the myriad of improvements and advancements in technology, legislation, and treatment over the past few decades. Such advances have resulted in the creation of more inclusive learning environments for individuals with disabilities and have improved overall access to higher education. However, students with disabilities continue to face barriers when it comes to integrating in postsecondary institutions. Campus counseling centers have been suggested as a positive way to provide support for students with disabilities who are experiencing academic and/or psychological distress, yet little is known about the use or effectiveness of these services. O’Shea et al.’s (2021) study serves to close this research gap by determining the effectiveness of campus-based individual counseling for students with disabilities.

To disclose disabilities, or not?

While there is an overall hesitation for students to disclose their disability to their college/university, the impact of social and structural stigmatization on students’ reluctance to disclose may be more pronounced for students with certain types of disabilities. On U.S. campuses, psychiatric disabilities (commonly including disorders such as depression, bipolar, anxiety, or schizophrenia) continue to be the largest and fastest growing sub-category of disability amongst college students (Americans With Disabilities Act, 2018), and yet are also often surrounded by the most stigma. 

Research indicates that “students with disabilities are at a higher risk in comparison to their peers of experiencing mental health issues on campus, including increased rates of anxiety, academic distress, suicidality, and self-injury (Coduti et al., 2016).” Such statistics further emphasize the need for accessible and high-quality support services on campus.

The effect of therapy on students with disabilities

This academic study was conducted over the span of three years (2016 – 2019) using data gathered from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) — a practice-research network involving multiple stakeholders across more than 600 college and university counseling centers (UCCs) in the United States. Participants were grouped into one of three categories based on a Standardized Data Set (SDS) — students with only psychiatric disabilities, students with disabilities other than only psychiatric disorders, and students with no disability, with the average age being 21.88 years old at the time of their first counseling session. Participants completed a multidimensional self-report questionnaire known as the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS-62) over the course of their treatment to assess any changes in symptoms.

The authors of the article hypothesized that “clients with disabilities would demonstrate significantly lower levels of improvement over the course of therapy than clients without disabilities.” Based on the results of the study, such a hypothesis was correct in that “while students across groups saw a reduction in psychological and academic distress over the course of treatment, students with disabilities experienced less reduction in psychological and academic distress than their non-disabled peers.”

Different levels of academic distress in the student body

According to the gathered data, students with and without disabilities present to counselors with similar levels of psychological distress during their time at college. With that said, levels of academic distress are much higher amongst students with disabilities in comparison to those without. Although reasons for higher levels of academic distress cannot be certain and are largely based on the individual, research has pointed to factors such as negative past experiences with academic tasks and/or instructors serving to reduce self-efficacy (Brockelman, 2009; Gorges et al., 2018; Hartley, 2010) and holding negative beliefs about personal agency in learning thus impeding engagement and motivation (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). In the discussion, it was noted that students with psychiatric disabilities present higher levels of distress than students with other disabilities and those without disabilities. This information emphasizes the importance of understanding the source of distress for students in order to provide appropriate support and ultimately work towards improving mental health and postsecondary outcomes for these individuals. 

Ways forward

O’Shea et al’s. research helps to inform best practices when it comes to counseling practitioners who work with students with disabilities. Therapists should do their best to research and be aware of the various issues and complex challenges that students with disabilities may face, including the social, academic, and personal factors that are involved in the transition to college and adulthood. As students experiment with their newfound independence and begin to navigate their sense of identity, “counselors should include in their approach a consideration of the challenge students with disabilities may be facing in terms of navigating complex issues surrounding disability disclosure, the negotiation of intersectional identities, and use of services. As the number of students with disabilities on college campuses continues to grow, postsecondary institutions may also consider providing additional training to counselors to “improve familiarity and effectiveness in working with students with disabilities.” In particular, additional training for supporting students with psychiatric disabilities is recommended given the higher risk for self-injurious and suicidal behavior (Coduti et al., 2016). 

Additional research is needed to further explore and understand the various lived experiences, concerns, and barriers to postsecondary education for students with disabilities in order to appropriately inform targeted interventions and approaches to treatment. It is also important to note that the current study categorized participants’ disability type and status based on whether or not their disability was registered with the university office of disability services. Therefore, the academic study is limited in that it does not capture students who do not disclose or register their disability with their university, and may underrepresent or miscategorize those students with disabilities as a result.

Notable quotes:

1. According to research, “less than one-quarter of students with disabilities in college choose to disclose their disability and make use of disability support services” (Newman et al., 2009), and “fewer than 10% of students with psychiatric disabilities choose to disclose their disability to the university and register with the ODS (Megivern et al., 2003) as the stigma surrounding psychiatric disabilities continues to be pervasive within and outside of academia (Collins, 2000; Stuart et al., 2020).”                        

2. “Prior research has suggested that students with disabilities are more likely to experience increased pressure in college as students navigate issues surrounding disability, identity, and disclosure in the context of new challenges in the academic and social domains (Cawthon & Cole, 2010).” 

3. “Additional research is needed that further explores therapist perceptions of clients’ disabilities among those with visible and non-visible disabilities. Understanding therapists’ perceptions of students with disabilities and various types of disabilities (i.e., visible vs. non-visible) will help to inform training and treatment approaches. There is some evidence to suggest that counselors may be less comfortable or have less confidence working with clients with whom they perceive as having a disability (i.e., the disability is more obvious or visible; Parritt, & O’Callaghan, 2000). Therapists’ perceptions of clients’ disability status may impact treatment goals and expectations, in-session decision-making, and therapist self-efficacy and confidence (Barrett et al., 2013).”

Personal Takeaway

Providing increased access to counselling and treatment services on college and university campuses is a step in the right direction in terms of delivering appropriate support and creating an inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities. However, it is also important to recognize that students must be willing to take the first step to access such services. Part of helping our students become self-directed learners is supporting their self-advocacy and help-seeking skills. Providing opportunities for students to advocate for themselves and their needs throughout their elementary, middle and secondary school years, serves as a positive way to reinforce the value and importance of asking for help when you need it—an essential skill when making the transition into college life, newfound independence, and adulthood. Thus, as a special education teacher, I will continue to seek out ways in which I can empower students to take ownership of their learning and model help-seeking behaviors as a way to support the transition to postsecondary education.

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Taryn McBrayne

Summarized Article:

O’Shea, A., Kilcullen, J. R., Hayes, J., & Scofield, B. (2021). Examining the effectiveness of campus counselling for college students with disabilities. Rehabilitation Psychology, 66(3), 300–310. https://doi.org/10.1037/rep0000349

The purpose of the study was to examine the current literature on the use of digital Game-Based Learning (GBL) for students with intellectual disabilities. The authors’ intent was to come to conclusions on how digital GBL affects the acquisition of specific skills and make recommendations on future research.

Definitions around Game-Based Learning

1. “Learning based on digital games can help students with intellectual disabilities to learn new data, learn and develop new skills, acquire life skills, develop social skills and form a way of thinking (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013). A game acts on a student through a biological, social, cultural, emotional (affective), cognitive and physical aspect and as such has a direct influence on behavior, way of thinking and perception of the world in which an individual lives and acts (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013).”

2. The authors differentiate between “educational games” (EG) and “serious games” (SG). Educational games refer to those that utilize software with game technologies and storytelling to create educational content. According to the authors, they are primarily used for the acquisition of factual information. Serious games, on the other hand, are those that reapply resources from the video game field for educational purposes. They are typically high in entertainment factor, and embed instructional content within gaming elements such as badges, levels and time-restricted challenges.  

3. The DSM-V now defines intellectual disability as deficits in “reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning, and learning from experience”. Compared to the DSM-IV, the new edition favors comprehensive assessment based on adaptive functioning over standardized IQ scores.

Adaptive function over intellectual function

The authors of the study established the following research questions for their literature review:

1. Which specific technologies and games are used for digital GBL for students with intellectual disabilities? 

2. For which skills, abilities and subjects are the games being developed?

3. What are the characteristics of the participants in the studies, and which evaluation methods are being used to evaluate the effects of the games?

4. Do the digital GBL systems being developed have a positive impact on students with disabilities?

Only studies involving participants who have intellectual disability as a primary disability (as opposed to those who have intellectual disability as a result of other primary difficulties) were considered. 21 papers met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. According to the classifications set forth by the authors, the most common type of digital tool being used were SGs, and the most commonly used technology was the PC, along with additional equipment such as a webcam. The analyzed studies were more focused on the development of adaptive functions rather than on the development of intellectual functions. Math was the most commonly taught subject area. 15 of the 21 studies showed how the digital GBL was evaluated (the remaining 6 did not, partly because some of the game solutions were in the development or evaluation phases). These studies concluded that digital GBL contributed positively to the participants’ ability to adopt new skills.

Future inclusion of social-emotional skills

Future research could be directed towards developing a framework for the evaluation of digital educational games for students with intellectual disabilities, using a systematic and flexible methodology called Design-Based Research. 

Social-emotional skills were not covered in any of the research studies that were examined. The authors also suggest that a possible area for further development would be digital GBL for students with intellectual disabilities that focuses on recognizing and understanding emotions in others, empathizing, learning how to express feelings appropriately and establish relationships with other people.

Notable Quotes: 

1. “Learning based on digital games can help students with intellectual disabilities to learn new data, learn and develop new skills, acquire life skills, develop social skills and form a way of thinking (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013). A game acts on a student through a biological, social, cultural, emotional (affective), cognitive and physical aspect and as such has a direct influence on behavior, way of thinking and perception of the world in which an individual lives and acts (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013).”

2. “One of the possible further directions of research in this area is to create a frame- work for the evaluation of educational game solutions designed for students with intellectual disabilities using Design-based Research (DBR). DBR can be specified as a systematic but flexible research methodology which strives to improve the educational practice through iterative analysis, design, development and implementation (Wang & Hannafin, 2005). It is based on collaboration between researchers and professionals which leads to contextually sensitive principles of design and theories. DBR is an iterative process which allows the correction and improvement of solutions as many times as needed in order to satisfy all needs of the student.”

3. “The most common teaching subject is mathematics, which is in some studies combined with physical education and reading. Mathematics is followed by the field of science and reading…Most common skills are logical skills (8 studies) followed by the holistic approach of competence development, which includes motor skills, perception, cognition and visual processing, and food (4 studies). Only one or two studies dealt with the areas of professional skills, socio-emotional skills and academic skills.”

Personal Takeaway

“Gamification” of learning is an area of teaching practice that fascinates me, and it is helpful to read Stančin et al.’s meta-analysis of the existing research on the effectiveness of digital learning tools for students with intellectual disability

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Akane Yoshida

Summarized Article:

Stančin, K., Hoić-Božić, N., & Skočić Mihić, S. (2020). Using digital game-based learning for students with intellectual disabilities – A systematic literature review. Informatics in Education, 19(2), 323-341.

This study was conducted in order to identify practical ways for teachers to create a socially inclusive environment for children who demonstrate persistent challenging behaviors (PCBs) and/or who have social-emotional delays.

Main Reasons for the Challenging Behavior

The existing research suggests that there are two main reasons why some children demonstrate persistent challenging behaviors:

1) They are enrolled in school before they have developed the social-emotional readiness for the demands of group care, including managing emotions and getting along with peers.

2) They have delays in other developmental areas, such as play skills, speech and language development, and motor development.

Furthermore, there is a growing body of evidence to show that children who demonstrate PCBs are vulnerable to significant long-term effects from exclusionary disciplinary practices such as suspension and expulsion, along with a higher risk of academic difficulties leading to grade retention. Children who engage in PCBs typically find the social-emotional skill gap widening as they progress through school.

Recommendations for Working With Children With Challenging Behavior

This paper puts forth the authors’ recommendations, based on extant research, on the best practices that early childhood teachers can adopt to create an inclusive, prosocial environment for children with PCBs. They describe interventions that can be put into practice immediately, including example “scripts” for how these can be rolled out in the classroom. The authors recommend the following classroom-based supports for working with children who engage in PCBs:

  • Ensure equitable and active participation for these children in the social milieu of the classroom through facilitation of the appropriate social interactions. This must be explicitly modeled by the teacher through role play, ideally utilizing the child who struggles with PCB as a partner so that their peers view them as an example of prosocial behavior.
  • During any social skills instruction, teaching should take place in three phases: first, the teacher introduces the expected behavior and explains its importance; second, the teacher models the social skill and allows the children to practice it; and third, the teacher provides ongoing corrective feedback and behavior-specific praise. 
  • Classroom activities should be carefully planned to incorporate a variety of social interaction types and to be inclusive of children who demonstrate PCBs. Considering the background experiences of these children as well as their interests and abilities can make or break participation. Equally important is creating a physically intuitive and well-organized classroom that allows for both large- and small-group activities.

The Benefits of Creating an Inclusive Environment

Teachers who seek to create a socially inclusive environment – meaning one that actively integrates children with PCBs into the classroom community, ensures that they have equitable opportunities to participate in social activities, and promotes positive and reciprocal social relationships with peers and adults alike – can expect to see a decrease in PCB.

With this in mind, researchers and policy-makers would do well to consider the professional development needs of early childhood educators, providing more opportunities for teachers to engage in training specific to the social inclusion of children with PCB.

Notable Quotes: 

“As children age, the skill gap related to social-emotional functioning widens for children who engage in PCBs, leaving them at higher risk of being referred to special education and/or retention.”

“Despite the use of exclusionary disciplinary practices with children, there is no evidence to show that they decrease PCBs (Meek et al., 2020). Instead, the consequence of suspension on children who engage in PCBs is decreased time in the classroom (Loson and Gillespie, 2012) which can be detrimental to their social-emotional development (Skiba et al., 2014).”

“Schools and classrooms that promote positive climates report lower rates of PCBs and suspensions, which is important for children to feel welcomed and have an environment where they are able to develop prosocial behaviors (Farmer et al., 2018; Merritt et al., 2012; Skiba et al., 2014).”

Personal Takeaway

The notion that children benefit from discrete and explicit instruction for social skills is not new, but one that truly benefits from repeating. The current paper presents highly practical advice for teachers seeking to implement this type of instruction in their classrooms, with details on when and how such teaching could take place. Early childhood educators may be reassured to know that these techniques, which may be familiar to them already, are backed by rigorous research evidence. I would argue that these strategies can also be applied to older struggling students.

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Akane Yoshida

Summarized Article:

McGuire, S. N., & Meadan, H. (2022). Social Inclusion of Children with Persistent Challenging Behaviors. Early Childhood Education Journal, 50(1), 61-69. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10643-020-01135-4.

Researchers conducted an updated review of the literature on interventions to promote overall self-determination and skills associated with self-determined action in students with disabilities in the school context. Associated skills included choice-making, decision-making, problem-solving, goal setting and attainment, planning, self-management, self-advocacy, self-awareness, and self-knowledge.

The Value of Self-Determination

Self-determination is integral to student achievement of both academic goals and positive post-school employment, community integration, and quality of life outcomes. Emerging definitional frameworks for understanding self-determination highlight the value of developing skills associated with self-determined action (i.e., choice-making, decision-making, problem solving, goal setting and attainment, planning, self-management, self-advocacy, self-awareness, and self-knowledge) in students with disabilities. Given the value of self-determination in the lives of students with disabilities and expansion in theory, research, and practice, an updated review of the literature on interventions to promote self-determination and skills associated with self-determined actions was needed.

Positive Findings in Article Search

Researchers identified 34 articles published between 2000 and 2015 that met the search criteria. Search criteria required that articles: a) be published in an English language, peer-reviewed journal, b) include participants with disabilities between the ages of 3 to 21, c) occur in the school context, and d) report outcomes of an intervention intended to promote overall self-determination or skills associated with self-determined action. Researchers analyzed types of interventions, populations of students with whom they were implemented, outcomes, and rigor of research. “Findings include (a) an increase in the number of participants in self-determination studies, (b) positive outcomes for students with diverse personal characteristics (e.g. disability status, gender), and (c) a need for improved rigor in reporting quality of research.” Results indicated positive outcomes of interventions to promote self-determination across grade levels (primarily middle and high school), disability groups, and setting using a variety of instructional methods.

Increased Focus Needed on Promoting Self-Determination

These findings highlight the need for increased focus on “promoting self-determination within inclusive, general education settings with students with disabilities and of diverse backgrounds.” Incorporating evidence-based self-determination instruction enhances transition planning and access to and participation in the general education curriculum. The most commonly implemented intervention was the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI; Wehmeyer, Palmer, Argan, Mithaug, & Martin), a multi-component intervention targeting multiple skills associated with self-determined action. Given the strong research base supporting SDLMI as well as the availability of materials to support its implementation, teachers should consider this comprehensive intervention for integrating self-determination skills into the instruction. While interventions promoting self-determination proved effective across age ranges, the majority (i.e., 76%) of the studies reviewed included transition-age students. Given the positive outcomes and viable means reported, practitioners can “help students set and achieve education and transition related goals, benefiting students in school and in the real world.”

Notable Quotes: 

“Given the value of self-determination in the lives of students with disabilities, it is essential that skills associated with self-determination are integrated into instruction in the school context.” 

“It is often assumed that students learn skills associated with self-determined action, such as goal setting, problem solving, and decision-making incidentally; however, more explicit instruction needs to be dedicated to these skills, which are included in almost all state or local education agency content objectives.” 

“By continuing to focus on and improve instruction to promote self-determination, it is possible to further enhance the focus on enabling young people with disabilities to set and achieve goals as causal agents in their own lives.”

Personal Takeaway

Self-determination positively predicts in- and post- school outcomes as well as transition planning for students with disabilities. Improved understanding of the development and skills associated with self-determination guides current assessment and intervention. Consequently, evidence-based interventions allow practitioners to feasibly and effectively integrate self-determination and skills associated with self-determined action into instruction within the school context for students with and without disabilities.

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Ashley Parnell

Summarized Article:

Burke, K. M., Raley, S. K., Shogren, K. A., Hagiwara, M., Mumbardó-Adam, C., Uyanik, H., & Behrens, S. (2020). A meta-analysis of interventions to promote self-determination for students with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 41(3), 176-188.

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Identifying the interrelationships between self-regulation, emotion, grit and student performance by using the Cyclical Self-Regulated learning model, which is associated with a K-12 math tutoring program.

What happens when students fail in their academic tasks?

When students repeatedly fail at a task, their self-confidence in the subject goes down, and their anxiety and frustration goes up. They build a resentment towards the subject and start to believe that their time in class is not useful.

The concept and long-term nature of grit helps students maintain consistent and focused interest for important and challenging goals.

Improving the level of grit in students  

Two groups of middle schoolers who were participating in a weekly Mathspring Intervention program were chosen, one based in the US, and the other in Argentina. The levels of grit and expectation of success were measured in these groups. The research team argues for the need to work on improving the level of grit in students, by validating hard work ethic, strengthening student setbacks, and encouraging diligence. It was also found that grit in the early phase of learning predicts success in later stages of learning.

More research needs to be done on student experience  

This study is just the tip of the iceberg on representing types of student learning. More research needs to be done on the experiences of students with diverse learning patterns, and patterns found for students with disabilities, gifted students, easily-frustrated students and so on.

Notable Quotes: 

“In education settings, students who exhibit self-regulation in learning behaviours are able to direct their efforts toward achieving academic goals.”

“There are certain traits and dimensions of character other than intelligence that are strong determinants of a person’s unique path towards success despite setbacks.”

“The long-term nature of grit is what differentiates it from similar constructs such as self-control and conscientiousness.”

Personal Takeaway

Reading this research has opened my mind to the importance of building grit in students, especially those in Learning Support, as this skill will strongly contribute to their future success in life and allow them to persevere through the challenges of life with more ease.

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Shekufeh Monadjem

Summarized Article:

Kooken, J. W., Zaini, R., & Arroyo, I. (2021). Simulating the dynamics of self-regulation, emotion, grit, and student performance in cyber-learning environments. Metacognition and Learning, 16(2), 367-405.

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This study was conducted to highlight the experiences of caregivers in the transition from Early Intervention to Early Childhood Special Education.

Caregivers Excluded from School Transitions

Caregivers feel left out when a child transitions to school services, they don’t feel included in the process anymore. There is a lack of communication between schools and caregivers, once the children make the transition to full-time school. A meta-synthesis approach was used to integrate, compare, and synthesize existing studies on caregiver experiences. Limitations and gaps were found in the various studies analyzed, and the authors provided some suggestions on how to improve the transition process.

Improving Communication Channels

Suggestions included improving communication between caregivers and teachers, collaboration, and family involvement in all the stages of the transition. Future research is recommended on the role of fathers as caregivers.

Notable Quotes:

“Caregivers felt empowered when they were involved in the transition process and the decision making.”

“Caregivers emphasized the importance of clear and open communication throughout the transition process (i.e., before, during, and after the transition to ECSE) as well as the need for good communication between the EI and ECSE providers.” 

“Listening to caregivers’ needs and experiences, supporting their advocacy skills, and making concerted efforts to address issues would lead to improved transition practices and ultimately better outcomes for young children with disabilities and their family as a whole.”

Personal Take

This research did not apply to either my context or my teaching division, but since the main theme was communication between caregivers, therapists and school personnel, I agree with the findings that there is a need to develop this quality and therefore build trust with the families of students with special needs.

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Shekufeh Monadjem

Summarized Article:

Douglas, S.N., Meadan, H., and Schultheiss, H. (2021). A Meta-synthesis of Caregivers’ Experiences Transitioning from Early Intervention to Early Childhood Special Education. Early Childhood Education Journal (2022) 50:371–383.

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Key Takeaway
Social inclusion is a central aspect of feeling like one belongs within a community. Through an ecological approach to gathering information, it may be possible to develop a deeper understanding of an individual’s lived experience, allowing for the creation of more personalized interventions.
https://marioframework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/hnet.com-image-5-1.pngAn ecological approach to measuring social inclusion
Erin Madonna

Ecological Model for Inclusion

Meys, Hermans, and Maes (2021) pursued this study in an effort to both test whether an ecological model could be utilized to better articulate the complexity of social relations and social inclusion for individuals with disabilities and to suggest a method for informing interventions better tailored to match the experienced reality of the individual. “Persons with a disability express a deep desire for social relations, either in terms of making friends, having a romantic relationship or being socially included.”1

The authors utilized the ecological model to map social inclusion of adults with disabilities in order to better understand the multitude of factors impacting the individual’s interpersonal relationships and community participation. Five levels were included in the ecological mapping: the individual, interpersonal, organizational, community, and socio-political. Inclusion of each level allowed for a more robust understanding of the enabling or disabling qualities of each in an individual’s life. 

Also considered was the source of information as individual perceptions of belonging and connectedness can influence any measure of social inclusion. For the purposes of this study, the authors chose to collect data from the individual as well as their network members (family, community members, professionals) in the hopes that the variety of perspectives could provide a more nuanced understanding of the complexities of social inclusion. The authors invited the individuals with disabilities to identify two network members who played a significant role in their lives. An example of how the different voices articulate the experience uniquely can be found in responses to individual level questions around disabling factors. “Every perspective emphasized something else: professionals mentioned more characteristics of socio-emotional functioning, network members more social/interaction skills and persons with a disability gave more insight into their emotional wellbeing (pg 5).”

An additional factor which may have influenced the perceived level of loneliness experienced by the individuals with disabilities is that the study included participants living in independent supported living settings. The potential for social isolation may vary based on the presence of community or the level of segregation inherent to the individual’s living situation.

Interventions Must Be Dynamic

Ultimately, this study informs our understanding of the complexity of social inclusion and suggests that any interventions to improve the quality of social inclusion for individuals must take into account the dynamic interplay of factors from all five levels of the ecological map. The benefits of including different perspectives can be seen in how they were highly complementary while also providing unique information about the enabling and disabling factors that influence social inclusion. “The application of the model functions as a snapshot of a dynamic reality of social inclusion more than as a static model that can be completed at one time point for an individual (pg 8).”

Limitations

Meys, Hermans, and Maes identify that the interviews of participants were not created to specifically assess the ecological model, which may have resulted in bias. Some of the levels of social inclusion were not directly included in the author’s questioning and so were only addressed so much as they were spontaneously referenced by the individuals or network members during their interviews. Another limitation mentioned is the incomplete understanding of the knowledge held by included network members and how their understanding of the individual’s social inclusion potentially offers a unique perspective. When an individual with a disability isn’t communicating nuanced information about their own social inclusion, a network member’s input may provide this valuable information. 

Summarized Article:

Meys, E., Hermans, K., & Maes, B. (2021). Using an ecological approach to grasp the complexity of social inclusion around a person with a disability. Disability and Health Journal, 14(4), 101152.

Summary by: Erin Madonna—Erin philosophically aligns with the MARIO Framework’s deeply rooted belief that all learners are capable, and she firmly believes in MARIO’s commitment to the use of evidence-based practices drawn from the field of multidisciplinary research.

Additional References:

  1. Rushbrooke, E., Murray, C. and Townsend, S. (2014), The Experiences of Intimate Relationships by People with Intellectual Disabilities: A Qualitative Study. J Appl Res Intellect Disabil, 27: 531-541. https://doi.org/10.1111/jar.12091

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Key Takeaway
Geometry is an essential topic in mathematics, fundamental to young children’s mathematical learning and development. Results of the current study suggest that fostering self-regulation skills positively impacts the learning of early geometry skills. Accordingly, teachers should be prepared to effectively support and prioritize self-regulation skills within the context of geometric tasks and experiences.
https://marioframework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Screen-Shot-2022-04-29-at-1.18.05-PM.pngSelf-Regulation and Early Geometric Skills in Young Learners 
Ashley Parnell

Mathematics and Geometry in Early Childhood

“Early mathematical skills are important for young children as such skills establish a foundation for later mathematics learning and are predictive of later school success.”1,2 More specifically, “young children’s abilities to engage in geometric thought and spatial reasoning can support their overall mathematical and cognitive development”.3 Key aspects of geometry in the early grades include:  

  • Naming, comparing, and drawing geometric shapes
  • Describing characteristics of and establishing relationships between shapes
  • Composing, decomposing, and manipulating geometric figures

Self-Regulation and Geometry Skills

Self-regulation skills play a foundational role in learning and early mathematics. While a large body of research supports the relationship between self-regulation and mathematics, most of this research has focused on numbers and operations rather than geometry. 

Given the importance of geometry for young children, the present study investigated the relationship between early geometric skills and behavioral self-regulation skills. Participants included 202 children between the ages of 5 and 6. Trained undergraduate students administered direct measures of self-regulation and geometric skills scales to children. The mothers and teachers were asked to fill in the self-regulation skills scales on behalf of their children. The following aspects of self-regulation were measured:

  • Working memory (e.g., remembers the plans made or instructions given)
  • Inhibitory control (e.g., identify causes and consequences of others’ feelings; expresses feelings and thoughts)
  • Attention (e.g., follows rules even if they delay pleasure or conflict with his/her wishes. 

Findings from this study include:

  • “Teacher-reported self-regulation skills were positively correlated with geometric skills and behavioral self-regulation.”
  • “Higher behavioral and teacher-reported self-regulation skills of children were effective in determining the children who were in the higher geometric skills group.”
  • “A weak association among mother-reported self regulation skills, age and income with geometric skills and behavioral self-regulation skills.”
  • A significant relationship existed between age and self-regulation, but not between income levels.

Implications for practitioners include:

  • Teachers should know how to effectively support and incorporate self-regulation skills in the context of geometry experiences in early childhood settings (e.g., representing shapes through different media, drawing and constructing structures with blocks).
  • “Policy makers should prioritize and facilitate the implementation of self-regulation intervention programs and early mathematics curriculum with a strong emphasis on geometry tasks in early childhood classrooms.”

Summarized Article:

İvrendi, A., Erol, A., & Atan, A. (2021). Children’s geometric skills: Any ties to self-regulation skills?. The Journal of Educational Research, 1-10.

Summary by: Ashley M. Parnell — Ashley strives to apply the MARIO Framework to build evidence-based learning environments that support student engagement, empowerment, and passion, and is working with a team of educators to grow and share this framework with other educators.

Additional References:

  1. Ivrendi, A. (2016). Investigating kindergarteners number sense and self-regulation score in relation to their mathematics and Turkish scores in middle school. Mathematics Education Research Journal, 28(3), 405–420. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13394-016-0172-4
  2. National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) & the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM). (2010).Early childhood mathematics: Promoting good beginnings. [Online] Retrieved September 23, 2013, from http://www.naeyc.org/files/naeyc/file/positions/psmath.pdf
  3. Clements, D. H., Sarama, J., Swaminathan, S., Weber, D., & Trawick-Smith, J. (2018). Teaching and learning geometry: Early foundations. Quadrante, 27(2), 7-31.