Key Takeaway: There are some studies supporting the notion that learning with ease suggests fluency and can lead to better performance. However, this can lead to a misconception that learning has to be easy and facing challenges is problematic. It is important to establish that difficulties are part of learning and that disfluency can open up possibilities for identity exploration. Virtual learning environments (VLEs) can be designed in such a way that they support this exploration, by looking at features such as gamification, engagement and connection, and learning supports. —Nika Espinosa

In their article, Oyserman and Dawson look at the framework of identity-based motivation and how it connects to virtual learning environments (VLEs). Identity-based motivation is about the self and the motivational power behind it. This includes procedural readiness, action readiness, and dynamic construction. “Together, these core aspects provide a framework for understanding the interplay between people’s sense of who they are, their actions, their interpretations of experienced ease and difficulty, and how learning environments may frame these processes.” 

The authors used the identity-based motivation lens to examine how to enhance VLEs. With the current global context, digital learning platforms have boomed. According to Lenhart (2016), “almost all (92%) adolescents currently go online daily and nearly three in four (72%) play games, regardless of their socioeconomic status, age, race, or gender.”1 But even before the global pandemic, as technology aims to further enhance our lives, digital platforms are increasingly being used in education. Oyserman and Dawson believe that VLEs have the potential to provide opportunities for identity exploration because they are versatile and dynamic. “As such, they can scaffold either a learn-with-ease norm that diminishes engagement with schoolwork and forecloses identity exploration or a learn-through-difficulty norm that enhances both.” Moving forward, we need to understand how to effectively use VLEs and how they can complement face-to-face learning.

In connection with identity-based motivation and the research mentioned by the authors, it can be inferred that students in a difficulty-as-importance context outperform students who are in a difficulty-as-impossibility context or even students who are not posed with either context. This is a consideration when designing VLEs. When VLEs are successful, they have the potential to improve engagement and connection when learning. “This is more likely when the VLE learning norm does not conflate ease with learning but instead links learning and engaging with difficulty.” According to the authors, VLEs can be used to identify probable future identities in relation to identity-based motivation. For example, an activity that is science-based could encourage the learner to consider a possible future in the same field. 

Meaningful learning comes with effort.2,3 When students acknowledge and accept the notion of difficulty-as-important, engagement and connection increase. In the context of well-designed VLEs, these can also be used to promote self-discovery.  

Article Summarized: 

Oyserman, D., & Dawson, A. (2021). Successful learning environments support and harness students’ identity-based motivation: A primer. The Journal of Experimental Education, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/00220973.2021.1873091

Summary by: Nika Espinosa—Nika believes that personalized learning is at the heart of special education and strives to collaborate with educators in providing a holistic, personalized approach to supporting all learners through the MARIO Framework.

Additional References:

  1. Lenhart, A. (2016). Teens, social media & technology overview, Pew Research Center, https://www.pewresearch.org/ internet/2018/05/31/teens-social-media-technology-2018/
  2. Kornell, N., & Bjork, R. A. (2007). The promise and perils of self-regulated study. Psychonomic Bulletin & Review, 14(2), 219–224. https://doi.org/10.3758/bf03194055
  3. Yan, V. X., Bjork, E. L., & Bjork, R. A. (2016). On the difficulty of mending metacognitive illusions: A priori theo- ries, fluency effects, and misattributions of the interleaving benefit. Journal of Experimental Psychology: General, 145(7), 918–933. https://doi.org/10.1037/xge0000177

Key Takeaway: Special education teachers experience universal challenges when it comes to professional development (PD). Effective PD should be sustained over time, involve coaching or collaborative communities, and include specialized and role-specific content. —Ayla Reau

Sarah L. Woulfin and Britney Jones from the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education (2021) conducted a phenomenological study on special education (SpEd) teachers’ experiences with professional development. They found that “professional development (PD) is one component of SpEd teachers’ working conditions which plays a role in building teachers’ capacities and enabling teachers to conduct their work.” However, SpEd teachers in particular encounter some universal challenges while trying to engage in professional development.

Some challenges the authors outlined included:

  • Induction programs were not effective due to SpEd teachers not receiving role-specific guidance through the program.
  • Portfolio assessments as part of the induction programs felt like “busy work;” these tasks seemed artificial.
  • PD sessions were often introductory or repetitive in nature, ignoring any preexisting knowledge. “Generic PD sometimes failed to match the realities of their work.”
  • The opportunities regarding co-teaching and how to engage with general education teachers were limited.
  • SpEd teachers were often isolated from general education teachers in PD sessions.

Woulfin and Jones (2021) hone in on three tenets of effective PD for SpEd teachers: “extended duration, involving collaborative and contextualized learning, and addressing specialized content.”

  • Educational literature states that PD must be sustained over time in order to change the nature of teachers’ instruction. “Extended-duration PD allows for increased opportunities for planning, observing, feedback, reviewing student work, and aligning standards and goals.”
  • Schools can use coaches or professional learning communities (PLCs) to support teacher development.
  • Research also acknowledges the benefits of specialized PD (relevant content as opposed to generic or content-neutral). “When SpEd teachers receive targeted, relevant PD, they report greater levels of confidence in working with students with disabilities.”

Effective PD for special educators also would include the following elements: “rely on experts from the district; incorporate technology; infuse content standards and special education curriculum; provide useful strategies and sample lessons; facilitate collaboration with general education teachers; create opportunities for reflection; and give feedback.”

The findings from their study suggest that many SpEd teachers felt a disconnect between their daily work and what was addressed in their current PD opportunities. Ultimately, this is why specialized training matters. The study offered suggestions for how practitioners could improve PD for special educators. As Woulfin and Jones summarize, it helps to develop an “understanding of norms, routines, rituals and the language of [the SpEd] profession.”

Summarized Article: Woulfin, S. L., & Jones, B. (2021). Special development: The nature, content, and structure of special education teachers’ professional learning opportunities. Teaching and Teacher Education, 100, 103277. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2021.103277

Summary by: Ayla Reau—Ayla is excited to help continue to grow the MARIO Framework, seeing the potential for it to impact all students across any educational context.

Key Takeaway: The pandemic has challenged educators to transform their teaching practices to suit a new learning environment—one where meaningful learning can take place with or without the presence of a teacher. Moving towards learner-centered instruction and well-designed online teaching should encourage students to remain motivated and engaged by providing diverse, collaborative learning activities and creating a space where students are empowered to take control over their own learning. —Taryn McBrayne

In his article, author John Andrew Cohen (Division of Learning and Teaching, Charles Sturt University) discusses the role that the COVID-19 pandemic has played in encouraging educators to re-evaluate their pedagogical approaches to teaching and learning. Cohen argues that while many companies and organizations needed to quickly transform their face-to-face classrooms to remain in business, by implementing the same instructional methods used in the physical classroom in an online setting, they may not be meeting the needs of their learners.

In an online classroom, teachers often have the flexibility to deliver instruction synchronously or asynchronously, meaning that the teacher may not always be physically present in the virtual class. Cohen cites Mottus et al. (2018)1 in emphasizing that while a teacher’s role as a “content delivery expert may be reduced in ubiquitous learning environments [such as online learning environments], the need for their pedagogical skills in effective facilitation has, if anything, increased in importance.” Cohen argues that online teaching needs to ensure that learning can occur, even without a teacher’s presence. Thus, as Cohen explains, traditional lecture-style teaching approaches may not be suitable.

The author highlights “Learner-Centered Teaching”2 as a useful framework for fostering productive learning environments without the direct presence of a teacher. Through sharing the power between the student and teacher, learners are “empowered to make decisions about when they learn, how they learn, where they learn, with whom they learn and on some occasions what they learn and how they are assessed.” In addition, researchers such as Weimer (2002)2 highlight the importance of sharing power, stating that “student motivation, confidence and enthusiasm for learning are all adversely affected when teaching staff control the process through which they learn.” Researchers Weimer (2002)2 and Shearer et al. (2019)3 also suggest that “learners are highly autonomous” and as a result, “instructors are facilitators, negotiators, and guides.” Here, the author recommends a shift in teaching design from direct instruction to self-direction, emphasizing the learning experience as opposed to solely the delivery of content.

Thus, Cohen explains that educators can build a strong student-centered online learning environment by providing a wide range of activities, ways for students to manage their own learning, and multiple opportunities to check for understanding. Ultimately, the author emphasizes that “learning design should aid the facilitation of learning—they should influence each other symmetrically, in a ‘hand in glove’ manner.”

Summarized Article: Cohen, J.A. (2021). A fit for purpose pedagogy: online learning designing and teaching, Development and Learning in Organizations: An International Journal, Vol. 35 (4), pp. 15-17. https://doi.org/10.1108/DLO-08-2020-0174

Summary by: Taryn McBrayne—Taryn believes in the power of student voice and, through the MARIO Framework, strives to create more opportunities for both educators and students to regularly make use of this power.

Additional References:

1. Mottus, A., Kinshuk, N., Sabine, G., Uthman, A. and Ahmed, A. (2018), “Teacher facilitation support in ubiquitous learning environments”, Technology, Pedagogy and Education, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 549-570.

2. Weimer, M. (2002), Learner-Centered Teaching: Five Key Changes to Practice, Jossey-Bass, San Francisco.

3. Shearer, R., Aldemirb L., Hitchcock T., Resig, J.J., Driver, J. and Kohler, M. (2019), “What students want: a vision of a future online learning experience grounded in distance education theory”, American Journal of Distance Education, Vol. 34 No. 1, pp. 36-52.

Key Takeaway: DeVries, Knickenberg, and Trygger report complex relationships between student characteristics (ie. the presence of learning differences), and self-perceived inclusion and academic self-regard. Both the novel and supported results reveal a gap, even in inclusive classes, and the need for educator and administrator-implemented inclusion interventions for at-risk students. – Emmy Thamakaison

Jeffrey DeVries (TU Dortmund University), Margarita Knickenberg (University of Bielefeld), and Maria Trygger (Saltsjöbadens Samskolan) share their cross-sectional study examining the association between student characteristics (gender, grade-level, special-education needs (SEN) status, and self-identified academic difficulties) with academic self-concept and perceptions of socio-emotional inclusion among fifth and eighth-grade students in an inclusion school. Additionally, they test the validity of the Perception of Inclusion Questionnaire (PIQ) in measuring emotional inclusion, social inclusion, and academic self-concept. 

Academic self-concept, or the way an individual regards their academic abilities, has conventionally been believed to be lower among students with SEN (ie. cognitive difficulties, learning disabilities), regardless of their inclusive educational context. DeVries et al. find this is the case not only for students with SEN diagnoses (p = 0.004), but also for students with self-reported difficulties yet no formal diagnoses (p = 0.007).

  • Grade level in combination with gender can significantly influence students’ academic self-concept. Regardless of SEN status, lower levels of self-concept were found for female students in eighth grade compared with that of female students in fifth grade. Male students, however, did not display such differences. 
  • In explaining this decline in academic self-concept, the authors cite “a decrease in maths-specific self-concept” for general female students and “different interactions with teachers and classmates”1 and “self-efficacy”2 for females with SEN. 

In terms of social and emotional inclusion, SEN status and grade were found to play an important role in determining students’ relative levels. 

  • Along with lower levels of academic self-concept, students with SEN diagnoses experienced lower levels of emotional inclusion. This cross-sectional data contradict that of a longitudinal study, which demonstrates a “boost to both emotional inclusion and academic self-concept over time” among students with SEN.3 Taken together, this suggests that “effective techniques” that address “the extent of students’ social inclusion in their classes and emotional wellbeing” may alleviate “the effects of SEN on academic self-concept “ and “emotional inclusion” over time.4,5
  • Similar to students with SEN, students with undiagnosed difficulties experienced lower levels of emotional inclusion. Interestingly, they also reported experiencing reduced social inclusion as well—a finding not seen in the SEN population. DeVries et al. suggest that this may demonstrate the comparable “lack of some inclusive support” for students with undiagnosed difficulties. 
  • Additionally, children in eighth grade reported significantly lower levels of social inclusion (p = 0.041). No significant variations due to gender were found for both social and emotional inclusion. 

Fulfilling one of the main objectives of this study, the authors provided further validation for the PIQ as an effective and easily understood tool; this 3-factor model of social inclusion, emotional inclusion, and academic self-concept was described to “demonstrate good psychometric properties,” which included measurement invariance (the extent to which items measure equivalently across different groups) and reliability. 

Ultimately, DeVries et al.‘s research provides useful insights into the relationship between student characteristics and levels of perceived socio-emotional inclusion, or academic self-concept. Much of these results (ie. students with SEN experiencing lower levels of emotional inclusion and self-concept) are supported by pre-existing research and emphasize the importance of interventions in alleviating some of the effects described above. This study’s finding of children with self-reported difficulties feeling less emotionally and socially included, as well as having a lower academic self-concept, poses some novel implications and questions; though “more research is needed to examine the exact nature and causes of these differences,” educators and administrators should “work to ensure that such at-risk learners feel included within the classroom.” 

Summarized Article:

DeVries, J. M., Knickenberg, M., & Trygger, M. (2021). Academic self-concept, perceptions of inclusion, special needs and gender: evidence from inclusive classes in Sweden. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/08856257.2021.1911523

Summary by: Emmy Thamakaison—Emmy is a recent high school graduate attending Stanford University and is an enthusiastic advocate of MARIO Framework.

Additional References:

  1. Oga-Baldwin, W. L. Q., & Nakata, Y. (2017). Engagement, gender, and motivation: A predictive model for Japanese young language learners. System, 65, 151–163. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.system.2017.01.011
  2. Huang, C. (2012). Gender differences in academic self-efficacy: a meta-analysis. European Journal of Psychology of Education, 28(1), 1–35. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10212-011-0097-y
  3. DeVries, J. M., Voß, S., & Gebhardt, M. (2018). Do learners with special education needs really feel included? Evidence from the Perception of Inclusion Questionnaire and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 83, 28–36. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2018.07.007
  4. Haeberlin, U., U. Moser, G. Bless, and R. Klaghofer (1989). Questionnaire for Assessing Dimensions of Integration of Students. Integration in Die Schulklasse. Fragebogen Zur Erfassung Von Dimensionen Der Integration Von Schülern FDI 4–6
  5. Hascher, T., and G. Hagenauer (2011). Schulisches Wohlbefinden Im Jugendalter– Verläufe Und Einflussfaktoren. Jahrbuch Jugendforschung: 10, 15–45.

Key Takeaway: Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) have completed a systematic review of literature to identify a number of key personal and external factors that help students with disabilities be successful at university:

  • Personal factors include “self-advocacy, self-awareness, self-determination, self-esteem and executive functioning” 
  • External factors include “family, disability offices, staff and faculty members, and peers”

Identifying these internal and external factors can help universities ensure that they have the necessary resources in place to support students with disabilities. Additionally, knowing these factors can help students with disabilities make informed decisions as to their choice of university. —Matt Barker

Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) from the Universidad De Sevilla identify that there is a move from focusing on facilitating access to education to focusing on improving the quality of learning, and that this shift requires “education systems to guarantee equitable access and permanence, resources, and teaching and learning processes for all.” Although there is improving access to higher education (HE), this has also resulted in challenges with increasing access for non-traditional students.1,2 The result is that university dropout rates are higher among students with disabilities than among other students and that “the former face multiple barriers to staying and successfully completing their studies.”3,4

Kutcher and Tuckwillet (2019)5 identify the following internal factors for academic success: “setting clear objectives, being proactive, knowing how to make decisions and not give up in the face of difficulties, using strategies that can help with the disability itself and believing in one’s abilities.” Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) further cite Gow, Mostert, and Dreyer (2020)6 and Milsom and Sackett (2018),7 who identify “self-determination, self-advocacy, self-awareness, self-discipline, self-esteem and executive functions” as common traits among students with disabilities who are able to successfully finish their studies. Russak and Hellwing (2019)8 in their study added that graduates saw their disability as part of their self-image, one that enabled them to learn about their strengths and weaknesses. 

Additionally, external factors are those that have a source of support external to the individual. Gow, Monster, and Dreyer’s (2020)6 study recognises that support from family and friends is critical. Cotán et al. (2021)9 identify staff and faculty who have provided “support, understanding and compassion” have helped the students be successful. Orr and Goodman (2010)10 recognise that peers help the students set goals and can support access to academic resources. Kutcher and Tuckwillet (2019)5 also identify that “high expectations, accessible campuses, appropriate accommodations and administrative support” are all factors that support academic success for students with disabilities. 

The authors identify six personal factors and traits of students with disabilities who are demonstrating success at university:

  • Self-advocacy
  • Self-awareness
  • Self-determination
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-esteem
  • Executive functioning

The authors also identify five external factors influencing the academic success of students with disabilities:

  • Family support (“moral, financial and social”)
  • The university
  • The impact of disability support services
  • The effectiveness of academic support staff and faculty
  • Peers

Identifying these internal and external factors can help universities ensure that they have the necessary resources in place to support students with disabilities. Additionally, understanding these factors can help students with disabilities make informed decisions as to their choice of university. As the authors note, “when people have a range of personal skills and institutions provide the necessary opportunities, it is possible for students with disabilities to remain and succeed academically.”

Furthermore, the authors note that academic success is dependent “on factors related to the personal, contextual and external environments.” The students in the studies who persisted in their goals saw themselves as having a sense of “freedom and independence.” Disability was regarded as an opportunity to overcome challenges and develop resilience, with the goal of gaining work post graduation. 

Given the six personal factors and traits of students with disabilities who are demonstrating success at university, Moriña & Biagiotti (2021) note the importance of preparing the students in these competences before they attend university, as well as whilst they are at university, since “such competences are essential to access and have educational, social and working success.” Additionally, the authors stress that both disciplinary and personal competences need to be developed, possibly through “active and student centred-teaching methodologies, such as cooperative learning, projects and case studies.”

In terms of university based support, the authors explain that “coaching, tutoring, accommodations and disability services . . . improve the quality of education and enhance the psychosocial well-being of students.” Additionally, it is noted that the application of Universal Design for Learning to offer multiple means of expression, representation and involvement should also be explored as a means to enhance inclusion practices.11 It is thus important for faculty to have training in inclusive practices. 

Summarized Article:

Moriña, A., & Biagiotti, G. (2021). Academic success factors in university students with disabilities: a systematic review. European Journal of Special Needs Education, 1-18.

Summary by: Matt Barker—Matt loves how the MARIO Framework empowers learners to make meaningful choices to drive their personalized learning journeys.

Additional References:

  1. Carballo, R., B. Morgado, and M. D. Cortés-Vega. 2021. “Transforming Faculty Conceptions of Disability and Inclusive Education through a Training Programme.” International Journal of Inclusive Education 25 (7): 843–859 doi:10.1080/13603116.2019.1579874.
  2. Fernández-Gámez, M. A., P. Guzmán-Sánchez, J. Molina-Gómez, and P. Mercade-Mele. 2020. “Innovative Interventions and Provisions of Accommodations to Students with Disabilities.” European Journal of Special Needs Education 1–10. doi:10.1080/08856257.2020.1792715.
  3. Bell, S., C. Devecchi, C. M. Guckin, and M. Shevlin. 2017. “Making the Transition to Post-secondary Education: Opportunities and Challenges Experienced by Students with ASD in the Republic of Ireland.” European Journal of Special Needs Education 32 (1): 54–70. doi:10.1080/08856257.2016.1254972.
  4. Munir, N. 2021. “Factors Influencing Enrolments and Study Completion of Persons with Physical Impairments in Universities.” International Journal of Inclusive Education 1–16. doi:10.1080/13603116.2021.1879959.
  5. Kutcher, E. L., and E. D. Tuckwillet. 2019. “Persistence in Higher Education for Students with Disabilities: A Mixed Systematic Review.” Journal of Diversity in Higher Education 12 (2): 136–155. doi:10.1037/dhe0000088.
  6. Gow, M. A., Y. Mostert, and L. Dreyer. 2020. “The Promise of Equal Education Not Kept: Specific Learning Disabilities – The Invisible Disability.” African Journal of Disability 9 a647. doi:10.4102/ajod.v9i0.647.
  7. Milsom, A., and C. Sackett. 2018. “Experiences of Students with Disabilities Transitioning from 2-year to 4-year Institutions.” Community College Journal of Research and Practice 42 (1): 20–31.doi:10.1080/10668926.2016.1251352.
  8. Russak, S., and A. D. Hellwing. 2019. “University Graduates with Learning Disabilities Define Success and the Factors that Promote It.” International Journal of Disability, Development and Education 66 (4): 409–423. doi:10.1080/1034912X.2019.1585524.
  9. Cotán, A., A. Aguirre, B. Morgado, and N. Melero. 2021. “Methodological Strategies of Faculty Members: Moving toward Inclusive Pedagogy in Higher Education.” Sustainability 13 (6): 3031. doi:10.3390/su13063031.
  10. Orr, A. C., and N. Goodman. 2010. “People like Me Don’t Go to College: The Legacy of a Learning Disability.” Journal of Ethnographic and Qualitative Research 4 (4): 213–225. https://eric.ed.gov/? id=EJ902542 .
  11. Fleming, A. R., W. Coduti, and J. T. Herbert. 2018. “Development of a First Year Success Seminar for College Students with Disabilities.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 31 (4): 309–320. https://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ1214190 .

Key Takeaway:  Students with a deep approach to learning tend to have character traits associated with openness, conscientiousness, and a “steady temperament.” Educators can focus on fostering these traits in the classroom to increase students’ self-awareness and self-management skills, which students use to motivate themselves, set achievable personal and academic goals, and develop a growth mindset. —Shekufeh Monadjem

In the first study of its kind, the author Paulo Moreira, together with a group of researchers, investigated how different personality traits influenced students’ attitudes towards learning. The research was conducted with a study group of 686 adolescents with different approaches to learning.  

Two major approaches to learning were identified—the deep approach and the surface approach. 

The Deep Approach: “When a student adopts a deep approach to an academic task, this is to say that their underlying guiding intention is to maximize intellectual understanding and extract meaning from the task. There is also an intrinsic motivation to learn.” The qualities of openness, conscientiousness, and a “steady temperament” have also been linked to personalities that show a deep approach. Studies have shown a positive association between the deep approach and academic performance.1,2 

The Surface Approach: Academic performance is typically lower in those students who display a surface approach to their learning.3.4 “When a student adopts a surface approach, the guiding motivation is extrinsic to the task. The resulting strategies for a given task under this approach, such as rote learning, are characterized by low investment and low effort.”

Furthemore, other traits were identified in the study group:

  • Novelty seeking—seeking new experiences with intense emotional sensations
  • Harm avoidance—a tendency to respond intensely to negative stimuli
  • Reward dependance—a positive response and maintenance of behaviour in response to rewards
  • Persistence—the tendency to continue with a behaviour despite the absence of a reward

Students identified as having a deep approach to learning showed low harm avoidance, low novelty seeking, and high persistence, as well as high cooperativeness and high self-directedness. Whereas, those that adopted a surface approach to their learning showed an opposite pattern of high harm avoidance and low self-directedness as well as neuroticism. These self-regulatory aspects of personality are important for helping students gain a more adaptive approach to learning. 

Students showing high persistence in their personalities were also found to be “ambitious, enthusiastic, and tireless overachievers.”5 

Because character is changeable, it can be developed and improved with the help of interventions to gain a more mature outlook. Adolescents with a mature character might be described as “responsible, resourceful, socially tolerant, empathic, principled, patient, and creative.”6 “Consequently, one practical implication of the study is that teachers and schools may be able to use character-development interventions with certain types of students, (i.e., those with a steady temperament profile) to encourage more adaptive approaches to learning and their associated positive academic outcomes.”

Mindfulness-based interventions are also an option that can be used to influence students to strengthen self-esteem and sense of mastery (i.e., self-directedness). Likewise, the results of the study also suggested that different types of interventions would be effective for students with different personality types. Educator awareness of character traits associated with deep learning allows for evidence-informed interventions focusing on fostering these traits to be harnessed in the classroom. 

Article Summarized

Moreira, P. A., Inman, R. A., Rosa, I., Cloninger, K., Duarte, A., & Robert Cloninger, C. (2021). The psychobiological model of personality and its association with student approaches to learning: Integrating temperament and character. Scandinavian Journal of Educational Research, 65(4), 693-709.

Summary by: Shekufeh Monadjem—Shekufeh believes that the MARIO Framework builds relationships that enables students to view the world in a positive light as well as enabling them to create plans that ultimately lead to their success.

Additional References:

  1. Richardson, M., Abraham, C., & Bond, R. (2012). Psychological correlates of university students’ academic performance: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 138(2), 353–387. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0026838
  2. Watkins, D. (2001). Correlates of approaches to learning: A cross-cultural meta-analysis. In R. J. Sternberg, & L. F.
  3. Diseth, A. (2003). Personality and approaches to learning as predictors of academic achievement. European Journal of Personality, 17(2), 143–155. https://doi.org/10.1002/per.469 
  4. Diseth, A. (2013). Personality as an indirect predictor of academic achievement via student course experience and approach to learning. Social Behavior and Personality, 41(8), 1297–1308. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2013.41.8. 1297
  5. Cloninger, C. R., Zohar, A. H., Hirschmann, S., & Dahan, D. (2012). The psychological costs and benefits of being highly persistent: Personality profiles distinguish mood disorders from anxiety disorders. Journal of Affective Disorders, 136(3), 758–766.
  6. Cloninger, C. R. (2004). Feeling good: The science of well-being. Oxford University Press.

Key Takeaway: In addition to implementing the best interventions for students who are qualified for learning support, providing effective learning strategies needed to avoid the misidentification of English language learners (ELLs) in special education has never been more crucial. Implementing six effective vocabulary acquisition strategies (VAS) within the frameworks of self-regulated and multimedia learning may not only have promising effects on the language acquisition of ELLs but it may also prevent ELLs being falsely identified for special education eligibility. —Michael Ho

Ortogero and Ray (2021) searched, gathered, and analyzed eight research articles to examine the research question: In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, what recent vocabulary acquisition strategies (VAS) are feasible for e-learning and effective in reducing the over-representation of ELLs in special education?

Here are the major takeaways:

  • Nearly 12% of English language learners were identified as having a disability in 2016.1 This has prompted educators to use technology effectively to teach a second language; integrate the second language into content areas; use the first language to teach the second language; and focus on other language learning strategies, such as vocabulary acquisition strategies (VAS).
  • Vocabulary acquisition is essential among English language learners because they need to constantly acquire the meaning of unknown words when speaking, listening, reading, or writing. Having a strong literacy foundation is a prime indicator of academic success among English language learners.
  • “The following VAS for ELLs were found to be effective: (1) using L1 (first language) to teach L2 (second language), (2) Content and Language Integrated Learning, (3) designing culturally relevant activities in both L1 and L2, (4) pre teaching vocabulary multimodally using explicit word learning strategies, (5) multimedia use, and (6) promoting self-regulation.” Ultimately, these strategies can be taught in an online learning mode and may prevent the overrepresentation of English language learners in special education.
  • During and even after the COVID-19 pandemic, the six VAS strategies work best in the Self-Regulated Multimedia Cognitive Learning Model, which balances the use of technology and multimedia with self-regulation. It begins with pre-teaching vocabulary using explicit word learning strategies, followed by content and language integrated learning and culturally relevant learning activities. By using L1 to teach L2, the students’ vocabulary acquisition will be further enhanced. Ortogero and Ray (2021) mention “Implementing the six effective VAS within the frameworks of self-regulated and multimedia learning may have promising effects on educators continuing their efforts of effectively instructing ELs (English learners) amid an increased e-learning culture.”
  • Many stakeholders worry about the potential detrimental effects of learning through technology. In order to address this issue, self-regulation skills, such as setting goals and monitoring one’s learning, need to be emphasized during online learning.2 Ortogero and Ray (2021) refer to Huebeck’s 2020 study3 and emphasize that “teaching and promoting self-regulation skills can help curb technology’s distracting features and lead to a culture of learning English as a second language amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has driven educators to embrace technology.”

This study had some limitations. First, the search methods were only conducted by the first author, and the eight studies reviewed used self-reporting instruments only. In addition, a few studies did not indicate whether all instruments used were in the participant’s first language. Other VAS learning strategies related to the Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP), such as using open questions, wait time, and code-switching, were also not included.

Experimental studies examining the effects of VAS on English language learners is recommended for further research, in order to address response bias. Comparing the effects of various native languages may explain why certain VAS are more effective than others. Finally, the effects of VAS pre, during, and post COVID-19 could determine the impact the pandemic has had on English language learners.

Summarized Article:

Ortogero, S. P., & Ray, A. B. (2021). Overrepresentation of English Learners in Special Education Amid the COVID-19 Pandemic. Educational Media International, 1-20.

Summary by: Michael Ho — Michael supports the MARIO Framework because it empowers learners to take full control of their personalized learning journey, ensuring a impactful and meaningful experience

Research author Shawna P. Ortogero, Ph.D., was involved in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. National Center for Education Statistics. (2018). English language learner (ELL) students enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools, by home language, grade, and selected student characteristics: Selected years, 2008-09 through fall 2016. Institute for Education Sciences.https://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d18/tables/dt18_204.27.asp
  2. Pintrich, P. (2000). The role of goal orientation in self-regulated learning. In M. Boekaerts, P. Pintrich, & M. Zeidner (Eds.), Handbook of self-regulation (pp. 451–502). Elsevier Inc. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-012109890-2/50043-3
  3. Huebeck, E. (2020, June 3). How did COVID-19 change your teaching, for better or worse? See teachers’ responses. Education Week. https://www.edweek.org/ew/articles/2020/06/03/how-did-covid-19-change-your-teaching-for.html