Key Takeaway: Children with reading disorder (RD) have an increased risk of anxiety disorders, the most common mental health disorder in children. Fortunately, preliminary research suggests that an improvement in anxiety symptoms is associated with an improvement in academic performance over time. These findings highlight the importance of practitioner awareness of the common co-occurrence of RD and anxiety and provide support for: 1) screening for anxiety disorders in children diagnosed with RD and 2) comprehensive intervention that addresses both academic and mental health needs of children with RD. —Ashley Parnell

Reading disorder (RD), a type of specific learning disorder (SLD) that involves impairment in word reading, reading fluency, and/or reading comprehension, is common in the general population, with reported prevalence ranging from 5% to 17%. Children with RD have an increased risk for developing other psychiatric disorders, including anxiety disorder, and show higher anxiety levels than children without learning disabilities. However, “this co-occurrence is often under-recognized and under-treated resulting in less than optimal outcomes in all areas including emotional outcomes.”1

Given these concerns and statistics, the purpose of the current study from Hossain, Bent, and Hendren was to examine the association between anxiety symptoms and overall academic performance in children with RD, in hopes that a better understanding of this relationship would result in improved screening and treatment. 

Participants included 128 children (aged 7-14) from three special education schools that specialized in teaching students with RD. Teachers completed two rating scales every three months for two years, one that measured anxiety symptoms and another that measured academic progress in content areas including reading, writing, and math. 

Comparison of the two measures occurred over the two-year time period and at each time point of survey completion, both revealing a significant association between anxiety and academic performance with increased levels of anxiety symptomatology being associated with poorer academic performance in children with RD. Of specific importance, findings suggest that an improvement in an individual’s anxiety symptoms is associated with an improvement in their academic performance over time. 

Given the prevalence of anxiety and RD in isolation and comorbidly, these findings highlight the importance of screening for anxiety disorders in children that have been diagnosed with RD upon diagnosis and on a regular basis. Once identified, an interdisciplinary, comprehensive, targeted intervention that addresses both academic and mental health needs is recommended.

Summarized Article:

Hossain, B., Bent, S., & Hendren, R. (2021). The association between anxiety and academic performance in children with reading disorder: A longitudinal cohort study. Dyslexia.

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 Reference: 

  1. Hendren, R. L., Haft, S. L., Black, J. M., White, N. C., & Hoeft, F. (2018). Recognizing Psychiatric Comorbidity With Reading Disorders. Frontiers in psychiatry, 9, 101.

Key Takeaway: Trusting relationships with significant others in the academic setting are beneficial for PhD students. Having regular pedagogical conversations with trusted peers or leaders can lead to a deeper understanding of their field of study, and in turn to the success of the academic program. – Shekufeh ​​Monadjem

A trusting relationship between PhD students and a significant other, usually dissertation supervisors or course leaders, has been found to be beneficial in increasing knowledge of the subject matter being researched as well as the articulation of this knowledge. Simon and Pleschova published their findings on how these relationships (between PhD students and their significant others) contribute to the success of academic development programs.

Significant others are people “who take on importance to the individual, those whom the individual desires to impress; they might be those he or she respects, those he or she wants acceptance from, those he or she fears, or those with whom he or she identifies“ (Charon, 2001).

Those students who were in a trusting relationship were found to have regular conversations on a variety of topics starting with unavoidable subjects such as course content, assessment issues (such as exam scheduling and grading), and administrative issues, as well as more personal topics such as innovative teaching methods, syllabus design, students in their classes, and reflection on their own teaching. Simon and Pleschova found that “trust clearly had a positive influence on how often conversations took place between each participant and their significant other”.

“In cases where trust was missing from the relationship, participants did what they could to avoid certain types of conversations.” The lack of trust prevented conversations about “syllabus, reflection, and, surprisingly, administrative issues, but did not prevent conversations regarding content, assessment and students.”  The authors also discovered that when there is a lack of trust between students and their significant others, “conversations are reduced to the absolute minimum and important information is withheld, or the information conveyed during discussions is often distorted, filtered, or kept to oneself as much as possible.”

The authors posit that “the additional knowledge and skills gained while participating in the academic development program would likely influence the nature of the relationship and, with it, conversations.” It is further assumed that the students’ increased ability to have conversations about teaching matters would be noticed by their significant others, and thereby improve their trustworthiness. 

In conclusion, this study acknowledges that in an educational setting, the absence of trust “seriously limits not only the frequency of pedagogical conversations, but also the diversity of issues discussed.”

Summarized Article:

Simon, E. & Pleschová, G. (2021). PhD students, significant others, and pedagogical conversations. The importance of trusting relationships for academic development. International Journal for Academic Development. DOI:10.1080/1360144X.2021.1949324

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 Reference:

  1. Charon, J.M., (2001). Symbolic interactionism. An introduction, an interpretation, an integration. Seventh edition. Prentice Hall.

Key Takeaway: This study suggested that inclusion requires more collaborative learning environments and student-centred pedagogy. The authors also highlighted the importance of acknowledging a child’s individual strengths because “when the students’ individual needs were not recognised, it shaped their perceptions of themselves as students.”—Frankie Garbutt

In this qualitative study, Vetoniemi and Kärnä (School of Educational Sciences and Psychology, University of Eastern Finland) investigated the social participation of students with special educational needs (SEN) in mainstream schools. They claim “in order to achieve a thorough understanding of how inclusive education policies affect SEN pupils’ everyday lives at school, we need to listen to their experiences of inclusive schools.” The empirical data of this article are based upon narratives of pupils with learning and physical disabilities. 

Social participation “is the right to full and fair access to activities, social roles and relationships alongside non-disabled citizens” resulting in the “interaction between the individual and the environment.” The study outlines the rationale behind the methodology: “the study was based on the idea of narrating as a way for human beings to make meaning of themselves and the world (Bruner, 1986),1 narrative inquiry provided a means to gain an authentic in-depth understanding of SEN pupils’ experiences of social participation in inclusive settings.” 

The participants in this study were 13-to-15-year-olds with physical and learning disabilities who were able to articulate their narratives in the form of interviews. In these interviews, participants were encouraged to speak freely about their experiences. 

The author’s findings from these discussions mirrored previous findings that claim “being physically integrated in a school does not ensure full participation.” SEN students often described negative experiences and emotions related to school due to lack of support or other barriers, yet their strengths (hobbies, interests, motivation) allowed them to feel a sense of belonging and competence as well as empowerment.

From their data, the authors inferred that schools ought to pay closer attention to students’ narratives, acknowledging and playing to students’ strengths as well as negotiating how barriers can be overcome. This would effectively put inclusion policies into practice in mainstream schools in Finland, if not in all classrooms globally.

They concluded that “ultimately, inclusion takes place inside classrooms, and teachers hold the key to building up a socially rich and inclusive environment in their classrooms. The results indicate that there is a need for in-service training and efficient cooperation between all teachers.” 

Summarized Article:Vetoniemi, J., & Kärnä, E. (2021). Being included–experiences of social participation of pupils with special education needs in mainstream schools. International Journal of Inclusive Education, 25(10), 1190-1204.

Summary by: Frankie Garbutt—Frankie believes that the MARIO Framework encourages students to become reflective, independent learners who progress at their own rate.

Additional References:

  1. Bruner, J. S. 1986. Actual Minds, Possible Words. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Key Takeaway: For students with disabilities to be successful in inclusive classroom settings, teachers must implement evidence-based, high-leverage practices to help students meet the required social, emotional, and behavioural demands in the general education classroom. Social, emotional, and behavioural skills must be explicitly taught, just like academic skills, to create effective learning environments where all students can thrive both academically and socially. —Bernadette Gorczyca

In 2017, The Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) and the Collaboration for Effective Educator, Development, Accountability and Reform Center (CEEDAR) at the University of Florida published a list of 22 evidence-based, high-leverage practices (HLPs) to help teachers reach and improve the outcomes for students with disabilities in the general education classroom.1

In their article, Mabel O. Rivera (University of North Carolina, Department of Educational Specialties) and Glennda K. McKeithan (University of Kansas, Special Education Department) focus on the practical application of four social/emotional/behavioural high-leverage practices (HLPs 7-10) identified by the CEC and CEEDAR that teachers can use to help students with special needs improve academic achievement and social skills. Research findings show that “the use of evidence-based practices can produce a moderate-strong effect on academics and behaviour.”2,3 To reach students with diverse needs in less restrictive environments, teachers must be prepared to teach “foundational skills in order [for students] to master content objectives and develop the social, emotional, behavioural skills needed to work collaboratively with others, problem solve, consider different perspectives, accept constructive feedback and appropriately resolve conflicts in school and in life.”4

HLP7: Establish a consistent, organised, and respectful learning environment Teachers can create effective, safe learning environments through direct instruction of culturally responsive rules, procedures, and expectations. When teaching and reviewing rules and procedures, teachers should explain why a rule is needed and provide examples and non-examples alongside what students can gain from learning the skills being taught.5 “Teachers can integrate instructional routines that reinforce active listening, cognitive engagement, working memory, self-advocacy and respectful interactions as they plan and deliver instruction across settings.”6,7

Examples of practical application of HLP7:

  • Explicitly teach organisational and time management skills.
  • Assign notebook buddies so students can share responsibilities and collaborate to improve note taking and organisation skills.
  • Employ non-confrontational methods when redirecting students.
  • Use intentionally assigned seats.

HLP8: Provide positive and constructive feedback to guide learning and behaviour “Consistent, ongoing assessment and evaluation of student needs linked with purposeful, ‘teacher talk’ during instruction is a key component of a quality learning experience which is directly linked to academic and social/behavioural success.”8,9 Feedback should be aimed to, “minimise embarrassment and maximise the potential.”

Examples of practical application of HLP8:

  • Feedback should be goal-oriented and allow students to recognise their strengths and reflect on their needs.
  • Explicitly teach students the difference between negative and constructive feedback and how to respond to critical feedback.
  • Celebrate students’ abilities.

HLP9: Teach social behaviour Social behaviour should be taught explicitly by teachers and students should be provided with opportunities to develop age-appropriate social and communication skills “to reinforce the awareness of the thoughts, feelings, and motivations of others.”10

Examples of practical application of HLP9:

  • Teacher talk/think-aloud.
  • Include direct instruction for interpersonal, communication and self-management skills, as well as culturally responsive classroom and school-wide behaviour expectations.
  • Model respectful relationships with your students and between students.
  • “Be aware of the ‘psychosocial aspect of adolescence’ as many students at this age are easily embarrassed and may lack academic and/or social confidence.”11

HLP10: Conduct functional behavioural assessments to develop individual student behaviour support plans When students with disabilities do not respond to typical instructional strategies, McLeskey et al. (2017)3 recommend conducting a Functional Behavioural Assessment (FBA) to develop a Behavior Support Plan (BSP). An FBA will provide a formal assessment of behavioural data for an IEP team to understand the reasoning behind an interfering student behaviour. A subsequent BSP will identify evidence-based practices to target the function of the behaviour. For this process to be successful, general and special educators must collaborate effectively to collect accurate data on the interfering behaviour, meaning that “documentation of what happens right before (antecedent), during (behaviour), and directly after the behaviour occurs (consequence) is essential.” Only then can the IEP team work together to create, “a hypothesis statement…to identify the function of the behaviour…”12 If the function is not accurate, then the BSP will not be effective.

Summarized Article: Rivera, M. O., & McKeithan, G. K. (2021). High-leverage social, emotional and behavioural practices for students with disabilities in inclusive settings. Educational Review, 73(4), 436-450.

Summary by: Bernadette Gorczyca—Bernadette loves the MARIO Framework because it centers student voice and choice, empowering students to take ownership over their personalized learning journey to become confident, self-directed learners.

Additional References:

1. Ball, D. L., & Forzani, F. M. (2011). Building a common core for learning to teach: And connecting professional learning to practice. American Educator, 35, 17.

2. Cheryan, S., Ziegler, S. A., Plaut, V. C., & Meltzoff, A. N. (2014). Designing classrooms to maximize student achievement. Policy Insights from the Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1, 4–12.

3. McLeskey, J., Barringer, M.-D., Billingsley, B., Brownell, M., Jackson, D., Kennedy, M., . . . Ziegler, D. (2017, January). High-leverage practices in special education. Arlington, VA: Council for Exceptional Children & CEEDAR Center.

4. Bryant, D. P., Bryant, B. R., & Smith, D. D. (2019). Teaching students with special needs in inclusive classrooms. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

5. Suskie, L. (2018). Assessing student learning: A common sense guide. Indianapolis, IN: John Wiley & Sons.

6. Holzberg, D. G., Test, D. W., & Rusher, D. E. (2018). Self-advocacy instruction to teach high school seniors with mild disabilities to access accommodations in college. Remedial and Special Education, 40, 166–176.

7. Hueske, A. K., Endrikat, J., & Guenther, E. (2015). External environment, the innovating organization, and its individuals: A multilevel model for identifying innovation barriers accounting for social uncertainties. Journal of Engineering and Technology Management, 35, 45–70.

8. Andersson, C., & Palm, T. (2017). The impact of formative assessment on student achievement: A study of the effects of changes to classroom practice after a comprehensive professional development program. Learning and Instruction, 49, 92–102.

9. Riley, N., Riddell, S., Kidd, E., & Gavin, R. (2018). Feedback in a future-focused classroom. Literacy Learning: The Middle Years, 26, 31. ISSN: 1320-5692.

10. Johns, B. H., Crowley, E. P., & Guetzloe, E. (2017). The central role of teaching social skills. Focus on Exceptional Children, 37. doi:10.17161/fec.v37i8.6813.

11. Domitrovich, C. E., Durlak, J. A., Staley, K. C., & Weissberg, R. P. (2017). Social-emotional competence: An essential factor for promoting positive adjustment and reducing risk in school children. Child Development, 88, 408–416.

12. Sam, A., & Team, A. F. I. R. M. (2015). Functional behavior assessment. Chapel Hill, NC: National Professional Development Center on Autism Spectrum Disorder, FPG Child Development Center, University of North Carolina.

Key Takeaway: Currently, there are many sound, evidence-based reading comprehension interventions. However, not all students will demonstrate an adequate response to these interventions. Therefore, as special educators, we need to be aware of how and why students respond to reading comprehension interventions and how attention affects reading comprehension. —Michael Ho

In their study, Amanda Martinez-Lincoln, Marcia A. Barnes, and Nathan H. Clemens (2021) used moderation analysis to investigate for whom and under what conditions reading comprehension interventions are most effective. The authors investigated the following research question: Do language status and pre-intervention levels of anxiety, mind-wandering, and mindset influence the effects of a computer-delivered or teacher-delivered inferential reading comprehension intervention in struggling middle school readers?

The study aimed to:

1) Determine whether students’ mind-wandering, anxiety, and language status were associated with a differential response to an inferential reading comprehension intervention among struggling middle school readers

2) Examine whether these effects varied across instructional delivery systems: teacher-led instruction, computer-led instruction, and a control group (program based on what struggling middle school readers typically receive)

Here are the major takeaways from the article:

  • Inference-making, the ability to infer information that is not explicitly stated in the text, is a vital component to reading comprehension. Difficulties in making inferences to connect parts of the text1 and to associate texts with background knowledge2 have been linked to poor reading comprehension. 
  • Attention is a core component of engagement and is crucial to academic achievement, including reading comprehension. Martinez-Lincoln et al.  (2021) refer to the 2016 study of Rabiner et al.3 and emphasize that “poor attention can negatively influence students’ long-term academic outcomes in reading and math and can increase risk for not graduating from high school.”
  • The purpose of this study was to test the effects of three factors of attention—Mind-Wandering, Anxiety, and Mindset—across three instructional delivery systems in reading: Teacher-led Instruction, Computer-led Instruction, and a Control Group.
  • In the study, 67 students in Grade 6 to 8 from three middle schools in the southwest USA were included. A stratified randomized procedure was implemented and students were assigned to one of the three groups: Teacher-led Instruction, Computer-led Instruction, and a Control Group.
  • Measures in reading assessment included Test of Word Reading Efficiency 2nd ed., Sight Word Efficiency, Connect-IT Inferential Reading Comprehension Assessment, Bridging Inference Task, and the Wechsler Individual Achievement Test 3rd ed., Reading Comprehension. Measures in attention included Mind-Wandering Questionnaire, Multidimensional Anxiety Scale for Children 2nd Edition, and Mindset Survey.
  • Among students with similar high levels of mind-wandering, students in the computer-delivered intervention were able to make better inferences on the Bridge-IT Near task, a part of the Bridging Inference Task. Mind-wandering did not have an effect in the teacher-led intervention; this may be due to verbal praise and encouragement reducing the influence of mind-wandering in this group.
  • Compared to similarly anxious peers in the control group, Martinez-Lincoln et al., (2021) found that “students in the computer-led intervention performed better on a comprehension test that required them to make several different types of inferences.” It is important to note that higher levels of anxiety were positively correlated with higher levels of reported mind-wandering.
  • The effects of mindset on inferential reading comprehension intervention were found to be similar. This could be due to the small sample size or to the general mindset measures not being as sensitive as reading-specific mindset measures.
  • Martinez-Lincoln et al. (2021) found that English Learners (ELs) “scored lower overall than non-ELs on all reading measures.” ELs scored higher in the control group compared to ELs in the computer-led instruction. More notably, in the teacher-led instruction, the ELs’ performance did not significantly differ from those of non-ELs. This may be due to more in-depth feedback and additional examples provided in the teacher-led instruction.
  • This study had some limitations, such that the sample size was relatively small and that it was not realistic to include and control all of the factors that may influence students’ responses to reading instruction. In addition, participants read and answered the student engagement questionnaires silently. Although an interventionist was present, it is possible that a student may have misread or misunderstood the statements in the questionnaire. Finally, not all students were receiving reading instruction in the control group. 
  • The inclusion of student characteristics and instructional elements, such as group size and delivery by a computer or a teacher, in future research may be essential for developing effective reading comprehension instruction for struggling middle school readers, especially those who are ELs, have high levels of mind-wandering, or have high levels of anxiety.

Summarized Article:

Martinez-Lincoln, A., Barnes, M.A. & Clemens, N.H. Correction to: Differential Effectiveness of an Inferential Reading Comprehension Intervention for Struggling Middle School Readers in Relation to Mind-wandering, Anxiety, Mindset, and English Learner Status. Ann. of Dyslexia 71, 346 (2021).

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

Additional References:

  1. Cain, K., & Oakhill, J. V. (1999). Inference making ability and its relation to comprehension failure in young children. Reading and Writing, 11, 489–503.
  2. Cain, K., Oakhill, J. V., Barnes, M. A., & Bryant, P. E. (2001). Comprehension skill, inference-making ability, and their relation to knowledge. Memory & Cognition, 29, 850–859.
  3. Rabiner, D. L., Godwin, J., & Dodge, K. A. (2016). Predicting academic achievement and attainment: the contribution of early academic skills, attention difficulties, and social competence. School Psychology Review, 45, 250–267.

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. 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. .

Key Takeaway: Social Emotional Learning (SEL) focuses on improving the learners’ interaction with others and self-management of their emotions. These SEL skills sometimes have to be explicitly taught with added practice to help students form successful relationships with peers, teachers, family and the community. —Shekufeh Monadjem

Summary: A recent article published in the journal, Research in Developmental Disabilities by Spilt, Bosmans, and Verscheueren from University of Leuven, Belgium, examined the role of special education teachers and studied whether conducting emotion dialogues with students diagnosed with severe emotional and behavioural disturbances could promote self-understanding and emotional regulation.

It is often a challenging task to teach children with severe emotional and behavioural disturbances, as unexpected triggers can cause intense emotions in these children that can manifest as temper tantrums and oppositional or aggressive behaviour. “Children with emotional and behavior disturbances often struggle to explain their own emotions and may fail to oversee the consequences of their behaviors.”

Research shows that these children are also at risk of forming poor relationships with their teachers. Teachers and caregivers can play a corrective role in the socioemotional development of these children by providing a secure and supportive environment at school that will benefit the socioemotional development of these children.

This study examined the effect of high-quality conversations referred to as “emotion dialogues” between teachers and students with a mean age of 8.3 who had been diagnosed with severe emotional and behavioural disturbances. “Emotion dialogues sensitize children for internal emotional states (e.g.“What did I feel? How did it feel?”), raise awareness of causes (e.g., “What made me feel so angry?”) and consequences (e.g., “Because of my anger I did things that are not acceptable”), and help children explore appropriate expressions of emotions or strategies to relieve stress (e.g., “What will help me calm down instead of going mad?”).”

“For a healthy socioemotional development, it is critical that children can construct meaning of emotional experiences to increase their understanding of their own inner worlds. One way to promote such understanding is by engaging children in conversations about emotional experiences,” Spilt et al. quotes Fivush et al. (1) This is done through dialogue about past emotional events, where teachers use appropriate vocabulary to label emotions, “explain causes and consequences of emotions, and teach children how to express emotions in an appropriate manner by teaching and modelling adequate coping strategies and expressions,” Spilt et al. quotes Denham et al. (2)

The study found that positive changes in students’ behaviours were seen in the following ways: Adequate task completion, decreased negativity and hostility, accepting Teacher Guidance, and more positive resolution to negative situations. These outcomes are achieved through co-regulation, which is defined as “a warm, responsive relationship in which a caregiver positively structures the environment and provides support, coaching, and modeling for self-regulation skills.”

Finally, Spilt, Bosmans, and Verscheueren conclude by stating that “by engaging children in emotion dialogues, teachers become co-regulators of children’s emotions.”

Article Summarized:

Spilt, J. L., Bosmans, G., & Verschueren, K. (2021). Teachers as co-regulators of children’s emotions: A descriptive study of teacher-child emotion dialogues in special education. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 112, 103894.

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. Fivush, R., Berlin, L., McDermott Sales, J., Mennuti-Washburn, J., & Cassidy, J. (2003). Functions of parent-child reminiscing about emotionally negative events. Memory, 11, 179–192.
  2. Denham, S. A., Bassett, H. H., & Zinsser, K. (2012). Early childhood teachers as socializers of young children’s emotional competence. Early Childhood Education Journal, 40, 137–143.