Key Takeaway:

It can be tempting to implement rewards and punishment in the classroom and educators tend to forget about the importance of intrinsic motivation to foster academic growth and engagement. Shkedy et al. (2021) explored how implementing Visual Communication Analysis (VCA) along with self-determination theory when teaching students to type independently may provide an avenue to build intrinsic motivation among students with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disabilities. Consequently, the learning and functional communication skills of these students would improve. —Michael Ho

The Study

Shkedy et al. (2021) examined the efficacy of using Visual Communication Analysis (VCA) in teaching children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), intellectual disability (ID), and speech and language impairment to type independently as a means of expressive and functional communication. VCA is an “experiential therapy that is used to teach communication and can also be used to teach academics, while building confidence and self-esteem, and ultimately decreasing maladaptive behaviors.” In this study, Shkedy et al. (2021) investigated the relationship between instructional time each student received in typing and the letters correct per minute. 

The researchers hypothesized that VCA implementation will increase psychological well-being and decrease maladaptive behaviors among children with ASD, ID, and speech and language impairment. 

Major Takeaways 

  • “The rise in the number of students with disabilities served under the federal law of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) in public schools increased between 2011 and 2017, from 6.4 million to 7.0 million students.”1
  • Students with ASD and ID have been significantly increasing over the past few years, and there is a need to provide personalized support to each student based on their needs and abilities.
  • “Special education classrooms are usually very structured and rigid and the majority are managed using token systems,” indicating that there is very little autonomy in a special needs classroom. This contradicts what special educators are responsible for—to meet the needs of each unique learner.
  • VCA has led to significant decreases in maladaptive and self-injurious behaviors, an increase in verbalizations and effective toilet training.
  • VCA combines Self-Determination Theory (SDT) with visual support, prompting, and technology; it provides students a variety of choices and perceived control when learning, in order to develop intrinsic motivation and competence.
  • Deci and Ryan (1985a & 2000) defined Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as a theory of intrinsic motivation that has three components—autonomy, competence, and relatedness; these three components tend to foster motivation and engagement for activities, including enhanced performance, persistence, and creativity.2
  • 27 students aged 5.5 to 11.5 years, who had at least one diagnosis of ASD, ID, speech-language impairment, were recruited from three special day classrooms across two elementary schools in South Bay Union School District, San Diego County, California. 
  • On average, a minimum of one class period per school day was allocated to using VCA, and data was automatically collected by a software. Based on self-determination theory, the students were provided choice, autonomy, and competence at the appropriate level without any rewards or punishments.

The Findings

  • The results indicated that there was a consistent positive effect of VCA-based instruction on typing efficiency for all groups of students (ASD, ID, speech-language impairment, and autism comorbid with ID), regardless of the diagnosis.
  • With the use of VCA, participants learned to type effectively, thereby improving their learning and functional communication skills. In addition, participants found success with learning novel tasks, as the difficulty of the task gradually increased after each successful performance.
  • Educators, professionals, and parents can use the data from this research to create opportunities for children with ASD, ID, and/or speech-language impairment to design and implement effective instruction on communication through typing.

Limitations

Firstly, the time dedicated to the study varied from one student to another based on teachers’ expectations. There is also a lack of standardized assessments used prior to the beginning of this study, as age limitations on some assessments meant that younger participants were given different assessments from older participants. In addition, the age range of the participants ignored older students from secondary schools. Finally, less than 25% of the participants were females.

Summarized Article:

Shkedy, G., Shkedy, D., Sandoval-Norton, A. H., Fantaroni, G., Montes Castro, J., Sahagun, N., & Christopher, D. (2021). Visual Communication Analysis (VCA): Implementing self-determination theory and research-based practices in special education classrooms. Cogent Psychology, 8(1), 1875549.

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.

Academic researchers Dalia Shkedy and Aileen Herlinda Sandoval participated in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. National Center for Education Statistics. (2019). Children and youth with disabilities. U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator_cgg.asp
  2. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (1985). Cognitive evaluation theory. In Intrinsic motivation and self-determination in human behavior (pp. 43–85). Springer, Boston, MA. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4899-2271-7_3

Key Takeaway:

As educators, we must consider our collaborative planning, teaching, and assessment practices for Special Educational Needs (SEN) students to establish a deliberate connection between their Individual Education Program (IEP) and mainstream science objectives. In the science classroom, this might include using a range of methods, techniques and strategies that will enable all students to demonstrate their conceptual understanding of science as well as to build interest and confidence in the subject. —Niki Cooper-Robbins

Scientific Literacy for SEN Students

This article outlines a Turkish study conducted with 12 grade 5-8 SEN students and the contributions of 15 science and SEN teachers. The aim of the study was to:

  • develop a scientific experimental guidebook for the students;
  • investigate the book’s effect on the students’ conceptual understanding of physical events in science.

The study took place against an identified, national need to improve the scientific literacy of SEN students through a better understanding of science topics. The launch of a new curriculum brought with it an expectation of closer collaboration between the science and SEN teachers. The importance of this research becomes apparent when you come to realize that in this context, it is the norm for SEN students to receive their Turkish, math, and science education in the separate SEN resource space as opposed to the mainstream classroom. “Resource rooms take mainstream students’ learning needs into consideration,” and this was the missing element (excuse the pun!) in the science classroom. In contrast, the science teachers had the subject knowledge, but the SEN teachers did not. The purpose of the scientific experimental guidebook was to bridge the gap referred to as ‘pedagogical content knowledge’ between the SEN and science environments. 

Deliberate & Inclusive Design

The guidebook incorporated interactive techniques to increase interest in and attitudes towards science and to empower students to express, support and generate their ideas in a range of ways. Avatars of the students and QR code links to YouTube videos of experiments were designed to build confidence, interest and belonging. Discussion-based routines to support the introduction, exploration and evaluation of concepts played a key role in the simultaneous development of conceptual understanding and social skills.

Findings

The results of the study showed that the guidebook was successful in that it did support conceptual understanding in a positive way. The data revealed that the “hands-on and minds-on” experiences enhanced understanding, and the option to express insights through drawings proved more successful than the tests and interviews. When considering why, the reason given was the students’ complex and varying profiles. For example, students with dyslexia or dysphasia were less inhibited when conveying understanding through drawings as opposed to writing or speech. 

The study identified that the students struggled to transfer knowledge to new situations, and this was particularly evident with the more abstract concepts. The main finding, therefore, was that learning was more effective when the learning experiences were multi-sensory and interactive.

In addition, the study was found to be “in harmony with Dilber’s (2017)1 views, emphasizing that science topics should be contextually linked with daily life … Moreover, such a learning environment (i.e. conducting science experiments within small groups, watching experimental videos, and discussion about the results) may have enabled [SEN students] to imagine the concept in their minds.2 This means that peer learning and effective teaching strategies overcome students’ difficulties in understanding science concepts.”3 

Summarized Article:

Er Nas, S., Akbulut, H. İ., Çalik, M., & Emir, M. İ. (2021). Facilitating Conceptual Growth of the Mainstreamed Students with Learning Disabilities via a Science Experimental Guidebook: a Case of Physical Events. International Journal of Science and Mathematics Education, 45–67. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10763-020-10140-3.

Summary by: Niki Cooper-Robbins—As an ESL Coach, Niki is an advocate for the needs of language learners and, through the MARIO Framework, endeavors to nurture and celebrate linguistic diversity in education.

Additional References:

  1. Dilber, Y. (2017).  Fen bilimleri öğretmenlerinin öğrenme güçlüğü tanılı kaynaştırma öğrencileri ile yürüttükleri öğretim sürecinin incelenmesi / Examination of the instructional process carried out by the science teachers with mainstreaming students diagnosed learning disabilities [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. University of Karadeniz Technical.
  2. Talbot, P., Astbury, G., & Mason, T. (2010). Key concepts in learning disabilities. Sage.
  3. Thornton, A., McKissick, B. R., Spooner, F., Lo, Y., & Anderson, A. L. (2015). Effects of collaborative pre-teaching on science performance of high school students with specific learning disabilities. Education and Treatment of Children, 38(3), 277–304. https://doi.org/10.1353/etc.2015.0027.

Key Takeaway: 

Temptation can hamper engagement and perseverance directed towards a specific task and cause distractions that can impact the learning process of a student. One way to maintain motivation for a given task is to allow students to choose their tasks and activities based on their interests. Another way is to foster self-efficacy, which enables the student to believe that they are capable of maintaining a high level of motivation and focus. —Shekufeh Monadjem

Attractive Alternatives: Temptation vs Engagement

When working on important tasks, there are always attractive alternatives that tempt us away from our work, be it social media, talking to a friend or even cleaning the house. In their study, Kim,Y., (Washington University), Yu, S.L., (Ohio State University) and Shin, J. (Seoul National University) explored how the effects of self-efficacy can impact the notion of temptation over a period of time. “As students’ learning does not happen in a vacuum, target tasks should be examined in relation to the distracting tasks to better depict motivational challenges that students face within the educational context.”1

“When the attractiveness of an alternative exceeds that of the current task, students feel tempted, and the motivation for the alternative rises.”2 Even if students have high motivation for a certain academic task, they may not engage in the learning if there is another task that is more motivating or attractive to them. 

Researchers suggest that the presence of temptation can hamper engagement and perseverance towards a given task by distracting the student to the extent that it will adversely affect their learning process. Milyavskaya and Inzlicht (2017) “found that simply experiencing temptation led to depletion and lower goal attainment.”3 Fries and Dietz (2007) “suggested that the negative impact of temptations comes from lowering motivation for the learning activity. Students often succumb to temptation and fall into the trap of task-switching or procrastination.”4

Self-Regulated Learning and Student Motivation

Self-regulated learning (SRL) can improve “the ability to concentrate on the target task in the presence of tempting alternatives”5 Self-regulated learners are more likely to maintain their motivation and sustain their engagement on a current task, instead of being distracted by other alternatives.

The current study focused on the aspect of self-efficacy for SRL, which is a crucial aspect of SRL. “Abundant evidence suggests the strong link between self-efficacy, motivation, and performance. If students perceive themselves as capable of planning, managing, and regulating their own academic activities, they are more likely to have higher confidence in learning and mastering their activities.” Previous research suggests that higher levels of self-efficacy for SRL can contribute to “higher academic self-efficacy, higher achievement, and less school dropout.”6

One way to maintain student motivation is to allow students to make their own choices and decisions. “It is important to provide meaningful choice opportunities to students to promote their interest, on-task engagement, and persistence.”7 Teachers have also realised that choice provides students a sense of responsibility and self-control, thus making students more involved and engaged in academic activities. This is especially important and effective for students with low interest or SRL skills. 

Summarized Article: 

Kim, Y. E., Yu, S. L., & Shin, J. (2021). How temptation changes across time: effects of self-efficacy for self-regulated learning and autonomy support. Educational Psychology, 1-18.

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. 

Academic researcher Yeo-eun Kim participated in the final version of this summary. 

Additional References:

  1. Hofer, M. (2010). Adolescents’ development of individual interests: A product of multiple goal regulation? Educational Psychologist, 45(3), 149–166.
  2. Hofer, M. (2007). Goal conflicts and self-regulation: A new look at pupils’ off-task behaviour in the classroom. Educational Research Review, 2(1), 28–38.
  3. Milyavskaya, M., & Inzlicht, M. (2017). What’s so great about self-control? Examining the importance of effortful self-control and temptation in predicting real-life depletion and goal attainment. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 8(6), 603–611.
  4. Fries, S., & Dietz, F. (2007). Learning in the face of temptation: The case of motivational interference. The Journal of Experimental Education, 76(1), 93–112.
  5. Baumann, N., & Kuhl, J. (2005). How to resist temptation: The effects of external control versus autonomy support on self-regulatory dynamics. Journal of Personality, 73(2), 443–470.
  6. Caprara, G. V., Fida, R., Vecchione, M., Del Bove, G., Vecchio, G. M., Barbaranelli, C., & Bandura, A. (2008). Longitudinal analysis of the role of perceived self-efficacy for self-regulated learning in academic continuance and achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 100(3), 525–534.
  7. Black, A. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). The effects of instructors’ autonomy support and students’ autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Science Education, 84(6), 740–756.

Key Takeaway 

It is very easy to gamify or incorporate games (virtual or otherwise) into a lesson plan to improve learning and/or motivate learners to be engaged. How can we ensure that they not only improve learning but cause learning as well? Using the Universal Design for Learning framework in connection to a review of related literature on motivation and social learning, this study has identified several effective factors that need to be considered for developing serious games. —Nika Espinosa

Role of Games in Learning

Serious games are activities that “serve as mediators to directly cause learning,” as defined by Landers (2015).1 A lot of research into serious games has shown conflicting evidence on their impact on education. However, observed inconsistencies can be resolved. Drawing from theories on social learning, motivation, and the framework of Universal Design for Learning, Watt and Smith (2021) determine guidelines for designing serious games.

“Virtually all games explored in these studies were single-player computer games.” These games do not support the importance of social learning. The evidence from social constructivism tells us that learning is dependent on the interaction between the learners. “Participation in cooperative learning strongly predicts student achievement2 as well as increasing student motivation and self-efficacy and decreasing anxiety.”3 Furthermore, the literature strongly suggests that even when the game has a social component, cooperative games are found to be more effective as opposed to competitive games with leaderboards and social components. 

“Motivation and engagement have been shown to have a positive effect on learning,4,5,6 and so can be considered moderators of learning.” Glynn et. al (2011)7 would like us to view motivation as having four key components: intrinsic motivation, extrinsic motivation, self-efficacy, and self-determination. 

There were six social learning factors and eight motivation factors identified as effective serious game design guidelines based on the literature reviewed by Watt and Smith (2021) in connection to Universal Design for Learning. 

Social Learning Factors for Game Design

The social learning factors are:

  • Introducing team-building activities before the learning activities.8
  • When designing games, a team identity that encourages membership maintenance should be developed.8,2 
  • Game design should lean more towards cooperative rather than competitive play.9,10,11,12 
  • Ensured opportunities where each member can be an expert through developing specialties.13 
  • Ensured opportunities where each member can teach other members in their expertise,13,14,15,16,17,18 
  • Experiential learning should be supported with a level of teacher guidance.19,20,21,22,23,24,25 

Motivational Factors for Game Design

 The motivational factors are:

  • Considerations for themes or narratives that are compelling.26,7 
  • Promoting self-determination through adequate decision-making and freedom of movement.27,28 
  • Provision of multiple attempts and strategies as opposed to a punitive approach to failure.29,30
  • In order to encourage grade motivation, learners need to be assessed on content within the game.31
  • Rewarding learning as opposed to performance.7 
  • Student achievement must be evident in order to earn rewards.7,8 
  • In-game rewards for learning should be included in order to benefit later play.28 
  • Immersion and visual elements should be balanced so as not to add unnecessary cognitive load.32 

An impressive, well-developed game can take several years to develop. “These games often require budgets of over half a billion dollars and teams of hundreds of developers to produce.” Educators do not have the time nor capacity to create such games. What educators can do instead is to deliver content material in a fun and engaging manner, by using these proposed guidelines, to ensure that it does not only improve learning but that there is learning happening as well.

Summarized Article:

Watt, K., & Smith, T. (2021). Research-Based Game Design for Serious Games. Simulation & Gaming, 104687812110067. https://doi.org/10.1177/10468781211006758

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. Landers, R. N. (2015). Developing a theory of gamified learning: Linking serious games and gamification of learning. Simulation and Gaming. https://doi.org/10.1177/1046878114563660
  2. Tsay, M., & Brady, M. (2010). A case study of cooperative learning and communication pedagogy: Does working in teams make a difference? Journal of the Scholarship of Teaching & Learning, 10 (2), 78–89. http://mtsayvogel.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Tsay-and-Brady-JOSOTL-2010.pdf
  3. Courtney, D. P., Courtney, M., & Nicholson, C. (1992). The effect of cooperative learning as an instructional practice at the college level. College Student Journal, 28 (4), 471–477. https:// files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED354808.pdf
  4. Paas, F., Tuovinen, J. E., Van Merriënboer, J. J. G., & Darabi, A. A. (2005). A motivational perspective on the relation between mental effort and performance: Optimizing learner involvement in instruction. Educational Technology Research and Development, 53 (3), 25–34. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02504795
  1. Zhao, C. M., & Kuh, G. D. (2004). Adding value: Learning communities and student engagement. Research in Higher Education, 45 (2), 115–138. https://doi.org/10.1023/ B:RIHE.0000015692.88534.de
  2. Carini, R. M., Kuh, G. D., & Klein, S. P. (2006). Student engagement and student learning: Testing the linkages. Research in Higher Education, 47 (1), 1–32. https://doi.org/10.1007/ s11162-005-8150-9
  3. Glynn, S. M., Brickman, P., Armstrong, N., & Taasoobshirazi, G. (2011). Science motivation questionnaire II: Validation with science majors and nonscience majors. Journal of Research in Science Teaching, 48 (10), 1159–1176. https://doi.org/10.1002/tea.20442
  4. Slavin, R. E. (2011). Instruction based on cooperative learning. In R. E. Mayer & P. A. Alexander (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Learning (pp. 344–360). https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203839089
  5. Abu-Dawood, S. (2016). The cognitive and social motivational affordances of gamification in E-Learning environment. Proceedings – IEEE 16th International Conference on Advanced Learning Technologies, ICALT 2016, (July 2016), 373–375. https://doi.org/10.1109/ ICALT.2016.126
  6. Johnson, D. W., Maruyama, G., Johnson, R., Nelson, D., & Skon, L. (1981). Effects of cooperative, competitive, and individualistic goal structures on achievement: A meta- analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 89 (1), 47–62. https://doi.org/10.1037/0033-2909.89.1.47
  7. Kolawole, E. B. (2008). Effects of competitive and cooperative learning strategies on academic performance of Nigerian students in mathematics. Educational Research and Reviews, 3 (1), 33–37. https://academicjournals.org/article/article1379584288_Kolawole.pdf
  8. Qin, Z., Johnson, D. W., & Johnson, R. T. (1995). Cooperative versus competitive efforts and problem solving. Review of Educational Research, 65 (2), 129–143. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543065002129
  1. Vygotsky, L. S. (1978). Mind in society (M. Cole, V. John-Steiner, S. Scribner, & E. Souberman, eds.). Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
  2. Devin-Sheehan, L., Feldman, R. S., & Allen, V. L. (1976). Research on children tutoring children: A critical review. Review of Educational Research, 46 (3), 355–383. https://doi. org/10.2307/1170008
  3. O’Donnell, A. M. (2006). The role of peers and group learning. In P. A. Alexander & P. H. Winne (Eds.), Handbook of educational psychology (pp. 781–802). Mahwah: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.
  4. Palincsar, A. S., Brown, A. L., & Martin, S. M. (2011). Peer interaction in reading comprehension instruction. Educational Psychologist, 22 ( 3–4 ), 231–253. https://doi.org/10.1080/00461 520.1987.9653051
  5. Rosenshine, B., & Meister, C. (1994). Reciprocal teaching: A review of the research. Review of Educational Research, 64 (4), 479–530. https://doi.org/10.3102/00346543064004479
  6. Webb, N. M. (2008). Learning in small groups. In T. L. Good (Ed.), 21st Century education: A reference handbook (pp. 203–211). Los Angeles: Sage Publications.
  7. Brown, A., & Campione, J. (1994). Guided discovery in a community of learners. In K. McGilly (Ed.), Classroom lessons: Integrating cognitive theory and classroom practice (pp. 229– 270). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. https://psycnet.apa.org/record/1994-98346-008
  8. Hardiman, P. T., Pollatsek, A., & Well, A. D. (1986). Learning to understand the balance beam. Cognition and Instruction, 3 (1), 63–86. https://doi.org/10.1207/s1532690xci0301_3
  9. Kirschner, P. A., Sweller, J., & Clark, R. E. (2006). Why minimal guidance during instruction does not work: An analysis of the failure of constructivist, discovery, problem-based, experiential, and inquiry-based teaching. Educational Psychologist, 41 (2), 75–86. https:// doi.org/10.1207/s15326985ep4102
  10. Mayer, R. E. (2004). Should there be a three-strikes rule against pure discovery learning? The case for guided methods of instruction. American Psychologist, 59 (1), 14–19. https://doi.org/10.1037/0003-066X.59.1.14
  11. Moreno, R. (2004). Decreasing cognitive load for novice students: Effects of explanatory versus corrective feedback in discovery-based multimedia. Instructional Science, 32 (1–2), 99–113. https://doi.org/10.1023/b:truc.0000021811.66966.1d
  12. Sweller, J., Mawer, R. F., & Howe, W. (1982). Consequences of history-cued and means-end strategies in problem solving. The American Journal of Psychology, 95 (3), 455–483. https://doi.org/http://psycnet.apa.org/doi/10.2307/1422136
  13. Tuovinen, J. E., & Sweller, J. (1999). A comparison of cognitive load associated with discovery learning and worked examples. Journal of Educational Psychology, 91 (2), 334–341. https://doi.org/10.1037/0022-0663.91.2.334
  14. Garris, R., Ahlers, R., & Driskell, J. E. (2002). Games, motivation, and learning: A research and practice model. Simulation and Gaming, 33 (4), 441–467. https://doi. org/10.1177/1046878102238607
  15. Black, A. E., & Deci, E. L. (2000). The effects of instructors’ autonomy support and students’ autonomous motivation on learning organic chemistry: A self-determination theory perspective. Science Education, 84 (6), 740–756. https://doi.org/10.1002/1098- 237X(200011)84:6<740::AID-SCE4>3.0.CO;2-3
  16. Westera, W. (2019). Why and how serious games can become far more effective: Accommodating productive learning experiences, learner motivation and the monitoring of learning gains. Educational Technology & Society, 22 (1), 59–69. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/ stable/26558828?seq=1#metadata_info_tab_contents
  17. Bandura, A. (1997). Self-efficacy: The exercise of control. Macmillan.
  18. Bandura, A., Barbaranelli, C., Caprara, G. V., & Pastorelli, C. (1996). Multifaceted impact of self-efficacy beliefs on academic functioning. Child Development, 67 (3), 1206–1222. https://doi.org/10.2307/1131888
  19. Herrington, J., Reeves, T. C., & Oliver, R. (2010). A guide to authentic e-Learning. In A Guide to Authentic e-Learning. https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203864265
  20. Cheng, M. T., Lin, Y. W., She, H. C., & Kuo, P. C. (2017). Is immersion of any value? Whether, and to what extent, game immersion experience during serious gaming affects science learning. British Journal of Educational Technology, 48 (2), 246–263. https://doi.org/10.1111/bjet.12386

Key Takeaway

Improving our understanding of the mindsets of students with learning disabilities (LD) will permit the implementation of meaningful supports. However, a pilot study was inconclusive whether or not the growth mindset self-beliefs of students with LD were in fact false growth mindsets, wherein students were more focused on effort than more effective resources for support. — Matt Piercy

A False Growth Mindset

Goegan, Pelletier, and Daniels (2021) conducted a pilot study that explored the mindsets of grade 12 students with learning disabilities (LD). Dweck’s (1999) mindset theory1 was the guiding framework, and the authors’ interest was not limited to whether or not students adopted growth or fixed mindsets but questioned whether there would be a clear emergence of false growth mindsets in students. A false growth mindset is one that simplifies the need for support to merely putting in more effort.

The authors investigated the following three research questions: 

  1. Do students with LD score similar to peers on measures of fixed and growth mindsets? 
  2. Within the group, do students with LD identify more with growth or fixed mindsets? 
  3. How do students’ self-beliefs about having LD correspond with mindset messaging?

The Findings

The findings indicated that students with LD do in fact score similar to their peers on measures of fixed and growth mindsets. Yet, when compared within the group, students with LD reported significantly higher growth than fixed mindsets scores. It was inconclusive whether this growth mindset was more than simply tacitly tied to a notion of effort, or what is termed a false-growth mindset. 

When students were asked to self-report on what it means to have a learning disability, two common words surfaced: “hard/harder” (31% response rate) and “work” (25% response rate). For example, “I just have to try harder.” The word “just” was linked in 9% of the responses, suggesting growth equates to effort.

An honest evaluation noted the study’s limitations. “First, participants were a homogenous group of students from one province in Western Canada.” Further, the sample size was 100 students.

Growth-Mindset Messaging

Intriguing, however, was the authors’ suggestion that future research “could be conducted to examine the communication of mindsets messaging from teachers and other school personnel and how the information is adopted by students generally, and students who identify with having a LD in particular, to support the development of accurate growth mindsets.” The intention is to better understand the mindsets of students with LD, so appropriate and meaningful supports can be provided.

Though there are mixed findings relative to whether or not students with LD identify similar levels of growth and fixed mindsets when compared to their peers, the authors remain optimistic about how commonly students, without regard to disability status, are adopting growth mindsets. “Teachers should be providing messaging to all their students that they can indeed grow with effort and appropriate implementation of learning strategies and supports.”2 

Summarized Article:

Goegan, L. D., Pelletier, G. N., & Daniels, L. M. (2021). I Just Have to Try Harder: Examining the Mindsets of Students with LD. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 0829573521998954.

Summary by: Matt Piercy — Matt appreciates how at the heart of the MARIO framework is a passion to develop relationships and a desire to empower students to uncover their purpose while building upon strengths.  Further, Matt is inspired by how the MARIO team supports educators and is quickly and nobly becoming a collaborative force in pursuit of educational equity.

Additional References:

  1. Dweck, C. S. (1999). Self-theories: Their role in motivation, personality and development. Psychology Press. 
  2. Dweck, C. S. (2007). Boosting achievement with messages that motivate. Education Canada, 47(2), 6–10.

Key Takeaway

Elementary students with or at risk of emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD) often experience failure and frustration in mathematics. With high-quality instruction and motivation strategies, such as reinforcing engagement, self-monitoring strategies, and using the high-p strategy, we can improve student engagement and motivation to scaffold learning. — Jay Lingo

We often hear about repeated experiences of frustration and failure in the mathematics classroom, more so for students with or at risk of emotional and behavioral disorders (EBD). “In regards to mathematics performance, 92% of students with EBD had significant deficits in mathematics. These feelings of incompetence could lead to loss of motivation and engagement which are important for academic success.” 

In order to address this, general and special educators can promote engagement in math with three motivation strategies: (1) reinforcement strategies (2) self-monitoring of attention (SMA), and (3) high preference strategy. These strategies combined with high-quality, effective mathematics instruction will promote student success.

(1) Reinforcement strategies

Praise statement that identifies a specific behavior for attending to and being engaged during mathematics instruction rather than a general praise leads to forming positive learning habits.” For example, “Lucas, great job cooperating with your group while you worked to solve that fraction problem.” Praises with behavioral description convey more authenticity and sincerity which increases the reinforcement. 

Another strategy is a token economy system to simultaneously work on money and/or decimal concepts. For example, “Great work finding your division error and re-working the problem. I am adding a dollar and 25 cents to your token account for persistence.” We could be strategic in the timing of using the system by delivering tokens when they take risks or are off-task during group work to redirect their attention back to the task. 

Educators could also use tech tools to help us remind ourselves to praise or deliver a token on a continuous loop. For example, a tactile prompting device such as iWatch sends a vibratory cue every 3-5 mins. Remembering to frequently and consistently reinforce engagement over an extended period of time makes this strategy more effective.

(2) Self-Regulation and Self-Monitoring

“Students with or at risk of EBD find self-regulation challenging. This is because it relies heavily on cognitive capacities such as working memory, inhibition, and attention.” Teaching cognitive and metacognitive strategies to support learning and independence helps with this. For example, set a timer for every 5 or 10 minutes during mathematics instruction and circle “yes” or “no” when the timer sounds indicating whether or not the student was engaging in the previously defined attentive behavior. It is important that prior to this, baseline data is provided as well as teaching the student how to self-monitor. This process involves reviewing the target behavior, modeling examples and non-examples of the behavior, explaining when and how to record behavior using a self-monitoring checklist. 

(3) The High Preference Strategy (High-p strategy)

Students could establish momentum when completing preferred tasks, and this momentum can carry over to facilitate the completion of non-preferred tasks. This strategy “greases the wheels” for students to tackle more effortful work. The high-p strategy also promotes engagement through increasing speed in task initiation and/or completion. 

Try implementing these motivation strategies one at a time and see if it makes a difference for your students with EBD. Remember it’s important to keep track of data to see which strategies or combination of strategies work with each student. Even more important is working directly with the student to develop personalized goals for engagement and task completion. 

Summarized Article:

Morano, S., Markelz, A. M., Randolph, K. M., Myers, A. M., & Church, N. (2021). Motivation Matters: Three Strategies to Support Motivation and Engagement in Mathematics. Intervention in School and Clinic, 1053451221994803.

Summary by: Jay Lingo – Jay believes the MARIO Framework is providing structure and common meaning to learning support programs across the globe. Backed up with current research on the best practices in inclusion and general education, we can reimagine education…together.

Researchers Stephanie Morano, Andrew M. Markelz, Kathleen M. Randolph, Anna M. Myers, and Naomi Church participated in the final version of this summary.

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: 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: 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: 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.