We should be creating awareness of the existence of perpetuated educational psychology misconceptions and the lack of published literature on the effects of the spread of unjustified belief systems in K-12 teaching practices.

Misconceptions Influence Learning

The consequences of the proliferation of false information, a prevalent phenomenon labeled as “post-truths” in this digital age, are severe and profound, perpetuated through ineffective teaching strategies and misinterpretation of the science of learning, influencing pedagogy, learning environments, and curriculum development (Woolfolk Hoy, David and Pape, 2006), and contributing to the societal inability to learn accurate information (Chinn and Malhotra, 2002).

Misconceptions don’t exist due to the lack of exposure to information, but due to the existing fallacious knowledge that needs to be unlearned (Sinatra 2014) brought about by subjective evaluation and erroneous application of empirical data to the field of education.

While some educators question the integrity of evidence-based information, many teachers selectively reject scientific evidence and embrace misconceptions to avoid stress and conflict.

Decreasing Acceptance of Misconceptions With More Advanced Critical Thinking 

Researchers Morgan McAfee and Bobby Hoffman reviewed four prominent educational psychology journals and looked into 135 peer-reviewed articles. Primary research sources examined diverse samples consisting of undergraduate psychology students and utilized a true-false response format to identify misconceptions, and a Likert-type scale to measure the intensity of the misconceptions. According to the college samples, differences in the frequency of misconceptions are unable to establish a pattern. However, similarities among those with advanced education revealed a heightened perception of psychology as a science and a decreased acceptance of misconceptions by groups with higher course grades and critical thinking skills.

Mitigating Myths

To eradicate myths and misguided notions, research data and empirical principles must be carefully interpreted and communicated to individuals who lack domain-specific knowledge. Even with the intention of improving and enhancing learning outcomes, concepts can be sensationalized by popular media and misapplied to educational endeavors. Recently, more attention has been given to specific myths related to learning, neuroscience or brain-based education, technology in education, and educational policy.

Appropriate instrumentation should be developed to mitigate pervasive myths and educational psychology misconceptions, and discussion should be encouraged among educators to express dissatisfaction with such errant beliefs and advocate conceptual change efforts (Gregoire, 2003; Muis et al 2018). This can be achieved through teacher training and professional development sessions where these flawed thinking processes can be mediated.

Notable Quotes: 

“Individuals discount objective knowledge and evidence because dissonance is perceived as a threat leading to stress and anxiety, feelings that abate when the misconception is embraced” (Gregoire, 2003).

“Educators, educational policymakers and educational researchers should reject educational approaches that lack sufficient scientific support and methodologically sound empirical evidence” (Kirschner and van Merriënboer, 2013).

“Individuals will persistently retain their existing conception while rejecting the new, accurate information to protect their entrenched belief, often satisfying a robust personal or social goal” (Chinn & Brewer, 1993).

Personal Takeaway

It is said that we cannot change people’s minds, but we, as educators, have the capacity to influence and uphold our search for ideals to some extent and enlighten ourselves whenever we possibly can, overcoming one misconception at a time. When we do, we act as educators. This study is about the core and purpose of education. It is about being brave enough to welcome shifts in mindsets, which may eventually effectuate societal changes. As a teacher who wants to see changes happen, it starts off with our beliefs and attitudes toward education. This impacts me personally because even within the walls of the institution where we work, the educators that need to keep young minds open, inquisitive and resilient may themselves be the ones that are resistant to change.

Adrian-1

Adrian Pasos

Summarized Article:

McAfee, Morgan and Hoffman, Bobby (2021) “The Morass of Misconceptions: How Unjustified Beliefs Influence Pedagogy and Learning,” International Journal for the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: Vol. 15: No. 1, Article 4.

Within American school districts, there is a call to reimagine what inclusive education looks like to respond to the overall need for equity. As a means to initiate this transformation, the study seeks to assess the current understandings of inclusive education amongst a triad of stakeholders (school administrators, special educators and general educators) in order to outline next steps for creating inclusive schools.

Inclusive Practices in Planning Professional Development Opportunities

School administrators play a significant role in ensuring that all stakeholders in the school commit to equity, including all staff, parents/guardians, and students. Thus, when planning professional development opportunities, school leadership must carefully consider how both general and special educators can be collaboratively involved in professional learning contexts regarding inclusive practices. However, it is also important to acknowledge that it takes time for inclusive practices to become institutionalized (5 or more years) and administrators should be prepared to encounter some level of resistance given the disruptions to the status quo, including but not limited to shifts in power dynamics, established practices, and the role of the teacher as an expert to a learner. All members of the school community must be willing to grow, experiment, and learn in order to initiate positive changes in the area of inclusion.

Feedback From General Educators vs Special Educators

Ricci, Scheier-Dolberg, & Perkins’ study surveyed K-12 administrators, special educators, and general educators from 21 U.S. schools across 9 districts in Southern California and Las Vegas areas. The participants worked in both charter and public schools. Through the collection of written responses to a series of questions, the researchers were able to identify emerging themes that served as part of their qualitative analysis. The study revealed that all stakeholders agreed that inclusive education prioritizes focusing on every learner as an individual, emphasizing practices that are centered around relationship building, providing appropriate accommodations and modifications, and meeting the needs of all learners. However, special educators were amongst the most to comment on this theme as important compared to general educators and administrators. Other significant themes that arose from the results included: a focus on the school, focus on the content, focus on instruction, focus on providing support for teachers, focus on personal characteristics, and a focus on collaboration.

Collaboration Needed Between Different Departments in a School

As discussed in the article, “collaboration between administrators, general educators, and special educators is needed to understand the frames of reference (e.g. the beliefs, values, experiences, and expectations that affect how individuals perceive and react to situations) that each stakeholder brings to the school and how these assets can be leveraged to promote inclusive practices.” Ricci et al. highlight that schools must move away from the idea that inclusion is the sole responsibility of special educators, but rather that inclusion is a shared practice across the school community. Thus, professional development opportunities that encourage stakeholders to reflect on their own practices and see inclusion through the perspectives of one another must be provided to achieve the goal of fully inclusive schools.

Notable Quotes: 

“We believe that it is important to cast aside this rigidity in role-based responsibilities to move all stakeholders toward taking ownership for all aspects of schooling and for all students. This calls for special educators to become content experts as well, just as general educators should increase their skills in differentiation of instruction for all learners.” 

“Despite the importance of collaboration among stakeholders for promoting inclusive practices, it is noteworthy that focus on collaboration with others was the theme least often mentioned. This finding lends itself to the question of who is ‘in charge’ of collaboration? This highlights the importance of administrators taking a stronger lead in facilitating crucial conversations between general and special educators to promote inclusive practices at their school sites.”

“Our schools are in urgent need of transformational leadership approaches that bring all adults in a school building together to seek solutions to barriers to teaching and learning for all students, regardless of ability.”

Personal Takeaway

As a special educator, collaboration is a key part of providing effective support for my learners. Working in partnership with administrators, general educators, educational professionals, students, and their families, creates the strong foundation needed to support positive learning outcomes. Therefore, as the article suggests, providing increased professional development opportunities for various stakeholders to exchange ideas and practices regarding inclusion will likely strengthen the overall inclusivity of the school community, positively impacting student performance and wellbeing. As special educators, we must advocate for inclusion and help to create a space for members of our school communities to embark on this professional learning journey alongside us — a point strongly emphasized in Ricci et al’s. article.

12_Avatar72dpi

Taryn McBrayne

Summarized Article:

Ricci, L., Scheier-Dolberg, S., & Perkins, B. (2022). Transforming triads for inclusion: understanding frames of reference of special educators, general educators, and administrators engaging in collaboration for inclusion of all learners, International Journal of Inclusive Education, 26(5), 526-539, DOI: 10.1080/13603116.2019.1699609.

https://marioframework.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/04/Screen-Shot-2022-04-29-at-12.28.58-PM-3.pngHow to successfully end your current school year and prepare confidently for the year ahead
Shekufeh Monadjem

The school year is almost over, there are just a few weeks left to wrap up a year that for many was an extremely challenging year. When thinking about how to end on a strong note, it will be important to keep the following points in mind:

Student Focus:

  • Be flexible—especially with the learning outcomes of your students. It is not too late to adjust the learning goals of your students, to make them more achievable. Don’t let your students end their school year with a feeling of inadequacy because they were not able to meet their individual goals.
  • Focus on the learner—and what skills will be most useful to them as they transition to the next year. Focus on the skills that the student will employ in their personal, professional and academic future.
  • Be realistic—don’t expect results that are unattainable, some of the students have faced large challenges this year. Remember to celebrate what each student has accomplished.
  • Make your students’ learning visible to them—compare work done at the beginning and end of the year and showcase the progress each student has made.
  • Reflect—take each student through a process of reflection on what they have learned and how they have grown this year, and then celebrate the growth!
  • Plan some time to clean out your classroom with the students. Take down displays, send student work home, pack up items and organize books and supplies. The students will feel valued to be included in this task.

Teacher Focus:

  • Consider all of your routines and teaching procedures, and identify which ones you want to keep and which you want to change. Make some plans on the steps you need to take to make those specific changes.
  • Reflect on your personal successes, be they grading systems, new assignment ideas that went really well, time-saving hacks, and classroom routines that ensured equitable participation—celebrate the successes.
  • Now reflect on aspects that did not go as well. What are some of the areas of your teaching practice that you would like to grow in, and what can you do over the holidays to learn more about these areas?
  • Get your classroom ready for the next year—make sure everything is in place for a smooth start to a new year.

Starting the New Year:

At the start of the new year, imagine where you would like to be at the end of the year, then plan backwards. Ask yourself what skills you want your students to learn, and prioritize them. Make detailed notes that you can refer to regularly during the school year in order to keep your vision on track.

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

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: 

Common training procedures proved effective for training preschool teachers to collect progress monitoring data, an essential skill for teachers, especially those working within the implementation of multi-tiered support systems. While teachers acquired, maintained, and generalized data collection procedures, they did not implement these procedures outside study sessions, highlighting the importance of top-down scaffolds to ensure regular implementation of progress monitoring. – Ashley Parnell

Progress Monitoring

“Progress-monitoring is an essential skill for teachers serving children for whom the general curriculum is insufficient.” “The reason for progress monitoring is simple: it gives you data to measure whether the intervention or instruction a student is receiving is actually helping them close gaps in their learning”.1  

Increased adoption of multi-tiered systems of supports (MTSS) across education programs heightens the need for feasible, routine, and reliable data collection systems. In turn, identifying effective methods for training teachers to implement data collection is crucial. 

The Study 

In response to this need, the current study evaluated the effects of a training package on teacher implementation of data collection procedures in inclusive preschool classrooms.

Two teachers (one lead and one assistant) per class in two different classrooms were trained to implement a teacher-directed behavioral observation (TDBO) data collection, which involved:

  1. Securing student’s attention
  2. Presentation of demand or question
  3. Absence of any form of prompting
  4. Provision of specific praise of correct response or ignoring/responding neutrally to errors.
  5. Scoring of each trial as correct or incorrect.

Each teacher was assigned three children in their respective classroom. All children scored in the bottom 25% of their class on the Assessment, Evaluation, and Programming System (AEPS), a criterion-based assessment, in one of the following areas: concepts, premath, or phonological awareness and emergent reading. Using the AEPS assessment data, one behavior/skill and 5-10 related targets were identified for each child (e.g., labeling of letter sounds, letter A-J; counting objects, numbers 1-5). 

Teacher training package consisted of: 1) a video-based multimedia presentation, 2) a single-page hand-out describing each TDBO procedure, and 3) structured feedback following each training session. Sessions took place in the classroom setting 4 days per week (3 sessions per day with each child assigned to them) for 3 months. Teachers selected the materials and activity in which they collected data on the child’s target skill. Generalization data were collected throughout the study, with the exception of participants that mastered the material during the skill acquisition phase. 

Results and Implications

Results suggest:

  • Commonly used teacher training practices are functionally related to teacher mastery of TDBO procedures for collecting data on child progress within inclusive preschool classrooms. 
  • Generalization probes indicated that teachers may be able to implement and maintain the procedures with fidelity across children and skill types. 
  • Teachers reported never using the data collection procedures outside of study sessions.

Implications to practice include:

  • Lack of data collection outside sessions highlights the need for stakeholders within MTSS models to consider a systems-level approach to development and implementation, as training alone will likely be insufficient in ensuring implementation if there is no oversight.
  • Initial lectures in teacher training are almost always conducted in person. Technology can be leveraged successfully to improve common teacher training practices and reduce in-person training time, promoting accessibility, and flexibility (i.e., video-based multimedia presentation).

Summarized Article:

Shepley, C., Grisham-Brown, J., Lane, J. D., & Ault, M. J. (2020). Training Teachers in Inclusive Classrooms to Collect Data on Individualized Child Goals. Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 0271121420915770.

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.

Academic researcher Collin Shepley participated in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. Spruell, F. M. (2021, June). Progress monitoring for MTSS at the secondary level. Branching minds. https://www.branchingminds.com/blog/progress-monitoring-secondary-level-mtss

Key Takeaway:

A majority of teachers in the study shared an occupational personality that coincided with the Holland Codes of Special Education Teachers (SET). “Social” surfaces as the strongest of six personality types (realistic, investigative, artistic, social, enterprising, and conventional). Social personalities were described as emphatic and possessing strong social skills. Further studies in this area may be able to positively impact school leaders and reverse the on-going shortage of SETs.—Matt Piercy

The study aimed to answer two questions:

1) What is the personality profile of special education teachers?

2) What difference exists among special education teachers in their occupational profiles?

“Findings from the study reveal that while special educators’ overall personality profile is congruent with the Holland Codes (a theory of vocational choice based on personality type) associated with special education teachers, other features may explain participants’ choices to pursue a career as a special education teacher.” 

Here are the major takeaways from the article:

  1. “Personality fit identifies the compatibility between a person and their profession and can influence an individual’s decision to stay or go.”
  2. Individuals typically continue employment when it is matched to their personality.
  3. Although Social, Enterprising, and Conventional (SEC) is not yet a confirmed occupational code for SETs, “a substantial body of research supports the SEC personality traits for SETs.”
  4. “Several research studies found that SETs have high levels of empathy and social skills.”1 
  5. SETs identify with the enterprising personality type.  Common traits of this personality type are ambitious and agreeable. Work preferences are described as persuading or directing people. “Given this finding, schools could consider increasing opportunities for SETs to express and demonstrate leadership skills to improve individual-to-profession compatibility, which can influence SET’s decisions on whether or not to remain in the profession.” 
  6. “Given the critical shortage of SETs in U.S. public schools, this study is the first to employ the Holland Code as its theoretical model for evaluating SET personality-career profiles and its relevance to teacher retention and attrition.” 
  7. “With the pool of SETs shrinking, understanding the compatible personality profiles of SETs could help boost recruitment, increase retention, and decrease attrition in the special education field…”

Several limitations however were noted. 

For example, self-reporting was subject to bias, and the survey’s length at 252 questions could have affected responses. Furthermore, most educators in the study were in their first through fifth year of teaching. These factors may cause a question of efficacy. Most notable though was that participants in the study were from one teacher preparation program made up of mostly white females.  

Summarized Article:

Scott, L. A., Bruno, L., Gnilka, P., Kozachuk, L. K., Brendli, K., & Vitullo, V. (2021). Comparing Special Education Teachers’ Personality Profile With Their Choice to Teach. Excelsior: Leadership in Teaching and Learning, 14(1), 20-35.

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. 

Researcher Dr. Lauren P. Bruno participated in the final version of this summary. 

Additional References:  

  1. Berkovich, I. (2018). Conceptualizations of empathy in K-12 teaching: A review of empirical research. Educational Review, 72(5), 547-566. https://doi.org/10.1080/00131911.2018.1530196

Key Takeaway:

Practitioner journal articles are one way teachers can access the most current research and evidence-based best practices. Research suggests that educators prefer reading short articles written from a practitioner perspective that highlight elements such as implementation steps and application vignettes. These bite-sized articles can help address the research-to-practice gap in this field. —Ayla Reau 

Research-to-Practice Gap

A research-to-practice gap exists within the field of education, and it should be a “professional concern that instructional practices that have strong evidence bases to support their use in schools are not being used or sustained by teachers.” 

In special education, practitioner journal articles act as a tool for disseminating best practices in order to reduce this research-to-practice gap. A practitioner journal generally features content written by people who work/practice in the field, rather than articles written by people who work in academic institutions such as a university. 

Feedback on Practitioner Articles as a Learning Tool

In this research study, Lastrapes and Mooney sought to gauge practitioners’ opinions on these journal articles as a professional learning tool. They surveyed a number of preservice teachers and in-service general education and special education teachers on their use of practitioner journal articles. The following are the major findings: 

  • Participants indicated that while they did not read academic journals, they did read practitioner research articles. 
  • On average, teachers read eight of these articles a year. 
  • The articles are most often accessed from online search engines, university library databases, or colleagues.
  • There was a clear preference for shorter articles written from a practitioner perspective that included “real application vignettes and graphics highlighting student outcome and implementation fidelity data.”

The results also suggest that there is a further need to explore the makeup and delivery of practitioner journal articles. 

First, “different practitioner journal article purposes may warrant distinctive designs.” In knowledge articles whose purpose is to help teachers gain knowledge, elements such as the “definition and implementation steps were considered most important.” In comparison, implementation articles, whose purpose is to assist in implementation, implementation steps and helpful hints were viewed as essential. Implementation steps were the one element that was favored in both types of articles, while visuals were the element ranked lowest across both types. 

Secondly, there was a preference for a more personal presentation style to these articles. Participants preferred more personal phrasing approaches, such as “I have successfully used…,” over the more traditional research journal reporting “research has shown that…,” indicating a desire to read content written through the eyes of a teacher/practitioner.

It is also important to acknowledge that the following limitations were mentioned: 

  • Respondents to the survey came from a sample of university and public school populations in the south and southwestern United States.
  • The “collected data remain respondent perception data and have yet to be empirically tested to determine if practitioner article element change impacts professional knowledge or skill gain.”

Summarized Article:

Renée E. Lastrapes & Paul Mooney (2021) Teachers’ Use and Perceptions of Research-to-Practice Articles, Exceptionality, 29:5, 375-389, DOI: 10.1080/09362835.2020.1772068

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

Key Takeaway:


While the COVID-19 pandemic created a so-called “new normal” for social inclusion and interactions, particularly in schools where socializing is key for student progress, this study raises the question of whether new means of communication actually improved student efficacy and communication due to the altered norms of school life. —Frankie Garbutt

What Social Inclusion Lessons Can We Learn from the Pandemic?

In this article, Beaton (Leeds Beckett University), Codina (University of Derby), and Wharton (University of Winchester) set out to analyse how the pandemic of 2020 affected the social inclusion of children with learning disabilities in England. They strove to find lessons which could be learnt from this unique situation to inform future practices and success.

The authors outline that by “drawing on the work of Simplican et al., (2015),1 this paper chooses to adopt an ecological pathways approach to social inclusion, reflexively analyzing how ‘individual,’ ‘interpersonal’ and ‘organizational’ variables influence ‘interpersonal relationships’ and ‘community participation’ for children with learning disabilities.” To gather data, “semi-structured interviews were conducted with six key stakeholders. As the phenomenon in question was new, an inductive approach to thematic analysis was applied.” 

Pandemic Effects on Social Interaction


The analysis of the data allowed the researchers to identify that teachers and students embraced the new means of communication as this allowed for greater student agency in contrast to traditional means of communication in a school setting. For example, learners who identified as selectively mute used chat functions to find their voice or chose to switch cameras on or off during lessons. This resulted in improved connectedness. Equally, video conferences were an effective tool in the collaboration and involvement of parents/children and external professionals in decision-making processes like evaluation meetings. “Drawing on Simplican et al.’s (2015)1 analysis of social inclusion, structurally moving the location, intensity and formality of family liaison appears in some cases to have deepened the ‘bond’ between family and school, which arguably increases trust reciprocity and confidence.”

Increase in Parental Insight and Advocacy


Moreover, it was found that parents gained insight into their child’s learning and a more accurate representation of their skills due to their participation in the classroom during home learning. Consequently, parents and children were able to advocate for different means of learning support or increase their children’s level of independence because their Teaching Assistant, on whom they may have previously relied, was no longer available.

Nonetheless, the authors also highlight that “the nature of the pandemic has meant [that] many of the efficacious elements described in this paper rely on families and professionals possessing digital capability and capital.” Therefore, being aware of the availability of devices, access to the internet, or other necessary resources can enhance or hinder the social inclusion of stakeholders.  


Conclusively, the study outlines changes for children with learning disabilities through “increased power/agency for them and their families and/or new modes of connectedness leading to enhanced relationships with key stakeholders and timeliness of reviews.” The authors concede that the small sample size may limit the generalizability of their conclusions. 

Summarized article: 

Beaton, M. C., Codina, G. N., & Wharton, J. C. Decommissioning normal: COVID-19 as a disruptor of school norms for young people with learning disabilities. British Journal of Learning Disabilities. 2021; 49: 393– 402. https://doi.org/10.1111/bld.12399

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

Researchers Mhairi C. Beaton, Geraldene N. Codina, and Julie C. Wharton participated in the final version of this summary.

Additional References:

  1. Simplican, S., Leader, G., Kosciulek, J., & Leahy, M. (2015). Defining social inclusion of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities: An ecological model of social networks and community participation. Research in Developmental Disabilities, 38, 18–29. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ridd.2014.10.008

Key Takeaway: 

Students with disabilities continue to be excluded from meaningful participation in physical education. However, structured and guided efforts to apply inclusion theory to practice at the teacher training stage has been shown to open up educators’ attitudes towards inclusion and equip them with the skills necessary to challenge ableist notions. —Akane Yoshida

Teacher Training for PE Inclusion

While inclusivity is a key feature of educational policy and legislation, physical education (PE) remains a curricular area that perpetuates the idea of able-bodiedness as the norm.1 This leads to the development of PE programs that neglect to offer the diverse learning experiences necessary for students with disabilities to fully participate in learning about and through movement.2

In this paper, authors Alfrey and Jeanes propose a model for initial teacher education that can substantially improve the experiences of students with disabilities in PE class, examining the impact of a unit of study co-created between one university and a local disability organization in Australia. 

The participants were third year student PE teachers undertaking a bachelor degree program. A 10-week unit of study was designed, beginning with the theoretical underpinnings of inclusion based on DeLuca’s framework for inclusion and leading to the co-design and implementation of lessons with young people connected with the disability organization.

Data was collected in the form of carefully timed written reflections from the teacher participants as well as recorded interviews. Both sets of qualitative data were then analyzed via a coding process. 

According to the authors, the teacher training unit “served to disrupt the [student teachers’] pre-existing normative and ableist assumptions, and better prepared them to teach students with a disability in PE. Importantly, the findings also suggest that the unit provided opportunities for [pre-service teachers] PSTs to explore and enact alternatives to the ‘disability as problem’ discourse that has circulated PE in the past.”

Success Factors 

Alfrey and Jeanes identified the following factors as being key to the success of the teacher training unit:

Impact on Knowledge and Practice

Student teachers reported that the opportunity to delve into definitions of inclusion and put Universal Design for Learning principles into practice, as well as interact with young people with disabilities for the first time (for many), was instrumental in widening their perspectives on inclusion.

Pedagogization of Theory

The unit of study was conceptualized through DeLuca’s interdisciplinary framework for inclusion (2013),3 which sets forth four stages of inclusion: 

  1. Normative, in which teachers seek to assimilate, rather than accommodate, students with differences;
  2. Integrative, in which teachers recognize differences and address them through formal modifications;
  3. Dialogical, in which teachers move away from labeling and categorizing, and instead celebrate diversity and individuality; and
  4. Transgressive, in which teachers dismantle the idea of the “dominant group” altogether and involve students in creating shared learning experiences.

Supporting the student teachers in the pedagogization of DeLuca’s theoretical framework allowed them to move away from “traditional ableist approaches” to PE, instead allowing them to “expect and celebrate diversity, avoid labels, and amplify the voices of their learners.”

Sense of Safety

Creating a supportive environment that allows student teachers the freedom to explore through trial and error was identified by participants as being a critical component of their learning.

Partnerships for Authentic Learning

Collaborating with the local disability organization lent an authenticity to the teacher training experience that participants valued.

Student Voice and Co-design

Participants stated that the opportunity to co-design lessons and collectively reflect with young people was instrumental to their training in centering student voice.

Summarized Article:

Alfrey, L., & Jeanes, R. (2021). Challenging ableism and the ‘disability as problem’ discourse: how initial teacher education can support the inclusion of students with a disability in physical education. Sport, Education and Society, 1-14.

Summary by: Akane Yoshida — Akane believes in the MARIO Approach because it puts student agency at the heart of the learning and goal-setting process. She loves how the MARIO Framework operationalizes this process and utilizes systematic measurement of student learning and teacher effectiveness to guide interventions.

Academic researcher Laura Alfrey participated in the final version of this summary. 

Additional References:

  1. Lalvani, P. & Broderick, A. (2013). Institutionalized ableism and the misguided “Disability Awareness Day”: Transformative pedagogies for teacher education. Equity and Excellence in Education, 46 (4), 468 – 483.
  2. Fitzgerald, H. & Stride, A. (2012). Stories about physical education from young people with disabilities. International Journal of Disability Development and Education, 59, 283 – 293. https://doi.org/10.1080/1034912X.2012.697743 
  3. DeLuca, C. (2013). Toward an interdisciplinary framework for educational inclusivity. Canadian Journal of Education, 36 (1), 305 – 347. https://journals.sfu.ca/cje/index.php/cje-rce/article/view/1157

Key Takeaway

There is a scarcity of research focusing on individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/Dhh). Studies show that mathematical performance in d/Dhh students depends more on general cognitive abilities than on specific numerical abilities. This puts emphasis on the importance of general abilities for the development of mathematical abilities during the preschool years that can be rooted in the real world. — Jay Lingo

Why Study Math Achievement for Students Who Are Deaf or Hard-of-Hearing?

There is much research on hearing children and children with mathematical learning disabilities that shows that mathematical performance is dependent on general cognitive and specific numerical abilities. However, there is a scarcity of research focusing on individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing (d/Dhh). This current study aims to examine the contributions of three general cognitive abilities (nonverbal IQ, processing speed, and spatial ability) and two specific numerical abilities (symbolic and non-symbolic numerical magnitude processing) to curriculum-based math achievement in d/Dhh students. 

In order to fully understand this study, it is important to build a common definition of these abilities. Nonverbal IQ is the ability to analyze information and solve problems using visual or hands-on reasoning. Processing speed is the time it takes a person to process visual or auditory information. Spatial ability is the ability to transform and rotate objects in mental space. In addition, we could use a common example to identify symbolic and non-symbolic stimuli. Symbolic stimuli are abstract concepts such as digits while non-symbolic stimuli are concrete representations such as a tally or dot array. 

“Decades of research have consistently shown that d/Dhh children lag behind their hearing peers in mathematics.”1,2 This leaves us with questions such as, what are the factors that could affect this? How do we determine predictors which may raise potential opportunities for numerical development? 

Results: General Cognitive Abilities Better Predict Math Achievement

This study found that general cognitive abilities, such as spatial ability and processing speed, were the predictors of mathematics achievement in d/Dhh students rather than specific numerical abilities. This emphasizes the “importance of general abilities for the development of mathematical abilities during the preschool years,” “especially for children who have difficulties in mathematical learning.”

The specific ways of training general cognitive abilities can be rooted in the real world. For example, educators and teachers can use regular activities such as paper folding, paper cutting, and LEGO construction to develop children’s spatial ability. Some teachers in the study took advantage of technology and used a virtual game to improve the spatial ability of d/Dhh children. These teachers found that practicing with virtual reality 3D spatial rotations significantly improved the performance of spatial rotation in d/Dhh students. “Even findings from brain imaging studies also suggest similar patterns of brain activation in the completion of spatial and mathematics tasks.”3,4 

What about the numerical abilities, are they not considered to be important? According to Chen and Wang, statistically, there is still a “significant correlation between participants’ symbolic and non-symbolic numerical magnitude processing and their mathematics achievement,” but these specific abilities only become more important in primary school.5

In conclusion, mathematical performance in d/Dhh students depends more on general cognitive abilities such as spatial ability and processing speed than on specific numerical abilities. This puts more emphasis on strengthening general cognitive abilities to improve the mathematical performance in d/Dhh students who are at risk for mathematical learning problems.

Summarized Article:

Chen, L., & Wang, Y. (2021). The contribution of general cognitive abilities and specific numerical abilities to mathematics achievement in students who are deaf or hard-of-hearing. Journal of Developmental and Physical Disabilities, 33(5), 771-787.

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.

Additional References:

  1. Swanwick, R., Oddy, A., & Roper, T. (2005). Mathematics and deaf children: An exploration of barriers to success. Deafness and Education International, 7(1), 1–21.
  2. Gottardis, L., Nunes, T., & Lunt, I. (2011). A synthesis of research on deaf and hearing children’s mathematical achievement. Deafness and Education International, 13(3), 131–150.
  3. Hubbard, E. M., Piazza, M., Pinel, P., & Dehaene, S. (2005). Interactions between number and space in parietal cortex. Nature Reviews Neuroscience, 6(6), 435–448.
  4. Umiltà, C., Priftis, K., & Zorzi, M. (2009). The spatial representation of numbers: Evidence from neglect and pseudoneglect. Experimental Brain Research, 192(3), 561–569.
  5. Passolunghi, M. C., & Lanfranchi, S. (2012). Domain-specific and domain-general precursors of mathematical achievement: A longitudinal study from kindergarten to first grade. British Journal of Educational Psychology, 82(1), 42–63.