Key Takeaway: The pandemic has disrupted teaching and learning in many ways. Students with IEPs likely had these documents changed to adapt to the current mode of learning. In particular, students with social-based interventions may have needed to put these on hold as social distance and virtual learning made these infeasible. As students return to a more normal school routine, IEP teams will have to reassess students’ Present Level of Performance (PLOP) and likely conduct reassessment and revision of IEPs. —Ayla Reau

Students with autism rely on routine and often require individualized instruction. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the disruption to education worldwide, Sarah Hurwitz, Blaine Garman-McClaine, and Kane Carlock (Indiana University Bloomington) sought to investigate how special educators and specialists adapted practices for such students in response to pandemic schooling conditions. 

“Special education professionals were asked to complete an online survey inquiring about service provision for students with autism during the COVID-19 pandemic.” Participants reported:

  • making changes to Individualized Education Plans (IEPs). 
    • Adding Individualized Continuity of Learning Plans (ICLPs) to describe how service could be provided across learning modalities (i.e. online, hybrid, face-to-face). 
    • Adjusting service minutes to provide more flexibility
  • “having less time to work on behavioural goals, track student progress, or help students interact socially.” Some educators dropped social-based IEP goals and spent much less time implementing social interventions due to distancing requirements and inapplicability to virtual instruction, “with about 80% reporting more difficulty addressing social goals than before the pandemic.” 
  • having to stop using peer helpers and running social groups, which afforded fewer opportunities for social skills practice. 
  • making modifications to every aspect of teaching including materials, personnel, and format. Modifications were also made to who implemented the interventions, including coaching paraprofessionals who would then deliver small group instruction over Zoom and build collaboration with parents.

Overall, special education teachers described feeling less able to meet IEP requirements during online learning “and struggled to deliver the services, support, and attention that their students needed.”

However, the results also indicated the importance of collaboration between teachers and guardians. Getting and keeping caregivers involved in a child’s education is imperative to maintaining progress, especially while the children work from home. Since parents may not have the required training and experience needed to effectively implement their child’s education plan, offering the option to hold virtual parent-teacher meetings and case conferences may facilitate access. 

Educators also found that while some students with more intense needs struggled, others actually preferred virtual instruction. “For some students with autism, staying at home where they feel comfortable and can engage in self-regulating activities without negative social consequences, may reduce their stress and have positive impacts on learning.” This raises concerns for the future when social expectations resume. 

The authors conclude that students with disabilities are likely to have had a diminished learning experience during the pandemic. “As such, compensatory services may be required going forward.” They suggest that as schools return to more normal functioning, “IEP teams should assess what services were, in fact, delivered during school closures and across the changing educational modalities, and then conduct an assessment of each student’s current needs (i.e. reassess their Present Level of Performance (PLOP)).” If regression has occurred or limited progress was made in meaningful skills, the authors suggest IEP teams issue a COVID-19 compensatory services plan. Further, they predict reassessment and revision of IEPs to become common requirements as in-person learning resumes.  

Schools must also continue to address mental health and provide additional layers of support for teachers to address burnout, in order to retain the teachers they have, especially special education teachers. 

It is important to note that participants were all from public schools in Indiana, and the data was collected from a specific moment in the pandemic (middle of the 2020-2021 academic year), so their “perspective is grounded in experiences from a state that endeavored to open schools early, with precautions, allowing many school districts to offer hybrid and full-time in-person learning for considerable portions of the year.”

Summarized Article:

Hurwitz, S., Garman-McClaine, B., & Carlock, K. (2021). Special education for students with autism during the COVID-19 pandemic: “Each day brings new challenges”. Autism : the international journal of research and practice, 13623613211035935. Advance online publication.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional References:

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

Key Takeaway: According to two studies,1,2 autism is diagnosed in 1 out of 100 people in England. It is imperative that transitions and plans for learners who are diagnosed with autism and needing additional services are put in place in order for them to experience success and independence in their adult years. —Nika Espinosa

In their article, Crane et al. (2021) gathered data on how educational professionals in the United Kingdom view the transition for young people with autism and additional learning needs in relation to the Children and Families Act (2014) and the associated SEND Code of Practice, as well as their experiences in the field. According to the author’s research, for young adults who have been diagnosed with autism and additional learning needs after age 16, education doesn’t look favorable. The studies done by Anderson et al. (2016)3 and Wehman et al. (2014)4 support this picture. Thus, “there is an urgent need to understand how to promote good outcomes for autistic young people with additional learning needs as they transition into adulthood.”

The authors focused on 3 key areas of the SEND reforms:

  1. Help and support
  2. Having a say
  3. Achieving better outcomes

When providing help and support for the students, educational professionals acknowledged the challenges of limited finances, inadequate support from stakeholders, and the shift to using experiential knowledge to inform pedagogy. The participants expressed that in the current economic climate, funds for training have diminished, and at times, only one educational professional gets the training and is then expected to share their newly acquired knowledge with other colleagues. Another issue educational professionals face is that they rarely have time to implement the training they have undergone and are sometimes relying on experiential knowledge to guide their practice. They also mentioned that even receiving support for these students in the local community has been difficult to obtain. For example, the waiting list for the mental health services is often quite long. “While this finding is not specific to post-16 education, an emphasis on implementation with this vulnerable group, at this crucial phase of education, is arguably more important here than at any other time.”

When it comes to giving their students a voice, the themes that emerged in the study were uncertainties around doing the right thing and flexibility in the school environment. “Despite using various tools and techniques to support students in having a say in their education, participants doubted whether they were using the ‘right’ strategies to elicit the voices of their vulnerable students.” One participant said part of their uncertainty was whether the students were providing honest answers, echolalic (repetition of spoken words), or giving answers that they believe their educational professional is expecting to hear. Sometimes, school systems can diminish student voices when up against accreditation requirements and curriculum demands. “Even if education professionals are able to elicit and document the voices of their pupils genuinely and meaningfully, this becomes tokenistic if their views cannot be acted on.” It’s therefore important that student voice is acted upon by the supporting community.

In the area of achieving better outcomes, the themes that emerged from the participants were the need for an individualized approach to identify successful outcomes for these young learners with additional needs and the concern about the opportunities available for them. The participants partly attributed their concerns to the follow-through of transition opportunities and the lack of awareness that a person with autism can contribute to the workplace and society. It is important that the individualized approach is complemented with opportunities. As the authors recommend, establishing school-work partnerships and providing support for these young adults in the workplace is imperative to their continuous growth as individuals and enables them to be successful in their adult years.

Summarized Article: Crane, L., Davies, J., Fritz, A., O’Brien, S., Worsley, A., Ashworth, M., & Remington, A. (2021). The transition to adulthood for autistic young people with additional learning needs: the views and experiences of education professionals in special schools. British Journal of Special Education.

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. Baird, G., Simonoff, E., Pickles, A., Chandler, S., Loucas, T., Meldrum, D. & Charman, T. (2006) ‘Prevalence of disorders of the autism spectrum in a population cohort of children in South Thames: the Special Needs and Autism Project (SNAP)’, Lancet, 368 (9531), 210–215.

2. Brugha, T. S., McManus, S., Bankart, J., Scott, F., Purdon, S., Smith, J., Bebbington, P., Jenkins, R. & Meltzer, H. (2011) ‘Epidemiology of autism spectrum disorders in adults in the community in England’, Archives of General Psychiatry, 68 (5), 459–465.

3. Anderson, K. A., McDonald, T. A., Edsall, D., Smith, L. E. & Taylor, J. L. (2016) ‘Postsecondary expectations of high-school students with au- tism spectrum disorders’, Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 31 (1), 16–26.

4. Wehman, P. H., Schall, C. M., McDonough, J., Kregel, J., Brooke, V., Molinelli, A., Ham, W., Graham, C. W., Riehle, J. E., Collins, H. T. & Thiss, W. (2014) ‘Competitive employment for youth with autism spec- trum disorders: early results from a randomized clinical trial’, Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 44, 487–500.

Article Abstract

This work includes the following topics:

  • the defining properties of the bio-ecological model and the model applied
  • developmental science in the discovery mode and some concrete examples
  • a biological model of the nature/nurture concept from research to policy and practice
  • (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2020 APA, all rights reserved)

MARIO Connections

Bronfenbrenner’s work is integral to the design of MARIO’s one-to-one sessions and conferences as well as the development of learning modules which expose students to deeply effectual teaching practices. By considering how environmental and social factors may activate biological potential, we strategically provide as many opportunities for significant growth in the individuals we serve as possible. 

Article Abstract

In November 2008, John Hattie’s ground-breaking book Visible Learning synthesized the results of more than fifteen years research involving millions of students and represented the biggest ever collection of evidence-based research into what actually works in schools to improve learning. The author offers concise and user-friendly summaries of the most successful interventions and offers practical step-by-step guidance to the successful implementation of visible learning and visible teaching in the classroom. Hattie’s book includes the following key components:

  • links the biggest ever research project on teaching strategies to practical classroom implementation
  • champions both teacher and student perspectives and contains step by step guidance including lesson preparation, interpreting learning and feedback during the lesson and post lesson follow up
  • offers checklists, exercises, case studies and best practice scenarios to assist in raising achievement
  • includes whole school checklists and advice for school leaders on facilitating visible learning in their institution
  • now includes additional meta-analyses bringing the total cited within the research to over 900
  • comprehensively covers numerous areas of learning activity including pupil motivation, curriculum, meta-cognitive strategies, behavior, teaching strategies, and classroom management.

MARIO Connections

The design of the one-to-one sessions and conferences were informed by Hattie’s work on quality feedback and student motivation. His work can also be recognized in the high-impact learning strategies recommended throughout the MARIO Framework.

Article Abstract

Zimmerman outlines his personal connections to his work and motivations for engaging in this type of research, stating, “My career path to understanding the source and nature of human learning started with an interest in social processes, especially cognitive modeling, and has led to the exploration of self-regulatory processes. My investigation of these processes has prompted the development of several social cognitive models: a triadic model that synthesized covert, behavioral, and environmental sources of personal feedback, a multilevel model of training that begins with observational learning and proceeds sequentially to self-regulation, and a cyclical phase model that depicts the interaction of metacognitive and motivational processes during efforts to learn.” In this article, empirical support for each of these models is discussed, including its implications for formal and informal forms of instruction. This self-regulation research has revealed that students who set superior goals proactively, monitor their learning intentionally, use strategies effectively, and respond to personal feedback adaptively not only attain mastery more quickly, but also are more motivated to sustain their efforts to learn. Recommendations for future research are made.

MARIO Connections

Zimmerman’s work is key to MARIO’s vision of self-directed learning and the process through which metacognition and metacomprehension develop. Throughout the entire Framework, one can find echoes of Zimmerman’s discussion of the development of self-regulation.

Article Abstract

This research analyzed the network of psycho-social influences through which efficacy beliefs affect academic achievement. Parents’ sense of academic efficacy and aspirations for their children were linked to their children’s scholastic achievement through their perceived academic capabilities and aspirations. Children’s beliefs in their efficacy to regulate their own learning and academic attainments, in turn, contributed to scholastic achievement both independently and by promoting high academic aspirations and prosocial behavior and reducing vulnerability to feelings of futility and depression. Children’s perceived social efficacy and efficacy to manage peer pressure for detrimental conduct also contributed to academic attainments but through partially different paths of affective and self-regulatory influence. The impact of perceived social efficacy was mediated through academic aspirations and a low level of depression. Perceived self-regulatory efficacy was related to academic achievement both directly and through adherence to moral self-sanctions for detrimental conduct and problem behavior that can subvert academic pursuits. Familial socioeconomic status was linked to children’s academic achievement only indirectly through its effects on parental aspirations and children’s prosocialness. The full set of self-efficacy, aspirational, and psychosocial factors accounted for a sizable share of the variance in academic achievement.

MARIO Connections

Bandura et al.’s study of the connection between external influences, self-efficacy, and academic achievement informs how MARIO prepares the educator and parent to support the learner’s development of self-efficacy. Aspects of this discussion are also incorporated into MARIO diagnostic tools because understanding the power of a student’s perception of self-efficacy is imperative to the work we do.

Article Abstract

Erik de Corte describes a progression in which earlier behaviorism gave way increasingly to cognitive psychology with learning understood as information processing rather than as responding to stimuli. More active concepts of learning took hold (“constructivism”), and with “social constructivism” the terrain is not restricted to what takes place within individual minds but as the interaction between learners and their contextual situation. There has been a parallel move for research to shift from artificial exercises/situations to real-life learning in classrooms and hence to become much more relevant for education. The current understanding of learning, aimed at promoting 21st century or “adaptive” competence, is characterized as “CSSC learning”: “constructive” as learners actively construct their knowledge and skills; “self-regulated” with people actively using strategies to learn; “situated” and best understood in context rather than abstracted from environment; and “collaborative” not a solo activity.

MARIO Connections

De Corte’s work defines how learning is currently understood to be an active, self-regulated, social experience rooted in authentic context. MARIO, in all aspects, espouses this view of learning. It is fundamental to how MARIO defines the learner’s role.

Article Abstract

This is the first issue of Metacognition and Learning, a new international journal dedicated to the study of metacognition and all its aspects within a broad context of learning processes. Flavell coined the term metacognition in the seventies of the last century (Flavell, 1979) and, since then, a huge amount of research has emanated from his initial efforts. Do we need metacognition as a concept in learning theory? Already in 1978, Brown posed the question whether metacognition was an epiphenomenon. Apparently, she was convinced otherwise as she has been working fruitfully for many years in the area of metacognition. Moreover, a review study by Wang, Haertel, and Walberg (1990) revealed metacognition to be a most powerful predictor of learning. Metacognition matters, but there are many unresolved issues that need further investigation. This introduction will present ten such issues, which are by no means exhaustive. They merely indicate what themes might be relevant to the journal.

MARIO Connections

Veenman et al.’s description of the evolution of thought surrounding metacognition and its role in education broadened and deepened MARIO’s own definition of metacognition. MARIO envisions metacognition as an active process, constantly evolving, in part due to its complex nature as described in this study.

Article Abstract

Designers have traditionally focused on enhancing the look and functionality of products. Recently, they have begun using design tools to tackle more complex problems, such as finding ways to provide low-cost health care throughout the world. Businesses were first to embrace this new approach – called Design Thinking – now nonprofits are beginning to adopt it too. 

MARIO Connections

MARIO utilizes the Stanford IDEO model of design thinking, which is described in Brown and Wyatt’s work. This article also personifies the intentionality of design thinking applications within MARIO.