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Title: Interventions that positively impact the performance of students with learning disabilities in secondary general education classrooms
Series Title: Hughes, C. A., Maccini, P. M., & Gagnon, J. C. (2003). Interventions that positively impact the performance of students with learning disabilities in secondary general education classrooms. Learning Disabilities: A Multidisciplinary Journal, 12, 101-111.
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Abstract: Most adolescents with learning disabilities spend the majority of their school day in general education classes and are expected to meet most, if not all, af the academic requirements of these classes. This review of the literature describes interventions shown to positively impact academic performance of students with learning disabilities in middle and high school general education classes. These interventions are organized into one of three categories: student-focused, teacher-focused, and peer-focused.
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Interventions That Positively Impact the Performance of Students with

Learning Disabilities in Secondary General Education Classes


Charles A. Hughes, Paula Maccini, and Joseph Calvin Gagnon

Most adolescents with learning disabilities spend the majority of their school day in general education
classes and are expected to meet most, if not all, of the academic requirements of these classes. This review
of the literature describes interventions shown to positively impact academic performance of students with
learning disabilities in middle and high school general education classes. These interventions are organized
into one of three categories: student-focused, teacher-focused, and peer-focused.


Over the past decade, increasing numbers of students
identified as having a learning disability are spending the
majority of their school day in general education class-
rooms. This trend holds true across the grade-span and
includes students with learning disabilities in middle and
high schools. While many professionals applaud this trend
for a number of reasons, concerns related to the academic
success of adolescents with learning disabilities in sec-
ondary content classes also are evident (Schumaker &
Deshler, 1988). Indeed, several current indicators (e.g.,
grades, dropout/graduation rates, attendance in postsec-
ondary programs) show many students struggling at this
level and beyond (Gersten, 1998; Vaughn & Schumm,
1995). Additionally, serious concerns have been expressed
about whether students with disabilities have meaningful
access to the general education curriculum (Fisher,
Schumaker, & Deshler, 1996; Gersten, 1998).
There are a number of reasons why many adolescents
with learning disabilities have difficulty mastering sec-
ondary level curriculum. First, are the well documented
learning characteristics of this group of students, including
dysfluency in basic academic skills, lack of organizational
skills, and ineffective and inefficient learning and problem-
solving strategies needed for independent learning (Deshler,
Ellis, & Lenz, 1996). Interacting with these academic prob-
lems are institutional characteristics particular to secondary
schools including what is taught (e.g., content versus skills)
and how it is taught (e.g., increased didactic presentation via
lecture). For example, increasing amounts and complexity
of information are presented in lecture and text, and expec-
tations are that all students, including those with learning
disabilities, will meet academic standards. Too, there is an
increasing call for all learners to not only acquire informa-
tion but to apply it as well (Bulgren & Lenz, 1996;
Mastropieri & Scruggs, 2001). Finally, students in middle
and high school attend more classes, with more students, and
do so with less individualized teacher attention.
Given the daunting task of providing meaningful access
to the general education curriculum for adolescents with
learning disabilities, it seems imperative that general and
special secondary teachers are aware of empirically validat-


ed or supported practices that promote academic success in
middle and high schools. To that end, in this article we iden-
tify and describe instructional procedures shown to have a
positive impact on the academic performance of adolescents
with learning disabilities in general education content class-
es. It is beyond the scope of this paper to provide informa-
tion sufficient for implementation, therefore the primary
purpose is to provide the reader with a description of the
types of interventions with research support and the instruc-
tional variables that appear to lead to positive student out-
comes. We have provided a research and resource bibliog-
raphy for each category of intervention so readers have
access to additional information that will assist with putting
research into practice.

Methods for Identifying Studies
To be considered for inclusion in this review, studies
must have met the following criteria: (a) targeted adoles-
cents with learning disabilities (grades 6-12) currently
enrolled in general education classes, and (b) measured an
interventions' impact on an academic or academically relat-
ed task required in one or more general education class-
rooms. It is important to stress that primary instruction on
the intervention may have been provided by someone other
than the general education teacher (i.e., special education
teacher or researcher) or may have occurred outside the gen-
eral education classroom (e.g., resource room). What was
critical was that the researchers investigated the impact of
the intervention on a task (e.g., test performance, home-
work/assignment completion) required in the general educa-
tion classroom.
Search procedures consisted of three steps. First, elec-
tronic searches of the Library Information Access System
(LIAS), the ERIC Database, and PsychINFO systems were
conducted for articles meeting the above inclusion criteria
and published between 1970 and 2002. Next, an ancestral
search was conducted of articles identified via the electron-
ic search. Finally, a hand search of four journals specific to
learning disabilities and four journals related to special edu-
cation in general was conducted for the same time period
noted above. Ultimately, 35 articles meeting the above cri-


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Interventions for Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities


teria were located. Not all of these studies are described in
this article but rather a few considered representatives have
been chosen as examples of the type of research that has
been conducted on this topic. We have chosen this format to
make the information more consumer friendly.

Emphasis and Organization of Results
Because the purpose of this article is to provide infor-
mation about research-supported practices, we will not
describe and critically analyze each article within the text.
However, an extensive list of the studies upon which this
article is based is presented in Appendix A. While we pro-
vide cautions and qualifications based on our critical analy-
sis of the entire body of research, our emphasis will be on
describing the intervention and summarizing implementa-
tion issues rather than providing an analysis of each study.
We used three categories to provide a framework for
organizing the identified interventions. These categories are
(a) student-focused, (b) teacher-focused, and (c) peer-
focused. Additionally, there were a number of studies meet-
ing the search criteria that used computer-based instruction
as the primary intervention. These studies are reviewed in a
separate article by Maccini, Gagnon, & Hughes, (2003).

Interventions

Student-Focused Interventions
Student-focused interventions are those in which stu-
dents are taught skills or strategies that help them manage
their academic or academically related behaviors. Once
learned, the student takes major responsibility for using the
strategies appropriately. Two broad areas of intervention are
included in this category: Learning Strategy Instruction and
Behavioral Self-Management Techniques.
Learning strategies instruction. A learning strategy, as
typically taught in schools and reported in the professional
literature, is student application of factual, procedural, and
conditional knowledge while solving a problem. While
many students develop an extensive repertoire of learning
strategies on their own (through trial and error or by inci-
dental learning), a significant group of students do not.
Indeed, many adolescents with learning disabilities who are
struggling in middle and high school have not independent-
ly developed systematic and organized ways to learn. That
is, they do not develop effective and efficient strategies for
solving problems and completing tasks. These students
need to be directly taught strategies in order to become more
independent, self-regulated learners.
During learning strategy instruction, students are typi-
cally taught to apply a series of steps required to solve a
problem or complete a task. One of the most frequently
used and researched learning strategy curriculum is part of
the Strategic Instructional Model (SIM) developed through


the University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning
(CRL) (Deshler et al., 1996). Some of the SIM strategies
have an empirical research-base that included measuring
their impact on performance in general education settings.
Thus, the SIM will be used here as the basis for describing
learning strategy instruction.
The SIM focuses on teaching adolescents with learning
problems to use specific strategies designed to help them
deal with the academic demands placed on them in general
education classes. Strategies within the SIM curriculum
include those designed to help students acquire (e.g., read-
ing comprehension strategies), store (e.g., memory strate-
gies) information/content, express (e.g., written expression
strategies), and demonstrate (e.g., assignment completion
and test-taking strategies) what they know.


Figure 1.
Components of the assignment completion strategy.

P sych up
1 Cues the learner to self-instruct to be ready. (A self-
instruction strategy.)
R record and ask
2 Cues the learner to write the assignment, reflect, and
ask questions. (A questioning strategy.)
0 organize
3 Cues the learner to make a plan. (A planning strate-
gy.)
J ump to it
4 Cues the learner to take control and set goals. (A self-
control strategy.)
E ngage in the work
5 Cues the learner to complete the work and ask ques-
tions. (A self-questioning strategy.)
C heck the work
6 Cues the learner to check and correct the work. (A
self-monitoring strategy.)
T urn it in
7 Cues the learner to get the work turned in on time. (A
monitoring strategy.)

From Hughes, C. A., Ruhl, K. L., Deshler, D. D., &
Schumaker, J. B. (2002). Effects of teaching an assignment
completion strategy to adolescents with learning disabili-
ties. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 17(1), 1-
18.


To help illustrate this particular approach to strategies
instruction, the anatomy of one of the strategies that was
shown to positively impact the homework performance of
middle school students with learning disabilities in their


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Hughes, Maccini, and Gagnon


general education classes is shown in Figure 1. This strate-
gy, like all strategies within the SIM, consists of a series of
steps that form a first-letter mnemonic, in this case PRO-
JECT (Hughes, Ruhl, Deshler, & Schumaker, 1995; Hughes,
Ruhl, Deshler, & Schumaker, 2002). This mnemonic device
helps students remember the strategy steps. Each step is
designed to cue a behavior or set of behaviors. For example,
the Prepare step prompts students to prepare or look over
their homework assignment books and make sure their
monthly and weekly calendars are up-to-date. The second
step, Record and Ask, cues students to accurately enter their
homework assignment on a pre-prepared assignment sheet
and to do so quickly using abbreviations. The third step,
Organize, is a prompt for students to break their assignment
into parts (e.g., in order to write a research paper students
need to identify sources, read sources, outline, write a first
draft, edit, and make a final draft), estimate how long it will
take to complete the assignment, and schedule when they
will work on it. Also, as can be seen in Figure 1, steps in a
learning strategy typically involve higher-order procedures
such as planning, self-instruction, self-questioning, self-
monitoring, and self-evaluation.
A key component of strategy instruction is not only
what is contained in the strategy but also how it is taught.
Most research on instructional methodology with students
with learning disabilities supports the need for a structured,
systematic, and intensive approach that includes scaffolding
procedures that incrementally move students toward inde-
pendent strategy use. Thus, the SIM instructional stages
used to teach a strategy follow a predetermined sequence.
First, pre-testing is performed to assess current strategy use
as well as whether the student has difficulties in the acade-
mic area for which the strategy is designed (e.g., reading
comprehension, studying, test-taking, writing). Next, the
teacher discusses the rationale for learning the strategy,
clearly describes the strategy steps, and provides a detailed
and systematic demonstration of how the strategy is applied.
Following the model instructional stage, students are
taught why each strategy step is useful. For example, in the
PROJECT strategy, students are taught that the reason for
breaking their assignment into parts is because it will help
them when estimating the amount of time and effort needed
to complete the whole assignment. Then they engage in
activities whereby they verbally rehearse by saying the steps
of the strategy in sequence.
Once students memorize the strategy steps and demon-
strate their understanding of why the steps are useful, they
begin to practice the strategy in situations where the diffi-
culty of the task is controlled. For example, if students are
learning a reading comprehension strategy, they will practice
it using reading material that is not too difficult. Once they
have mastered the strategy in controlled materials or situa-
tions they begin to practice it in harder materials (e.g., mate-
rials used in their general education classes). Finally, a vari-


ety of generalization activities are conducted so that students
can identify where, when, and why the strategy can be used
and are prompted to begin to use the strategy in settings
other than where instruction occurred.
Based on current research (Deshler, et al., 1996), we
know that strategies can be learned by adolescents with
learning disabilities and can have a positive impact on their
performance in general education settings. We also know
that to this point these types of strategies are typically taught
in pull-out settings. Little is known about whether strategies
can be taught (or co-taught) in content classes. There is a
clear logistical rationale for this type of strategy instruction
taking place in a learning support or resource class given the
extensive time commitment it takes to teach students with
learning disabilities to effectively generalize strategy use.
On the other hand, there is some rationale for teaching
strategies in the general education setting.
Some professionals have discussed possible advantages
for teaching a strategy in the general education setting,
stressing that students might do better when learning a strat-
egy in the context of their content area assignments
(Mastropieri, & Scruggs, 2001; Scanlon, Deshler, &
Schumaker, 1996). Also, concerns about student generaliza-
tion of strategy use when taught in a resource setting may be
alleviated by teaching strategies in the general education
classroom. Thus, the next direction for strategy research
may not focus so much on whether strategies are useful,
whether they can be learned, or how they are taught, but
rather where they are taught. This area of research may
include what structures or instructional arrangements are
needed for effective co-teaching or peer-mediated approach-
es.
Self-management procedures. Behavioral self-manage-
ment includes several procedures: (a) self-monitoring
whereby students observe and record the occurrence of their
behavior, (b) self-evaluation which requires students to
make a judgment about the quality of their performance
based on a predetermined criterion (i.e., goal setting), and
(c) self-reinforcement, which includes self-selection and
administration of a contingent reward (Hughes, Ruhl, &
Misra, 1989).
These procedures may provide motivation for students
because they promote active participation in the behavior
change process that is reportedly important to adolescents.
Self-management has also been purported to help generalize
and maintain changes in behavior as well as ultimately free-
up teacher time.
In most studies included in this review, a combination of
techniques, or self-management packages, was used. To
illustrate, Figure 2 contains the steps of the self-management
strategy, POWER (Hughes & Ruhl, 2002; Sander, Bott,
Hughes, & Ruhl, 1991), that helped students to improve the
classroom behaviors of adolescents with learning disabili-
ties. The first step in POWER requires students to self-select


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Interventions for Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities

a behavior for change, establish a goal related to the behav-
ior as well as select a reward to self-administer when the
goal is met. In the next two steps, students self-monitor
(observe the behavior and record its occurrence or nonoc-
currence). Then, at pre-designated times (e.g., at the end of
the week), students evaluate their performance (decide
whether a short or long term goal was met) and contingent-
ly reward themselves.

Figure 2.
A self-management package.

P lan to change my behavior (self-assessment)
- select and define my behavior
- establish my goal
- list my reward
- fix my recording forms

O bserve my behavior (self-monitoring)
W rite it down (self-monitoring)
E evaluate my performance (self-evaluation)
R eward myself (self-reinforcement)

From Hughes, C. A., & Ruhl, K. L. (1990). The
POWER self-management strategy. Unpublished manu-
script.
Sander, N. W., Bott, D. A., Hughes, C. A., & Ruhl, K.
L. (1991). Effects of a self-management strategy on task-
independent behaviors of adolescents with learning disabil-
ities. B. C. Journal of Special Education, 15, 65-75.


Analysis of self-management studies shows that stu-
dents generally were taught how to self-manage using direct
and explicit instructional methodology. For example, the
behavior(s) of interest are clearly described and defined and
the teacher often demonstrates examples and non-examples
of the behavior so that the student understands the nature
and scope of the behavior (e.g., what it is and what it is not).
Often, some role-playing occurs so the student can practice
the behavior under close teacher supervision. During this
time of initial instruction, the student and teacher often dis-
cuss the importance of changing the behavior and situations
where it is important to do so.
Because most self-management procedures involve
forms to record occurrence of the behavior, and/or evaluate
how well it is being performed, students need instruction in
their use. Typically, teachers model what to record, how to
record, and when to record as well as how to self-evaluate.
Next, they provide guided practice until the student has
demonstrated highly accurate use of the procedures.
Because the ultimate goal of self-management is to
internalize the processes involved, teachers often institute
fading procedures so that students gradually move away


from using recording forms or prompts (e.g., auditory sig-
nals) that signal the student to record/evaluate. Fading is
done systematically whereby forms and cues are gradually
eliminated and replaced with an occasional verbal prompt
from the teacher.
To date, self-management procedures have been shown
to be effective for improving academically related behaviors
such as assignment completion, on-task behavior, and other
school survival skills prerequisite for success. However, not
much is known about its direct impact on learning (e.g., test
scores, grades). Too, as with strategy instruction, much of
the instruction on how to use self-management procedures
has occurred in settings other than the general education
class. Again, this is most likely due to the amount of time
and effort needed to teach the skills included in these pack-
ages.

Teacher-Focused Interventions
This broad category includes interventions used by
teachers to help students learn content presented in text
and/or lecture. These teaching procedures or devices, some-
times referred to as content enhancements or adaptations,
are designed to help students with disabilities access the cur-
riculum without watering it down. This is done using vari-
ous methods including highlighting critical information and
graphically depicting content in ways that make relation-
ships between related concepts apparent and concrete. We
have categorized types of teaching devices for descriptive
purposes but to some extent there is overlap between them.
Advance organizers. Sometimes referred to as creating
a learning set, advance organizers (AO) are used to provide
students, verbally and/or in writing, information prior to a
lesson. This information includes the content and structure
of the teacher's presentation. While the complexity and
detail of an AO may vary, there are a number of typical ele-
ments or components commonly included (Lenz, Alley, &
Schumaker, 1987; Lovitt, 2000).
Components of AO's that have some empirical support
include an interactive review of previous content related to
the upcoming presentation, a clear statement of the learning
objective, expectations for the students, and discussion of
the relevance and importance of the information to be pre-
sented. Another activity that may benefit students is pre-
teaching new concepts and vocabulary as part of the AO
process. It appears that a structured presentation of these
concepts using multiple examples helps students understand
the upcoming lecture better and retain information longer.
It is not clear from existing research whether all com-
mon elements are needed to improve student comprehension
of presented material. It does seem clear that many students
with learning disabilities need to be taught how to benefit
from an AO and that merely providing one is insufficient for
ensuring student learning. Students, who do not benefit
from an AO, can be helped to do so by using techniques sim-


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Hughes, Maccini, and Gagnon


ilar to those used in the strategic instruction procedures men-
tioned earlier. These include the teacher explaining the pur-
pose and rationale for an AO, describing each component
using examples, and providing a worksheet organized by the
AO components and prompting students to write notes on it.
An example of an AO and how it might be delivered is pre-
sented in Figure 3.
Figure 3.

Example advance organizer for a lesson on paragraph
writing.

1. Inform students of the purpose of the AO
Good morning class, let's get started on our lesson. As
usual I will start with an Advance Organizer. Remember, the
purpose of this organizer is to help you focus on what you
are going to learn, how you are going to learn it and why it
is important to learn. To help you do that I will be going over
some background information, introducing some new terms
and explain my expectations for what you will be able to do.
I have provided you with an AO worksheet to take notes on
while we do the AO together.
2. Identify the topic and the expected outcomes
Today we are going to continue our work on writing
paragraphs. Specifically we are going to begin learning
about how to write different types of paragraphs. When we
are finished with this unit, you will be able to write a variety
of paragraph types correctly.
3. Elicit and provide rationales for learning the content
Who can remember why it is important to be able to
write clear and correct paragraphs? In what kinds of situa-
tions would we need to write these kinds of paragraphs?
4. Provide a specific review of prerequisite skills and reteach
if necessary.
Before we get started, lets see if you remember some of
the information we have covered so far. First, what do we
typically begin a paragraph with? Correct, a topic sentence.
And, we talked about two types. What are they? Yes, a spe-
cific topic sentence and a general topic sentence. Who can
give me an example of each? Great.
We said that typically a topic sentence is followed by
what kind of sentences? Right, detail sentences. Somebody
give me a detail sentence for the specific topic sentences just
generated. Great. How about a detail sentence for the gener-
al topic sentence? Excellent, these sentences all met the cri-
teria for a good detail sentence.
We also discussed the concepts of point-of-view as well
as verb tense. Why is it often important to keep these con-
sistent in our writing? Great reasons.
And finally, what do we end a paragraph with? Yes, a
Clincher Sentence. Everybody, write a clincher sentence for
this paragraph that I am handing out.
5. Introduce new vocabulary and specific focus of the lesson
Today we'll start learning about how to write different


types of paragraphs. We will start with the sequential para-
graph. What does the word "sequential" mean? So what do
you think a Sequential Paragraph is? Sure it is a paragraph
that describes something that happens in a certain order. If
the information in a paragraph is of a sequential nature and
you don't write in a sequential order what might happen to
the reader? Sure, they will get confused.
6. Provide a framework, indicate actions and specify out-
comes
We will go through this lesson in the same way as usual.
First, we will define the concept (Sequential Paragraph and
types of Sequential Paragraphs) using examples and nonex-
amples. Then I will describe and model how you apply the
concept in your actual writing. While I am describing and
modeling I expect you to take notes. Then we will practice
writing a Sequential Paragraph together in our cooperative
groups. Remember, I will be helping you as much as you
need at first. Then you will begin to write more and more on
your own until you can write a great Sequential Paragraph
by yourself. Any questions? Okay, let's get started!

Study guides. These are outlines or worksheets con-
taining a sequence of main ideas, statements, or questions
taken from a textbook that help students focus on critical
information. Typically, students fill out missing information
or answer questions on the study guide during or after read-
ing a textbook chapter. Figure 4 is an example of the kinds
of items that might be found on a study guide.

Figure 4.
Study guide questions for this article.

1. What are two student-focused interventions that are
effective with adolescents with learning disabilities?

2. Two reasons why many adolescents with learning dis-
abilities have difficulty in mastering secondary level cur-
riculum include (a) dysfluency in basic skills,
and (b) ineffective and inefficient
strategies.


3. Self-management procedures include self-
self- , and self- __


4. Advance Organizers can be effective instructional tools
because
a. they focus student attention on the content-to-be-learned
b. they help teachers better organize their instruction
c. they make sure students have prerequisite skills/
knowledge needed to benefit from the currentlesson
d. all of the above


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The type and level of support provided by a study guide
is often necessary for students with learning disabilities due
to their difficulty identifying relevant information and gener-
al reading/studying skill problems. These difficulties are
exacerbated by texts that include a dense (and often disorga-
nized) concentration of novel concepts. Use of study guides
with students with learning disabilities generally results in
better test performance than when they are asked to study on
their own (Lovitt, 2000).
Two basic approaches have been employed when using
study guides, teacher directed and student directed. In the
former case, the teacher instructs students to fill in the guide
after they have read (or reread) a chapter. Using an overhead
projector, the teacher reads the guide, provides missing infor-
mation, and directs students to fill in their guide. The teacher
can also ask students what the answers are (either as unison
or individual responses) and if the answer is correct, uncov-
ers the right answer on the overhead. Students then copy the
answer. If a student does not know the answer, the teacher
provides the page number in the text and the student locates
and states the correct answer. Student-directed use of study
guides is a simple procedure: students fill out the guide on
their own. Another variation of a student-directed procedure
is when the guide is filled out as a cooperative activity with
dyads or small groups. Which method of study-guide com-
pletion is most appropriate appears to depend on the ability
level of the students, with lower performers clearly needing
more teacher direction. However, some students participating
in the published research studies did as well or better using
the guide individually.
Study guides can be further individualized in terms of
referential cues. That is, some guides include page numbers
and paragraph numbers (or just page numbers) students use to
locate answers in a text. Again, the decision whether to use
cues (or at what level) will depend on past performance in
using the study guide. But it does appear that study guides
incorporating multiple referents are typically more effective.
Finally, a variation of the study guide can be used when
taking notes from lecture. This intervention, called guided
notes, involves providing students a handout that is essential-
ly a transcript of the lecture with key words or phrases omit-
ted. As the teacher lectures, students fill in the blanks. Two
variations have been researched: use of a short form (1 to 3
words missing at a time) and a long form (4 to 8 words miss-
ing). Preliminary findings favor the short form in terms of
test performance and student preference.
In summary, study guides and guided notes appear to be
an effective way of helping students with learning disabilities
to learn content and perform on tests, and to do so across con-
tent areas (e.g., science, social studies) (Horton & Lovitt,
1989; Horton, Lovitt, & Christensen, 1991). However, some
qualifications do remain. First, this approach seems to work
best with factual level information versus more complex con-
cepts and higher order skills. This is not surprising given the


factual nature of the information on the guide and how it is
presented. Relatedly, some research shows that in order to
get improvement on test scores, the test has to reflect the
information and format of the study guide. Finally, it should
be noted that while performance on classroom tests
improved, students with learning disabilities still scored
lower than class average, with most scores on tests below
80%.
Graphic organizers. A graphic organizer (GO) is a
visual display that makes relationships between related facts
and concepts more apparent and explicit. These relation-
ships can be temporal, spatial, semantic, sequential, hierar-
chic, or comparative. Each organizer contains information
about an important or overarching concept from the stu-
dents' textbook or a teachers' lecture.
This teaching tool, sometimes referred to as a concept
map, visual display, or concept diagram helps teachers orga-
nize information so students can see that the content they are
learning is part of a whole and not just unrelated facts. Also,
making the connections between related material more con-
crete and explicit assists in student understanding as well as
recall. Similar to the study guide, students are given the
organizer on a piece of paper and are responsible for filling

Figure 5.
Graphic organizer used to define a concept.


Concept Democracy
name:

Definitions: A democracy is a form of government in which the people hold the
ruling power, citizens are equal, the individual is valued, and
compromise is necessary.


Characteristics present in the concept:
Always


Sometimes


Never


form of government direct representation king rules
people hold power indirect representation dictator rules
individual is valued
citizens equal
compromise necessary


Example

( United States


Mexico


lGermany today


Nonexample

S Cuba


Ir a q .


Germany under
dHitlaer >
- .*-- -- .
SMacedonia (under
- Alexander)


From Bulgren, J., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1988).
Effectiveness of a concept teaching routine in enhancing the per-
formance of LD students in secondary level mainstream classes.
Learning Disability Quarterly, 11, 5-6. Reprinted with permission.


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Hughes, Maccini, and Gagnon


in missing information. Figures 5 -7 illustrate different for-
mats of GOs.
GOs can also be used during a lecture or filled out by
students as they read through their textbook. GOs can be
used before or after students read the text. It is unclear at
this point if GOs are more effective when used as pre-orga-
nizers or as post-organizers (or both). Construction of a GO
is completed following a general set of steps which include
(a) identifying key/important concepts and related
facts/vocabulary in the students textbooks, (b) sequencing
the concepts, (c) selecting a format (e.g., hierarchic, dia-
gram, compare-contrast, timeline, etc.) that makes the most
sense given the nature of the information and the goal of
instruction, and (d) constructing the GO in a manner which
best illustrates the relationships between a concept and relat-
ed information (e.g., use of arrows, boxes, numbering).
When presenting the GO in a lecture, effective teaching
behaviors should be implemented. Such behaviors include
(a) using an advance organizer, (b) providing an overview of
the GO and its purpose, (c) asking students to think about
key words and concepts from the chapter, (d) defining the
overarching concept, (e) presenting examples and non-

Figure 6.
Graphic organizer used to show relationships.

Democracy: A Balance of Power


U.S. Federal Government - the three branches


/ i \


From Hughes, C. A. (1996). Memory and test-taking strate-
gies. In D. Deshler, E. Ellis, & B. Lenz (Eds.), Teaching adoles-
cents with learning disabilities: Strategies and methods (pp. 209-
266). Denver, CO: Love.
Learning Disabilities


Figure 7.
Graphic organizer used to show organization of a chapter
on memory and test taking.




Conceptualizing Memory: Memory Characteristics of
Information-ProcessinModel Adolescents with LD


Mnemonic Techniques and
Strategies
I
Study Routines


Taking Tests



Test-Taking Se tngDemand Test-Taking Characteristics



Test-Taking Techniques and Strategies

From Hughes, C.A. (1996). Memory and test taking strategies.
In D. Deshler, E. Ellis, & B. Lenz (Ed.s), Teaching adolescents with
learning disabilities: Strategies and methods (pp. 209-266). Denver,
CO: Love.

examples focusing on the critical attributes of the concept,
and (f) keeping the students involved by asking questions and
eliciting other responses. As the lecture progresses, students
are responsible for filling in the missing information on the
GO.
Overall, the use of different forms of GOs (e.g., concept
diagrams, visual displays) appears to help students better
understand and retain information from their texts and
teacher lecture (Horton, Lovitt, & Bergerud, 1990). As with
study guides, it appears that this approach is typically more
effective when the teacher systematically directs the activity
versus a more student-directed approach. Too, while stu-
dents score higher on their classroom tests when GOs are
used appropriately, many students with learning disabilities
still have not scored as high as their counterparts without
learning disabilities.
Memory enhancements. One study (Bulgren,
Schumaker, & Deshler, 1994) has examined use of memory
enhancement devices (mnemonics) as a closing review for
lectures given in general education secondary classrooms.
This enhancement is a routine designed to improve student
retention of lecture content by using mnemonic devices with
key vocabulary presented during the lesson. Three types of


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Interventions for Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities


mnemonic devices were used: (a) first-letter mnemonics
(using the first letter of each word in a related list to form an
acronym), (b) mental imagery (forming a mental picture that
links two pieces of related information, and (c) keywords
(using the sounds heard in an important vocabulary word,
relating that sound to a familiar word, and then forming a
mental image or drawing that links the vocabulary word and
the familiar word).
Prior to teaching the lesson, the teacher identifies
important content (typically factual level knowledge) and
then, based on which of the three mnemonic procedures is
deemed most appropriate, constructs the memory enhance-
ment. The teacher progresses through the lecture, concur-
rently writing the designated facts on the board and describ-
ing the mnemonic to the students. At the end of the lecture,
the content related to the mnemonics is reviewed. This
review began with students being cued that the content to
follow was important and to take notes. As each
concept/vocabulary word was reviewed, students were told
which of the three types of memory devices were to be used.
The teacher then linked, in writing, the concept with the
memory device. Finally, the mnemonic device was
reviewed. Students, both with and without learning disabil-
ities, appear to benefit from this routine, scoring higher on
recall tests than students who receive a more typical lecture.

Summary of Teacher-focused Approaches
It appears there are several teacher-focused procedures
that have some empirical support for their use. Also, these
teaching methods do not water-down content and in fact
often benefit students without learning disabilities as well as
those with learning disabilities. However, there are some
practical issues that need to be highlighted. First is the issue
of efficiency. Efficiency has to do with the interaction of the
amount of time needed to prepare/instruct with the amount
of student learning that results. It is unclear in some cases
how much time is necessary to prepare some of these
devices and the information that is known indicates that the
effort is not minimal. For example, it appears that it takes at
least one hour to construct one study guide for a 1500-word
passage, not an insignificant amount of time especially con-
sidering the number of words in a textbook. Collaboration
between general and special educators and may cut down on
the time commitment needed.
Another issue is the expertise needed to construct and
use content enhancements. These are not particularly easy
to construct and require specific knowledge of instructional
content and methodology. As stated earlier in this article,
we cannot provide sufficient detail that would result in pro-
ficient use of these techniques. Well designed pre-and inser-
vice training on the construction and use of these research-
supported interventions is obviously needed.

Summary of Student-focused Interventions


We identified several studies (e.g., Maheady, Sacca, &
Harper, 1987, 1988) that used similar forms of peer tutoring
to improve classroom test performance of all students,
including those with learning disabilities. One form, Class-
wide Student Tutoring Teams (CWSTT), requires small
groups of 3 to 5 students ranging in ability, to work as a
team. Working in a game format, students earn both team
and individual points for correct responses, making correc-
tions, displaying appropriate tutoring behaviors, and quiz
performance.
To set up CWSTT, the teacher first provides 1 to 2 days
of instruction on content to the class. Teams are then ran-
domly established and students within each group rotate
performing as the tutor asking peers questions on content
presented earlier by the teacher (e.g., how to solve certain
types of math problems). If one of the team states the cor-
rect answer, it is acknowledged by the tutor and points
recorded. If an answer is incorrect, the student making the
error must complete the problem correctly several times.
Additionally, students complete worksheets and take
quizzes.
A similar procedure, Classwide Student Tutoring
(CST), begins with a day of teacher-directed instruction in a
content area (i.e., social studies). On the second day the
class is divided into two teams (e.g., the red team and the
blue team). Within each team, students are paired and com-
plete study guides prepared by the teacher. The tutor and
tutee roles are switched after 15 minutes. Again, points are
earned for correct answers and following procedures (i.e.,
good tutoring behaviors).
Regardless of the form of peer tutoring activity, it
appears necessary for teachers to spend time training stu-
dents how to be effective tutors in terms of providing both
positive and corrective feedback and recording responses.
Teachers also need to periodically and randomly monitor
responses of students when they are in both roles. It also
seems to be good practice to re-form teams every couple of
weeks or so.
In summary, there is support for this type of intervention
as an effective way to practice teacher-presented information
and in a variety of content areas (e.g., science, social studies,
math). Also, worth noting is that, to date, peer tutoring as
been effective when implemented as same grade tutoring
(versus cross grade or age tutoring) and using heterogeneous
grouping by ability level.

Summary
The purpose of this article is to present an overview of
types of interventions shown to improve the performance of
students with learning disabilities in secondary general edu-
cation classrooms. The reason for providing this overview is
so teachers have a starting point for deciding which inter-
ventions to use with their students. This is the beginning


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Hughes, Maccini, and Gagnon


point for bringing evidence-based strategies into the class-
room.
Based on our analysis of this research, it appears there
are a number of promising interventions that can (a) help
students become more efficient and independent learners,
(b) guide teachers when they plan and deliver instruction,
and (c) assist students to practice newly acquired informa-
tion. It also appears that these procedures are generally
effective for all students in general education classrooms and
do not require teachers to significantly reduce their expecta-
tions.
However, one consistent theme we garnered from
reviewing this research is that most of these techniques take
significant amounts of time and effort to plan, construct, and
implement in order for students with learning disabilities to
benefit from them. There are no quick fixes. Nor is any sin-
gle intervention approach in isolation sufficient to ensure
students with learning disabilities perform at the same level
as their peers without learning disabilities. It appears a vari-
ety of approaches are needed, including learning strategies,
content enhancements, peer-mediation, and the judicious use
of technology.
Obviously more research is necessary, especially with
regard to teaching higher order information, generalization
of acquired skills and knowledge, problem solving and the
types of instructional arrangements/setting (e.g., resource
class, general education class, co-teaching) needed for suc-
cess. Until then, teachers can use the interventions outlined
in this article with some measure of confidence that they
work.

References
Bulgren, J. A. & Lenz, B. K. (1996). Strategic instruction in
the content areas. In D. Deshler, E. Ellis, & B. Lenz
(Eds.), Teaching adolescents with learning disabilities:
Strategies and methods (pp. 409-473). Denver, CO:
Love.
Bulgren, J. A., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1994).
The effects of a recall enhancement routine on the test
performance of secondary students with and without
learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research &
Practice, 9, 2-11.
Deshler, D. D., Ellis, E., & Lenz B. K. (1996). Teaching
adolescents with learning disabilities: Strategies and
methods. Denver, CO: Love.
Fisher, J. B., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1996).
Searching for validated inclusive practices: A review of
the literature. In E. L. Meyen, C. A. Vergason, & R. J.
Whelan (Eds.), Strategies for teaching exceptional chil-
dren in inclusive settings. Denver, CO: Love.
Gersten, R. (1998). Recent advances in instructional
research for students with learning disabilities: An


overview. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice,
13, 162-170.
Horton, S. V., & Lovitt, T. C. (1989). Using study guides
with three classifications of secondary students. The
Journal of Special Education, 22, 447-462.
Horton, S. V., Lovitt, T. C., & Bergerud, D. (1990). The
effectiveness of graphic organizers for three classifica-
tions of secondary students in content area classes.
Journal of Learning Disabilities, 23, 12-22, 29.
Horton, S. V., Lovitt, T. C., & Christensen, C. C. (1991).
Matching three classifications of secondary students to
differential levels of study guides. Journal of Learning
Disabilities, 24, 518-529.
Hughes, C. A., & Ruhl, K. L. (2002). The POWER self-
management strategy. Unpublished manuscript.

Hughes, C. A., Ruhl, K. L., & Misra, A. (1989). Self-man-
agement with behaviorally disordered students in
school settings: A promise unfulfilled? Behavioral
Disorders, 14 (4), 250-262.
Hughes, C. A., Ruhl, K. L., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J.
B. (2002). Effects of teaching an assignment comple-
tion strategy to adolescents with learning disabilities.
Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 17(1), 1-
18.
Hughes, C. A., Ruhl, K. L., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J.
B. (1995). The assignment completion strategy.
Lawrence, KS: EDGE Enterprises.
Lovitt, T. C. (2000). Preventing school failure: Tactics for
teaching adolescents (2nd ed.). Austin, TX: PRO-ED.
Maheady, L., Sacca, M. K., & Harper, G. F. (1987).
Classwide student tutoring teams: The effects of peer-
mediated instruction on the academic performance of
secondary mainstreamed students. The Journal of
Special Education, 21, 107-121.
Maheady, L., Sacca, M. K., & Harper, G. F. (1988).
Classwide peer tutoring with mildly handicapped high
school students. Exceptional Children, 55, 52-59.
Maccini, P., Gagnon, J. C., & Hughes, C. A. (2003).
Technology-based practices for secondary students with
learning disabilities in general education classrooms.
Learning Disability Quarterly, 25, 247-262.
Mastropieri, M. A., & Scruggs, T. E. (2001). Promoting
inclusion in secondary classrooms. Learning
Disability Quarterly, 24, 265-274.
Sander, N. W., Bott, D. A., Hughes, C. A., & Ruhl, K. L.
(1991). Effects of a self-management strategy on task-
independent behaviors of adolescents with learning dis-


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Interventions for Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities


abilities. B. C. Journal of Special Education, 15, 65-75.
Scanlon, D., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B. (1996).
Can a strategy be taught and learned in secondary inclu-
sive classrooms? Learning Disabilities Research &
Practice, 11, 41-57.
Schumaker, J. B. & Deshler, D. D. (1988). Implementing
the Regular Education Initiative in secondary schools:
A different ballgame. Journal of Learning Disabilities,
21,36-42
Vaughn, S. & Schumm, J. S. (1995). Responsible inclusion
for students with learning disabilities. Journal of
Learning Disabilities, 28, 264-270.
Appendix A: Research Bibliography
Student Focused Interventions

Hughes, C. A., Ruhl, K. L., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D.
D. (2002). Effects of an assignment completion strat-
egy on the homework performance of students with
learning disabilities in general education classes.
Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 17(1), 1-
18.
Hughes, C. A. & Schumaker, J. B. (1991). Test-taking strat-
egy instruction for adolescents with learning disabili-
ties. Exceptionality, 2, 205-221.
Lenz, B.K., Alley, G.R., Schumaker, J.B. (1987). Activating
the IQ inactive learner: Advance organizers in the sec-
ondary content classroom, Learning Disability
Quarterly, 10, (1) 53-67.
Lenz, B. K., Eheren, B. J., & Smiley, L. R. (1991). A goal
attainment approach to improve completion of project-
type assignments by adolescents with learning disabili-
ties. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 6,
138-154.
Lenz, B. K. & Hughes, C. A. (1990). A word identification
strategy for adolescents with learning disabilities.
Journal of Learning Disabilities, 23, 149-158.

Maccini, P. & Hughes, C. A. (2000). Effects of a problem-
solving strategy on the algebra performance of sec-
ondary students with learning disabilities. Learning
Disabilities Research and Practice, 15, 10-21.
Prater, M. A., Joy, R., Chilman, B., Temple, J., & Miller, S.
R. (1991). Self-monitoring of on-task behavior by ado-
lescents with learning disabilities. Learning Disability
Quarterly, 14, 164-177.
Sander, N. W., Bott, D. A., Hughes, C. A., & Ruhl, K.
(1991). Effects of a self-management strategy on task-
independent behaviors of adolescents with learning dis-


abilities. B. C. Journal of Special Education, 15,65-75.
Scanlon, D., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B. (1996). Can
a strategy be taught and learned in secondary inclusive
classrooms? Learning Disabilities Research &
Practice, 11, 41-57.
Schmidt, J. L., Deshler, D. D., Schumaker, J. B., & Alley, G.
R. (1988). Effects of generalization instruction on the
written language performance of adolescents with
learning disabilities in the mainstream classroom.
Journal of Reading, Writing, and Learning Disabilities,
4, 291-309.
Snyder, M. C. & Bambara, L. M. (1997). Teaching sec-
ondary students with learning disabilities to self-man-
age classroom survival skills. Journal of Learning
Disabilities, 30, 534-543.
Tollefson, N., Tracy, D. B., Johnson, E. P., & Chatman, J.
(1986). Teaching learning disabled students' goal-
implementation skills. Psychology in the Schools, 23,
194-204.
Trammel, D. L., Schloss, P. J., & Alper, S. (1994). Using
self-recording, evaluation, and graphing to increase
completion of homework assignments. Journal of
Learning Disabilities, 27, 75-81.
Van Reusen, A. K., Deshler, D. D., & Schumaker, J. B.
(1989). Effects of a student participation strategy in
facilitating the involvement of adolescents with learning
disabilities in the individualized education program
planning process. Learning Disabilities, 1, 23-34.
Wallace, G. W. & Bott, D. A. (1989). Statement-pie: A strat-
egy to improve the paragraph writing skills of adoles-
cents with learning disabilities. Journal of Learning
Disabilities, 22, 541-553.
Teacher-Focused Interventions

Bergerud, D., Lovitt, T. C., & Horton, S. (1988). The effec-
tiveness of textbook adaptations in life science for high
school students with learning disabilities. Journal of
Learning Disabilities, 21, 70-76.
Bulgren, J. A., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1988).
Effectiveness of a concept teaching routine in enhanc-
ing the performance of LD students in secondary-level
mainstream classes. Learning Disability Quarterly, 11,
3-17.
Bulgren, J. A., Schumaker, J. B., & Deshler, D. D. (1994).
The effects of a recall enhancement routine on the test
performance of secondary students with and without
learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research &
Practice, 9, 2-11.
Horton, S. V., & Lovitt, T. C. (1989). Using study guides


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Hughes, Maccini, and Gagnon

with three classifications of secondary students. The
Journal of Special Education, 22,447-462.
Horton, S. V., Lovitt, T. C., & Bergerud, D. (1990). The
effectiveness of graphic organizers for three classifica-
tions of secondary students in content area classes.
Journal of Learning Disabilities, 23, 12-22, 29.
Horton, S. V., Lovitt, T. C., & Christensen, C. C. (1991).
Matching three classifications of secondary students to
differential levels of study guides. Journal of Learning
Disabilities, 24, 518-529.
Lenz, B. K., Alley, G. R., & Schumaker, J. B. (1987).
Activating the inactive learner: Advance organizers in
the secondary content classroom. Learning Disability
Quarterly, 10, 53-67.
Lovitt, T., Rudsit, J., Jenkins, J., Pious, C., & Benedetti, D.
(1986). Adapting science materials for regular and
learning disabled seventh graders. Remedial and
Special Education, 7, 31-39.
Peer-Focused Interventions

Maheady, L., Sacca, M. K., & Harper, G. F. (1987).
Classwide student tutoring teams: The effects of peer-
mediated instruction on the academic performance of
secondary mainstreamed students. The Journal of
Special Education, 21, 107-121.
Maheady, L., Sacca, M. K., & Harper, G. F. (1988).
Classwide peer tutoring with mildly handicapped high
school students. Exceptional Children, 55, 52-59.
Mastropieri, M.A., Scruggs, T.E., Spencer, V., & Fontana, J.
(2003). Promoting success in high school world histo-
ry: peer tutoring versus guided notes. Learning
Disabilities Research & Practice, 18(1), 52-65.


Charles A, Hughes, Ph.D., is a Professor in the
Department of Educational and School Psychology and
Special Education at the Pennsylvania State University,
University Park, Pennsylvania.
Paula Maccini, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the
Department of Special Education at University of Maryland,
College Park, Maryland.
Joseph Calvin Gagnon, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor
in the Department of Special Education at George Mason
University, Virginia.


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