Technology-Based practices for secondary students with learning disabilities
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Title: Technology-Based practices for secondary students with learning disabilities
Series Title: Maccini, P. M., Gagnon, J. C., & Hughes, C. A. (2002). Technology-Based practices for secondary students with learning disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 25, 247-261.
Physical Description: Journal Article
Creator: Gagnon, Joseph
Abstract: The researchers conducted a comprehensive review of the literature on technology-based practices for secondary students identified as having learning disabilities (LD) involving instruction and/or assessment that measured some aspect of performance on a general education task or expectation (i.e., test). Technology-based practices included computer- or video-based interventions, multimedia programs, technology-based assessment, and verbatim audio recordings. Three practices appear promising for educating students with LD: (a) hypertext and hypermedia software programs; (b) videodisc instruction involving contextualized learning; and (c) multimedia software. Educational recommendations and directions for future research are offered based upon results.
Acquisition: Collected for University of Florida's Institutional Repository by the UFIR Self-Submittal tool. Submitted by Joseph Gagnon.
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Paula Maccini, Joseph Calvin Gagnon, and Charles A. Hughes

Abstract. The researchers conducted a comprehensive review
of the literature on technology-based practices for secondary stu-
dents identified as having learning disabilities (LD) involving
instruction and/or assessment that measured some aspect of per-
formance on a general education task or expectation (i.e., test).
Technology-based practices included computer- or video-based
interventions, multimedia programs, technology-based assess-
ment, and verbatim audio recordings. Three practices appear
promising for educating students with LD: (a) hypertext and hyper-
media software programs; (b) videodisc instruction involving con-
textualized learning; and (c) multimedia software. Educational
recommendations and directions for future research are offered
based upon results.

PAULA MACCINI, Ph.D., is assistant professor, University of Maryland.
JOSEPH CALVIN GAGNON, Ph.D., is assistant professor, George Mason University.
CHARLES A. HUGHES, Ph.D., is professor, The Pennsylvania State University.

The use of technology is a vital and integral part of our
society. Spurred by legislation, such as the Education for
All Handicapped Children Act of 1986 (PL 99-457) that
authorized research on the development of technologi-
cal devices for individuals with special needs, technology
is increasingly prevalent in our nation's schools across all
levels and grades (Mathews, Pracek, & Olson, 2000).
Teachers, for example, use technology as a vehicle for
lesson development and implementation, and monitor-
ing of student learning. Further, technology can be a
valuable tool that promotes active student involvement
in the learning process and assists students in accessing
and organizing information.
Although beneficial for all students, technology has
great potential for students with disabilities. Specifically,
it may increase student access to the general education
curriculum (U.S. Department of Education, 2000), aca-

demic achievement (Lock & Carlson, 2000), motivation
(Mathews et al., 2000), and prosocial behaviors (Lock &
Carlson, 2000). However, the impact of technology on
secondary students with learning disabilities (LD) in 'the
general education classroom has not been comprehen-
sively reviewed. This analysis is crucial given that a
majority of secondary students with LD are educated
within the general education classroom (U.S. Department
of Education, 2000), and are exposed to the curriculum of
their nonhandicapped peers.
More than 80% of students with LD spend at least
half of their day within general education settings (U.S.
Department of Education, 2000). However, many sec-
ondary students with LD placed in the general educa-
tion environment exhibit characteristics that impede
their learning in such settings. For example, these stu-
dents commonly experience difficulties with reading

Volume 25, Fall 2002 247

comprehension, organizing, retaining and linking
information to prior knowledge. In addition, students
with LD rarely employ effective study strategies and
notetaking skills, and do not take an active approach to
academic tasks (Anderson-Inman, Knox-Quinn, &
Homey, 1996). These students also demonstrate dismal
educational and post-school outcomes. For example,
29.4% of students with LD exit school without a
diploma (U.S. Department of Education, 2000). This
percentage is greater than for any other disability clas-
sification, with the exception of students who are
labeled with an emotional disorder (ED). Following
school, students labeled LD are also less likely to attend
postsecondary educational programs (25.6%), com-
pared to youth in the general population (68.3%)
(Wagner & Blackorby, 1996).
One promising approach to helping students with LD
is the use of technology-based practices that include
both technology-based assessment and interventions
(Bender, 2001). According to Vergason and Anderegg
(1997), technology-based intervention and assessment
refers to using the computer or other expert systems as
the medium to provide instruction and monitor stu-
dent learning. Little is known about the impact of
technology-based practices on the academic perform-
ance of adolescents with LD. Of specific interest is stu-
dent success in meeting general education expectations
(i.e., tasks and/or assessments). One related review
(Hudson, Lignugaris-Kraft, & Mille'r, 1993) focused on
all content enhancement interventions (e.g., advanced
organizers, audio recordings, computer-assisted instruc-
tion) across settings for secondary students with LD up
to 1991. Generally, Hudson et al. (1993) recommended
a variety of content area enhancements related to effec-
tive teaching principles (i.e., activating prior knowl-
edge, providing corrective and positive feedback) to
increase student achievement. However, recent techno-
logical advancements warrant an updated analysis
specifically of technology-based practices.
The purpose of this review was threefold: (a) to
determine technology-based practices that appear
promising for improving the performance of second-
ary students with LD on a general education task or
assessment; (b) to review these practices relative to the
instructional cycle and effective teaching variables;
and (c) to provide recommendations for current prac-
tice and future research.

Criterion for Inclusion
To be considered for inclusion in this review, studies
must have met the following criteria: (a) targeted ado-
lescents with LD (grades 6 through 12); (b) involved
instruction and/or assessment that measured some

aspect of performance (or at least one dependent vari-
able) on a general education task; (c) been published in
refereed journals that measured effects on students'
academic performance; and (d) included technology-
based interventions or assessment formats as the inde-
pendent variable.
Search Procedures
Search procedures consisted of three steps: (a) an
electronic search in the Library Information Access
System (LIAS) through the ERIC and PsychINFO sys-
tems; (b) a hand search of refereed journals published
from 1970 through 2001; and (c) an ancestral search
using the reference section of articles obtained
through the above steps. The key descriptors for locat-
ing the articles included the following: learning dis-
abilities, adolescents, middle school, high school, and
secondary school.
Through these procedures, a total of 10 articles met
the stated criteria and are included in the current
review. The population and setting characteristics,
study duration, and nature of intervention are described
and presented in Table 1. A graduate student in special
education conducted a reliability check on 100%
(N = 250) of the variables coded (see Table 1); agreement
was determined to be 97% (agreements divided by
agreements plus disagreements, times 100).
Effective Teaching Principles
Each article in the current review was analyzed
according to effective teaching principles, as noted in a
previous review of the literature (see Hudson et al.,
1993). These practices include the use of the instruc-
tional cycle and effective teaching variables. According
to Hudson et al., the instructional cycle refers to "a
structure for integrating effective teaching practices
and content enhancement techniques in the delivery
of instruction" (p. 106). As noted at the top of Table 2,
these practices include the following components:
(a) planning for instruction; (b) creating a learning set;
(c) presenting content and guided practice; (d) provid-
ing independent student practice; and (e) assessing stu-
dent knowledge. Relatedly, effective teaching variables
are embedded within these phases of the instructional
cycle, and a singular variable may be present in one or
several phases of the instructional cycle. For example,
some of the effective teaching variables associated
within "assessing student knowledge" (i.e., monitoring
student progress and making instructional decisions)
are also present in "creating a learning set."

In the sections that follow, technology-based practices
involving computer-based interventions, assessment for-
mats, and verbatim text recordings are described and

Learning Disability Quarterly 248

analyzed. The analysis within each section includes a
description of the following: (a) population and setting
characteristics; (b) study duration; and (c) nature of inter-
vention procedure (e.g., videodisc, computer-assisted
adaptations) involving inclusion of effective teaching
variables within the instructional cycle and use of sys-
tematic instruction in technology (see Table 2). The
nature of the intervention procedure also includes the
effect size (ES) or magnitude of the treatment effect,
Cohen's d (d = M, - Mz/Spooled, where M is the mean of
group 1 or 2, and Spooled equals the root mean squared of
the two standard deviations) (Cohen, 1988). The effect
size (ES) is calculated to determine the "relative effective-
ness" of a specific type of intervention and/or a compar-
ison between methods (Forness, Kavale, Blum, & Lloyd,
1997, p. 4). The ES can be determined by comparing con-
trol group versus treatment group data and/or pretest and
posttest comparisons. One or more ESs may be deter-
mined from a particular study, depending upon the char-
acteristics of students, intervention variations, and
number of effects investigated (Forness et al., 1997). Two
studies (Higgins & Boone, 1990; Torgesen, Dahlem, &
Greenstein, 1987, Experiments 1 & 2) did not include suf-
ficient data to determine the ES.
Population, Setting Characteristics, and Design
A total of 389 secondary students participated in the
studies targeted in the current review; 134 were labeled
LD (see Table 1). The mean student age was 15.1 with a
range from 12.8 to 15.5 years. Five studies did not report
student age. Ten studies included high school students
(grades 9-12) and one study involved both middle
school and high school students (grades 7 and 10).
Almost two-thirds of the participants were male
(N = 183). Three studies did not report gender informa-
tion. The number of participants per study ranged from
4 to 153. The three studies with the lowest number of
participants employed a single-subject A-B-A design
(Higgins & Boone, 1990), pretest-posttest design
(Horton, Boone, & Lovitt, 1990), or a multi-element
baseline design (Torgesen et al., 1987). Studies with
larger sample sizes employed group designs to investi-
gate treatment effects (N = 7) or an equivalent time-
samples design (N = 1).
Session Duration
The number and duration of the instructional ses-
sions varied among the studies (see Table 1). For exam-
ple, the number of sessions ranged from two days to
eight weeks and the length of sessions per day ranged
from 13 minutes to 45 minutes. Over half of the lessons
(N = 7, 64%) lasted 30 minutes each. Three studies
(Horton & Lovitt, 1994; Horton, Lovitt, & Slocum,
1988; Kelly, Carnine, Gersten, & Grossen, 1986) did
not report the number of sessions, and two studies

(Horton et al., 1990; Torgesen et al., 1987) did not
report session length.
Nature of Intervention Procedure
In the studies reviewed, researchers combined
technology-based practices with other instructional
interventions, including content enhancements, study
guides, learning strategies, and various approaches to
assessment. Six categories of technology-based prac-
tices are described in this section: (a) computer-assisted
adaptations; (b) videodisc adaptations; (c) hypertext
study guides; (d) hypermedia study guides; (e) assess-
ment formats; and (f) verbatim text recordings.
Computer-assisted adaptations. In this review, com-
puter-assisted adaptations refer to computer-based
instructional tools or adaptations, such as map tutorials
or study guides, that are implemented during lesson
delivery to "mediate student understanding, storage,
recall, and/or application of content" (Fisher, Schumaker,
& Deshler, 1996, p. 132). Two studies in the present
review focused on computer-assisted adaptations (Horton
et al., 1988; Horton, Lovitt, Givens, & Nelson, 1989). For
example, Horton et al. (1988) was the first research study
to apply a computer program to teach geographic loca-
tions to secondary students with learning difficulties in
the general education setting. The researchers compared
the effects of a computerized map tutorial with another
condition, wherein the participants used an atlas, a blank
map, and a list of cities on which to focus. The study
included two intact ninth-grade remedial world geogra-
phy classes. The two classes consisted of 12 students with
LD and 15 students considered remedial.
Each class completed a pretest that involved matching
a blank map with a list of 32 cities throughout Asia.
Because students experienced both interventions, the
posttest for each used half of the pretest list of cities,
minus the four cities most commonly answered correctly
on the pretest. Following the pretest, the two interven-
tions were implemented with the order counterbalanced
between classrooms. The condition that centered on the
use of an atlas required each participant to locate the
14 cities identified on a list within an atlas. Next the stu-
dent was responsible for writing each city on a map and
memorizing the location by covering up the city name,
directing his/her attention to the point on the map
where the city is located, saying the city name, and
uncovering the city name to verify the verbalized
answer. Participants were then allowed 15 minutes to
complete the posttest in which 14 city names were
matched with numbers on a blank map.
The computerized map tutorial'was implemented fol-
lowing a pilot study in which participants used differ-
ent content material to complete the same learning
process. Within this intervention, participants were

Volume 25, Fall 2002 249

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given 30 minutes to complete the computer program as
many times as possible. A four-stage sequence was
maintained for each of the 14 cities: (a) a map of Asia
appeared on the screen and an arrow with the name of
a city on it pointed to the location of the city; (b) the
arrow was removed and a box with the city name
remained on the screen; (c) students moved the city
name, using the mouse, to its appropriate location on
the map; and (d) a correct response was indicated and
the next city was listed. For incorrect responses, the
sequence was repeated with the same city. Following
30 minutes of the computer tutorial, participants were
given 15 minutes to complete a 14-item paper-and-
pencil test. The assessment required students to match
city names with the corresponding location on a map.
This four-stage sequence involved a number of effec-
tive teaching variables within the third phase of the
instructional cycle, including: (a) a self-paced, sequenced
approach to teaching city locations; (b) graphics (e.g.,
arrows and rectangles as prompts) to help focus student
attention on the target locations; (c) repetition and
cumulative review (i.e., each city was addressed four
times within the instructional sequence); (d) corrective
and positive feedback; and (e) reteaching, as necessary
(e.g., repetition of the instructional sequence for incor-
rect responses). However, the program did not include a
computerized assessment measure to monitor student
progress, nor discrimination practice within the instruc-
tional set (nonexamples) to help build conceptual
For the students with LD in classes 1 and 2, a signifi-
cant treatment effect was noted. These participants
averaged 85% on the posttest for the computer inter-
vention, with a mean d value of 15.6. The atlas condi-
tion resulted in a mean of 19%, with a mean d value of
.9. Similarly, the students labeled remedial averaged
86% (d = 6.4) and 22% (d = .7) on the posttests for the
two interventions, respectively. In addition, no signifi-
cant difference between the two groups within each
treatment condition was noted. Although the data indi-
cate the effectiveness of the computer condition, gener-
alization of the results was limited to similar tasks.
Another study (Horton et al., 1989) compared the
effects of a computerized study guide with a notetaking
intervention on the comprehension of ninth-grade stu-
dents labeled either remedial or LD. Two classes of a
world geography course participated in the study. The
intervention group included 10 students described as
remedial and nine identified as having a learning dis-
ability. The comparison group was comprised of eight
students labeled remedial and nine students identified
as LD.
The two experimental classes participated in both the
computerized study guide and notetaking interven-

tions, with the order of the treatments counterbalanced.
The notetaking intervention consisted of a three-step
process for students: (a) reading a passage as many times
as possible in 15 minutes; (b) taking notes in any way
they chose for 15 minutes; and (c) completing a 15-item
multiple-choice test. In contrast, following an initial
computer orientation, the computerized study guide
condition consisted of four components: (a) reading a
selected text as many times as possible for 15 minutes;
(b) responding silently to study guide questions for a
minimum of two times and a maximum of 15 minutes;
(c) completing a 15-item multiple-choice test; and
(d) receiving a hard copy of the .test with teacher cor-
rections. Although the teachers' corrections could not
have affected students' scores within the study, the
importance of teacher feedback within the instructional
process necessitates its notation. Though the self-paced
program offered many opportunities for students to
respond within the third phase of the instructional
cycle, the CAI program did not provide feedback (i.e.,
an error analysis of test. questions).
No significant difference existed within the average
performance of students labeled remedial and those
with LD within the treatment conditions. However,
within the computerized study guide intervention,
both classes of participants significantly outperformed
the comparison group, with a mean effect size of d = 2.8
for students with LD and d = 1.2 for remedial students.
In contrast, within the notetaking intervention, only
the students labeled remedial scored significantly bet-
ter than the comparison group. Despite the improve-
ments of the treatment groups, the mean posttest
scores for the students with LD was 76% for the com-
puterized study guide and 42% for the notetaking inter-
ventions. Similarly, the students considered remedial
averaged 77% with the computerized study guide and
58% within the notetaking condition. Such low aver-
ages would indicate some limitations within both
interventions and suggest the need to combine them
with other adaptations (e.g., computer-based feedback).
In addition, concerns exist due to the brevity of the
study. Because each intervention occurred within only
one class period, the effects of long-term implementa-
tion are unknown and therefore affect generalization of
these results.
Videodisc adaptations. Three studies in the present
review focused on videodisc adaptations (Bottge &
Hasselbring, 1993; Kelly et al., 1986; Kelly, Gersten, &
Carnine, 1990). Specifically, Kelly et al. (1986) compared
a basal program and a videodisc program to assess the
comparative effects of the latter program's instructional
design features on student performance. The videodisc
medium was utilized within the Mastering Fractions pro-
gram (Systems Impact, 1985). The researchers noted a

Volume 25, Fall 2002 253

previous study (Hasselbring, Sherwood, & Bransford,
1986) supporting their assertion that the features of
instructional design, rather than the particular medium,
directly affect student performance. Based upon this
assertion, the study focused on the differing instruc-
tional design features of the basal and Mastering Frac-
tions programs. Specifically, the comparison involved
four instructional design features subsidiary to the
"instructional planning" phase of the instructional
cycle (review procedures, discrimination practice, exam-
ple selection, explicit strategy teaching) (Kelly et al.,
1986). Kelly et al. (1986) selected key activity structures
when designing the fractions curriculum prior to lesson
delivery. For example, the fractions videodisc program
included discrimination between commonly confused
concepts. (e.g., adding and multiplying fractions) and
the separation of potentially confusing terms (introduc-
ing numerator and denominator on different lessons).
Many effective teaching variables were embedded
within the phases of the instructional cycle, such as:
(a) reviewing previously learned skills via a short quiz,
(b) explaining the skill/concept in small steps at a brisk
pace, (c) providing frequent feedback, (d) providing
guided and independent practice with a wide range of
examples, and (e) providing successful practice before
advancing to a new skill.
Students with LD and nonlabeled students were
selected from two high school math classes (i.e., reme-
dial math, general math) and randomly assigned to
either the basal program or videodisc instruction.
However, the number of students with LD in the final
sample was unclear. Pre-, post-, and maintenance crite-
rion referenced tests were used to assess acquisition of
skills. In addition, academic engagement and work
completion were assessed through formal observation.
This provided data to evaluate student success and con-
duct an error analysis. Additionally, a student ques-
tionnaire was used to assess student attitudes toward
the math programs.
The results of the study indicated a significant differ-
ence between the pretest and both posttest (d = 1.1)
and maintenance scores (d = 2.1) for the videodisc
intervention. While the videodisc intervention had a
significantly higher on-task rate than the basal pro-
gram, for both interventions the student on-task per-
centage was above 80%. Similarly, success rates on
independent classwork were above 90% for both inter-
ventions. An error analysis also provided support for
the videodisc curriculum. For example, within the basal
program, which did not couple the instruction of frac-
tions less than one with improper fractions, the error
rate for identification of diagrams representing frac-
tions was much lower than for students who experi-
enced the videodisc instruction.

Utilizing the Mastering Fractions program (Systems
Impact, 1985), as described above, Kelly et al. (1990)
investigated the effects of the instructional design
principles (see Table 2) with high school students in
remedial and general math classes. The participants
included 17 students with LD. Similar to the previous
study (Kelly et al., 1986), the researchers embedded
effective teaching variables into the instructional
sequence. These variables included review, teacher
modeling, guided practice, feedback, independent
practice, and wide range of examples.
Students were randomly assigned to the treatment
condition involving curriculum design variables or to
the control group consisting of basal math instruc-
tion. While the mean performance improved for both
groups, students in the treatment group scored sig-
nificantly higher than the comparison group, 96%
versus 82% (d = 1.3), made fewer errors, such as not
confusing terms (d = .6), discriminating between
algorithms (d = 1.2), and solving a range of examples
(d = 2.1). Thus, the curriculum program with effective
design variables was significantly more successful
than basal instruction.
Bottge and Hasselbring (1993) used the same videodisc
program to examine its effectiveness for teaching addi-
tion and subtraction of fractions. Additionally, they
investigated whether the program helped students gener-
alize their fraction skills to contextualized word problems.
The study was conducted within two remedial math
classes in which approximately half of the students were
labeled LD and half were described as at-risk. Within the
first part of the intervention, researchers completed an
error analysis of pretest scores to choose specific chapters
(i.e., renaming and simplifying fractions) within the
Mastering Fractions (Systems Impact, 1985) program. A
fraction computation test, word problem test, and a video
problem test (wherein students solved several problems
based upon information embedded in an 8-minute video)
were used as pre- and posttest measures for the students
in the remedial classes. In addition, the assessments were
administered to all other 9- to 12-grade students at the
school in general and pre-algebra classes at the onset of
the study.
The five-day intervention required the students to
view the videodisc, respond to the information and
questions verbally or in writing, and complete work-
book pages. The results of the fractions computation
test indicated that on calculation problems, students
participating in the intervention significantly increased
their level of achievement and obtained scores almost
on par with the students in the comparison group.
However, the pre-algebra students scored significantly
higher than the students labeled remedial on the word
problem test.

Learning Disability Quarterly 254

Following this initial five-day intervention, partici-
pants were paired by scores on the fractions computa-
tion test and randomly selected to participate in either
contextualized or word problem groups. Through this
process, four instructional groups were created. Over
the five-day contextualized problem-solving instruc-
tional condition, participants viewed a video several
times, identified the central problems and subprob-
lems, completed worksheets, discussed approaches
to solving the problems, and considered various
approaches when the problems were altered slightly by
the teacher. Similar to Kelly et al. (1986, 1990), the
videodisc program lessons incorporated all the effective
instructional principles recommended by Rosenshine
and Stevens (1986): (a) review; (b) presentation of new
concepts or skills; (c) guided practice and formative
assessment; (d) feedback, correctives, and reteaching as
needed; (e) independent practice; and (f) weekly and
monthly review.
The word problem intervention maintained a consis-
tent routine during each of the five days. A participant
read aloud the problem from an overhead projector and
the class identified relevant and extraneous informa-
tion. After identifying the operations to be employed,
each student computed the answer. Independent prac-
tice on worksheets followed. When comparing the two
types of problem-solving instruction, the results of the
video test indicated that students in the contextualized
problem-solving instructional condition scored signifi-
cantly better than those in the word problem interven-
tion (d = 1.1). However, both groups improved
significantly on the word problem test (d = .1). Further,
on a maintenance measure, the students in the contex-
tualized problem-solving instructional condition signif-
icantly outperformed the word problem students on a
video problem (d = 1.1).
Hypertext study guides. Hypertext software is consid-
ered "a generic term for high level software which
allows learners to interact with information in a non-
linear fashion" (Horton et al., 1990, p. 119). Two stud-
ies in the present review focused on hypertext software
involving study guides (Higgins & Boone, 1990; Horton
et al., 1990). Specifically, Horton et al. investigated the
effects of a hypertext software program designed to
teach social studies content. Four students labeled LD
enrolled in a remedial social studies class participated in
the study. Each lesson included four "layers" of text. If
a student answered incorrectly, the amount of extrane-
ous information was reduced from the passage until, at
the final stage, the answer was provided. In addition to
providing computerized feedback and corrections, the
program included the following effective teaching prin-
ciples: (a) three self-paced study guide lessons; (b) access
to definitions and further information via enhance-

ments; (c) positive feedback (e.g., computer replied,
"That was correct" following correct responses); and
(d) numerous opportunities for student responses.
Researchers determined significant treatment gains from
pretest measures to the posttest on multiple-choice com-
prehension questions for both the computer (d = 4.3)
and the control conditions (d = 1.1). Further, significant
gains were noted on a maintenance measure (d = 6.1)
given 30 days following the intervention with computer-
presented problems, but not with "control" (noncom-
puterized) problems when comparing the computer
versus control group scores.
Higgins and Boone (1990) also researched the effects
of hypertext study guides with secondary students in
social studies classes via a two-part study. In the first
experiment, 40 students, including 10 students with LD,
participated in one of three treatment conditions (a) lec-
ture, (b) lecture/computer study guides, or (c) computer
study guides. The hypertext software included different
"layering" cues starting with a top layer of original text,
and followed by subsequent layers with additional cues
(e.g., definitions, tutorial strategies, and graphics). These
were accessed when students clicked on highlighted
words throughout the text. As Higgins and Boone noted,
"The hypertext lessons provided the students with access
to special enhancements within a single, familiar con-
text. This differs from traditional CAI, which often pres-
ents lessons on isolated skills not specifically related to
textbook content or the teacher's instructional style"
(p. 531). The study consisted of four phases: (a) com-
puter training; (b) a pilot study; (c) intervention with
three conditions; and (d) posttest and maintenance
assessments. During phase three, students from three
history classes were randomly assigned to one of the
treatment conditions, each of which included 30 min-
utes of instruction and an assessment measure. The lec-
ture condition involved: (a) teacher lecture and student
notetaking; (b) a reading passage and review worksheet;
and (c) quiz (closed-book). The lecture/computer study
guide condition included the same steps as the lecture
condition, except students reviewed the information
with hypertext software rather than the worksheet.
Finally, the computer-only condition included 30 min-
utes of hypertext software review prior to the quiz.
Based on daily quiz scores, researchers determined
that students in both the computer study guide and the
lecture/computer study guide conditions performed as
well as students in the teacher-instruction condition.
Further, students in the computer study guide condi-
tion achieved a higher mean average on posttest and
retention measures. However, the mean scores for stu-
dents with LD were well below the 80% acceptability
range, regardless of condition (range of 47%-63% for
posttest and retention). The unit test served as a posttest

Volume 25, Fall 2002 255

following the 10-day intervention and as a mainte-
nance check two weeks following the intervention.
Consequently, students may have been "sensitized" to
the questions, resulting in "carry-over" effects.
The five lowest performing students in the first
experiment (Higgins & Boone, 1990) were chosen to
participate in experiment two with two additional stu-
dents labeled LD. Students completed an intervention,
which consisted of teacher assistance with the hyper-
text software. Instructional procedures and assessment
measures were the same as in experiment one. Though
all students performed better on posttest measures,
none achieved mean percentages of at least 80%.
Further, retention scores were variable.
Hypermedia study guides. Similar to earlier studies
focused on hypertext software, Higgins, Boone, and
Lovitt (1996) researched the effects of hypermedia study
guides. Unlike the hypertext programs, hypermedia
study guides included other text enhancements, such as
graphics, digital videos, and sound enhancements. They
also included a "nonlinear" format so that students
could "branch out" or access various computer-based
resources to gather more information about the lesson
(Bender, 2001). As in an earlier study (Higgins & Boone,
1990), students were randomly assigned to lecture,
lecture/computer study guide, or computer study guide
conditions. Two chapters of social studies were used for
the study guides with 25 students, 13 of whom had a
learning disability. Additional information was accessi-
ble to students, especially within the context of "pre-
senting new material" or "independent practice" of the
instructional cycle. For example, within the hypermedia
presentations, students could access "enhancements"
(underlined words/phrases) to obtain additional infor-
mation or boldfaced words to obtain word replacements.
The hypermedia presentations also included a control-
based measure that rerouted students back to the text if
the question was answered incorrectly or advanced stu-
dents to the next page, following a correct response. The
hypertext study guides were determined to be more
effective following teacher-led instruction, as a review
during "guided practice" or independent practice for
additional practice. The retention of information for stu-
dents with LD improved when information was accessed
from an "enhancement" or note. In addition, the self-
paced nature of the program allowed students to work
on the study guide activities as many times as needed,
while providing students with positive and corrective
feedback. In terms of systematic instruction in technol-
ogy, the students received computer training on operat-
ing the computer and working with the hypermedia
study guides during two, 1-hour workshops.
Student response to three types of questions was
coded for analysis: (a) factual (explicitly stated infor-

mation from the passage); (b) inferential (implicitly
presented information); and (c) note information
(information available from pop-up text). Assessment
measures included daily quizzes, and a pretest, posttest,
and retention measure developed from the daily
quizzes. Students with LD performed higher on factual,
inferential, and note questions in the lecture/study
guide condition (79%, 73%, and 90%, respectively)
compared to the other treatments. Further, remedial
students achieved comparable mean scores in the
lecture/hypermedia condition. Across groups and con-
ditions, students with LD obtained the highest mean
percent correct on a retention test (81%) in the lec-
ture/study guide condition (d = .6). As the authors
stated, future research should include larger group sizes
to aid treatment generalization, as well as determining
in what situations hypermedia study guides would ben-
efit students the most in the instructional process (i.e.,
before teacher lecture, following lecture, etc.).
Computer-based assessment formats. According
to Greenwood and Rieth (1996), "Technology-based
assessment generally refers to the use of electronic sys-
tems and software to assess and evaluate the progress of
individual children in educational settings" (p. 279).
One study in the current review used computer-based
assessment (Horton & Lovitt, 1994). Specifically, two dif-
ferent types of group reading inventories (computer-
based and paper-and-pencil format) were administered
to 72 students in secondary general education science
and social studies classes, including 13 students with LD.
Two middle school science, two middle school social
studies, and two high school social studies classes partic-
ipated in the study. One class from each content area
and grade level was assigned to either control (N= 77) or
experimental conditions. The computer-based assess-
ment condition involved students: (a) reading textbook
passages on the computer screen; (b) reviewing the
passage while completing a study guide worksheet;
(c) reviewing the answers on the study guide for quiz
preparation; and (d) taking a computer-based quiz. The
paper-and-pencil assessment involved the same steps,
except the passage was presented via text format and the
quiz was completed with a paper and pencil. Students in
the control condition were exposed to the same proce-
dures, with the exception of the study guide component.
Researchers employed an equivalent time-samples
design in which each assessment condition was ran-
domly assigned to each experimental and control group
on four occasions per assessment measure. Researchers
determined that, overall, students performed better on
factual-based questions via the computer condition with
no differences obtained between assessment conditions
on more interpretive type questions (d = .1 for students
with LD, d = .2 for normally achieving students).

Learning Disability Quarterly 256

However, these results should be interpreted with cau-
tion due to the variations within the two assessment
methods. In order to isolate the effects of the two meth-
ods, the text format during the initial reading of the pas-
sage should be the same across conditions (i.e.,
text-based or computer-based).
Verbatim Text Recordings
Torgesen et al. (1987) conducted three experiments on
the effects of verbatim text recordings or text informa-
tion that was available to students in auditory format.
Generally, the procedures consisted of two components:
(a) presentation of text passages; and (b) assessment of
overall text comprehension. In the first experiment,
16 high school students with LD were exposed to three
treatment conditions over a month that covered text
passages from general education history or health
classes. Participants were exposed to each condition six
times. The three conditions involved: (a) "read only"
(i.e., students read the target text passages); (b) "listen
only" (i.e., students listened to a tape of the target pas-
sages); and (c) "listen-read" (i.e., students listened while
reading the text passages). After each condition, students
were administered a comprehension test and awarded
points for correct answers. It was determined that stu-
dents with LD performed better in the "read-listen" and
"listen-only" conditions than the "read-only" condition,
as evidenced by higher mean comprehension scores.
However, overall scores in the "read-listen" condition
were variable among students with LD. Researchers also
noted a high correlation (.7) between full-scale IQ and
the performance in the read-listen treatment. Although
students with higher IQ scores (i.e., 85 or higher)
demonstrated gains similar to those of their nonhandi-
capped peers, the overall mean (69%) was below the
stated criterion of 80%.
In Experiment 2, treatment conditions remained the
same as in Experiment 1 with the following exceptions:
(a) students were tested following a week of text prepa-
ration on longer passages, rather than after each ses-
sion; and (b) treatment conditions consisted of
"listen-read" and "read only." Sixteen students with LD
participated in'the six-week intervention. Compared to
the results of the previous study, the use of "listen-
read" was not as effective for more extensive material
over a longer period of time. However, the overall
mean scores in both conditions were low (37% for the
read-only, 36% for read-listen).
Treatment conditions and subjects remained the same
between Experiments 2 and 3. However, in Experiment 3,
worksheets (i.e., true-false, short answer, and fill-in-the-
blank questions based on highlighted text) were used to
determine the effects of this study aid. Similar to
Experiments 1 and 2, student performance was noted as

variable. However, participants in the "read-listen" and
worksheet condition scored higher, with a mean of
51.4% versus 39.7% in the "read only" condition (d = .9).
As noted by the researchers, however, the higher mean
performance in the "read-listen" condition was still
below an acceptable criterion.
In terms of effective teaching practices, the verbatim
text recordings were implemented to present new con-
tent information as part of the instructional cycle in
the three experiments. Further, in Experiment 3, addi-
tional supports were added to the presentation of the
material, such as worksheets and texts with color-coded
features or "structural signals" to highlight important
content information from the passages during the pres-
entation of the new materials within the instructional
cycle. As the intervention effects were variable, the
researchers cautioned that students with LD will need
additional support to learn content area instruction,
such as teacher-led reviews. For example, Torgesen
et al. (1987) noted, "the use of auditory supplements
and worksheets should be regarded as a substitute only
for normal text reading activities" (p. 38). Furthermore,
instruction of how to teach students to use the tapes
was not given in all three experiments. Future research
should examine the effectiveness of systematic instruc-
tion in teaching students to use verbatim text record-
ings in content area classrooms and its effectiveness as
one component of the instructional cycle.

The purpose of this review was to extend a previous
literature review (Hudson et al., 1993) focusing exclu-
sively on technology-based instruction and assess-
ment practices designed to improve the performance
of secondary studefits with LD on general education
tasks and/or assessments. The authors analyzed rele-
vant literature to determine: (a) use of effective teach-
ing practices within each study's instructional cycle;
(b) promising technology-based practices; and subse-
quently (c) make recommendations for current practice
and future research. Many technology-based practices
yielded mixed, but promising results for assisting stu-
dents with LD in meeting general education expecta-
tions. Nine studies reported significant. improvement
for students in computer-based versus noncomputer-
based interventions. Specifically, the effect sizes were
mostly significant across the following categories:
(a) computer-assisted instruction (range of d = 1.2 to
d = 15.6); (b) videodisc instruction (range of d = .1 to
d = 2.1); (c) hypertext study guides ragee of d = 4.3 to
d = 6.1); (d) hypermedia study guides (d = .6); and
(e) verbatim text recordings (d = .9).
Further, technology-based practices were effective
in increasing student comprehension, retention of

Volume 25, Fall 2002 257

Table 2

Effective Teaching and Curricular Design Variables

Instructional Cycle
Learning Set of New Material/GP Independent Practice
Corresponding Effective Teaching Principles

a content selection
b pretest students
c group students
d select activity
plan for
instructional time

a review homework or
previously learned
b state lesson
c provide rationale
d state performance
provide numerous
opportunities for
student responses
f corrective/ positive
9 reteach if necessary
h activate prior

a teach task in small
steps, sequenced
Instruction at a brisk
pace, self pace
b model task
c use wide range of
examples or provide
related information
(definition, graphic,
further information)
provide feedback
e provide numerous
opportunities for
student responses
1 reteach if necessary/

2 provide additional
practice or related
b monitor student
c provide feedback

a monitor student
progress (daily,
weekly, monthly)
b make instructional
decisions based on
student performance
provide for

Horton, Lovitt, &
Slocum (1988)

Horton, Lovitt, &
Givens, Nelson (1989)

Hypennedia Study Guides
Higgins, Boone, &
Lovitt (1996)

Hypertext Study Guides
Horton, Boone, &
Lovitt (1990)

Higgins & Boone (1990)

Verbatim Text Recordings
Torgesen, Dahlem, &
Greenstein (1987)

Assessment Fonnats
Horton & Lovitt (1994)

Bottge & Hasselbring d

Kelly, Carnine, Gersten, d
& Grossen (1986)

Kelly, Gersten, &
Carnine (1990)

a, c, d, e, f

a, e

a, c, d, e, f

a, c, d, e, f

a, c, d, e, f


a, e, f, g

a, e, f

a, e, f

b, c, d, e, f

a, b, c, d, e, f

a, b, c, d, e, f

a, b, c

a, b, c

Note. CAI = computer-assisted instruction; GP = guided practice.
Adapted from: "Using Content Enhancements to Improve the performance of Adolescents with Learning Disabilities in Content Classes,"
by J. P. Hudson, B. Lignugaris-Kraft, & T, Miller, 1993, Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 8, p. 107.

Learning Disability Quarterly 258

Program Type



important facts, calculations, and completion of word
problems. Additionally, all studies (N = 5) that
involved CAI, hypertext study guides, and hypermedia
study guides embodied effective teaching principles,
predominantly within the third phase (i.e., presenta-
tion of new material/guided practice) of the instruc-
tional cycle. Use of effective teaching principles is
consistent with recommendations by Komoski (1995)
and Rekrut (1999), who offered suggestions for select-
ing and implementing technology-based practices for
students with special needs. For example, when select-
ing and implementing technology-based practices,
such as the Internet, general recommendations for
teachers include: (a) examining the instructional goals
and determining Internet-based website(s) that pro-
vide both a rich source of data and an effective
medium for meeting students' instructional goals;
(b) integrating technology-based lessons into the gen-
eral curriculum, as appropriate; (c) linking student
characteristics and needs to the technology and mon-
itoring student difficulty (i.e., with confusing and/or
complex websites, difficult vocabulary); (d) developing
instructional objectives and integrating a written
assignment for each Internet-based lesson or session;
and (e) assisting students with sharing their research
findings and with evaluating their Internet use
(Komoski, 1995; Rekrut, 1999).
Overall, the results of technology-based interven-
tions are promising. However, they must be viewed in
light of four important limitations: (a) the relatively
few studies reviewed; (b) the level of student profi-
ciency following intervention; (c) the lack of mainte-
nance checks and generalization measures; and (d) the
limited number of content areas studied. Specifically,
the current review was limited to published research
and a small sample size (N = 10); only one study dealt
with the effectiveness of technology-based assessment.
Further, as the ES for computer-based assessment
was only .1, more research is needed to determine if
computer-based formats are more effective than tradi-
tional paper-and-pencil formats. Also, in three of the
studies, students did not improve to mastery levels. For
example, socially validated gains are in question when
pretest lecture/computer study guide scores are 34%
and posttest scores are 47% for students with LD
(Higgins & Boone, 1990). In addition, methodological
issues must be addressed. For example, in the present
review, only 46% of the studies (N = 6) included main-
tenance checks. Additionally, only one study included
some form of generalization measure. It is imperative
that researchers consider the effectiveness of an inter-
vention over time and across settings. Also, available
information was limited related to the effectiveness of
technology-based instruction across content areas. In

the present review, the majority of the studies (63%,
N = 7) focused on social studies content. Three other
studies (27%) involved technology-based math inter-
ventions, and only one focused on science or health
content. As a majority of secondary students with LD
are educated within the general education classroom
(U.S. Department of Education, 2000), future studies
should include technology-based interventions within
a variety of content areas.
Despite these limitations, several significant results
were obtained, indicating that technology-based inter-
ventions are an important technique for educators of stu-
dents with LD to improve student performance on
general education expectations. For example, researchers
determined that use of hypertext study guides (Higgins &
Boone, 1990; Horton et al., 1990), hypermedia study
guides (Higgins et al., 1996), and computerized study
guides (Horton et al., 1989) were effective in improving
student comprehension. This is an important finding
given the difficulties students with LD often experience
with reading comprehension and researchers' (Hallahan,
Kauffman, & Lloyd, 1985) notation that 85% of students
with LD may have a reading disability. Further, all of
these studies (CAI, hypertext study guides, and hyperme-
dia study guides) embodied common effective teaching
principles predominantly within the third phase of the
instructional cycle, such as self-paced, sequenced
computer-based lessons; enhancements or notes to
obtain related information; corrective and positive feed-
back; numerous opportunities for student responses; and
reteaching or rerouting students back to previous lessons.
In addition, Bottge and Hasselbring (1993) embedded
mathematics concepts and skills into Teal-world problem-
solving tasks. Students in this condition showed signifi-
cant gains and also generalized to another contextualized
problem-solving situation. Further, Kelly et al. (1986)
determined that incorporating effective instructional
design variables helped to reduce student confusion and
mathematical errors with fractional concepts. However,
as technology advances, more information is needed on
"the integration of the hypermedia software into the
instructional process ..." (Higgins et al., 1996, p. 411),
particularly within other phases of the instructional cycle
(i.e., independent practice, assessment).
In terms of systematic instruction in the use of the
technology, 50% of the studies included some type of
instruction on how to operate the computer program
prior to the onset of the intervention (Higgins et al.,
1996; Horton et al., 1988; Horton et al., 1989; Horton
et al., 1990). For example, Higgins et al. (1996) included
two training sessions on computer operation and how
to "navigate" through use of the hypermedia study
guides prior to intervention. However, it is of concern
that half the studies did not include or describe some

Volume 25, Fall 2002 259

type of systematic instruction on the use of technology,
as "the most powerful technology is worthless if its
operation cannot be mastered" (Lewis, 1998, p. 23).
Thus, there is a need to include systematic instruction
in technology so that students know how to use the
technology as well as strategies to enhance its effective-
ness (McNaughton, Hughes, & Ofiesh, 1997).
Educational Recommendations
Based on the summary and analysis of the studies in
the present review, some recommendations for instruc-
tion are emerging.
1. Implement hypermedia, hypertext, and computer-
ized study guides to aid student comprehension of social
studies text (Higgins et al., 1996; Horton et al., 1990).
According to Lewis (1998), "these programs offer more
opportunities than traditional, linear software for inter-
actions between the learner and the text. This capacity
for enhancing the quantity and quality of interactions
may have particular value for individuals with learning
disabilities, a group that has been described as passive
learners" (p. 21).
2. Continue to incorporate effective instructional
practices within the instructional cycle (e.g., varying
cues/amounts of information per text "layer," pro-
viding immediate and corrective feedback) with
hyper/multimedia and other forms of emerging tech-
nologies for students labeled LD in secondary general
education settings (Higgins et al., 1996; Higgins &
Boone, 1990; Horton et al., 1990).
3. Program for systematic instruction in the use of
technology to help students: (a) operate the technol-
ogy-based system; and (b) learn to navigate through
hypermedia systems.
4. Use videodisc-based instruction embedded in real-
world problem-solving situations to promote general-
ization (Bottge & Hasselbring, 1993).
5. Incorporate effective instructional design variables
within computer-based instruction to reduce student
confusion and mathematical errors. For example, com-
puter software should incorporate a wide range of
examples and nonexamples for discrimination practice
and generalization and pictorial representations to
enhance concept development (Kelly et al., 1986; Kelly
et al., 1990).
Technological Advances and Education
In addition to these implications, many questions
remain. Future research should examine the effects of
existing and state-of-the-art technologies on student
achievement (Bender, 2001). For example, use of word
processors has become commonplace, yet little is
known about the effects this technology has on the
academic achievement of secondary students with LD
on general education tasks and/or assessments. In addi-

tion, there is a critical need for research on state-of-the-
art technology. As laptop computers become more pop-
ular and less expensive, questions arise as to their
possible benefits in assisting student organization,
notetaking, and studying. Also, significant advances
are occurring with graphing calculators, and teachers
are expected to keep pace with the possible uses of this
state-of-the-art technology (Maccini & Gagnon, 2000;
NCTM, 2000). Further, as national standards (NCTM,
2000) emphasize the need to develop problem-solving
skills, research in the area of problem-solving develop-
ment and the use of technology may lead to better
understanding of how technology can be used to assist
students with LD in general education classrooms.
The effects of multimedia on the achievement of sec-
ondary students with LD in general education class-
rooms should also be explored. Multimedia is an
extension of hypertext and hypermedia programs and
includes text-enhancing features and a broad range of
media programs to illustrate topics (e.g., movies, video
presentations, audio playback systems, and other
graphics) (Bender, 2001). Though research is limited,
researchers (Bender, 2001) assert that great potential
exists for students with LD, given the self-paced and
high-interest characteristics of multimedia. For exam-
ple, it would be interesting to determine the effects of
"virtual environments" (i.e., real-world simulations via
three-dimensional models) on student achievement
and motivation to learn. As Mathews et al. (2000) con-
jectured, "imagine students being able to move around
the inside of the space shuttle and the excitement they
would feel as the countdown begins" (p. 346). Specifi-
cally, future investigations could include a comparison
of student-directed multimedia research via Internet
websites versus traditional library research,.as measured
by the number of research-based details in student
assignments. Future research should also explore the
shift toward more Internet-based activities and lessons,
as opposed to computer software programs (Guptill,
2000). The Internet provides a rich data source (i.e., vir-
tual tours, tutors on line, electronic dictionaries,
movies, and music) that shows promise for improving
student learning and motivation to learn.
The use of technology-based interventions shows
great promise for improving the academic performance
of students with LD on general education expectations.
In the present review, technology-based practices with
statistical and functional significance incorporated a
variety of effective teaching principles within the five-
stage instructional cycle to increase student acquisition
and retention of tasks. Although "disabilities can
impose barriers to full participation in school, at work,

Learning Disability Quarterly 260

and in other important areas of life, assistive technol-*
ogy offers ways to surmount those barriers" (Lewis,
1998, p. 17). Now, more than ever, technology is a
valuable tool with great potential for assisting students
labeled LD.

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Volume 25, Fall 2002 261


TITLE: Technology-based Practices For Secondary Students With
Learning Disabilities
SOURCE: Learning Disability Quarterly 25 no4 Fall 2002
WN: 0228801916002

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