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.
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 technological 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 monitoring 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), academic 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 comprehensively 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 secondary students with LD placed in the general education environment exhibit characteristics that impede their learning in such settings. For example, these students commonly experience difficulties with reading 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, & Horney, 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 classification, 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%), compared 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 student learning. Little is known about the impact of technology-based practices on the academic performance of adolescents with LD. Of specific interest is student success in meeting general education expectations (i.e., tasks and/or assessments). One related review (Hudson, Lignugaris-Kraft, & Miller, 1993) focused on all content enhancement interventions (e.g., advanced organizers, audio recordings, computer-assisted instruction) across settings for secondary students with LD up to 1991. Generally, Hudson et al. (1993) recommended a variety of content area enhancements related to effective teaching principles (i.e., activating prior knowledge, providing corrective and positive feedback) to increase student achievement. However, recent technological 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 secondary 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 practice and future research.
Criterion for Inclusion
To be considered for inclusion in this review, studies must have met the following criteria: (a) targeted adolescents with LD (grades 6 through 12); (b) involved instruction and/or assessment that measured some aspect of performance (or at least one dependent variable) 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 independent variable.
Search procedures consisted of three steps: (a) an electronic search in the Library Information Access System (LIAS) through the ERIC and PsychINFO systems; (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 locating the articles included the following: learning disabilities, 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 instructional 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) providing independent student practice; and (e) assessing student 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 formats, and verbatim text recordings are described and analyzed. The analysis within each section includes a description of the following: (a) population and setting characteristics; (b) study duration; and (c) nature of intervention procedure (e.g., videodisc, computer-assisted adaptations) involving inclusion of effective teaching variables within the instructional cycle and use of systematic 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.sub.1] - [M.sub.2]/[S.sub.pooled], where in is the mean of group 1 or 2, and [S.sub.pooled] equals the root mean squared of the two standard deviations) (Cohen, 1988). The effect size (ES) is calculated to determine the "relative effectiveness" of a specific type of intervention and/or a comparison between methods (Forness, Kavale, Blum, & Lloyd, 1997, p. 4). The ES can be determined by comparing control group versus treatment group data and/or pretest and posttest comparisons. One or more ESs may be determined from a particular study, depending upon the characteristics 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 sufficient 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 information. 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 investigate treatment effects (N = 7) or an equivalent time-samples design (N = 1).
The number and duration of the instructional sessions varied among the studies (see Table 1). For example, 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 practices are described in this section: (a) computer-assisted adaptations; (b) videodisc adaptations; (c) hypertext study guides; (d) hypermedia study guides; (e) assessment formats; and (f) verbatim text recordings.
Computer-assisted adaptations. In this review, computer-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 locations 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 geography 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 interventions 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 student was responsible for writing each city on a map and memorizing the location by covering up the city name, directing his/her …