Academic journal article School Psychology Review

The Effects of the Paired Associates Strategy (PAS) on the Recall of Factual Information by Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities

Academic journal article School Psychology Review

The Effects of the Paired Associates Strategy (PAS) on the Recall of Factual Information by Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt

Abstract. Despite the success of independence-oriented interventions such as strategy instruction (SI) in secondary populations, very little research has examined the effectiveness of SI at the postsecondary level. Thus, we sought to determine if one form of SI, the Paired Associates Strategy (PAS), improved the recall of factual information by postsecondary students with learning disabilities. Results suggest that PAS, in a modified format, was generally effective in increasing recall of information by all 5 participants. However, recall of information did not maintain. In addition, student perception varied regarding the usefulness of the strategy and its application to other situations. Implications, limitations, and future research directions are discussed.

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Over the past decade, the numbers of students with learning disabilities (LD) entering 4-year postsecondary institutions has risen. In contrast to only 1.4% a decade ago, students with LD currently comprise 2.4% of the full-time, first-time freshmen population at 4-year institutions (Henderson, 2001). In response to the increased population of students with LD, and to address mandates outlined in Section 504 of the Vocational Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, many postsecondary institutions have sought to provide support for these students (see Butler, 1995; McGuire, Norlander, & Shaw, 1990). Supports range from services in the form of accommodations to more comprehensive programs involving trained staff serving students with LD in a variety of areas, including instruction in study or learning strategies. However, empirical information about the effectiveness of such supports is lacking. In fact, a need for studies that identify successful interventions on the postsecondary level has been identified (Mull, Sitlington, & Alper, 2001). The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of one type of intervention (i.e., strategic instruction) on the recall of factual information by postsecondary students with LD.

A Review of Postsecondary Support Services

Current services for postsecondary students with LD vary widely, but frequently include a combination of content tutoring, testing and classroom accommodations, assistive technology, and strategy instruction (Scott, 2002; Shaw, Cullen, & McGuire, 1995). Content tutoring refers to the tutoring of individuals in various subject areas and suggests a more dependence-oriented approach to support (Carlson, 1985). Accommodation services target changing the presentation of examinations or information (e.g., alterations in test format, extended time for test taking) rather than changes generated by the individual. The last category, strategic instruction (SI), is an umbrella term for a host of strategies that support improvements in the way a student approaches academic challenges. Postsecondary students supported with this model usually receive instruction in study strategies such as test-preparation strategies and note-taking methods. Thus, SI can be considered a more independence-oriented approach in that it stresses learning general strategy skills that can be applied to a range of learning tasks.

In light of the demands of the university environment, professionals have questioned whether students with LD are best served in a program that fosters independence, as with SI, or a more dependence-oriented model that focuses on content tutoring (Carlson, 1985). For example, in a survey of over 500 postsecondary institutions, Shaw and colleagues (1995) found that despite the belief among service providers that SI is more essential than tutoring services, many programs actually fostered dependence at the expense of independence by focusing on tutoring services rather than SI. Research regarding the profiles of successful postsecondary students with LD also suggests that strategies should focus on skill-training in SI rather than content tutoring. …

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