Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Acquisition of Content Area Vocabulary for Students with Learning Disabilities

Academic journal article Education & Treatment of Children

Acquisition of Content Area Vocabulary for Students with Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study compared the effects of two variations of the constant-time-delay (CTD) procedure on the observational learning of students with learning disabilities in a small-group instructional arrangement. Each student was taught to read two individualized lists of content area vocabulary words. The target words of other students in the group served as the observational words for each student. An adapted alternating treatments design was used to compare the effects of the two instructional conditions on students' target words. A repeated measures ANOVA with Condition and Time as within-subjects variables was used to analyze the observational learning results. In the first condition, a group attentional response (Everybody Writes) condition was used in which all students copied the target word on an erasable board before the target student answered. In the second condition, an individual attentional response (Only Target Student Writes) condition was used; only the target student copied the word on the erasabl e board before responding. Results indicate that both conditions were equally effective for learning target words, but the Everybody Writes condition was more effective in promoting observational reading of other students' target words. There was no significant interaction effect for spelling of other students' target words. The majority of the students scored within a range established by general education peers on measures of oral reading rate of observational words taught under the Everybody Writes condition.

The current demand for accountability in education emphasizes the importance of instructional strategy selection by teachers of students with disabilities. Teachers must select intervention strategies that research has demonstrated to be both effective and efficient in terms of maximizing instructional learning time (Carta, Schwartz, Atwater, & McConnell, 1991; Christenson, Ysseldyke, & Thurlow, 1989). Unfortunately, much of the research in the area of learning disabilities focuses on issues of identification and characteristics rather than on specific academic interventions for these students. In a survey spanning ten years of research, Lessen, Dudzinski, Karsh, and Van Acker (1989) found that less than 4% of the published articles in eight major special education journals addressed academic interventions for students with learning disabilities. Lessen and his colleagues made several suggestions regarding un-researched and under-researched areas of instruction for students with learning disabilities. One und er-researched area includes the "replication of successful one-to-one instructional interventions that could be potentially effective and efficient for group instruction" (p. 120).

Constant time delay (CTD) is a response prompting procedure that has an extensive research base in which the majority of studies have been conducted in a one-to-one setting. CTD has been shown to be both effective and efficient in teaching a variety of skills to learners with a range of disabilities, including students with learning disabilities. In a review of the CTD literature, Wolery and his colleagues (Wolery, Holcombe, et al., 1992) analyzed the results of 36 studies and found that the procedure was successful in teaching discrete skills to 98% of the participants. In addition to the high success rate, errors by students with mild disabilities typically were less than 5 percent.

The CTD procedure is easily implemented in classroom settings. It is a near-errorless instructional strategy in which the teacher always provides a response prompt if the student waits for assistance in stating the correct answer. The response prompt used in the CTD procedure should be a controlling prompt; that is, it should increase the probability of a correct response by the student. During initial trials, the teacher presents the task direction, then immediately presents the controlling prompt. …

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