Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Assessing Standards-Based Curricula for Students with Learning Disabilities

Academic journal article Academic Exchange Quarterly

Assessing Standards-Based Curricula for Students with Learning Disabilities

Article excerpt

Abstract

The present investigation sought to assess the extent to which elementary teachers' self-efficacy beliefs translate into instructional decisions for students with learning disabilities in the context of standards-based mathematics curricula. Findings indicate that, uniformly, teachers reported relatively low personal efficacy and outcome expectancy, according to Bandura's (1977a, 1977b, 1986) theory of self-efficacy, when confronted with scenarios in which students displayed learning styles associated with learning disabilities.

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The curricula promulgated in most standards-based reform documents, as guided by NCTM recommendations (NCTM, 1989, 1991, 1995, 1998), are designed to benefit the mathematical learning of "all" students (NCTM, 1998), and it is assumed in most instances to include students with disabilities (McDonnell, McLaughlin, & Morison, 1997). However, a number of educators have expressed concern pertaining to the degree that access to standards-based mathematics curricula translates to meaningful participation for this particular group of students (e.g., Hofmeister, 1993; Jones, Wilson, & Bhojwani, 1997; Kameenui, Chard, & Carnine, 1996; Mercer, Harris, & Miller, 1993; Miller & Mercer, 1997; Rivera, 1993, 1997). Approximately, 80% of the hours spent by students with disabilities is in general education settings (U.S. Department of Education, 1997). In recent years, there has been widespread implementation of standards-based mathematics curricula into practice, with many students with disabilities receiving standards-based instruction in general education classrooms (McDonnell et al., 1997). Therefore, it is surprising that there has been limited empirical evidence validating the instructional efficacy of standards-based curricula for this group of students, who represent approximately 10% of school-age students attending schools in the United States (McDonnell et al., 1997).

Bandura's (1977a, 1977b, 1986) theory of self-efficacy underscores the importance of teachers' self-efficacy beliefs in effectively influencing instruction as a response to apathetic student behaviors. Indeed, teachers' self-efficacy beliefs have been operationalized as (a) level of confidence (i.e., teacher personal efficacy); (b) the amount of instructional effort they were likely to expend (i.e., outcome expectancy); and (c) the degree of teacher's self motivation to influence successfully student learning (i.e., outcome expectancy) (Ashton & Webb, 1982; Gibson & Dembo, 1984). The accumulated research assessing the degree that teachers' self-efficacy beliefs are impacted by students' achievement and behavioral characteristics indicates that, although teachers are positive concerning their willingness to accommodate diverse learning styles, they are less positive concerning their efficacy in realistically implementing what they perceive to be a challenging endeavor in practice (Schumm & Vaughn, 1991; Scott, Vitale, & Masten, 1998). In the context of NCTM (1989) recommended practices, Collins and Gerber (2001), utilizing a survey instrument developed specifically for their investigation, assessed the degree to which teachers' self-efficacy is influenced by student self-regulatory styles (i.e., poor strategy use and poor motivation) associated with learning disabilities (LD). Teachers' responses revealed relatively low self-efficacy when confronted with vignettes in which students exhibited self-regulatory styles associated with LD.

The present study sought to replicate the research conducted by Collins and Gerber (2001). Specifically, the purpose of the current investigation was to examine empirical data concerning the extent that teachers' self-efficacy beliefs, operationalized as levels of personal efficacy and outcome expectancy (Bandura's 1977a, 1977b, 1986), are mediated by students' self-regulatory styles (i.e., poor strategy use vs. …

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