Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

College Preparedness and Time of Learning Disability Identification

Academic journal article Journal of Developmental Education

College Preparedness and Time of Learning Disability Identification

Article excerpt

Murray, Goldstein, Nourse, and Edgar (2000) observed that high school graduates with learning disabilities (L.D.) were significantly less likely to attend a postsecondary institution or to "have graduated from postsecondary programs throughout the first 10 years following high school" (p. 119). However, research indicates that the number of students with learning disabilities attending postsecondary institutions is on the rise (Henderson, 2001; Ward 8c Merves, 2006). In addition, the number of adults returning to higher education is increasing (Schuetze 8c Slowey, 2002), and older students may have had a lesser chance of L.D. diagnosis in primary or secondary schools due to the lack of a consistent definition of learning disability.

Annually since 1966, the Cooperative Institutional Research Program (CIRP) of the University of California, Los Angeles has administered a national survey to a large sample of 4-year college freshmen in the United States; one measure that appears every 4 years asks freshmen whether they have a disability (Ward 8c Merves, 2006). Among college freshmen with disabilities the most commonly identified category of disability was that of learning disabilities. Data indicated that 2.8% of all entering freshmen selfreported a learning disability (Ward & Merves). This is a relative increase in the number of students with learning disabilities attending college as compared to 2.4% in 2000, 2.6% in 1998, 2.3% in 1996, and 2.0% in 1994 (Henderson, 2001).

In Canada, of those "aged 16 to 21, slightly more than one person in 100 (1.1%) aged 16 to 21 said that they had a learning disability on the 2001 Participation and Activity Limitation Survey (PALS)" (Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, 2007a, p. 1), and 15.4% of the national percentage reported attending university, with or without a degree (Learning Disabilities Association of Canada, 2007a). There is a gap in the literature related to the enrollment rate of students with learning disabilities in Ontario colleges and universities, which is where the current study took place.

Research indicates that students with learning disabilities may arrive on college campuses with slightly different characteristics than their peers without learning disabilities, characteristics which may cause them to place into developmental courses. They are characterized as having higher levels of anxiety, taking less responsibility for their own learning, and having a lesser repertoire of learning and study strategies (Kovack 8c Wilgosh, 1999). On the positive side, postsecondary students with learning disabilities can have a more positive attitude toward college success compared to their peers (Kovack & Wilgosh). Further, according to Kirby, Silvestri, Allingham, Parrila, and La Fave (2008), subsequent to applying the Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) in Canada, students "without dyslexia obtained significantly higher scores than students with dyslexia in their reported use of selecting main ideas and test taking strategies" (p. 85).

Although there have been noted discrepancies in the statistical significance of the content constructs of the LASSI (Cano, 2006), low LASSI scores have been shown to correlate with a lack of academic success. Proctor, Prevatt, Adams, Reaser, and Petscher (2006) compared three academically struggling groups of college students: (a) low GPA, (b) clinic-referred for L.D. testing, and (c) clinic-referred for psychoeducational testing. AU three groups displayed weaknesses in study skills relative to their comparison groups; that is, in comparison with students who were not struggling. Areas identified as weaknesses for all three groups included Anxiety, Concentration, Motivation, Selecting Main Ideas, and Test Strategies. Further Albaili (1997) observed that when comparing low, average, and high achieving college students based on their GPA scores, findings indicated that "lowachieving students scored significantly lower than the average and high-achieving students on all the scales" (p. …

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