Magazine article USA TODAY

"Applied STEM" Helps Learning Disabled

Magazine article USA TODAY

"Applied STEM" Helps Learning Disabled

Article excerpt

Transitioning from high school to college is not always smooth. For students with learning disabilities, the passage can be especially difficult. So, Michael Gottfried, associate professor at the Graduate School of Education at the University of California, Santa Barbara, sought to determine factors that assist such students in their progression through the K12-to-college pipeline.

Gottfried and Ph.D. student Jay Plasman analyzed a large nationally represented Department of Education longitudinal data set of high school sophomores and found that taking applied STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) courses increased the success of students with learning disabilities. "I coined the term 'applied STEM,' but the courses that can be assigned to measuring categories within that were developed by the U.S. Department of Education," explains Gottfried.

According to Gottfried, traditional courses may not be right for students with learning disabilities, but not because they are not capable of doing the math or science. "If a learning disability makes it difficult to grasp the abstract nature of AP Calculus in class, maybe taking an applied engineering course can make other connections more feasible. …

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