Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities in Inclusive Middle School Science Classrooms
thesisposted on 25.07.2018, 00:00 authored by Kathleen M Barabasz
The Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) require students to use language in different ways. Expressive and receptive language skills are necessary to participate in the standards-based scientific practices of asking questions, constructing explanations, and engaging in arguments from evidence during scientific discussions. Participating in scientific discussion requires use of domain-specific vocabulary and comprehension of complex texts or science concepts. At the same time, the introduction of NGSS offers opportunities to identify interventions for teaching scientific practices to all students, including students with learning disabilities who frequently receive science instruction in general education science classrooms. Through three case studies of science and special educators co-teaching in middle school classrooms and a cross-case analysis, I described the educators’ perspectives on the use of language in science and the interventions they offered to all students and specifically to students with LD, as they taught NGSS-based science during nine observed lessons. Three main findings emerged from the study. First, teachers reported that expressive and receptive language skills and vocabulary knowledge impacted their students’ ability to learn science, and they frequently planned literacy-based instruction. Second, science teachers and special educators revealed limited understanding of how to teach students to ask questions, construct explanations, or argue from evidence. Third, although the teachers used some evidenced-based practices for teaching students with LD, they did not explicitly identify the practices as interventions for students with LD. Instead, they frequently identified the special educator as the primary intervention.