Drew University Writing Instructor Guidelines: 
Pedagogical strategies for teachers of learning disabled students 

The strategies listed below are especially helpful for students with learning disibilities--although in fact they are also helpful for all students.  They are, in short, sound pedagogy.  We recommend them to teachers regardless of whether they know they have any students with special needs in the class.

General Pedagogical strategies:

  • State the day's objectives at the beginning of the class.
  •  Paraphrase key points from the reading and lectures.
  • Provide examples (and identify things that are not examples).
  • Provide written directions.
  • Vary your teaching methods (lecture, discussion, small groups).
  • For large projects, provide step-by-step directions, bullet those directions, & give advanced notice of due dates (at least 2 weeks).
  • Try to select well organized textbooks with subheadings, clear explanations and instructions, and appropriate examples.
  • Print out copies of overheads and make them available to students.
  • Review material.
  • Encourage study groups.
  • Provide pre-reading questions for each reading assignment or group of related assignments.
  • Identify key points in the readings and lectures.
  • Don't penalize students for spelling, organizational, or hand writing errors on timed examinations.
  • Allow students to use lap top computers for examinations.
  • Go over all instructions in class and provide a written version--but don't provide overwhelming amounts of instruction.
Pedagogical strategies that make writing assignments accessible to all students
  • Provide written instructions for assignments emphasizing exactly what you want students to do.
  • Go over the assignment orally in class as well.
  • Write out the stages students need to follow to complete an assignment.
  • Provide adequate time for students to complete an assignment.  (Two weeks is good for a standard college paper;  four weeks is the minimum for a paper requiring library research.)
  • Teach your students to brainstorm and organize ideas.  (In most cases informal outlines are more helpful than formal outlines because the latter can seem so overwhelming that many students fail to do them or spend most of the time allocated working on the perfect outline and never complete the paper.)
  • Read drafts and give students written and oral feedback.
  • Encourage students to read their work out loud, use tape recorders to record their brainstorming, and even record an oral draft of their papers if that works for them.  (Some voice recognition software is both affordable and user-friendly, so students who find this method helpful might consider exploring the software options.)
  • Encourage the use of computers at all stages of the process.
  • Encourage students to use portable computers in essay exams if they prefer to do so.
  • Encourage students to attend regular tutoring sessions (and encourage tutors to focus on organization)

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Sandra Jamieson
Drew University