This pilot study consists of research about academic achievement and LD students. Our research project was initially to contribute to empirical data analysis on the question of how learning disabilities affect a College student’s academic achievement and social life. However, due to certain practical issues, there was a shift in our research question. The purpose of our study is to determine the factors that hinder LD students in their academic achievement and social life and to propose solutions that help LD students academically and socially. We hypothesized that learning disabilities could negatively affect academic achievement and social life in College regardless of gender or cultural background and that there exist factors that hinder them in their academic achievement and social life. After interviewing a convenient sample of four different students who share similar learning disabilities, we found out that three out of four LD students require extra time to study and understand. They achieve well in school. Their heavy course workload and the teaching methods used hinder them in their learning process. However, the learning centre and other academic services help LD students to improve their academic performance. Some interviewees claimed that being more outgoing and open-minded with their learning disabilities help them in their long-term social relationships.
Many organizations and non-profit community organizations, including the West Island Readaptation Centre established in Montreal, have been created to meet the different psychological and social needs of students at school. Yet, helping students to meet their psychological and social needs with the appropriate pedagogical methods is not an easy task. Learning disabilities (LD) have a negative impact on the life of a student. Most LD students usually show a weak academic achievement record.
Nevertheless, little is known about the devastating impact of a learning disorder on a College student’s academic achievement and social life. We initially planned to research on the impact of learning disabilities on academic achievement and social life. There was a shift in our research question due to some practical issues. By conducting a research study on learning disabilities, we identify the factors that hinder LD students in their academic achievement and social life. People who are informed are more likely to develop a sense of open-mindedness. This research will allow people to better help College LD students succeed at school and in their social life.
Learning disabilities, including dyslexia and ADHD, are often associated with poor academic achievement (Capano, Minden, Chen, Schachar & Ickowicz, 2008). They observed ADHD as a common childhood onset neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by impairing levels of inattention, hyperactivity and impulsivity. Schuchardt et al, (2008) developed such ideas even further, suggesting that specific learning disabilities, including ADHD, are associated with impairments in working memory.
Students with specific language impairments appear to have problems with phonological memory, number recall, working memory and automatic retrieval of items stored in the long-term memory (Capano, et al, 2008). Schuchardt et al. (2008) also support the finding that children with learning disabilities tend to experience significant difficulties in acquiring the core skills of reading and writing and thus, struggle in their working memory and central executive functioning. Such impairments may interfere with the learning and recall of mathematical facts and the procedural knowledge to solve calculation problems (Capano, et al, 2008). Indeed, specific learning disabilities are associated with impairments in working memory (Schuchardt, et al, 2008). On the other hand, Steele (2008) also suggests that memory disorders interfere with science instruction and testing performance.
LD students may exhibit certain behaviours that can interfere with their performance in many areas: science, as well as processing disorders in writing, reading and mathematical learning. Learning disabilities in mathematics are referred to as dyscalculia (Wadlington & Wadlington, 2008). Students with visual processing disorders have difficulty understanding presentations on the board, PowerPoint slides, overhead documents or textbook graphics, whereas students diagnosed with auditory processing disabilities have difficulty in solving problems, reading skills, understanding discussions and group work (Steele, 2008). In addition, LD students who lack prequisite skills can be hindered in the learning of new information (Wadlington & Wadlington, 2008).
There exist solutions to facilitate LD students improving their academic achievement (Glomb, Buckley, Minskoff & Rogers, 2006). Wadlington (2008) proposes that in order for students with learning disabilities in mathematics to succeed, they have to overcome math anxiety through the teachers’ assessment in nonthreatening ways that encourage mathematical success. Like Wadlington (2008), McAllister (2006) suggests pedagogical methods to help LD students succeed. Stigmas about learning disabilities should be fought with pedagogical methods, such as encouraging students to develop a new attitude regarding the representation of mental health in the media, so as to facilitate LD students’ integration amongst their peers (McAllister, 2006). LD students who look for academic help are more likely to increase the likelihood of their academic achievement.
Researcher Steele (2008) also proposes that focusing on lectures and class activities around the unification of science themes helps LD students who have learning and memory disabilities at school. For example, students with learning disabilities can be matched with adult mentors on the basis of similar traits (Glomb, et al, 2006). In doing so, LD students can thus improve their academic achievement by building a strong and especially supportive relationship that contributes to positive changes in their academic life (Glomb, et al, 2006).
The purpose of our study is to determine the factors that hinder LD students in their academic achievement and social life and to propose concrete solutions that help them at school and in their social relationships. Instead of examining the negative impact of learning disabilities on academic achievement and social life, as initially planed, we will study different factors that help LD students at school and in their social life. We analyzed a range of studies and documents. We hypothesized that learning disabilities could negatively affect academic achievement and social life in College regardless of gender or cultural background and that there are factors that hinder them in their academic achievement and social relationships.