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Working with Students with Learning Disabilities

Sarah Navin


When it comes to confronting common issues that may arise in Basic Writing classes, it is important for teachers to realize that some of the issues students encounter are not always as simple as they first seem. For some students in Basic Writing classes, their struggles are not based simply on the usual struggles experienced by their classmates. These students may have additional problems to overcome in order to be successful in a classroom because they are struggling with a learning disability.

There are many different learning disabilities and it would be too extensive to discuss all of them here. However, as broad as the scope of working with students who have a Leaning Disability (LD) is, it falls to teachers who are likely to have at least one of these students in their courses to help and support their students through what is often a frustrating and difficult experience.

While it is always up to teachers of Basic Writing to help their students become more confident in the field of writing and their use of the mechanics of language, it is especially important when it comes to LD students because they tend to have a lot more to lose and generally lack confidence when their errors set them back from their classmates. Luckily there are many ways that teachers of Basic Writing can assist their LD students to be successful in a writing course and which may serve to help the other students in the course as well.

By providing reasonable accommodations as requested, keeping their students aware of the right people to speak to, keeping the lines of communication open and remaining patient with their students, teachers of Basic Writing provide not only support for the duration of one college course, but can also encourage students to be successful in their other courses by introducing good study tactics and techniques that can be useful for students in the classroom which contribute to a better environment over all.

This wiki discusses the question of what teachers of Basic Writing can do to assist their LD students to become successful, both in classes and in writing. It covers a wide variety of strategies that teachers may use in class or individually, which they can use in the classroom, as well as tips regarding steps that they can take in helping students who may have an undiagnosed learning disability which may make things difficult.

Literature on Students with Learning Disabilities in the BW Classroom

Techniques Teachers Can Use for Helping LD Students in the Basic Writing Classroom

Works Cited

Arceneaux, Andre Duncan. “It Doesn’t Make Any Sense:” Self and Strategies among College Students with Learning Disabilities. Diss. University of Missouri-Columbia, 2006.
Attention Deficit Disorder in College: Faculty and Students. Partners in Education. National Center for Law and Learning Disabilities, 1998.
Brueggerman, Brenda Jo; Feldmeier White, Linda; Dunn, Patricia A; Heifferon Barbara A; Cheu, Johnson, “Becoming Visible: Lessons in Visibility.” College Composition and Communication 52.3 (2001): pp.368–398.
Farquhar, Robin H. “Preparing High School Students for Success in University Education.” Presentation. Annual Conference of the Organization for Quality Education (2000).
Garnett, Kate “Identifying Learning Disabled Students in the Classroom: Typical Profiles.” Conference Notes. Hunter College. City University of New York. pp.5 (1986).
Hartman-Hall, Heather M. and Haaga David F, “College Students’ Willingness to Seek Help for Their Learning Disabilities.” Learning Disability Quarterly 25.4 (2002): pp 263–274.
Huijun, Li and Hamel, Christine M, “Writing Issues in College Students with Learning Disabilities: A Synthesis of the Literature from 1990–2000.” Learning Disability Quarterly 26.3 (2003): pp. 29–45.
Milsom, Amy “Assisting Students with Learning Disabilities Transitioning to College: What School Counselors Should Know.” Professional School Counseling 8.5 (2005): pp. 436–41.
O’Hearn, Carolyn “Recognizing the Learning Disabled College Writer.” College English 51.3 (1989): pp.294–304.
Osgood Smith, Judith “Self-Reported Language Difficulties of University Students with Learning Disabilities.” Journal of Post Secondary Education and Disability 10.3 (1993): pp. 1–10.
Shaughnessy, Mina P. Errors and Expectations. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

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Page last modified on April 16, 2008, at 08:17 AM