Research has suggested that one of the issues of students with disabilities in the educational environment is that they lack an effective command of strategies used by strong learners (Reid, Lienemann, & Hagaman, 2013). For example, Stone and Conca (1993) described that students with learning disabilities knew fewer strategies and used them less often than typically developing peers. Research has also demonstrated that strategy instruction can make meaningful improvements in students with a variety of disabilities and across a range of subject areas (Cuenca-Carlino, Freeman-Green, Stephenson, & Hauth, 2016; Losinski, Cuenco-Carlino, Zablocki, & Teagarden, 2014; Reid et al., 2013). Reid and colleagues also describe how strategy instruction may help to undo much of the learned helplessness that impact students with disabilities and teaches them that through the use of effective strategies success can be achieved.
Traditional strategy instruction also termed self regulated strategy development (SRSD) encompasses six stages of development to learn effective strategies. Methods for learning and internalizing strategies to promote self-regulation (i.e., self-talk, goal-setting, self-monitoring) are implanted within each stage. The use of mnemonic strategies help students learn and memorize the specific strategies. The phases of SRSD include:
In the first phase, the teacher helps the students in developing and stimulating background knowledge. This is accomplished through developing pre-skills, teaching specific vocabulary and discussing models of similar work.
Phase 2, also described as Discuss it, involves teaching the strategy including the mnemonic that goes along with the strategy, mapping out certain models with graphic organizers, reviewing the models, establishing benefits of the strategy, and finally discussing where and when to use the strategy.
The Model it phase comes next. In this phase, teachers instruct students how to use self talk, model thinking aloud, practice self and peer scoring, learn how to graph, and set goals.
Phase 4 is described as the Memorize it phase where students internalize the mnemonic and corresponding strategy. In this stage they also memorize and personalize self statements.
The fifth stage incorporates collaboration with peers, and facilitates fading up supports. The stage uses collaborative practice, which may include something similar to reciprocal peer tutoring to engage the student help them practice the strategy.
The final component and SRSD asks the student to work independently. The stage asks the student to self regulate independently and fade self instruction from out loud, or written down statements, to utilize strategies in your head.
Inclusion is a contentious model of delivering instruction to students with disabilities. The factions on either side of the debate are very committed the idea that their ideology is the correct one. At this time, the research and the law would suggest that developing truly individualized programs for students before determining the child’s placement is in the best interest of the child. Unfortunately, those pushing for a fully inclusive environment are advocating for placement-first decisions without individualization or data to back up their assertions. Even more unfortunate is that the inclusive model is likely going to become more pervasive rather than less.