article 12/2 reviewgreenspun.com : LUSENET : MEd Cohort III : One Thread
The article I read was from "Exceptional Children" Fall 1998 en- titled: 'Students with Learning Problems at Risk in Middle School: Stress, Social Support, and Adjustment,' by M. Wenz-Gross and G. Siperstein. The article begins by stating the well-known facts that students in middle schools are going through major changes that affect "...almost every domain of the student's life--physical, social, educational and familial." These changes seem to be compounded for students with learning disabilities because of the more complex learning environment faced in the middle school. The learning disabled students were targeted for the study to see "...how the stress and social support that they experience relate to their adjustment in middle school." In the category of stress, they studied three factors: Academic Stress, Peer Stress and Teacher/Rules stress. "...keeping up with new learning and following directions" were the two areas of academic stressors that led to some low self-concept and depression. It was suggested that interventions to increase self-concept and reduce depression should be included in their program. It is a well-known fact that adolescents need positive and supportive peer relationships in order to become adults who are able to have healthy relationships and can handle conflict management. Dealing with peer stress is a very vulnerable area for students with learning problems. "As might be expected, students' relationships with teachers is critical to their motivation for school." The more the student liked his/her teacher, the more he/she liked school. It was discovered that students with learning problems felt that they received less social support from their peers, however they did feel that they received "...more support from adults outside the home than those without learning problems." I will interject a thought here: I think that in many students' cases, they are receiving extra help from adults in their "academic" environment and maybe learn to trust those adults more as they spend more time with them. Along with learning disabilities there are often behavior problems. This is a major factor in developing a social circle of friends, thus the results of the study. The students find it easier to receive that social support from the adults in their lives than from their peers. "...students with learning problems had significantly lower adjustment in terms of feelings about self but they did not differ from students without learning problems in their liking of school." In summary, the authors gave some suggestions to help improve the school environment for those with learning problems. Some of them are: 1. Use the three C's of education: caring, concern and connection. Do this by having a set time during the day for students and teachers to connect. 2. Strengthen and maintain parental support. 3. Help them develop skills to cope with peer stress and relationships with teachers. 4. "...strengthen students' with learning problems interpersonal skills and build more positive peer relationships." 5."...help students identify their own personal 'circle of support...' ". Good article. I like that they took the time to identify ways in which teachers can combat the negatives a student with learning disabilities faces.
-- Anonymous, December 06, 1998