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Learning to Achieve Trainer Snippet #4

Written Expressions Disabilities

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Module 6:  Written Expression Disabilities

Participant Guide

·       Pages 108-117

·       Slides 22-33



Addressing composition problems can be more difficult than addressing transcription problems because you are intervening with higher order thinking processes rather than lower order thinking processes.

Research on adults with learning disabilities has indicated that individuals with written expression disabilities face three main challenges:

·       #1  Not understanding the demands of specific writing tasks (task analysis)

 o   An individual does not understand that there are different type of writing; they do not understand that an important part of writing is planning how to approach the task; they are limited in the types of writing they know how to produce, so they write the way they know.

·       #2  Not implementing an appropriate strategy

 o   Research has found that a large majority of adults with learning disabilities need support to learn how to approach writing tasks. A strategy is like a set of driving directions…it provides a set of steps to follow to help writers plan, write, and then check their work.

·       #3  Not knowing how to monitor and evaluate their own performance

 o   Without a strategy, it can be difficult to know what to monitor. Ineffective criteria for evaluating performance can also hinder a writer’s ability to learn how well he or she is carrying out a writing task.

These three challenges open the door for a responsive intervention: Strategic Content Learning.

A central characteristic of this approach is that instead of teaching pre-identified strategies, instructors assist students in identifying strategies they already know and explore ways to add to those strategies. Instructors thus act as guides who support learners in planning, focusing, and evaluating their own efforts.

 A writing task strategy might look like this . . .

Understand task demands

·       Learner and instructor consider approaches to meet task demands

o   What are possible ways of approaching this assignment?

o   What writing skills do you have that you can use? 

Explore appropriate strategies

·       Learner describes plans and points to remember.

o   What is your plan? 

Use strategies chosen or developed to monitor and evaluate performance

·       Learner tries out strategies

o   How will you monitor implementing your plan?

o   How will you evaluate what you have written?

Bottom Line:  This intervention model is based on a dialogue between the instructor and learner.


Resource from Learning to Achieve: 

Fletcher, J. M., Lyon, G. R., Fuchs, L. S., & Barnes, M. A. (2007), Learning Disabilities From Identification to Intervention. New York: Guilford.


Resources from MTLINCS:

Montana Adult Writing Content Standards

Improving Adult Literacy Instruction: Options for Practice and Research


Submitted by Byrdeen Warwood, L2A Trainer