Monday, August 31, 2015


Kosar Moghaddam POUR
Faculty of University of Welfare and
rehabilitation Sciences, Tehran,

 Received: 16.04.2014
Accepted: 16.06.2014
Original article

Citation: Pour MK, Adibsereshki N, Pourmohamadreza-Tajrishi M, Hossseinzadeh S. The Effect of Emotional Intelligence Training on Behavior Problems of Boys with Externalized Behavior Disorder in Elementary Schools. J Spec Educ Rehab 2014; 15(3-4):59-76.


The purpose of this study is to investigate the effect of emotional intelligence on the behavior problems of boys with Externalized behavior disorder in Primary Schools.
Method: This quasi-experimental study was conducted along with a pre-test, post-test, with a control group and a follow-up test. For sampling, 40 students identified with Externalized behavioral problems through the Teacher Report Form (TRF) and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) were chosen and randomly divided into two groups (20 in the experimental group and 20 in the control group). The experimental group received emotional intelligence training program in 17 sessions (2 sessions per week, 60 minutes per session) and the control group received no training beyond their regular school program. After two months, in order to examine the stability (durability) of training effect, the follow-up test was conducted. Finally, the data obtained were analyzed using the statistical method of generalized estimating equations.
Results: The results showed that the intervention program had created a significant difference between the scores of the experimental and control group (p<0.001).
Conclusions: It can be concluded that Emotional Intelligence Training decreases the behavior problems of boys with Externalized behavior disorder and helps to prevent high occurrence of these problems.

Keywords: Emotional intelligence, behavior problems, Externalized behavior disorders

Link to Full Text Article


Sunday, August 30, 2015

New citations of JSER articles in IF journal

Dear readers,

Our article is cited in Topics in Early Childhood Special Education August 2015 vol. 35 no. 279-88 with Impact Factor:0.535 | Ranking:Education, Special 32 out of 39.
Here is the abstract of that article

Inclusion of Children With Special Needs in Early Childhood Education What Teacher Characteristics Matter

Frances Lai Mui Lee,
Alexander Seeshing Yeung,
Danielle Tracey, PhD
Katrina Barker, PhD
1City University of Macau, China
2Australian Catholic University, Sydney, Australia
3University of Western Sydney, Australia


Whereas the inclusion of children with special needs in regular classrooms has gained increasing advocacy, teachers’ attitudes vary. Previous studies examining teacher attitudes have focused on primary and secondary schools in the Western world, and little is known about early childhood settings in Eastern countries. This study used MANOVA to examine preschool teachers’ attitudes in Hong Kong (N = 410). Teachers reported only modest support for inclusion. Teachers with training in special education were stronger advocates of inclusion, irrespective of their professional roles (administrator or class teacher), for children with intellectual disability, or visual, hearing, and speech and language impairments. However, neither teacher training nor professional role made a significance difference to teachers’ support of including children with physical disability, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), specific learning difficulty, and the gifted and talented. Implications for practice and further research are explored.



Dzenita LJUCA2

1Faculty of Special Education and Rehabilitation, University of Tuzla
2KJU Disciplinski centar za maloljetnike,
Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

Received: 30.05.2014
Accepted: 03.08.2014
Original article

Citation: Kovacevic R, Suljagic S, Ljuca D, Mufic E. Recidivism After a Treatment in a Disciplinary Centre for Juveniles. J Spec Educ Rehab 2014; 15(3-4):43-58.


The aim of this paper is to examine recidivists’ and non-recidivists’ differences in characteristics of the psychosocial functioning after a treatment in a Disciplinary Centre for Juveniles in Sarajevo Canton, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina. The research was conducted on a sample of 131 juvenile delinquents adjudicated with the educational measure of referral to the juvenile disciplinary centre. The statistical analysis was performed in the SPSS 17.0 program package. The differences between recidivists and non-recidivists were measured using Mann-Whitney test on all variables. A group of four variables were compared by: (a) school factors, (b) family factors, (c) spare time activities and peer relationships and (d) personality and behaviour of juveniles. The results have shown that risk factors are more pronounced in recidivists in all four areas of the psychosocial functioning. The largest difference is in the areas related to spare time activities and peer-relationships, as well as family functioning. The results indicate that the intensified treatment should focus on these areas in order to prevent recidivism.

Keywords: recidivism, educational measure, responsiveness factors

Link to Full Text Article

Saturday, August 29, 2015



1 School of Education, University Sains Malaysia
2 School of Educational Services of University
Sains Malaysia, Penang, Malaysia

Received: 02.04.2014
Accepted: 26.06.2014
Original article

Citation: Mahnmud Suleiman Al Shoura H, Che Ahmad A. Review of Special Education Programs in Jordan: Current Practices, Challenges, and Prospects. J Spec Educ Rehab 2014; 15(3-4):24-42.


This paper will try to provide an overview on Jordan’s special education programs for children with disabilities. Specifically, this paper will describe the emergence and development of special education services and the providers of these services within the context of Jordanian society. The key issues relevant to special teacher education, early childhood intervention, inclusive education and challenges faced by children with disabilities are also presented. The findings indicate that there are many challenges, including funding and support, inadequate instructional resources and techniques, shortage of pertinent knowledge and training, limited cooperation, and sparse data on children and youth with disabilities. This paper uses secondary data gathered from relevant reports, studies, and the understanding and experience of the author. Implications to improve the current special education practices for these students are discussed in this paper.

Keywords: Students with disabilities, Special Education, Rehabilitation, Inclusive education

Link to Full Text Article



1 National Education Institute Slovenia
2 University of Primorska, Faculty of Education Koper, Slovenia

Received: 10.01.2014
Accepted: 10.04.2014
Original article

Citation: Cankar F, Deutsch T, Globachnik B, Pinteric A. Inclusive Education of Blind and Visually Impaired Pupils in Slovenia. J Spec Educ Rehab 2014; 15(3-4):7-23.


Introduction: In the last years, the demand to include children with special needs in the mainstream kindergartens and schools in Slovenia has grown. This brought with it the need for changing the role of the special schools and institutes for children with special needs and for their transformation into resource centres.
Methodology: We pilot tested a resource centre for support of blind and visually impaired children. We included 15 educational institutes and one blind or visually impaired pupil from each institute. Data were collected at the beginning of the school year 2010/11, and at the end of the school year 2011/12. In both cases the same instruments were used, which made comparison of the collected data possible.
Results: The results have shown progress in the development of competences, attitudes, and rehabilitation competences in the participants of the study.
Discussion: The results confirmed the efficiency of the initially designed model.
By investing into its staff capacity building, we expect that the centre will gain recognition and increase its quality. In this way, it will be able to realise its developmentally-supportive role for the children with visual disability in Slovenia.

Keywords: inclusion, resource centre, blind and visually impaired pupils, competences

Link to Full Text


Preeti Tabitha LOUIS1
Navin KUMAR2

1School of Social Sciences and Languages
2VIT University, Vellore, Tamil Nadu, India

Recived: 21.01.2015
Accepted: 08.03.2015
Original article

Citation: Louis PT, Kumar N. Does father involvement influence the affect, language acquisition, social engagement and behavior in young autistic children? An early intervention study. J Spec Educ Rehab 2015; 16(1-2): 105-124.


The present study adopts a randomized experimental design to evaluate the impact of a father-mediated therapy to improve the play skills, affect, language, social skills and behavior among 30 clinically diagnosed autistic children at the age of 3-5 years. Standardized inventories such as, The Play Based Observation (PBO), The Griffiths Mental Developmental Scales (GMDS), The Vineland Social Maturity Scale (VSMS) and the Rendel Shorts Questionnaire were administered pre and post intervention. A special program that involved fathers in the caregiving and nurturing processes of these children was designed and implemented for 6 months after which the children were reassessed. Prior to the intervention, deficits in play skills and developmental delays across expressive and receptive language were observed
Scores on the Vineland Social Maturity Scale and the Rendel Shorts revealed behavioral markers. Post intervention, we noticed significant differences in the play, language acquisition, social engagement and behavior in the treatment group in comparison to the control group. The results suggested that father-mediated therapeutic involvement significantly has proven to positively foster development in young autistic children and this is an important implication for practitioners in developing early intervention programs.

Keywords: father-mediated intervention, disability, assessment, behavior

Link for Full text


Friday, August 28, 2015


Ksenija BUTORAC3

1 Ministry of the Interior, General Police
2 University of Zagreb, Faculty of Education
and Rehabilitation Sciences, Department of
3 Ministry of the Interior, Police College

Recived: 25.09.2014
Accepted: 01.12.2014
Original article

Citation: Bagarić Z, Mikšaj-Todorović Lj, Butorac K. Guided reading programme for prisoners: an outcome-oriented approach. J Spec Educ Rehab 2015; 16(1-2): 85-104. doi: 10.1515/JSER-2015-0006


Background and settings

This paper is part of a wider pilot-study which has two purposes: (a) to establish a cooperation model between public libraries and the prison system in Croatia and (b) to introduce a Guided Reading Programme as a regular rehabilitation programme for inmates. The first rehabilitation guided reading programme was designed and conducted on a small sample of prisoners. Its verification will serve as the basis for the prospective development of new reading-based rehabilitation programmes, as well as an appropriate research evaluation methodology.
The aim of this study was to compare the results of two groups of inmates on the Verbal and Communication Skills, Transcendental Insight and Improving Reading Habits scales (hereinafter: the VTR scales), at the beginning and at the end of the above mentioned programme in the Croatian prison system. The base for some of the variables of the VTR scales was the erbal Reticence Test (1972), by Myron Lustig (1), whose variables were adapted to a certain extent to the goals of this research by the author of the Guided Reading Programme (2). The first group participated in the programme activities, in contrast to the second group, who, however, agreed to complete the scales. Better results were expected from the group participating in the Guided Reading Programme.

Croatia: State of Play

Execution of prison sentences in Croatia is based on a rehabilitation approach (3) which presumes individualisation of sentences through individual imprisonment programmes and a number of general (work, leisure time and education) and specialised treatment programmes for selected groups of prisoners (e.g. anger management; treatment of alcohol and drug addiction; responsible parenting; for traffic offenders etc.). All these activities enhance pro-social behaviour, i.e. the quality of the social interaction as their prolonged implementation assists the easier resolution and liberation from deviant behaviour and elimination of unacceptable forms of behaviour. However, no systematic work with adult prisoners based on reading therapy had been recorded in Croatia, either at the initiative of local libraries or by professional services in prisons. On the other hand, although approximately 15% of prisoners use library services, the results of the research on the conditions in the Croatian prison system (4) show that, due to lack of space, equipment and professional staff, the poor scope of modern library services, and the lack of cooperation with public libraries, prison libraries cannot be equal activity leaders for the purpose of prisoner rehabilitation (5).

Reading therapy in the penal environment

Since the 1960s prison libraries have been laboratories for implementation of literary text for therapeutic purposes. The reference overview showed a certain number of bibliotherapy programmes, i.e. guided reading programmes implemented in prisons (in the USA: (6–9); in Europe: J (10, 11) in the context of work with prisoners, in order to increase understanding and evaluate other peoples’ opinions, enhance positive expression skills and develop empathy and sensibility. An example of a successful alternative to prison is the Massachusetts bibliotherapy programme: Changing Lives through Literature (CLTL), developed in the 90s by the English literature professor, Robert Waxler and probation judge, Robert Kane. Primarily aimed at juvenile prisoners, but it can also be applied to adult delinquents. The frequency of participation is monitored by the Probation Centre, and the programme consists of literature seminars designed to reinforce the prisoner's cognitive abilities and moral sensitivity. Students, probation judges, university professors and even judicial officers attend the group meetings along with the delinquents. In 1998, Jarjoura and Krumholz (7) published a longitudinal study focusing on the participants in the first CLTL programme in New Bedford, Massachusetts, conducted in 1993. They tested two groups, one in the CLTL and the other in a competing programme group. In the CLTL group 18% committed crimes compared to 42% in the non-CLTL group. Apart from the United States, the CLTL programme has been implemented in England since 2000 (11).
However, due to insufficient evaluation of most bibliotherapy programmes for inmates, the positions of scientists regarding the efficiency of the implemented rehabilitation programmes show discrepancy (12–14). The pilot study, of which this paper is a part, has been designed as a quasi-experiment with clearly determined programme activities, sample formation criteria, with monitoring of the results of the participants’ progress. When the research is repeated, it will result in the provision of clear, scientifically-based indicators of the programme.

Reading therapy and literary transfer

On other hand, in the last 50 years there have been a number of innovative programmes related to “education through art and culture”, designed for personal growth and development in order to awaken and increase the creativity and potential talents of readers. Reference books published since 1990 have indicated that there is almost no supporting activity where reading therapy has not been used, with patients/clients of all ages and cultures (15). They have exploited the possibilities for presented or real situations to be seen and experienced in another way, and for conflicts to be resolved in a constructive manner, without personal emotional engagement, or damage to the surroundings. It appears that this method has paved the way to building acceptable lifestyles (6, 7, 16). In the last few decades, researchers and scholars have tried to examine and use literary texts from different perspectives and with different aims. Unfortunately, it is still not clear which basic processes are involved in reading and which fundamental elements produce what is known as literary reception. Speaking of the transformational and therapeutic effects of reading, the process of literary transfer (17) is recognised as a key mechanism of the therapeutic effect of reading a literary text. Empirical studies which show the ways in which reading generates feelings, mental images, cognitive patterns, memories, suppressed events etc., support the thesis of the therapeutic effect of literature (18–20). The initial hypothesis is that reading fiction (and non-fiction) texts leads to therapeutic effects leading to the modification, construction and reconstruction of the reader’s identity (21). In simple terms, the theory of literary reception assumes that reading brings into our consciousness contents that, without the act of reading, might not have had the opportunity to be closely observed. The literary text evokes mental processes of the past, as well as recent events, and in turn provides vital insights. As the reader has the opportunity to follow the characters along the entire path of their psychological maturation, the readers are able to work cathartically through their own problems, as well as increase empathy with others (14, 16, 20 and 21). Cognitive scientists and neuro-linguists are involved in explaining these mechanisms (19, 22). By the use of modern technology (recording cerebral activities through MRI; encephalograms etc.) they report on the activation of olfactory, sensory or motoric cortices (in healthy persons), which occurs during reading sentences with specific contents. For example, if the sentence “John kicked the ball “is read, an MR scan records activity in the motoric cortex responsible for coordination of body movement. It would appear that the brain does not make a sharp distinction between reading about a certain experience and realisation of that experience in real life; since the neural areas stimulated in both cases are largely the same. It has also been established that there is a significant overlapping between the network used in the brain for comprehension of the plot and the network used to conduct interaction with other persons, especially those interactions where we try to understand the thoughts and feelings of other people (23). This ability of the brain to project ourselves into the minds of others — inferring their desires, beliefs, and emotions — is known as possessing a theory-of-mind. Literary works of fiction (novels, short stories), through their imagery, details, metaphors, plots and active descriptions of people and their actions, provide a unique opportunity for usage of such abilities to identify with the yearnings and frustrations of the characters, to guess their secret motifs and observe their encounters with friends and enemies, neighbours and lovers (24). But, how exactly do readers fill in the text's "gaps" to construct a coherent narrative? Zunshine (25) claims that we are predisposed to appreciate works of fiction that encourage us to speculate about other minds, because our brains are structured to attribute goals and intentions to others (she also uses the term Mind-reading). According to Polvinen (26), perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Zunshine’s work is that, among the different aspects of cognition engaged by fiction, emotion comes across as the central element. Novels, of course, are not an adequate medium for the research of human, social, and emotional life. But, there is an evidence that the brain treats interactions between imaginary characters in ways that parallel events from real social life (27).

The Guided Reading Programme with inmates in medium security prisons

For the first time a Guided Reading Programme with inmates in medium security prisons was conducted in the Croatian prison system, in order to verify its usefulness, the possibility of introducing such a programme as a model for prospective cooperation with public libraries located near the prisons. In order to follow the ethical norms for conducting research on adult examinees, the general agreement of the Prison System Administration was acquired as part of the preparatory activities. Informed consent for participation in the study and implementation of the Guided Reading Programme, as well as consent for possible video or audio recording of the Programme’s weekly meetings was obtained from all the participants. During its implementation, a great deal of attention was paid to its integrity, with respect to the principle of rresponsiveness as well. Canadian authors Andrews, Bonta and Hoge (28, 29) describe this principle in detail, and it implies an individual approach to every participant in the programme, regarding their risk assessment and treatment needs. Also in communication with clients, it takes into account the strengths, learning styles, personality, motivation, and bio-social (e.g., gender, race) characteristics of the individual.
The short-term goals of the programme were the following: (a) the introduction of inmates to the new intellectual and aesthetic experience which can fill their leisure time during their prison sentence; (b) increased understanding and valuation of other people's opinions, (c) building reading habits; increasing vocabulary, improving skills in expressing opinions and standpoints; (d) work with inmates in order to develop positive expression skills and increased empathy and sensibility.
The long-term goals of the programme were the following: (a) design and evaluation of the Guided Reading Programme as a special rehabilitation programme for adult inmates in the Croatian prison system, and creating guidelines for cooperation between local libraries and prisons, (b) introduction of inmates to the new intellectual and aesthetic experiences which can fill their leisure time and enrich their lives when they leave prison, (c) further development of reading habits, enriching vocabulary and the ability to express opinions and standpoints; (d) affirmation of a value system which establishes the importance of the role/function of prison libraries; promoting the value of the role of library services and programmes for inmates and prison staff, and raising awareness of the importance of reading in the context of prison libraries.
The key activities of this programme were as follows: (a) The initial measuring point in the NP and P groups, (b) introduction to the concept of the programme; the content and course of the weekly meetings, (c) distribution of literary works that would serve as a basis for discussion and introductory information (Metamorphosis (Kafka, F).;The Stranger (Camus, A.); The Old Man and the Sea(Hemingway, E.); Siddhartha (Hesse, H.); Master and Margarita (Bulgakov, M.), Paolo Coelho: Confessions of a Pilgrim (Aris, J.); The Book of Awakening (Nepo, M.)). Further, (d) discussion: the literary and theoretical framework; problematic framework; interaction, (e) workshops (multimedia approach; newly designed services and strengthening of the role of the prison library, (f) Programme evaluation from P group participants; (g) mutually positive written feedbackfrom all the Programme participants, (h) final measuring point: NP and P groups, (i) appropriate celebration of the Programme implementation finalisation (and attendance certificates).
Group work on every particular literary work was conducted weekly (meetings lasting two hours). A typical weekly meeting would start with a group discussion on the topic and problem framework based on the reading of a certain literary work (its analysis and reception). Within the second meeting held in the same context, a workshop was held. For example, during the discussion on Kafka'sMetamorphosis the participants expressed their views on the following questions: How have you experienced this work? Why? What thoughts / questions arose during the first reading of the book? Which character are you most impressed with? Which character aroused anger in you? Amusement? Disbelief? With whose actions do you / do you not agree? Why/ Why not? What part of the story seems to be plausible? Perhaps you had not previously thought of something in that way? Do you think this book might help you look at some situations / problems in a different light? Do you have any similar experiences? What would you have done in Gregor's place? Can you imagine what the story would look like if it were narrated by some other character?
The workshop consisted of two parts. The participants first responded to a written assignment: How would you envision the plot? The characters’ actions? The end of the story? In the second part, in a search for an answer to the question: “Is the best way to express ourselves in words?”, two interpretations / adaptations of Metamorphosis were shown to the participants: an award-winning German graphic novel (comic) and the ballet "Metamorphosis" performed by the Royal Opera House, by a clip from YouTube. Finally, in order to prepare for the next meeting, copies of another literary work (Camus' Stranger) were distributed.


The participants were medium security prison adult inmates. As this was a study of the situation in their actual conditions, in which it is not possible to fully implement experimental method, the study was conducted as a quasi-experiment as much as possible. The criteria for the selection of the participants in both the study group and the group not involved in the Guided Reading Programme were: completion of four – year secondary school education, preserved cognitive functioning and intrinsic motivation. (In Croatia the four – year secondary school curriculum in literature includes reading and interpretation of literary classics and the works of important contemporary writers). After the prison staff informed all the prisoners (101 prisoners in total at this time) about the possibility of joining the programme and the selection criteria, 29 of them attended the meeting. Two of them did not qualify, and they were asked to leave. After the activities foreseen in the programme had been described to the prisoners in more detail, they were asked to give their opinion on how to participate in the programme depending on whether they wanted to be in the reading (the P group; N = 8), or the non-reading group (the NP group; N = 8). Both groups were completed according to the order of their application. Although there were no other selection criteria for the participants, after the two groups had been formed, they were compared by several other variables: age, level of education, characteristics of the place where they spent most of their life (categories: village; town; city; county centre; capital city) and the type of crime they had been sentenced for. It was shown that there were no statistically significant differences between these variables.

Table 1. Age - testing the significance of differences

Table 1 shows that there were no statistically significant differences between the P group and the NP group in relation to their age (p >r; 0.05).

Table 2. Education, the place where participants spent majority of their lives and the type of criminal offence - testing the significance of differences

It is evident from Table 2 that there were no statistically significant differences between the P group and the NP group in relation to education, place where they lived most of their lives and the type of criminal offence (p > 0.05).
The P group participated in the Guided Reading Programme over a three-month period (from 1st June to 1stSeptember, 2012), in the form of 2-hour weekly group meetings. During that time the NP group was not included in any other programme that would include reading. At the beginning and at the end of the programme, three short research scales (VTR scales) derived from Lustig's Verbal Reticence Test (1) were applied for both the P and NP groups. In total, the scales consisted of 22 variables in the form of statements, describing verbal and communication skills (variables 12-18; 20-22), transcendental insight (variables: 1, 6, 7, 9, 19) and enhancedreading habits (variables: 2-5, 8, 10, 11), where 5 answers were offered for each variable in the form of a scored scale. The lowest score was given to the category I agree completely; and the highest score to the category I disagree completely.The names of the variables are listed in Tables 3 and 5. The scales were applied without validation due to the fact that this was a pilot-study, which will be used to design larger trials (validation of these scales is on-going with 140 undergraduate students, 70 females and 70 males.
Since this study covers small samples, the focus lies on the results acquired directly through measurement in order to obtain information which may be considered valid. The statistical values were used solely to check whether it was possible to obtain any data which would, due to the small samples, confirm the findings acquired by qualitative methods. Namely, the statistical values acquired from small samples are very unstable and the smaller the sample, the larger the error. In these cases, the relation is not linear, but it is proportional to the square root from the sample size, and thus, the difference must be considerably larger than for large samples, in order to be statistically significant(30).
Due to the above, apart from the analysis of the absolute and relative frequencies for every variable used in the paper, the data were processed with non-parametric tests:
  1. The Mann-Whitney test and Chi squared test - for testing the differences between the participants in terms of their age, the level of education, the characteristics of the place where they spent the majority of their lives and the type of crime for which they were serving the prison sentence;
  2. COCHCOX and METDIF1 programmes (30) – for testing the differences between the arithmetic means of small independent samples.
Results and discussion
The results refer to the frequency of responses and the establishment of differences between the arithmetic means of P group and NP group at the initial and final measurement point.
Tables 3 and 4 show the frequency of responses to every variable and the differences between arithmetic means between the P group and the NP group at the initial measurement point.

Table 3. Frequency of answers at the initial measurement point

Table 3 makes it clear that for most variables (variables 1–13, 18, 19 and 21) the P group participants achieved lower results, which as a rule means agreement or partial agreement with the statement. At the same time, it also represents more desirable and healthier self-expression. The majority of NP group participants’ responses show indecisiveness and partial disagreement with the statements (except in variable 21).
For both groups, the results regarding the variables 14-15, 17, 20 and 22 are interesting, where underachievement may be considered as a relatively undesirable characteristic, pointing to the existence of verbal and communication deficiencies. It is visible that every group shows underachievement for 3 of the stated variables, but not the same ones. This result of the P group for the variables 15, 16 and 22 may be explained in the sense that P group participants showed more self-criticism and were more aware of their problems with expression and verbal interaction with others. According to previously established data, their reading experience was more developed as they borrowed books more frequently (variable 23), which shows their willingness to read, develop and improve in that area. Due to this, it may be concluded that a Guided Reading Programme designed in this way, may be of assistance to them. On the other hand, the results presented of the NP group participants for statements 14, 17 and 20, point out their additional emotional difficulties.

Table 4. Differences between arithmetic means at the initial measurement point

By testing the differences between the arithmetic means of the P group and the NP group at the initial measurement point (Table 4), statistically significant differences (p < 0.05) were shown for 6 variables (4, 5, 6, 10, 11, 18), where 5 were on the margin of statistical significance. In those 6 variables, the P group achieved statistically significantly lower values, which means that their statements were characterised as significantly more positive and healthier than the NP group statements. However, although strict statistic parameters only indicate about 6 variables showing P group’s desirable and healthy achievements, it must be stressed that Table 3 indicates such tendencies for many more variables.
Tables 5 and 6 show the frequency of results for every variable and differences between the arithmetic means in the P and NP groups at their final measurement point.

Table 5. Frequency of answers at the final measurement point

It is evident from Table 5 that the P group participants had distinctively more desirable answers - 18, for variables 1-13, 16-18, 21-22. If P group results are observed only in relation to the initial measurement point, there is a slight, desirable shift in variables 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 11 and 12, and a significant shift in variables 8 and 9. The participants showed improvement in relation to understanding other peoples' problems, imagining a different ending of a literary work, the desire to spend their spare time reading, in relation to identification with the life situations of other people, foreseeing the ending in the text being read, the desire to use the services of the prison library, enjoyment in verbal interaction and the desire to volunteer in the library, as well as enjoyment of putting oneself in the situation of the characters from the text.
The less favourable results of the P group for the variables 14, 15, 17, 20 and 22, in relation to the initial measurement point may be assigned directly to the lived-through experience of active participation in the discussions with other participants of the Guided Reading Programme, in the sense that some participants improved their opinion of their realistic ability to express themselves, while some participants were somewhat disappointed about it.

Table 6. Differences between arithmetic means in the final measurement point


The results show that P group participants achieved better results in Verbal and Communication Skills, Transcendental Insight and Improving Reading Habits scales than NP group participants, while they showed significantly better results at the final measurement point. They achieved some progress in all three areas measured by the scales. The participants showed improvement in relation to understanding other peoples' problems, imagining a different ending of a literary work, the desire to spend their spare time reading, in relation to identification with the life situations of other people, foreseeing the ending in the text being read, the desire to use the services of the prison library, enjoyment of verbal interaction and the desire to volunteer in the library, as well as enjoyment of putting oneself in the situation of the characters from the text. As a result of the direct experience of participation in the Guided Reading Programme, some of the P group participants showed a more realistic self-evaluation of their own verbal deficiency. In the context of progress shown by P group participants, based on verification of the programme in other areas (31), these results also show that the short-term goals of the program were fulfilled, which further increases the probability of impact on the long-term goals of the programme. The group who participated in the Guided Reading Programme, in comparison to the group that was not involved in it but who also completed the same scales at the initial and final measurement points, showed better results in relation to their previous reading experience and use of library services at the initial measurement point, and better results at the initial and final measurement points regarding knowledge of terms. Regarding their personal impressions of participation in the programme, they liked discussing literary works, reached new insights and knowledge, and benefited through participation in the programme (31).
Furthermore, as inmates in medium security prisons are serving long term prison sentences, they are also involved in other rehabilitation programmes not including reading, which is particularly true of addicts, who made up the majority in this programme. The results achieved in this programme certainly contribute to the increased quality of their participation in other treatment programmes.
Since a key criterion, apart from graduation from high school and cognitive preservation, was intrinsic motivation for participation in the programme, based on the previous result analysis, it was evident that motivation for participation was connected with their previously developed reading experience. This Programme may be considered as a model, as it contains all the necessary guidelines and may be repeated with new groups of inmates, with adherence to the stated criteria. Furthermore, it contains enough elements which enable it to be adjusted for different types of inmates (e.g. lower educational status, personality characteristics), with adherence to responsive principles.
In addition to these considerations, it is necessary to take into account the wider implications of the establishment and implementation of guided reading programmes with inmates in prison in the domain of the library system, as well as their inter-agency cooperation. In the context of assessing the sustainability of such cooperation established by this pilot - study, the resources and the strengths of all the institutions were analysed earlier in the re-socialisation process (3). The results obtained suggest that the resources and the strengths already exist (relevant regulations, budget provided, the existence of a small number of other evaluated programs, awareness of intellectual property rights and the needs of prisoners, a positive public attitude, etc.).
In addition to redefining the insignificant role, strength and quality of the current Croatian prison libraries, the sustainability of cooperation guarantees the implementation of structural changes in the domain of both systems on a national level. In the domain of the prison system it means establishing the position of - prison librarian-coordinator. In the domain of the profession of librarian including rehabilitation, it means curriculum extension in order to train prison librarian- rehabilitators. The fact that all these changes may be implemented without major financial investment should not be ignored.
Therefore the Guided Reading Programme has been recommended to the Prison System Management as a regular rehabilitation programme in Croatian jails and prisons and its efficacy should be monitored. This involves developing questionnaires with good psychometric characteristics, controlling other variables that can bring about changes (e.g. personality characteristics), repeated measures and extensive follow - up studies.

Conflict of interests
Authors declare that have no conflict of interests.


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Thursday, August 27, 2015


Amy Marie GREENE

Clarion University
Northcentral University, USA

Recived: 27.08.2014
Accepted: 22.10.2014
Original article

Citation: Greene AM. Passing standardized assessments with fading prompts. J Spec Educ Rehab 2015; 16(1-2): 68-84.

Through passing No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLB), the United States Federal Government mandated that states meet certain requirements and develop state assessments to evaluate whether all students are making progress to a level of proficiency. As a result of NCLB, the members of the Pennsylvania Department of Education instituted the Pennsylvania System of School Assessment (PSSA), which evaluates writing based on prompts using a rubric. According to NCLB, measurable yearly benchmarks, which are referred to as Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP), must be set to ensure that 100% of students are performing at a level of proficient by the 2013-2014 school year. The supporters of NCLB mandate that all students, including those with learning and intellectual disabilities, perform at a level of proficient on grade level state assessments with only small group settings as an acco­mmodation (1–4).These students are expected to meet the same cut score levels as their nondisabled grade level peers. (4) Students with learning and intellectual disabilities are by nature at risk for not mee­ting a level of proficient due to their com­mon characteristics of deficits in the areas of computation, strategy development, me­mory, self-regulation, motivation, and ge­ne­ra­lization to state writing assessments (5–7).
Proficiency on state assessments, such as the PSSA, is a concern for administration, teachers, parents, and students. If AYP is not met funding is reduced and government involvement is instilled within the school districts at varying levels depending on the number of consecutive years the goal is not met (2). Members of the IEP subgroup who have a disability in the area being measured are clearly at a higher risk for not performing at a level of proficiency (8). The issue of passing statewide assessments, such as the PSSA, is becoming even more important since some states already do not permit students who do not pass the test to receive a diploma (9).
Although there has historically been a controversy between advocates for cognitive and behavioral approaches to teaching, NCLB has caused it to be even more pressing. Due to NCLB, teachers need to find the most effective strategy for assisting students with disabilities in passing state assessments. Directly teaching the skills through behavioral techniques has been deemed successful for students with learning and intellectual disabilities due to their common areas of deficits (10–18). Although the research has shown behavioral approaches’ successfulness for students with learning and intellectual disabilities, the advocates for cognitive approaches continue to criticize behavioral approaches for being too rigid (11, 19).
A substantial amount of research on teaching writing over the last several decades has been based on cognitive approaches, such as product, process, and Self-Regulated Strategies Development (SRSD). A large portion of this research was conducted by Graham (20) or replicated his work. Early on Graham (20) has found difficulties in imp­lementing cognitive strategies for students with learning and intellectual disabilities, which included deficits in composition, mechanics, and motivation (20–23). A review of the 30 years of SRSD research allowed re­searchers to find differences in strategies be­ha­vior, writing skills, knowledge, and motivation that led to difficulties utilizing this cognitive approach for students with learning and intellectual disabilities (6). Of the quantity of research on SRSD, only five experi­mental or quasi-experimental designs met the criteria for being acceptable research, while only nine single-subject designs were deemed of quality (24). None of the researchers who conducted studies on cogni­tive strategies addressed generalization of these skills to standards-based state assess­ments in writing.
Through reviewing the research on both cognitive and behavioral approaches, it can be determined that a behavioral approach for instruction in the use of strategies that provide explicit, teacher-directed instruction for all levels of the writing process is an essential component in teaching students with learning and intellectual disabilities to learn to write and generalize these skills to a proficient level on state assessments (7, 25). Although there are no other studies speci­fically addressing Fading Prompts through Graphic Organizers method (FPGO), due to the author creating the program, there is substantial research on other behavioral approaches that utilize graphic organizers. Researchers have found significant gains in writing for students with learning and intellectual disabilities as measured by Correct Word Sequencing (CWS), and the standardized TOWL-3, and maintenance of these skills through the use of the behavioral approach(16–18).
Due to NCLB there is a need for researchers to further address generalization of learned skills to state assessments. Researchers found that through the behavioral approach of fading prompts in graphic organizers, three students with learning disabilities were able to advance from below basic (1) to a level of proficient (3) on the PSSA, while two did not pass the assessment; they did advanced from a score of below basic (1) to basic (2) (26). Researchers found that all the common characteristics of students with learning and intellectual disabilities needed to be addressed in order to assist them in passing state assessments (27–29). Researchers have also found that when explicit instruction, such as utilized in a behavioral approach, is provided to students with learning disabilities they can perform at the same level as their nondisabled peers, maintain these skills over time, and generalize these skills to state assessments (30). The purpose of this quantitative study was to examine the performance scores on the PSSA writing prompts assessment following FPGO as a treatment for students with learning and intellec­tual disabilities by comparing archi­ved pretest, posttest, and actual PSSA results to determine if significant differences existed. The participants’ PSSA results were also compared to the average state PSSA results for the IEP subgroup. As more is learned about the effectiveness of FPGO, schools may use this information to assist students in passing state assessments in the area of writing.

Materials and Method
The sample population was taken from a small town located in northwestern Pennsylvania. The sample size included a total of 45 students, ranging in age from 13 to 18 years old, who were placed in the learning support English setting by the IEP team in 8th or 11th grade (PSSA testing grade levels) for the 2005-2010 school years. The sampling included all students labeled with a learning disability in writing or an intellectual disability who were exposed to FPGO treatment, which was an inclusive group. In 2005-2006, the sample included 7 students in the 8th grade. During 2006-2007, 7 students in the 11th grade were included. In 2007-2008, three 8th grade students were included and 11 students in 11th grade participated. In the 2008-2009 school year 7 students in the 11th grade were included. During the 2009-2010 school year 10 students in the 11th grade were involved. The demographic characteristics of the 45 students consisted of 34 students with a learning disability, which represents 76%, and eleven with an intellectual disability, which represents 24%. Thirteen of the students were female, while 32 were male. Racially, 100% of students were Caucasian, due to 99% of the population within the school district being Caucasian.
The researcher utilized prompts selected from the PSSA writing assessment preparation book and the PSSA scoring rubric, as well as the results of the archived pretests, posttests, and the results of the actual PSSA for the 2005-2010 school years. The pretest and posttest results were determined through the use of the PSSA rubric as a measurement instrument to determine if students’ writing was at a score of 1- 4. The scale indicated below basic (1), basic (2), proficient (3), or advanced (4), as adopted in 1999 by the members of the Pennsylvania Department of Education. (31) A score of proficient or advanced is considered a passing score. Reliability for the PSSA was addressed through a stratified coefficient alpha, standard errors of measure (SEM), conditional standard errors of measure (CSEM) with the Rasch, decision consistency, and rater agreement. In regards to validity, the PSSA addressed the following: (a) test content, (b) response processes, (c) internal structure (d) the relationship between test scores and other variables, (e) the consequences of testing. (31)
Prior to the implementation of the FPGO as a treatment, students were presented with a PSSA writing prompt that was taken from a PSSA preparation book, which included narrative, informative, and persuasive prompts. Each student’s response was evaluated through the use of the rubric that was utilized within FPGO in order to provide specific feedback to students. The PSSA rubric was then utilized to derive a score of below basic (1), basic (2), proficient (3), or advanced (4). The scores were then reported as students’ baseline data due to the need to have the pretest and posttest scores reflect the same assessment tool, as the PSSA.
The teacher then utilized FPGO as classroom instruction. FPGO provided a graphic organizer that contained twenty-five boxes representing five paragraphs with at least five sentences in each. The method results in completing a writing response that consists of an introductory paragraph, three paragraphs as the body, and a closing paragraph. Students were provided with the FPGO step 1, which contains the most explicit set of prompts. As students became familiar with the process, prompts were slowly removed and the students were presented with FPGO step 2, which removes the names of the paragraphs, the prompting for the introductory sentence, and names of the topic and supporting sentences. When students reached a level of mastery, they were given FPGO step 3, which faded the prompting by removing all prompting through words, and left only numbers and letters. As skills continued to develop, students were presented with FPGO step 4, which provided them only empty boxes.
Once mastery of the skills had been met, students were provided with three pieces of blank typing paper and were expected to develop the graphic organizer independently by drawing the boxes. Having the students create their own graphic organizers was essential due to PSSA administration guidelines not allowing students any supplemental aids other than blank paper. Students progressed through the fading prompts steps at different speeds, but all students were expected to reach a level of proficiency.
One writing prompt was completed weekly to ensure retention. After exposure to FPGO and prior to the PSSA assessment, samples of the students’ written responses were evaluated by the researcher and three other trained teachers with the PSSA rubric. The teachers consistently derived the same scores. These data were reported as posttest data. A quantitative design was used to test if significant differences occurred between performance scores on the PSSA writing assessment following FPGO for students with learning and intellectual disabilities. The archived data used in this study was the result of a manipulation of the independent variable by presenting the extra stimulus of graphic organizers.
Four dichotomies for percent differences were utilized to determine if significant differences occurred in PSSA results after the implementation of FPGO. The first dichotomy compared the teacher ad­minis­ter­ed pretests to the teacher administered posttests for the 2005-2010 school years. The second dichotomy compared the teacher administered pretests to the actual PSSA results to determine if differences existed. Rater reliability and generalization of the lear­ned skills by the students were then addressed through a dichotomy of percent differences that compared the teacher administered posttests to the actual PSSA results. The fourth dichotomy compared the PSSA state administered local results for the students that received FPGO to the average PSSA pass and non-pass rates for the entire state of Pennsylvania’s IEP subgroups. Rater reliability was addressed through having the researcher re-score pretest and posttest data at a later time, having three other teachers also score the data, and comparing the archived posttest scores to the actual PSSA scores. As indicated, the PSSA rubric addresses reliability through a stratified coefficient alpha, standard errors of measure (SEM), conditional standard errors of measure (CSEM) with the Rasch, decision consistency, and rater agreement and validity through (a) test content, (b) res­ponse processes, (c) internal structure (d) the relationship between test scores and other variables, (e) the consequences of testing. (31).


All 45 students received a below basic (1) on their archived pretest and a proficient (3) score on their archived posttest. Forty-three students earned a score of proficient (3) on the actual, archived PSSA assessment; while two students received a score of basic (2) (see Table 1, for archived pretest, posttest, and PSSA scores). As indicated earlier, the reliability and the validity of the actual PSSA assessment were determined by the Pennsylvania Department of Education.

Table 1.Pretest, Posttest and PSSA results 

Four dichotomies for percent differences were carried out. The results were calculated by subtracting the difference in percent between the two columns in either row. The outcomes of the first dichotomy for percent differences, which compared the percent of pass and non-pass rates when comparing the teacher administered pretests and posttests for the students with learning and intellectual disabilities that received FPGO for the 2005-2010 school years, resulted in FPGO making a 100% difference (100% - 0%=100%) in passing the PSSA, or not passing the PSSA (see Table 2, for dichotomy for percent differences for the pretest and posttest data).

Table 2.Dichotomy for percent differences in pretest and posttest data

Therefore, it was determined that FPGO was effective in assisting the students with learning and intellectual disabilities in passing the standards-based state assessment of the PSSA at a significance level of 0.001, or 99.99% confidence level. The second dichotomy, which compared the percent of pass and non-pass rates through comparing the teacher administered pretests to the actual state administered PSSA, analysis showed that FPGO made a 96% difference (100% - 4% = 96% and 96% - 0% = 96%) in passing the PSSA, or not (see Table 3, for dichotomy for percent differences for pretest and PSSA data).

Table 3.Dichotomy for percent differences for pretests and PSSA data

The third dichotomy, percent differences analysis, addressed the teacher administered posttests and compared them to the actual state administered PSSA results. The results found a 4% difference (4% - 0%=4% and 100% - 96%=4%), which indicated rater reliability and generalization of the learned skills by the students to the actual PSSA (see Table 4, for the dichotomy for percent differences for posttest and PSSA data).

Table 4.Dichotomy for percent differences for posttest and PSSA data

The fourth dichotomy compared the PSSA posttest state administered local results for the students that received FPGO to the average PSSA pass and non-pass rates of the entire state of Pennsylvania. The fourth dichotomy resulted in FPGO making a 53.8% (57.8% - 4%=53.8% and 96% - 42.2%=53.8%) difference for students with IEPs, which indicates learning and intellecttual disabilities, in passing the PSSA, or not (see Table 5, for dichotomy for percent differences for local and state PSSA data).

Table 5.Dichotomy for percent differences for the local and state PSSA data  

The PSSA data that were utilized to calculate the overall non-passing percent for the entire state of Pennsylvania when addressing the IEP subgroup was utilized in order to be the most reflective of the sample addressed in this study. It is important to indicate that the state’s IEP subgroup included all students with an IEP. Therefore, students that did not have deficits in writing were included; while this study’s sample addresses only students with an IEP reflecting deficits in written expression. Of the 188.212 students with an IEP in the state of Pennsylvania, 57.8% did not pass the PSSA (see Table 6, for PSSA data utilized to calculate overall average non-passing percent).

Table 6. PSSA data utilized to calculate the overall average of non-passing percent  

The PSSA data that were utilized to calculate the overall passing percent for the entire state of Pennsylvania when addressing the IEP subgroup, again reports all students with an IEP, not just students with disabilities in written expression. Although this included students who did not have deficits in writing, only 42.2% passed the PSSA (see Table 7, for PSSA data utilized to calculate overall average passing percent).

\Table 7. PSSA data utilized to calculate the overall average of passing percent  

Based on the outcomes of the four dichotomies for percent, it was determined that significant differences in performance scores on the PSSA writing prompts assessment existed following FPGO treatment for students with learning and intellectual disabilities through comparing archived pretest, posttest, and actual PSSA results. It was further determined that the outcomes of FPGO generalized to the PSSA.


Although the supporters of NCLB have placed a great deal of emphasis on performing at a level of proficient on state assessments, no studies address the effectiveness of cognitive approaches generalizing to state assessments, few studies have addressed the effectiveness of behavioral approaches generalizing to state assessments, such as the PSSA, and no other studies have addressed the use of FPGO. This research provides additional insight into the effectiveness of behavioral approaches to teaching writing, as well as addresses how effectively these skills generalize to state assessments, such as the PSSA. Only 2 of the 45 students in this study did not pass the PSSA. However, both students advanced from a score of below basic (1) to a score of basic (2). It is also important to indicate that the 2 students who did not pass were identified as having an intellectual disability. The current review of literature excluded these students.
The major limitations within this study focus around the sampling procedures and the research design. The sampling procedures were based on accessibility and convenience and did not include random sampling. True random sampling did not occur since the testing group was established based on students being identified with a learning or intellectual disability and placed in the learning support setting for their English instruction by the IEP team and parent consent. Convenience sampling led to including only students in one school district, which resulted in all of the students within the sample population being Caucasian. Given that the PSSA is only administered to middle and high school students in 8th and 11th grades, the results of the FPGO were not tested on any other grade levels of students.
The structure of the study resulted in only one teacher implementing FPGO treatment for teaching writing. Although this controlled for treatment fidelity, which refers to following the exact procedures specified by the researcher, this also leads to questioning whether another teacher would have the same success with FPGO. It would be beneficial to generalize the outcomes of this study to the entire state of Pennsylvania in order to increase school districts’ AYP to comply with NCLB; however, the lack of random sampling makes generalization difficult. Comparing the local state administered PSSA results to the entire state of Pennsylvania’s IEP subgroups’ non-pass and pass percent also led to comparing students with disabilities in writing at the local level to students that may not have a deficit in writing in the state’s IEP subgroup.
There were further limitations due to the research design. In the quasi-experimental research design, the researcher is attempting to identify cause and effect by controlling the independent variable. Although the research was collected over a span of several PSSA testing years, limitations of not having a control group or returning to baseline as a means of comparison make it difficult to insure that the independent variable was controlled. The research design did not allow for return to baseline due to the fact that the students would automatically utilize the learned writing skills that were developed during the treatment phase.
Further studies should address sampling limitations by conducting a larger scale study to include several school districts from other demographic areas. The inclusion of numerous school districts may also be needed to create a stratified sample to represent other ethnic groups. Additional studies should also address the effect of FPGO on students in 7th, 9th, and 10th grades.
Further studies should also be conducted to address any structural limitations within this study. Larger scaled studies should evaluate the effectiveness of FPGO treatment when different teachers with varying backgrounds implement the treatment. In order to further explore the amount of control that was exhibited over the independent variable of adding an extra stimulus of graphic organizers to the prompts, additional research should be conducted to reflect the use of a control group. The results of this program should be compared to other strategies for teaching writing, such as cognitive approaches that are currently being utilized.


Given that the only two students who did not pass the PSSA with a score of proficient (3) were identified as having intellectual disabilities, additional studies that compare students with learning disabilities versus students with intellectual disabilities may provide further insight into the effectiveness of the program. Additional research should also be conducted on the effectiveness of FPGO treatment with students who do not have disabilities. Based on the outcomes of this study, which indicate that FPGO treatment led to significant differences between performance scores on the PSSA writing assessment for students with learning and intellectual disabilities, it is highly recommended that this program be utilized at least for students with learning and intellectual disabilities until further research can be done.

Conflict of interests
Author declare that have no conflict of interests.


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Wednesday, August 26, 2015


Brittany L. HOTT
Harvetta R. HENRY

Department of Psychology, Consulting and
Special Education
Texas A&M University-Commerce, USA

Recived: 03.06.2014
Accepted: 15.09.2014
Original article

Citation: Alharbi A, Hott BL, Jones BA, Henry HR. An evidence-based analysis of self-regulated strategy development writing interventions for students with specific learning disabilities. J Spec Educ Rehab 2015; 16(1-2): 55-67.


According to the United States Department of Education, the percent of the student population diagnosed with a specific learning disability (SLD) increased from 1.8% in 1976-1977 to 4.7% in 2011-2012 (1). One type of specific learning disability, dysgraphia, is a neurological disorder that impacts an individual’s written expression, spelling, and handwriting (2). Dysgraphia can negatively impact a child’s performance in school. Many children with dysgraphia struggle to keep up with written work or cannot organize thoughts on paper. Early intervention to remediate the effects of dysgraphia is crucial. However, the treatment of dysgraphia can be elusive, and only some of the numerous proposed instructional strategies have empirical evidence to support them (3).
Therefore, quality, evidence-based practices (EBPs) soundly grounded in empirical research are desperately needed (4, 5, 6). Further, research can support practices that have meaningful effects on student outcomes (7,8). The federal government indirectly supports EBPs by requiring schools to use instructional programs and tools that have scientific backing (2,9).
EBPs that support students with dysgraphia include self-regulated strategy development (SRSD) writing interventions. SRSD is widely considered as a theoretically and empirically tested method that helps the improvement of writing outcomes for both students with LD and students with emotional and writing difficulties (10,11). In SRSD, teachers assist their students in understanding the writing process, which includes planning, composing, editing, and revising. They also help them to develop positive attitudes towards writing (12,13).
SRSD includes strategies for expository (TWA + PLANS) and persuasive writing (POW-TREE), story writing (W-W-W- What = 2, How = 2; POW-WWW), quick writes (POW-TREE), opinion writing (STOP-DARE), and essay composition (TREE). The philosophy behind SRSD is to provide individualized, explicit instruction to meet the needs of students, specific to the skill being taught (14). SRSD employs a structured format of instructional stages (develop and activate background knowledge, discuss, model, memorize, support, and independent performance) through which students can progress at their own pace to meet their specific learning needs. A key feature of SRSD is that it is not a specific curriculum, rather it can be used with the current curriculum. SRSD instruction is intended to teach students to recognize when to use the strategy to assist their learning, in contrast with other strategies that use a single use rote memorization activity that is only good in one specific setting (15).
Previous meta-analyses focused on SRSD writing interventions for students experiencing difficulty with writing (16), writing interventions for students with emotional or behavioral difficulties (10), and general writing interventions (e.g.,17,18) for students with and without disabilities. The purpose of this study is to provide an updated synthesis on the use of SRSD writing interventions for students with specific learning disabilities. The following research questions are addressed:
  1. What are the overall effects of SRSD interventions on the writing achievement of children with specific learning disabilities?
  2. What SRSD writing interventions are most effective?
  3. Do the effects of SRSD writing interventions differ across settings, genders, grades, and ages?
Single case designs examine and document functional relationships between independent and dependent variables in applied settings (19,20,21). Single case designs are par­ti­cularly helpful when evaluating interventions in special education as there are often small samp­les of students exhibiting a particular be­havior (22). This synthesis provides a com­pre­hensive review of the single case writing in­tervention literature.
The following databases were used: (a) Aca­de­mic Search Complete, (b) Taylor & Francis Online, (c) ERIC, (d) PsycINFO, (e) Sage Jour­nal Online, (f) Wiley Online Library, (g) SpringLink, (h) ScienceDirect, and (i) ProQuest. Additional secondary searches in Google Scholar were also completed. Search ter­ms included: (a) self-regulated strategy de­ve­lopment, (b)inter­vention, (c) SRSD, (d) dys­graphia, (e) story writing, (f) report writing, (g) narrative, (h) expository, and (i) pers­uasive writing. Ancestral searches of re­le­vant research articles were completed as well as a manual search of (a) Learning Disa­bi­lities Quarterly, (b) Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, (c) Journal of Learning Disa­bilities, (d) Exceptional Chil­dren, and (e) The Journal of Special Edu­ca­tion.
Studies included in the review: (a) used a single case design, (b) evaluated a SRSD writing intervention, (c) included school-aged children with specific learning disabilities (if a study included students without learning di­sa­bilities, only data for individual par­ticipants with SLD was analyzed), (d) were conducted in a school or clinic setting, (e) were published in English, and (f) were published in a peer-reviewed journal between January 1970 and March 2014. Next, manuscripts meeting study inclusion criteria were coded utilizing a systematic set of rules and procedures.
Each usable graph in the selected studies was analyzed to determine the Percentage of NonOverlapping Data (PND) and Percentage of Data Exceeding the Median (PEM). Both PND and PEM were calculated to provide an accu­rate reflection of the data. PND was calcu­lated by counting the number of treatment data points that exceeded the highest baseline data point and dividing this number by the total number of data points in the treatment phase (22, 23). PND scores range from 0% to 100%. A PND of less than 50% reflects unreliable treatment, 50%-70% reflects questionable effectiveness, 70%-90% reflects a fairly effective treatment, and 90% or greater reflects a highly effective treatment (22). Alternatively, PEM is calculated by finding the median point, or point between the two median positions in the baseline data, where the median is the middle part in the distribution (24). A PEM of 0.90 or greater is considered highly effective, 0.70 to 0.90 is considered moderately effective, and 0.69 and below represent questionable effects. By using both non-overlap methods, multiple designs can be evaluated using a common metric and floor and ceiling treatment effects are evaluated-both easily and objectively calculated (20). Inter-rater reliability was calculated for all variables in the coding sheet by dividing the total number of agreements by the total number of agreements plus disagreements and multiplying by 100 (21).


Of the 123 writing intervention articles initially located, 15 met study inclusion criteria. Inter-rater reliability for the search was 100%. Studies included in the synthesis were published between 1989 and 2012 in six journals, with the majority of studies published within the last five years.
R-1: What are the overall effects of SRSD interventions on the writing achievement of children with specific learning disa­bilities? SRSD interventions included seven models for addressing persuasive writing, expository writing, essay composition, and storytelling. Each strategy included mne­mo­nics that assisted students with mastering steps in the writing process. SRSD writing inter­ventions improved overall stu­dent per­formance and instruction in varying contexts. Both mean PND (89.69%, Range = 38% – 100%) and mean PEM (0.98, Range = 0.91 – 1.00) suggest that SRSD writing in­ter­ven­tions are effective to highly effective. Table 1 summarizes intervention types.

Table 1.SRSD Interventions by Targeted Skill and Participant Characteristics


R-2: What SRSD writing interventions are most effective? The SRSD writing interventions reviewed were moderately to highly effective. Interventions used with younger children to support story development had the greatest overall effects. Treatment effects by strategy are summarized in Table 2.

Table 2.Treatment Effects by Intervention
R-3: Do the effects of SRSD writing interventions differ across genders, ages, and school settings, and grades?

The 15 studies included a total of 58 participants, with a mean of 4 students per study. The majority of studies (N = 11) included elementary aged children. Fewer studies targeted middle school (N = 1) and high school students (N = 3). Of the 58 participants, 30 (52%) were male and 28 (49%) participants were female. Regarding age, the majority of participants (N = 78%, 71%) were elementary aged (Range = 7-12 years) enrolled in grades 2 to 6. Fewer participants (N = 2, 3%) were middle school aged (Range = 12-14 years) enrolled in 7th and 8th grades and high school (N = 11, 19%) aged (Range = 15-19 years) enrolled in grades 10 to 12.
All studies were completed in public school settings that included the general education classroom (N = 5), a room outside of the general education classroom (N = 3), the resource room (N = 3), study hall (N = 1), individually administered support room (N = 2), and unspecified (N = 1). There were no significant differences between genders or intervention setting. However, SRSD strategies were generally more effective with elementary and middle school students than high school students.
Individual participant results varied across studies. One participant did not respond to treatment; however, results suggest that the majority of participants demonstrated rapid writing improvement during intervention phases. Table 3 provides a summary of participant level data. 

Table 3.Treatment Effects by Participant

There is a well-documented difference between typically achieving learners and students with specific learning disabilities (1). Therefore, it is not surprising that students with specific learning disabilities, including children with dysgraphia, require additional resources and support to overcome the obstacles that their disability presents. Specifically, students with dysgraphia need targeted interventions to facilitate capturing and organizing thoughts on paper. However, most proposed interventions are not supported by empirical evidence (3). Results of this synthesis indicate that SRSD interventions have the potential to positively impact students with specific learning disabilities. This synthesis provides evidence that explicitly teaching students using an SRSD model significantly increased writing achievement. SRSD interventions were effective across genders, grade levels, and settings.
Although this synthesis provides evidence that SRSD writing interventions are promising, it is not without limitations. The most confounding limitation is that the synthesis only includes studies that utilized single case designs. Additionally, only two methods of analysis were utilized. Only two researchers searched university databases, theses and dissertations were excluded, and current researchers were not contacted to ascertain studies that may be in press; therefore, it is possible that the synthesis does not include all studies. Further, the fifteen studies included a relatively small sample size and a limited number of genres. The majority of participants were elementary aged students enrolled in second, fourth, and fifth grades. Although early interventions are essential for long-term achievement, as students age writing demands increase and discrepancies between typically achieving and students with specific learning disabilities widen. Therefore, strategies to assist with additional types of writing and older students are desperately needed. Focus on treatment dosage would be beneficial, as would generalizability measures across subject areas. Additional analyses addressing level, trend, variability, immediacy, and consistency may be beneficial.


Self-regulated writing strategies are an effective intervention for students with learning disabilities enrolled in grades 2 and 5. The POW-TREE strategy was a particularly robust intervention. However, additional research is needed to critically evaluate writing interventions in the upper grades. Studies exploring the efficacy of writing interventions across the curriculum are also needed. However, given the current evidence base, teachers may consider self-regulated writing strategies as a means of addressing the needs of students with learning disabilities.

Conflict of interests
Authors declare that have no conflict of interests.



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