Teaching Practices & Tools to Enhance Student Learning

Teaching Practices & Tools to Enhance Student Learning

By helping those who are marginalized in traditional classrooms (e.g., those with learning disabilities, physical disabilities, and other challenges), researchers are discovering educational methods and materials that are flexible and powerful enough to help all students, regardless of their ability, maximize their progress. (Source: www.cast.org). The following web site links and articles provide extensive information useful for faculty members interested in learning how to adopt methods of universal design into their curriculum. Assistive technology and Alternative media embody two mechanisms to encourage and enhance students’ learning. For more information, see the articles and links below.

Universal Design 

  • "Enhancing Learning of Students with LD Without Compromising Standards: Tips for Teaching", Beverly Sandock, Associate Director SALT (Strategic Alternative Learning Techniques), The University of Arizona. This article describes how to organize courses and present information so that it is more accessible to students with learning disabilities.

  • Do-It. University of Washington - This site reveals how universal design strategies can be employed when engaging in specific academic activities: large lectures, group/work discussions, test taking, field work , science labs, computer labs, computers , world wide web pages, distance learning, art work, travel programs, writing assignments, and work-based learning.

  • University of Arkansas - This site features universal design applications in postsecondary education settings, including an introduction to universal design, principles, applications, course development and pragmatic considerations of universal design.

  • Universal Design Education On-Line – Teaching techniques that accommodate students with disabilities and/or unique styles are proposed.

  • CAST: Universal Design for Learning – This site provides helpful guided tours about universal design, along with theory and research, tools and resources, examples, and activities.

Assistive Technology & Alternative Media

  • The Emma E. Legg Center for Accessible Technology (CAT) - The CAT, located at Martin Luther King, Jr. Library Room 230 is one the largest adaptive computing centers in the country. The Center is available to students of San Jose State University who have registered with the AEC. With approximately sixty accessible stations and trained staff, the Center utilizes the latest adaptive hardware and software, and allows students with disabilities to pursue their academic programs. The CAT supports faculty members working with students with visual impairments, those who are blind, or have learning disabilities. Specifically, the CAT supplies curriculum based instructional materials in alternate formats to students, staff and faculty with a verified print disability. Printed or typed materials are converted to digital format and then translated into an appropriate media dependent on the specific accommodation. The following types of media translation may be provided: electronic text, Braille, graphics embossing, large print, or audio output. The type of format provided to the student, staff or faculty member with a disability is determined on a case-by-case basis. The CAT also produces alternative media for the campus community. Faculty interested in learning more about accessible technology and alternative media, please contact the CAT at 808-2123.

We encourage faculty to explore the articles and software websites listed below in order to learn more about the specific software used in training students with disabilities. 

Please note that the articles below are meant to serve as useful and applicable tools, yet may contain some outdated information due to the evolving nature of assistive and adaptive technology. Please contact the CAT for the most recent, up-to-date information.

Articles

  • Assistive Technology for Postsecondary Students with Learning Disabilities. Sheryl L. Day and Barbara J. Edwards, Journal of Learning Disabilities, September 1996 - Informational article on how technology can be used to help meet the educational demands of students with learning disabilities at the postsecondary level. Click on link below to access the article. 

  • College Students with Disabilities and Assistive Technology: A Desk Reference Guide. Anne R. Thompson, et al. Mississippi State University, Mississippi State Department of Agricultural and Extension Education; Special Eduction Programs(ED/OSERS), Washington, DC. April 30, 1997. For an electronic copy of this article, go tohttp://www.sjlibrary.org, click on Articles & Databases, and scroll down and click on the ERIC database.

  • Measuring Effectiveness: Technology to Support Writing. Sally Fennema-Jansen. Special Education Technology Practice. January/February 2001. For an electronic copy of this article, click on

  • New Generation of Computer-Assisted Learning Tools for Students with Disabilities. Theresa A. Ochoa, Laurie R. Vasquez, and Michael M. Gerber. Intervention in School and Clinic. 34 no4 251-4 Mr ’99. For an electronic copy of this article, go to www.sjlibrary.org, click on Articles & Databases, and scroll down and click on Education Full Text (Wilson Web database).

Print Impairments

  • JAWS screen reader - JAWS is a full-functioning application which reads all menus, window content and keyboard functions allowing the user to hear rather than see the screen.
  • MAGic screen - This software magnifies the screen up to 20x.

Mobility Impairments 

  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software - This software provides for virtually hands-free text dictation. It has a steep learning curve. 

Learning Disabilities

The following software features Interactive reading/scanning, writing and study skills software especially useful to faculty working with students facing learning challenges.

  • Kurzweil 3000 - The Kurzweil and WYNN reading software provide a multi-sensory approach to increase reading, writing and comprehension skills. Users have access to color, dictionary, thesaurus, word prediction, and voice and text notes.

  • Read & Write Gold - Read & Write Gold, award-winning literacy support software, gives an added boost to people who need support with reading, writing and learning by making support tools available right at their fingertips.

  • Inspiration Visual Diagramming/Outlining software - This software is versatile and has a short learning curve. The templates provide modeling for coherent writing. There is a Free 30 day download available on-line
  • Dragon NaturallySpeaking voice recognition software - This software provides for virtually hands-free text dictation. It has a steep learning curve and can be extremely useful for users with learning disabilities in the area of language production.