Stories from college students’ experiences growing up demonstrate that the traditional education system/model is not meeting the needs of students with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia. Too often people with these three main learning disabilities start falling behind, and yes accommodations are great and all; however, it doesn’t solve the problem of how we can succeed like those who don’t have disabilities in our educational journey in our own way of learning (how to study, comprehend what we read, how to write papers, organizational help, speech help, concept usage, etc). A lot of us have struggled, and we want this for the future of education.
How can the experiences of Miami University college students with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia, help create individualized methods for students in school?The Question
Even though D. is a prototype, and the future implementations with a partnership with Canvas and other school applications and a desktop version of this application, I believe this can be successfully used within schools across the USA for all students with learning disabilities.
My target audience was Miami University college students (male or female) between the ages of 18-28 years old with learning disabilities. This was based on their experience growing up with Dyslexia, Dyscalculia, and Dysgraphia in the modeled education system. This final product is to give this to students in middle school and high school.
As we are talking about my thesis question and problem, I want to take some time and really have everyone understand what a learning disability is, what my research concluded, and so much more.
The history of learning disabilities started as research from the 1930s to the 1960s. This research, conducted by Alfred Strauss and Laura Lehtinen, became the foundation of the field of learning disabilities and terms like a brain-injured child at the beginning of the research; then eventually changed to minimal brain dysfunction, to now called learning disabilities.
A learning disability is are disorders that affect the ability to understand or use spoken or written language, do mathematical calculations, coordinate movements, or direct attention. This makes up 10% of the population estimated since they are also underdiagnosed students or adults. Usually, they are diagnosed, or you can see trouble learning when the students hit schooling age. These are not curable; you cannot cure someone’s disability; you can only help with brain exercises, therapy, and more.
There are three different main learning disabilities: dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia.
- Dyslexia is a learning disorder characterized by difficulty reading. It occurs in children with normal vision and intelligence. Symptoms include late talking, learning new words slowly, and a delay in learning to read. It also interrupts areas in the brain from processing language. Most children with dyslexia can succeed in school with tutoring or a specialized education program, and an IEP that is distributed.
- Dyscalculia is a math learning disability that impairs an individual’s ability to learn number-related concepts, perform accurate math calculations, reason and problem solve, and perform other basic math skills. It is sometimes called “number dyslexia” or “math dyslexia.”
- Dysgraphia is a neurological disorder of written expression that impairs writing ability and fine motor skills (only when a young child). It is a learning disability that affects children and adults and interferes with practically all aspects of the writing process, including spelling, legibility, word spacing and sizing, and expression.
Now that you have a little knowledge, let’s get right into my surveys, interviews, and over all data.
Surveys really brought out the hardship on 4 students’ struggles and experiences with their learning disabilities; as well as the perspective of teachers. For my student survey, the answers, and the stories really changed my perspective. 3 out of the 4 students had multiple learning disabilities, while one only had dysgraphia. Two of the students had dyscalculia and others, which is either autism, ADD/ADHD, or others. This really gave me an eye-opener when decoding my research and data. Doing the teacher’s survey, an amazing woman Donna gave amazing insights and is the inspiration for my application.
Design Process + Testing
The design process that I went through was trying to make an application that is informative, educational, a safe place, and user-friendly. For my color palette, I wanted to use purples because purple represents ideas, creativity, and new things; which is what I am doing.
I decided that I wanted a simplistic but bold iconography to create professionalism and fun while learning different elements. Creating the student section was to help them communicate as to become a safe place for them, create study strategies that will be individualized, create a home page that is uplifting and hopeful, create a place that they can work on their brain exercises to succeed, and lastly create a positive reinforcement when doing these things by getting rewards. While on the teacher side I created a helpful area to have the communication between students, understanding how students with learning disabilities learn and how to teach them with different strategies, as well as a place where they have their classes to keep records of students who have IEPs, the legal document to for accommodations.
Testing was really successful, I had two students at Miami University test my application. Overall told me that they want to see this connected with canvas, using IFTTT, which is the communication between applications, and to create a calendar to create organization. They loved the design, expressing it is very uplifting and fun.
Overall, my future implementation will include: Calendar for students’ and teachers’ use to be organized and get more out of the application. Creating a partnership with Canvas and other educational sites to help dismantle generalization and create personalization.
With D. let’s dedicate ourselves, to create a diverse educational journey to driven students and teachers to succeed. Thank you.
A link on each of the Application themes will be posted shortly.