attribute their failures to lack of ability, but attribute their successes to luck or the task being relatively easy. Furthermore, mothers of children with learning disabilities believe that their children’s successes are due more to luck than ability and that their failures are due more to lack of ability than to bad luck.
The University of Kansas. Researchers at the Kansas institute, directed by Donald Deshler, focused on educational interventions for adolescents with learning disabilities (Schumaker, Deshler, Alley, & Warner, 1983). The focus on adolescents filled a void in the research literature on learning disabilities. By focusing on older children, the Kansas team reinforced the ACLD’s concern for the lifelong nature of learning disabilities evident in their definition. The Kansas researchers first conducted epidemiological studies to determine the characteristics of adolescents with learning disabilities. Among other things, they found that many of these students have deficiencies in study skills, learning strategies, and social skills.
Based on what they had found to be the characteristics of adolescents with learning disabilities, the Kansas team developed a variety of educational strategies for working on academic problems, called the Learning Strategies Curriculum. They also field-tested a number of social skills strategies.
University of Minnesota. Directed by James Ysseldyke, the Minnesota institute primarily focused on two areas: (a) the decision-making process related to identification of students with learning disabilities, and (b) curriculum-based assessment (CBA) procedures (Ysseldyke, Thurlow, et al., 1983). With respect to identification, they raised concerns about whether students identified as learning disabled could be reliably differentiated from low achievers:
After five years of trying, we cannot describe, except with considerable lack of precision, students called LD. We think that LD can best be defined as “whatever society wants it to be, needs it to be, or will let it be” at any point in time. Who have other researchers studied? The 1% of the school-age population that some experts think are LD or the 85% of the school-age population other experts think are LD? We think researchers have compiled an interesting set of findings on a group of students who are experiencing academic difficulties, who bother their regular classroom teachers and who have been classified by societally sanctioned labelers in order to remove them, to the extent possible, from the regular education mainstream. (Ysseldyke, Thurlow, et al., 1983, p. 89)
Led by Stanley Deno, the Minnesota researchers working on CBA were interested in developing a method of assessing students’ progress in the curricula to which they were exposed. They saw this as providing more educationally useful information than the typical, nationally-normed, standardized tests of achievement. Deno and his colleagues found that students with learning disabilities and their teachers benefit from CBA.
University of Virginia. The Virginia institute, directed by Daniel Hallahan, focused on children with learning disabilities who also had attention problems (Hallahan et al., 1983). The Virginia researchers documented metacognitive problems in the students and developed cognitive behavior modification techniques for the remediation of those problems. In particular, they had students use self-monitoring techniques while engaged in academic work. Their findings indicated that self-monitoring of attention generally results in increased academic productivity.
The Virginia institute also focused on providing strategies for direct use on academic tasks. Led by John Lloyd, this research on academic strategy training resulted in a number of specific techniques for instruction in reading and math.
In assessing the impact of the institutes as a group, Keogh (1983) noted that four of the institutes approached learning disabilities as a strategic, information processing problem and developed educational interventions accordingly: “I am impressed by the effectiveness of the experimental interventions developed and tested. In this sense these data are among the most optimistic to be found in the literature” (Keogh, 1983, p. 123).