Academic Exchange Quarterly
Summer 2002 ISSN 1096-1453 Volume 6, Issue 2

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Assessing Standards-Based Curricula
for

Students with Learning Disabilities

Kathleen
M.T. Collins,
Saint Mary’s

Anthony
J. Onwuegbuzie

Kathleen M. T. Collins is an assistant professor at Saint
Mary’s

**Abstract**

The
present investigation sought to assess the extent to which elementary teachers’
self-efficacy beliefs translate into instructional decisions for students with
learning disabilities in the context of standards-based mathematics curricula.
Findings indicate that, uniformly, teachers reported relatively low personal
efficacy and outcome expectancy, according to Bandura’s
(1977a, 1977b, 1986) theory of self-efficacy, when confronted with scenarios in
which students displayed learning styles associated with learning disabilities.

**Assessing Standards-Based Curricula for **

**Students with Learning Disabilities**

The
curricula promulgated in most standards-based reform documents, as guided by NCTM recommendations (NCTM, 1989,
1991, 1995, 1998), are designed to benefit the mathematical learning of
"all" students (NCTM, 1998), and it is
assumed in most instances to include students with disabilities (McDonnell,
McLaughlin, & Morison, 1997). However, a number of educators have expressed
concern pertaining to the degree that access to standards-based mathematics
curricula translates to meaningful participation for this particular group of
students (e.g., Hofmeister, 1993; Jones, Wilson,
& Bhojwani, 1997; Kameenui,
Chard, & Carnine, 1996; Mercer, Harris, &
Miller, 1993; Miller & Mercer, 1997; Rivera, 1993, 1997). Approximately,
80% of the hours spent by students with disabilities is in general education
settings (U.S. Department of Education, 1997). In recent years, there has been
widespread implementation of standards-based mathematics curricula into
practice, with many students with disabilities receiving standards-based
instruction in general education classrooms (McDonnell et al., 1997).
Therefore, it is surprising that there has been limited empirical evidence
validating the instructional efficacy of standards-based curricula for this
group of students, who represent approximately 10% of school-age students
attending schools in the

Bandura’s
(1977a, 1977b, 1986) theory of self-efficacy underscores the importance of
teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs in effectively influencing instruction as a
response to apathetic student behaviors. Indeed, teachers’ self-efficacy
beliefs have been operationalized as (a) level of
confidence (i.e., teacher personal efficacy); (b) the amount of instructional
effort they were likely to expend (i.e., outcome expectancy); and (c) the
degree of teacher’s self motivation to influence successfully student learning
(i.e., outcome expectancy) (Ashton & Webb, 1982; Gibson & Dembo, 1984).

The
accumulated research assessing the degree that teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs
are impacted by students’ achievement and behavioral characteristics indicates
that, although teachers are positive concerning their willingness to
accommodate diverse learning styles, they are less positive concerning their
efficacy in realistically implementing what they perceive to be a challenging
endeavor in practice (Schumm & Vaughn, 1991;
Scott, Vitale, & Masten, 1998). In the context of
NCTM (1989) recommended practices, Collins and Gerber
(2001), utilizing a survey instrument developed specifically for their investigation,
assessed the degree to which teachers’ self-efficacy is influenced by student
self-regulatory styles (i.e., poor strategy use and poor motivation) associated
with learning disabilities (LD). Teachers’ responses revealed relatively low
self-efficacy when confronted with vignettes in which students exhibited
self-regulatory styles associated with LD.

The
present study sought to replicate the research conducted by Collins and Gerber
(2001). Specifically, the purpose of the current investigation was to examine
empirical data concerning the extent that teachers’ self-efficacy beliefs, operationalized as levels of personal efficacy and outcome
expectancy (Bandura’s 1977a, 1977b, 1986), are
mediated by students’ self-regulatory styles (i.e., poor strategy use vs. poor
motivation vs. efficient motivation/strategy use). As a measure of classroom
practice, also assessed was the degree to which teachers’ perception of the
effectiveness and practicality of grouping strategies is influenced by
students’ self-regulatory styles. It was hypothesized that self-regulatory
styles associated with LD in the context of mathematics might lead teachers to
modify even strongly held beliefs about learning and instruction that underlie NCTM recommendations.

**Method**

*Participants*

The
two elementary schools agreeing to participate in this research project were
located in a county in

*Instrumentation*

The
revised Teachers' Assessment of Mathematics Instruction (TAMI-R-NJ)
questionnaire utilized nine vignettes to measure teachers’ belief systems with
respect to different student self-regulatory styles. The nine vignettes
represented three sets of learning behaviors (each set typified by three
vignettes). In each vignette, the hypothetical students were engaged in
mathematical problem-solving activities. In each set of vignettes, students
demonstrated characteristics defined as poor strategy use or poor motivation or
baseline characteristics that exemplified efficient motivation and strategy use.
Appendix B presents these nine vignettes.

Teachers’
beliefs were measured by asking teachers to read each vignette and to indicate
(a) their level of confidence that they felt the hypothetical students would
reach their instructional objectives (i.e., teacher personal efficacy); (b) the
amount of instructional effort they were likely to expend (i.e., outcome
expectancy); and (c) the extent to which they believed that the hypothetical
students would reach grade level expectation (i.e., outcome expectancy).
Additionally, as a measure of support available within the school environment,
teachers were asked to report the level of instructional support that they
would expect to receive when teaching the hypothetical students.

Responses
to these four indicators were made on a 7-point Likert-type
scale, ranging from “very low” to “very high.” For the current inquiry, Cronbach’s coefficient alphas ranged from .48 to .91 for
responses to this component of the questionnaire.

In the remaining components of the
TAMI-R-NJ, teachers were asked to indicate the degree to which they believed
that seven grouping strategies, involving various classroom practices,
represented (a) an effective instructional response and (b) a practical
response to each of the three sets of vignettes. Selection of grouping
strategies was (a) small group activity involving students of varied ability
levels; (b) one-on-one with classmate; (c) one-on-one with teacher or aide; (d)
strategy instruction; (e) independent seatwork; (f) intact/whole class
instruction; and (g) small group activity involving students of similar ability
levels. Responses to the seven instructional strategies were measured using a Likert-type scale ranging from 1 (not very effective) to 7
(very effective). In response to the practical response, the Likert-type scale ranged from 1 (not very practical) to 7
(very practical). For the present investigation, Cronbach
coefficient alphas ranged from .82 to .98 for responses in this component of
the questionnaire components. Table 1 presents the reliability data for the
second through the fourth component of the
questionnaire. Table 1 **2095a**

*Procedure*

The nine participants were
administered a packet containing a cover letter that guaranteed confidentiality
regarding their responses and explained the purpose and importance of their
participation in the investigation. To prompt participation, a lottery slip was
included and participants were asked to return the lottery slip with their
completed questionnaire to the school secretary. A researcher associated with
the project collected the completed questionnaires.

Teachers’
belief systems with respect to different student self-regulatory styles were
based on their responses to three sets of vignettes. These vignettes yielded
three composite scores that comprised the sum of teachers’ responses to each
set of self-regulatory characteristics. Because data were not normally
distributed, the statistical analyses utilized the Wilcoxon
signed rank test, and the Friedman’s two-way analysis of variance test (Marascuilo & McSweeney,
1977).

Table 2 presents the means and standard deviations pertaining to teacher personal efficacy (teacher confidence) and outcome expectancy (teacher effort and expectation regarding student performance) and the level of instructional support expected with respect to the three self-regulatory styles. Table 22095b

Teachers
reported statistically significantly lower levels of confidence in response to
vignettes describing students exhibiting poor strategy use and poor motivation,
in contrast to vignettes describing students exhibiting baseline learning
styles. Utilizing a Bonferroni-adjusted alpha (*p*
< .0167) as a criterion for statistical significance (Onwuegbuzie
& Daniel, in press-a, in press-b), there was not a statistically
significant difference between responses to poor strategy use and poor
motivation self-regulatory styles.

In
contrast, teachers reported statistically significantly higher levels of
extended effort in response to vignettes describing students exhibiting poor
strategy use and poor motivation, compared to baseline learning styles. Interestingly,
a statistically significant difference was found between poor strategy use and
poor motivation self-regulatory styles. Specifically, teachers reported
statistically significantly higher levels of extended effort in response to
vignettes describing students exhibiting poor motivation, than they did in
response to vignettes describing students exhibiting poor strategy use. The
effect size associated with this difference was 1.11, which was very large
(Cohen, 1988).

Further,
teachers reported statistically significantly lower levels of expectation in
response to vignettes describing students exhibiting poor strategy use and poor
motivation, in contrast to baseline learning styles. Moreover, a statistically
significant difference was found between poor strategy use and poor motivation
self-regulatory styles. Specifically, teachers reported statistically
significantly lower levels of expectation in response to vignettes describing
students exhibiting poor motivation in contrast to vignettes describing students
exhibiting poor strategy use. The associated effect size of 0.46 was moderate.

Finally, teachers reported statistically significantly higher levels of instructional support in response to vignettes describing students exhibiting poor strategy use and poor motivation, in contrast to baseline learning styles. Utilizing an Bonferroni-adjusted alpha (p< .0167) as a criterion for statistical significance, there was not a statistically significant difference between poor strategy use and poor motivation self-regulatory styles. Table 3 presents thezscores and effect sizes pertaining to teacher personal efficacy (teacher confidence) and outcome expectancy (teacher effort and expectation regarding student performance) and the level of instructional support expected with respect to the three self-regulatory styles. Table 32095c

*Effectiveness of grouping strategies.* Friedman’s nonparametric matched-sample test (Marascuilo & McSweeney, 1977)
indicated a statistically significant difference in teachers’ ratings of the
seven grouping strategies in response to both poor strategy use and poor
motivation. (All effect sizes were very large.) In contrast, teachers’ ratings
of grouping strategies did not differ statistically significantly in response
to self-regulatory style associated with efficient motivation/strategy use
(i.e., baseline self-regulatory style).

*Practicality of grouping strategies.* Interestingly, Friedman’s nonparametric matched sample test indicated a
statistically significant difference in teachers’ ratings of the seven grouping
strategies in response to self-regulatory style associated with efficient
motivation/strategy use only. In contrast, no statistically significant
difference in teachers’ ratings of grouping strategies was noted with respect
to poor strategy use and poor motivation self-regulatory styles. Table 4
presents the chi-square statistics and Cramer’s *V* statistics (i.e., *Ö**W/n*) that were utilized as measures of effect size.

Table 42095d

**Discussion**

This
study investigated the degree to which teacher personal efficacy and outcome
expectancy is mediated by self-regulatory styles (i.e., poor strategy use vs.
poor motivation vs. efficient motivation/strategy use) of students. Results
indicated that teachers expressed less confidence in their efficacy (i.e.,
personal efficacy) at addressing students with poor motivation and poor
strategy use in contrast to baseline students. In addition, teachers perceived
that they would have to expend a higher degree of instructional effort (i.e.,
outcome expectancy) in order for students with poor motivation to reach grade
level expectation in mathematics. Similarly, teachers had lower expectations of
student performance (i.e., outcome expectancy) for learning styles
characterized as poor strategy use and poor motivation in contrast to baseline
learning styles.

These
preceding findings support the conclusions of Collins and Gerber (2001)
regarding teachers' efficacy beliefs in addressing diversity of student
learning in practice. Results of both studies indicate consistently that
teachers report relatively low personal efficacy and outcome expectancy when
confronted with scenarios in which students exhibited learning styles
associated with LD (i.e., poor strategy use and poor motivation).

This
present inquiry also examined the degree to which teachers’ perceptions of the
effectiveness and practicality of grouping strategies, as a measure of
classroom practice, is influenced by students’ self-regulatory styles.
Teachers' responses indicated that self-regulatory learning styles is a
mitigating variable influencing their perceptions regarding effectiveness of
instructional strategies, specifically related to grouping strategies. However,
results also indicated that despite the apparent difference in teachers’
beliefs regarding the effectiveness and practicality of the reform recommendations
and reported lower levels of personal efficacy and outcome expectancy for
students who exhibit learning styles associated with LD, teachers do not
pragmatically recognize students’ self-regulatory learning styles and respond
by adapting grouping strategies. A question that arises based on this result is
why did teachers recognize baseline learning styles in practically adapting
grouping strategies, yet, they did not adapt grouping strategies in response to
students’ self-regulatory styles? Future research should include open-ended
questions asking respondents to provide a reason for each of their responses to
students’ self-regulatory styles.

However, the responses of this cohort of teachers is
identical to that of the control group in the earlier study (i.e., Collins
& Gerber, 2001) who did not participate in the inservice
training. This current finding highlights the importance of addressing
teachers’ levels of self-efficacy beliefs by providing explicit guidelines
about “how" teachers may implement instructional techniques aligned
to reform recommendations and concurrently accommodate student diversity in
classroom instruction. Thus, replications of the present study are needed
utilizing mixed methodological techniques, larger samples of teachers, and
open-ended questions asking respondents to provide a reason for each of their
responses to students’ self-regulatory styles.

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