The Landmark College Institute for Research and Training (LCIRT) received a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Advanced Technological Education (ATE) program in July, 2009, to partner with three community colleges to improve instruction and support for students with learning disabilities and attention disorders (collectively referred to as LD) in technological education programs. Our community college partners are Lone Star College System, near Houston, TX; Community College of Allegheny County, in Pittsburgh, PA; Western Nevada College in Caron City, NV.
LCIRT staff conducted a series of needs assessments of community college technology programs and regional technology employers to identify gaps between what employers expected and what graduating students could deliver. With these gaps in mind, we developed a hybrid (in-person and online) professional development program that was pilot tested with instructors who teach required courses for technology programs at community colleges. The goal of our project was to increase the number of students with LD who pursue and graduate from technological education programs and either continue their academic pursuit of four-year technological degrees, or gain employment as successful technology workforce employees. Our two-year project was intended as a demonstration and proof of concept to increase the number and diversity of struggling students who succeed in technological programs at community colleges.
Our ATE Technical Paper gives a detailed account of the project history and components.
Professional development resources were designed based on community college and technology employer’s needs, to align with technology skills standards, using the framework provided by the IT Curriculum Development Toolkit developed by the ATE-funded National Workforce Center for Emerging Technologies (NWCET). The program incorporates evidence-based practices from the disability research literature, and best practices developed from over 20 years of experience serving students with LD at Landmark College. Best practice materials cover a number of areas in which students struggle, such as math and science instruction, mastering complex vocabulary, study skills, and metacognitive strategies to help students assess their own understanding. Materials also include research-based supports for students to develop career-specific skills that are not explicitly covered in the postsecondary curriculum, including teamwork, time management, and effective networking strategies. Program effectiveness was evaluated by implementing a pilot study involving instructors at three community colleges partner sites. The pilot study uses a single-group pretest-posttest design using a mixed-methods approach to data collection and analysis to examine the effectiveness of the program on both faculty members and their students.