Project Abstract

Landmark College, a two-year college for students with learning disabilities and attention disorders (LD), will partner with three community colleges to improve instruction/support for students with LD in technological education programs. We will conduct a series of needs assessments of community college technology programs and regional technology employers to develop a hybrid (in-person and online) professional development program to be pilot tested with instructors who teach required courses for technology programs at community colleges. The goal of our project is 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 is 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 needs-based program explicitly targets instructors of courses required for technology programs, staff who work with struggling students, and students who can benefit from online resources to facilitate their transition from the two-year college to advanced technology studies or careers. The professional development program will incorporate 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 practices materials will cover a number of areas of struggle for students in technology-related courses, including math and science instruction, mastering complex vocabulary, study skills, and metacognitive strategies to help students assess their own understanding. Program effectiveness will be assessed through the implementation of a one-group pretest-posttest pilot study conducted at three community college partner sites, using a grounded theory analysis approach to review formative program results and summative student and faculty outcomes. An independent external evaluator will assess the efficacy and effectiveness of the project. This project promotes learning using universal design concepts that benefit all struggling students, with materials designed to meet the needs of community college instructors and students with LD in technology programs. Project materials will be made freely available upon conclusion of the grant award to postsecondary educators, technology employers, and others who work with struggling students and employees.