Learning disabilities and Action competence approach : an analysis of a learning module on climate change

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Title: Learning disabilities and Action competence approach : an analysis of a learning module on climate change
Author: Jokinen, Iina
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Matemaattis-luonnontieteellinen tiedekunta, Fysiikan laitos
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics
Helsingfors universitet, Matematisk-naturvetenskapliga fakulteten, Institutionen för fysik
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2018
Language: eng
URI: http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi-fe201801151769
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Teaching of Physics
Fysiikan opettajan koulutus
Utbildning av fysiklärare
Abstract: The I SEE module was designed to motivate broad groups of students in the field of science. The module is built on Action Competence framework, which is an educational ideal that aims for ability and willingness to take action. Students with learning disabilities were not considered within this process, but this research is dedicated to evaluating the module through this point of view. The diagnoses of interest were attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorder (ASD), and dyslexia, which were analyzed in a small literature review. Activity-based methods of instruction have been used as a means to include students with special needs, but several issues need to be addressed -- Students with ASD, for instance, need familiar and structured environment to achieve learning objectives in said instructional activities. The first research question was how the Action Competence approach is suited for students with disabilities. The main concern is whether Action Competence education is carried out by mainly text-based instructions and materials, but through visualizing their own future and gaining good action experiences, students may become interested in pursuing a career in science. The second research question is twofold: What opportunities and threats lie in the I SEE climate change module for students with disabilities, and how can the module be improved? The conclusions of the literature review on learning disabilities were implemented to improve a six-step assessment tool for instruction, which was used as a theoretical backround for this thesis. The utilization of the tool is based on expertise on both subject matter and learning disabilities. Finally, the I SEE module was assessed according to the six steps when it was suitable. However, as the module progressed from subject matter based content towards action competence skills, the assessment tool became less relevant to the learning activities. The evaluation of the module indicates that it is well suited for students with learning disabilities, but some text-based activities may need to be enhanced by adding visual supports such as pictures or figures. Some contradiction lies between the importance of explicit communication while educating students with disabilities, and open exploration in exercises associated with action competence.

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