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Effects of a Student Participation Strategy in Facilitating the Involvement of Adolescents with Learning Disabilities in the Individualized Educational Program Planning Process

Anthony K. Van Reusen, Donald D. Deshler, Jean B. Shumaker


This study investigatedthe effects oftraining adolescents with learning disabilities to use self-advocacy procedures during the Individualized Educational Program (IEP) conference. The study was conducted in an applied setting and involved 16 adolescents with learning disabilities. An IEP participation strategy was designed to enable students to: a) inventory their learning needs and interests, b) provide their inventoried infonnation during a conference, c) ask ap.. propriate questions during a conference, d) respond appropriately to questions duringĀ·a conference, and e) verbally summarize their understandingoftheirIEP goals before the conclusion ofthe conference. Eightofthe 16 students were randomly selected to serve as the treatment group and were individually taught to use the strategy. The remaining eight subjects served as the control group. A multiple..baseline across-individuals design and a posttest-only control group design pennitted demonstration of the effectiveness of the strategy. Conditions of the study included baseline, treatment, post-training probes, and actual IEP conferences.. Non-parametric analysis of the data concerning the type and quantity of verbal contributions made by the subjects revealed that both groups were capable of contributing information to the IEP conference, but the performance of the treatment subjects was significantly higher than the control subjects. The data further revealed that the IEP documents written for the eight treatment subjects reflected more goal statements made by the students than the documents written for the control subjects. The overall results of the study support the hypothesis that adolescents with learning disabilities can contribute important and relevant infonnation to the IEP planning process. The effective involvement ofadolescents with learning disabilities in planning their IEP goals has the potential for empowering these students to gain a perception ofcontrol and influence over their own learning and may contribute to a more powerful cumulative affect on their motivation for competent academic achievement and success in school.

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