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Research Recap: The Need for Training about Dysgraphia

We regularly post about the need for more dysgraphia research and recently we heard from Melonie D. Ardoin from Liberty University who just finished her PhD and did her dissertation research on dysgraphia. Melonie had been an early childhood education teacher and explains the motivation behind her dissertation research,

"This study was inspired by the number of students with dysgraphia who, I felt, 'slipped through' my class without a diagnosis or an intervention."

"One of my previous students was diagnosed with dysgraphia in middle school and struggled to catch up academically because his disability was not recognized earlier. After 14 years teaching in public education, 5 years in higher education, and currently serving as an elementary school counselor and 504 Coordinator, I felt more research was needed on how our teacher candidates are prepared in their undergraduate courses for dysgraphia recognition."

A teacher writing with her students

Melonie's study is titled A Phenomenological Study of Early Childhood Teachers’ Lived Experiences and Perceptions of Their Training in Recognizing Dysgraphia in Young Children. She summarized the study and the findings for Dysgraphia Life:

The participants of the study were 12 early childhood teachers and through a scenario activity, an individual interview, and a focus group, they reviewed their own lived experiences and perceptions of their training in recognizing dysgraphia in young children.

The results concluded that all 12 participants felt inadequately prepared in their undergraduate education courses to recognize the warning signs of dysgraphia. 

The 12 participants’ years of experience ranged from 1 - 31 years, and their degrees were obtained from three different states. None of the participants felt confident in their knowledge of the dysgraphia and how it affects written expression. Through group conversations, a unanimous feeling of concern arose for those students who may have moved forward without the necessary support for academic success. Among the teacher participants, there was a general agreement that their undergraduate education courses did not prepare them with a clear definition of what dysgraphia is or the ability to recognize the warning signs in their students. 

Table of participant characteristics for the study

The findings within this study indicated three key factors that need to be implemented to foster a positive self-efficacy in recognizing dysgraphia:

(a) providing multiple undergraduate courses and training opportunities on various learning disabilities,

(b) offering a variety of current resources on dysgraphia, and

(c) providing scenarios and work samples that students with dysgraphia might exhibit. 

It is my opinion that our undergraduate education programs need to ensure that the required program courses address dysgraphia. It is also imperative that the higher education faculty make intentional efforts to stay abreast of current research so that preservice teachers will enter their classrooms prepared to recognize the warning signs of dysgraphia and know the appropriate steps needed to assist those with the disability. 

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