What Is “Responsiveness”? Moving Beyond Deficit Models for Students with Disabilities and Difficulties to Broaden Participation

Discuss approaches for tackling deficit models for students with disabilities and difficulties, and as they share their perspectives on strengthening responsiveness to students’ diverse ways of knowing and learning.

Date/Time: 
Friday, June 8, 2018 - 8:30am to 10:00am

This session focuses on broadening participation for students with disabilities and difficulties through a cross-project discussion around the essential questions of responsiveness and of tackling pervasive deficit models. The presenters find deficit models unacceptable. Learning is framed as a form of adaptation that respects the knowledge students bring to learning environments. Because disabilities/differences in cognition are far more dissimilar than they are similar (Compton et al., 2012), presenters discuss how learning environments are widened rather than reduced through notions of teaching as a responsiveness to students’ learning.

The objectives of this session are for participants to

  • share approaches for defining and strengthening “responsiveness” to diverse knowing and learning for students with disabilities/difficulties;
  • consider ways to address challenges to broadening participation, particularly deficit models that negatively impact teaching and learning for students with disabilities/difficulties;
  • identify implications and suggestions for future research/development to broaden participation for students with disabilities/difficulties; and
  • discuss areas of convergence and tension in STEM and learning-disability (LD) approaches for these topics, building on the ideas of the panel presentation, Promoting STEM Learning for Students with Learning Disabilities.

After a brief introduction of the session and its presenters (5 minutes), participants partake in the main discussion (28 minutes) which includes a pairs discussion (In your project, how do you define “responsiveness” in teaching and learning for students with disabilities and difficulties? What is your project’s approach to strengthening responsiveness?) and a whole-group discussion (One challenge we have noted is a pervasive deficit model for viewing students with disabilities and difficulties. What is your experience with this challenge? How has your project navigated this challenge? Other challenges to broadening participation?)

To close the session, participants (12 minutes) discuss future research and development ideas (What are the implications for future research and development projects? What questions, directions, and approaches do you think are important to pursue?) and connect to the panel presentation Promoting STEM Learning for Students with Learning Disabilities (For the topics we have discussed, what are the areas of convergence and tension for STEM and LD approaches? What are ways to bring together STEM and LD approaches in future research and development projects?)

Anticipated session outcomes include highlighting commonalities in projects’ approaches, building connections, and bringing together ideas to broaden participation for students with disabilities/difficulties; building on the ideas and issues raised in the panel presentation Promoting STEM Learning for Students with Disabilities; and generating new questions for further research and development.

Compton, D. L, Gilbert, J. K., Jenkins, J. R., Fuchs, D., Fuchs, L. S, Cho, E., & Bouton, B. D. (2012). Accelerating chronically unresponsive children to Tier 3 instruction: What level of data is necessary to ensure selection accuracy? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 45, 204–216.