Benefits and Limitations of Technology Use for Students with Reading and Writing Disorders in the General Education Classroom: A Systematic Review

This issue of NASET’s LD Report was written by Brigid Ovitt. This systematic research review addresses the gap between claims that specific technologies or classes of technology are effective in improving affective and objective academic performance of secondary students with specific learning disability (SLD) and research supporting those claims. The purpose of this review was to examine and synthesize research over the past ten years detailing the effects of educational technology on secondary students with reading and writing disorders. A comprehensive search of educational and psychological research yielded ten studies addressing the effectiveness of specific technologies addressing the academic experience of secondary students with SLD in reading, writing, or both.  Just under half of the studies indicated that the technologies they examined can have positive effects on learning when used in conjunction with effective teaching.  Twenty percent of the studies indicated that the technologies they studied were effective in increasing students’ academic engagement and self-perception.  Thirty percent of the studies indicated that the technology they focused on had neutral or detrimental effects.  Overall, this review of literature indicates that while technology can benefit students with SLD in high school and middle school, the benefit is by no means uniform across technologies, and the technologies studied do not substitute for engaged, effective teaching.

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