Teaching Mathematics and Science to Students with Intellectual Disability

Authored by: Alicia F. Saunders , Diane M. Browder , Jenny R. Root

Handbook of Research-Based Practices for Educating Students with Intellectual Disability

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  October  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138832091
eBook ISBN: 9781315736198
Adobe ISBN: 9781317566243


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In the 21st century, positive experiences with mathematical and scientific learning can provide students with enhanced opportunities for independence and inclusion in an increasingly technological society. Through mathematical learning, students gain skills to manage the numerical problem solving required in many of life’s activities. Through science students learn about the natural world and ways to engage in inquiry. Recent comprehensive reviews have indicated that the mathematics and science focus for students with intellectual disability has been extremely narrow. In mathematics, nearly all research for students with intellectual disability with moderate and severe intellectual impairment has focused on money and simple computation (Browder, Spooner, Ahlgrim-Delzell, Harris, & Wakeman, 2008). Limited research exists for students with intellectual disaiblity with mild intellectual impairment due to being aggregated with other high-incidence disabilities (e.g., learning disabilities and emotional/behavioral disorders) or with students with intellectual disaiblity with moderate and severe intellectual impairment (Hord & Bouck, 2012). Studies on science included only a few basic concepts needed to learn daily living tasks (Spooner, Knight, Browder, Jimenez, & DiBiase, 2011). In the last decade, educators have focused on expanding access to general curriculum content to help students prepare for state assessments. These assessments, including the alternate assessments for students with more severe disabilities, are aligned with state standards in language arts, mathematics, and science. With this focus, new intervention strategies have emerged for teaching both content that aligns with a student’s grade level and for teaching the foundational skills needed to enhance learning this content. This chapter provides an overview of these recent innovations for mathematics and science.

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