Project-Based Learning for Students With Intellectual Disabilities

Project-Based Learning for Students With Intellectual Disabilities

Vardan Mkrttchian (HHH University, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3111-1.ch007
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With the push to include all students, despite disability, in the general education classroom, general education teachers need to be trained in ways to adequately educate intellectually disabled students alongside their nondisabled peers. Many students with an intellectual disability are capable of learning in an inclusive environment if provided with proper support, such as through instructional methods like project-based learning. Project-based learning actively involves learners in investigating real-world issues and answering related questions. This chapter focuses on how to use the project-based learning method to teach children with intellectual disabilities within the framework of inclusive education, using biology as an example subject area.
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Under IDEA, an intellectual or cognitive disability is defined as “significantly sub-average general intellectual functioning, existing concurrently with deficits in adaptive behavior and manifested during the developmental period, that adversely affects a child’s educational performance” (IDEA, 2004, 34 CFR §300.8[c][(6]).

Meeting the special educational needs of students with intellectual disabilities can be a challenge for teachers in the general education classroom, especially if no professional development or training has been provided to them or if they are unfamiliar with the disability. Students who have been diagnosed with intellectual disabilities under IDEA may experience some or all of the following: (a) difficulties interacting with the environment; (b) problems with individual development; (c) slow reception and processing of sensory information; (d) poor memory retention; problems with verbal expression (for example, difficulties in developing verbal generalizations and in naming objects); (e) problems related to the development of voluntary movements (e.g., slowness or difficulties with coordination); (f) late mental development as a whole; and (g) increased fatigability (Аfanasyeva, Yeremina, & Morgatcheva, 2008; Shif, 1965; Vygotsky, 1983).

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