I have never been to an ASHA Convention so this year will be my first. I’ve also submitted a Call for Papers. I’ve never been so nervous before clicking a Submit button. I want to share what my research is about and I have many hopes and prayers it will be accepted. If not, I’m getting great clinical experience on how to apply, how to research, and learning along the way.
TITLE: Executive Functioning Training in College-Age Students
Research shows individuals with ADD, ADHD, and LD have deficits in executive functioning. Collaboration with Disability Service Providers and the SLP Department allowed for greater student access. The presentation discusses a 6-week intervention program given through a University clinic targeting attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning.
Universities nationwide educate students with ADD, ADHD, and LD. Reaching this population via campus Speech and Hearing Clinics increases awareness of services, provides useful strategies for participants, and gives graduate clinicians the opportunity to gain clinical experience. SLPs can implement this small-group, 6-week intervention plan to increase the five cognitive areas approved by the ASHA Scope of Practice – Attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning.
Apel et.al. (2010) stated 85% of college level learning comes from interdependent reading and studying; yet, when a large percentage of students in college have deficits in attention, memory, and executive functioning, they may not be successful. 80% of students with learning disabilities present with reading and writing difficulties, indicating further need for targeted intervention in this population. In a paper entitled Learning Disabilities: Issues in Higher Education, ASHA points out the need to “promote awareness” and “disseminate information to the campus community about available services.” Furthermore, ASHA encourages collaboration with disability services providers, students with disabilities, and campus services (i.e. Speech and Hearing Clinics).
Many students with ADD, ADHD, and LD enter college with previous cognitive deficits in the five areas under SLPs scope of practice. Even with excellent tutoring opportunities offered on-campus, many students are not able to apply learning strategies on their own; yet, when provided with explicit, and systematic instruction, students can learn to apply them more effectively (Allsopp et.al, 2005). Success in college depends on the attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning abilities they should have learned in high school; many students discover their skills do not allow them to meet the curriculum requirements set by their courses.
By working as a peer-coach for college students with ADD, ADHD, and LD, the author was posed questions from students pertaining to executive functioning. Questions such as “When do I learn how to take notes?”, “How do I know what is important when I read?”, “How do you figure out what the teacher is really trying to say?”, “How am I supposed to remember all this information I don’t care about?”. The present executive functioning training sessions were an answer to these questions
The 6-week, on-campus intervention sessions provide opportunities for students to not only learn strategies in the five areas of cognition, but to practice implementation techniques on their real-time course work. Using small group activities with course syllabi, summer textbooks, previous and current assignment instructions, mock lectures, and previous assignment attempts allow participants to evaluate their attention, memory, sequencing, problem solving, and executive functioning skills. The Learning and Study Strategies Inventory (LASSI) is administered before and after the intervention to see if participants’ perception of their learning habits has changed. A self-efficacy scale will also be given before and after to see if individuals perceive a change after practice with given strategies for academic success. Sessions are structured to discuss how each topic impacts learning, highlight 2 -3 skills to compensate and accommodate for their deficits, practice as a group on a general topic, then practice individual with guided practice on current coursework. Each session ends with a review of how they plan to implement the skills and techniques in their current practice, what obstacles might keep them from doing so, and how they are doing with what they have learned so far.
SLP graduate students have the opportunity to act as peer-coaches for students, experience a group therapy model, and obtain adult cognitive hours for graduate school. While the sessions are excellent opportunities for graduate students, practicing SLPs will benefit from knowledge on how to execute similar training groups because this is an underserved population. Many college students may not seek the help of an SLP because they are unaware of our unique ability to help them academically by improving their cognitive performance. By calling them “training sessions” rather than speech therapy, students are more receptive to the free opportunity on-campus, and may seek more professional help if a 6-week intervention is not enough. The more individuals become aware of how speech-language pathologists can improve their quality of life and skill sets, the bigger the impact our profession can have on communities, states, and the nation.
- Allsopp, D. H., Minskoff, E, H., and Bolt, J. (2005). Individualized course-specific strategy instruction for college students with learning disabilities and ADHD: lessons learned from a model demonstration project [Electronic version]. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 20(2), 103-118.
- American Speech-Language Hearing Association (2007) Scope of Practice in Speech-Language Pathology [Scope of Practice]. Available from www.asha.org/policy.
- Apel, K, Cunningham, R., & Katz, L. (2010) Perspectives from disability services’ personnel on college students with LD. ASHA Convention 2010 paper.
- Burt, K. L., Parks-Charney, R., & Schwean, V. L. (1996). The ADHD skills and strategies program: A program for ADHD adults in postsecondary education. Canadian Journal of School Psychology, 12(2) 122-134.
- Brinckerhoff, L. C. (1991). Establishing learning disability support services with minimal resources. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 9(1 & 2), 184-196.
- Clark, F. (2000). The strategies instruction model: A research validated intervention for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities, 10(4), 209-217.
- Kallemeyn, L. & Zwart, L. (2001). Peer-based coaching for college students with ADHD and learning disabilities. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 15(1), 1-15.
- Kovach, K., & Wilgosh, L. (1999) Learning and study strategies, and performance anxiety in postsecondary students with learning disabilities: A preliminary study. Developmental Disabilities Bulletin, 27(1), 46-57.
- Sherer, M., Maddux, J. E., Mercandante, B., Prentice-Dunn, S., Jacobs, B., & Rogers, R. W. (1982). The self-efficacy scale: Construction and validation. Psychological Reports, 51, 663-671.
- Stanberry, K. Executive function: A new lens for viewing your child.
- Swartz, S. L., Prevatt, F., and Proctor, B. E. (2005). A Coaching Intervention For College Students With Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder. Psychology in the Schools, 42(6), 647-656.
- Volden, J. (2002, October 22) Nonverbal learning disability: What the SLP needs to know. The ASHA Leader.
- Weinstein, C. E., Schutte, A. C., & Palmer, D. P. (1987). Learning and Study Strategies Inventory, (LASSI). Clearwater, FL: H & H Publishing.
And a Comic for some relief of my mind-work: