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Teaching chemistry to students with learning difficulties: exemplary adaptive instructional practices of experienced teachers
Learners in any classroom differ from one another in some respect; some are ‘normal’ students and others are ‘special’ students. Arguably, today’s science classrooms are witnessing a situation in which students experience a special learning need during the course of their learning science. Regrettably, most of the science teachers are not effective in designing instruction to suit struggling learners. Consequently, this category of learners end up as repeaters, or ‘drop-outs’ or ‘pushed-outs’ because they are ‘left-outs’ during the instructional process. Thus, this study attempted to provide compilation of the exemplary adaptive instructional practices for assisting struggling learners in regular chemistry classrooms. To achieve the objective of this study, a single research question was formulated: what are the best adaptive instructional strategies that could be used to assist students with specific learning difficulties? Descriptive survey research design was employed. The sample for the study consisted of 54 experienced chemistry teachers who voluntarily participated in the study. An instrument tagged Adaptive Instructional Strategies for assisting students with learning difficulties Questionnaire (AISSQ) was used to elicit information from the respondents. This data collecting tool was subjected to validity test using two experienced chemistry educators. The data collected were subjected to thorough examination in which a panel of judges comprising two experienced chemistry teachers, one chemistry educator and two special education specialists were assigned to determine the best adaptive instructional practices among the tentative instructional strategies suggested by the participants through their responses to open-ended questions. The best responses constituted the exemplary adaptive instructional practices in this study. Their selection was based on logical reasoning, long years of teaching experience of the members of the panel and their basis in psychological theories of learning. The findings of the study were therefore assembled as exemplary adaptive instructional practices of the experienced chemistry teachers. Based on the findings of this study, the following recommendations were made: (i) Experienced chemistry teachers should be engaged in an interactive session focusing on adaptive instruction with a view to gathering best practices. (ii) A mentor- novice teacher relationship should be established with the intention of improving teachers’ competencies in adapting instruction.
Keyword: Adaptive instruction, learning difficulties, students needs, teachers’ competencies