Working with Students with Learning Disabilities

Some students you may work with may have learning disabilities.  If you experience this during your tutoring experience please feel free to speak to the instructor about the specific student and their needs.

General Courtesy

  • If the student brings up their learning disability be supportive.  Point out that this individual got ahead by a combination of effort and by asking for help when needed.
  • These students chose to be in these classes or labs and they want to learn. Refrain from assuming that the person is not listening just because you are getting no verbal or visual feedback.
  • Many students with learning disabilities do not have a problem with general comprehension.  Don't assume that you have to explain everything to students with learning disabilities.

Successful Strategies for Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities

By: Louise Spear-Swerling (2005)

Lee Swanson (1999) and his colleagues found two major intervention practices that produced large outcomes. One is direct instruction. The other is learning strategy instruction.

Teachers who were applying those kinds of intervention:

  • broke learning into small steps
  • administered probes (asked for more detail on answers)
  • supplied regular quality feedback
  • used diagrams, graphics and pictures to augment what they were saying in words
  • provided ample independent, well-designed, intensive practice
  • modeled instructional practices that they wanted students to follow
  • provided prompts of strategies to use
  • engaged students in process type questions like “How is that strategy working? Where else might you apply it?”

For more information about working with students with learning disabilities please refer to: LDOnline,



Spear-Swerling, Louise. "Components of Effective Reading Instruction." LDOnline. 2005. 7 Apr. 2009 <>.