Research Spotlight: Learning differently

learning-differently-200.jpgAbout 45 million Americans – 15 percent of the population – have some form of learning disability. And when students reach college, their learning differences become amplified because of tougher curricula, increased workloads and the absence of supportive family members. In SMU’s School of Education and Human Development, researchers and reading specialists have developed training and research projects to answer some of the most critical questions about the development of students who struggle to read.

“While much has been accomplished, more work lies ahead,” wrote Education Dean David Chard in a Dallas Morning News op-ed printed Nov. 1, 2007. “The opportunity to pursue higher education should be a minimum standard for all Americans. Approximately 35 percent of students with learning disabilities are attending colleges and universities, up from 15 percent in 1987.”

At the International Dyslexia Association annual conference in Dallas (Oct. 31-Nov. 3, 2007), two SMU faculty members shared their experiences reaching students with learning differences. Patricia G. Mathes, director of the Institute for Reading Research at SMU, spoke on effective practices and research findings for English language learners with reading difficulties, and Karen Vickery, director of the Learning Therapy Program at SMU’s School of Education and Human Development, spoke on “Teaching the Teachers: Effective Models for Colleges and Universities.” Learn more about SMU research and resources at