Interventions, Mental Health, Metacognition

The reason for the study is to address the shortcomings of past studies in mental health interventions, which lacked stringent inclusion criteria and diverse moderators. The aim is to employ more rigorous methods to provide updated and evidence-based results on interventions targeting anxiety or depression. This study presents an updated analysis with more inclusion criteria and additional moderators, such as baseline equivalence and program duration.

School-Based Interventions With Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Have Been Found To Be Effective in Treating Mental Health Symptoms

The universal approach treats the entire population regardless of individual conditions, while the targeted approach treats only those with elevated symptoms. Universal programs aim to prevent, while targeted ones aim to cure. Targeted interventions require extensive screening efforts and may lead to labeling and stigma. However, they have shown effectiveness. Universal programs avoid stigma but are costlier and may reach fewer children. Investigating the effectiveness of each approach can offer valuable insights for implementation.

Through Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) interventions, students gain skills to understand and cope with their feelings, such as using relaxation techniques and interacting with peers more effectively. School-based interventions with CBT components are found effective in reducing depressive symptoms and anxiety, and improving coping strategies.

Cognitive Behaviour Therapy Should Be Incorporated in School-Based Mental Health Programs

The study ensured a thorough literature search using various methods like database searches, handsearching, and checking references. The first author searched for relevant articles using specific keywords in databases like Google Scholar. Additionally, they manually searched reputable journals. The screening process involved three steps: initially, the first author selected 2308 studies. Then, these studies underwent double-blinded screening, and disagreements were resolved through a group discussion involving the third author. 

The analysis of moderators indicates that studies focusing on anxiety outcomes, employing cognitive behavioral therapy, interventions administered by clinicians, and targeting secondary school populations tend to yield positive results. Additionally, selection modeling identified notable biases in publication and outcome selection. Consequently, this meta-analysis recommends that school-based mental health programs consider incorporating cognitive behavioral therapy delivered by clinicians, particularly at the secondary school level, to enhance effectiveness.

Schools Need To Enhance Mental Health Services for Their Students

There is a pressing demand for schools to enhance mental health services for students, yet current studies lack comprehensive insights into effective interventions. With a rising number of students experiencing depression and anxiety, identifying evidence-based models for school-based mental health interventions is crucial. 

Overall, the analysis reveals a significant positive impact of school-based interventions on depression and anxiety symptoms compared to control groups. Interestingly, interventions addressing anxiety appear more effective than those targeting depression, with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) programs showing especially promising outcomes. These findings contribute valuable insights into designing effective mental health interventions tailored for school settings.

Notable Quotes: 

“There exists a prolific amount of school-based mental health interventions, yet the quality of such interventions varies greatly.”

“In recent years, depression and anxiety have increased rapidly among 6-17 years old American children.”

“Approximately 9.4% 3–17-year-old children were diagnosed with anxiety problems and 31.5% 13-18-year-old children have experienced depression.”

Personal Takeaway: 

I agree with the authors of the study that urgent measures need to be taken to address the mental health crisis that is currently prevalent among young people. Cognitive behavior therapy has been a proven solution to address mental health disorders, and if a program can be created for school-going students to receive this support, I am certain that the results will be positive.—Shekufeh

Zhang, Q., Wang, J., & Neitzel, A. (2023). School-based mental health interventions targeting depression or anxiety: A meta-analysis of rigorous randomized controlled trials for school-aged children and adolescents. Journal of youth and adolescence, 52(1), 195-217.

Interventions, Pedagogy

Teaching writing skills allows students to interact in an ever-increasing digital world and more effectively communicate their ideas, share information, and gain new vocabulary inside and outside of a school setting. While writing skills are crucial to teach, it is also difficult to do so. The authors in this study wanted to explore whether peer and self-corrective feedback was an effective writing strategy.

Self-Correction Can Build Student Independence

The technique of self-correction is a form of indirect guidance and feedback that the teacher provides with various options so that students can choose the best form of editing their work. During the writing process, students can make a plan by revising their writing and evaluating it, raising their writing awareness of errors as well as correcting the errors by themselves. 

Self-correction has been shown to develop student independence and responsibility, reflection, and contribution, improving the decision-making skills of students, and making them actively involved in the learning writing process. Studies suggest that peer correction yields more significant improvements compared to self-correction. Additionally, students’ writing abilities produce varying outcomes in descriptive writing tasks and peer-correction techniques have significant effects on the students writing recount text.

Self and Peer Correction is Important in Teaching Students Writing Skills

The study focused on twelfth-grade students from MAS Muallimin. Using a pre-experimental research design, data were gathered through pre and post-tests involving narrative writing tasks. The intervention involved teaching writing using both self-correction and peer-correction techniques. Following instruction in these techniques, students were tasked with writing narrative texts, which served as the data source for assessing the effectiveness of the interventions. Evaluation was conducted using an analytical scoring rubric covering content, vocabulary, organization, and grammar. The pre-test yielded a mean score of 8.07 with a standard deviation of 1.809, while the post-test, conducted after the intervention, resulted in a mean score of 9.77 with a standard deviation of 2.221. The authors concluded that the data indicated an improvement in students’ writing abilities following the treatment involving self and peer-correction techniques, thereby demonstrating the effectiveness of these methods in teaching writing.

Building a Positive Class Environment with Peer Interaction

Utilizing peer and self-correction techniques allows students to actively interact with their friends so that they can assist each other and do certain evaluations of their work. With the assistance of their peers, the students can take some advantages and apply them to enhance their ability in writing. The results suggest that English teachers should be utilizing self and peer-correction in the classroom to support students in the writing process.

Notable Quotes: 

“The technique also builds students’ awareness and collaboration with their peers in the teaching and learning process.”

“This activity leads students to be more aware of their deficiencies and strength.”

“Higher language proficiency provided higher and more positive vibes in understanding the error and deficiencies in writing.”

Personal Takeaway: 

The authors demonstrated the effectiveness of peer and self-correction as a writing technique, but I felt that they could have provided more insight into the instructional process, aiding students in applying this skill. The importance of incorporating self and peer correction into the “learning process,” particularly in writing, was mentioned but I am curious how these strategies could be applied in other academic areas. —Matt Browne


The prevalence of depression among adolescents and early adolescents in China has received more attention in recent years. Few studies have examined the influence of both autonomy and relatedness support combined as a protective and corrective effect on depression. The authors find the Chinese context a “strong testing ground for the universal importance of the combined impacts of autonomy and relatedness support on depression.” The authors examine the trends in depression in a 3-year longitudinal study investigating the impacts of teacher autonomy and support and teacher-student relationships on students’ depressive symptoms.

How teachers can help students

Some studies have shown that teacher autonomy support can act as a protective factor against student depression. In a teaching context, this means providing students with choice, providing rationale for tasks, showing respect and allowing the expression of negative effects.

Again studies have indicated that positive teacher-student relationships act as a protective factor against student depressive symptoms, including enhancing students’ social competence.

The Chinese education context is characterized by high-stakes testing and exam systems and more authoritative teaching styles. This highly competitive system has caused unique features of depression in Chinese students. Meta-analyses suggest that contrary to the gender differences reported in Western cultures for Chinese primary and middle school students there are no significant gender differences in the prevalence of depressive symptoms. The great value that Chinese culture places on interpersonal harmony also means that the quality of interpersonal relationships exerted a stronger impact on depressive symptoms in Chinese adolescents than in their western counterparts.

“As indicated by this study, establishing a harmonious and autonomy-supportive school environment could benefit students in many ways and might reduce the potential risks of psychological problems. This implication is particularly meaningful in the schooling context, where the general teaching styles are less autonomy supportive.”

The importance of teacher autonomy support

This research is based on a 3-year longitudinal study. Data was collected as part of a large-scale educational assessment of all schools in the Mentou-gou School District, which is located in the western area of Beijing, China. In total, 1613 4th-grade students from 25 primary schools and 1397 7th-grade students from 14 middle schools were recruited during the baseline assessment in 2014. Tracking the same group of students, a second and third assessment was implemented in 2015 and 2016. “The results of this study revealed that for both the primary and middle school samples, teacher autonomy support and teacher–student relationships consistently buffered the students’ depressive symptoms over time.” These findings align with the conclusions from previous studies.

The importance of teacher-student relationships

Gender differences were only present in the primary school sample, with females having a lower initial score that increased significantly over time, compared to the male students whose scores declined over time. In middle school, depressive symptoms increased significantly with a similar rate of change regardless of gender, although females still maintained a higher baseline. The authors suggest that this is different from the Western cultural context (where female students were more likely to show a higher rate of increased depressive symptoms than their male peers) because of Chinese cultural influences. Female students who are more likely to follow and obey rules would receive more positive feedback from teachers and parents, and Chinese females typically academically outperform their male peers at this age, both of which could act as protective factors.

Students who had higher socioeconomic backgrounds reported lower levels of depressive symptoms. This finding is consistent with current research.

“The study confirmed the significant effects of teachers’ autonomous and supportive strategies on reducing students’ depressive symptoms in both primary and middle school.” In China, studies have found that interpersonal stress significantly predicted the depression levels of Chinese pupils. This implies that teacher-student relationships are an especially crucial factor in students’ development in a Chinese context, with a higher potential impact to offset students’ depressive symptoms.

“Therefore, schools should provide teachers with training programmes regarding need-supportive teaching strategies and enhance teachers’ awareness of the importance of mental health.”

“To empower students with more autonomy, teachers could provide students with opportunities to express their thoughts and make choices, show concern for students’ negative emotions, and use noncontrolling language during instruction. In addition, teachers could improve students’ sense of relatedness by listening, expressing care, and being available during difficulties.”

Personal Takeaway

This study serves as further research on the importance of positive student-teacher relationships and the benefits it has for teaching and learning as well as meeting a student’s developmental, emotional and academic needs. It also highlights the benefits of promoting student autonomy in the learning process. When students are given voice and choice they are more empowered, engaged, and connected to the learning environment, ultimately having positive impacts on both their academic and mental-wellbeing.

Taryn McBrayne

Summarized Article:

Zhang, D., Jin, B., & Cui, Y. (2021). Do teacher autonomy support and teacher–student relationships influence students’ depression? A 3-year longitudinal study. School Mental Health: A Multidisciplinary Research and Practice Journal. Advance online publication.

Investigation of tutor and tutee’s perception of challenges faced in virtual tutoring. Secondly, reasons for service refusal were investigated to inform future planning and training.

The perceptions of online peer tutoring


The skills necessary to be an effective tutor

Research shows that peer tutoring can be beneficial for all participants. Yet, it is essential that tutors possess the technological and pedagogical skills necessary for community building and engaging teaching in an online medium. Online tutoring is only successful if tutees engage with the content and speak during sessions to ensure they progress in their language learning.

Tutors need to be taught

Email interviews were conducted to collect qualitative data from both tutors and tutees. Their responses were then coded, and the main themes were identified for the analysis. It is recommended that tutors receive thorough instructions on how to teach in an online medium to ensure the success of peer tutoring. Moreover, different communication channels could be employed to share schedules and the effectiveness of the available services. Nonetheless, more research must be done to investigate the program’s long-term impact on students’ academic performance.

Necessary steps to support tutors

Peer tutoring can benefit the tutor and tutee in an online medium. However, tutors require clear guidance from core professors and must receive support in planning their sessions to ensure student progress. 

Online teaching and tutoring will play a more significant role in education, not just during the pandemic. Therefore providing adequate training for educators and tutors is essential in delivering peer tutoring to students. Nonetheless, other factors may contribute to the success or failure of a program. Struggling students reported they required support in managing their time and attending virtual sessions. As a result, peer-tutoring schedules should be flexible.

Notable Quotes: 

Peer tutoring is a very effective approach to fostering learning when used in an inclusive and collaborative atmosphere.

Indeed, the teaching session is much more comprehensive and coherent for both tutors and tutees with the guided method and material. 

The results of this paper are valuable not only for the stakeholders in the studied institution but also for any educational institutions that are considering this student support service.

Personal Takeaway: 

I have seen peer tutoring to be successful in person. This article is helpful in considering how peer tutoring can be offered virtually to effectively meet the needs and context of tutees. Equally, it highlights that tutors require guidance before starting peer tutoring. Some of the recommendations will help me to adapt peer tutoring for my students.—Frankie

Quoc Luong, B., Thi Thu Tran, H., & Thi Minh Nguyen, N. (2022, March). Online Peer Tutoring in Online English Courses: Perceptions of Tutors and Tutees. In 2022 3rd International Conference on Education Development and Studies (pp. 58-63).

The authors of this paper wanted to provide evidence that working memory could explain word learning variance in children, “over and above the contributions of expressive vocabulary and nonverbal IQ.”

Working memory – a predictor of word learning


Working memory can act as a predictor   

Verbal working memory measures positively correlated with vocabulary and grammar scores in a person’s first and second language. Studies have also suggested that verbal working memory measures were stronger predictors of language than attention. There is a small relationship between working memory domains and static measures of reading. 

Working memory is a more powerful predictor of later academic success than IQ. Existing vocabulary and nonverbal IQ have already been shown to relate to vocabulary acquisition in children.

Testing working memory through word learning

The study recruited 167 English-speaking second graders from two U.S. states with typical development. The children involved had to meet a series of requirements, such as passing hearing and vision screenings and achieving certain levels of mastery on academic and language testing, as well as having no history of neuropsychiatric disorders (such as ADHD or ASD). Tasks were presented as part of a computer-based game that took about six two-hour sessions to complete over the course of two weeks. The children took the test with a trained research assistant present to record and transcribe responses. The children played a series of games (tasks) that comprehensively targeted word learning (assessing “the creation, storage, retrieval, and production of phonological and semantic representations of novel nouns and verbs and the ability to link those representations”) and working memory. “The authors then established a model of working memory in children to predict an established model of dynamic word learning to determine whether working memory processes as a whole explained word learning variance over and above the contributions of expressive vocabulary and nonverbal IQ.” The model established from the data demonstrated that “expressive vocabulary, nonverbal IQ, and three working memory factors predicting two-word learning factors fit the data well.” Working memory explained 45% of the variance in the phonological word learning factor (letter-to-sound mapping) and 17% in the semantic word learning factor (storage and retrieval of word meaning). From this, the authors were able to conclude that working memory is a significant predictor “of not only what has already been learned (academic achievement) but also what is actively being learned (dynamic learning).”

Teaching strategies used to strengthen working memory

However, these results do not necessarily mean that if working memory capacity were improved then we could optimize learning. Rather educators can “tailor teaching strategies to support children with particular working memory profiles. Comprehensive working memory assessments have the potential to identify sources of word learning difficulties and help to tailor word learning teaching and interventions to a student’s strengths and challenges. 

Moreover, there are existing studies that show that “different manipulations of encoding practices, such as repeated and spaced retrieval and effortful retrieval, may benefit recall and retention in children. Further research is needed to determine whether tailoring instruction based on a child’s working memory profile could increase learning.

Notable Quotes: 

“It is possible that the relationship between working memory processes and word learning processes changes over the course of development; therefore, findings may not generalize to younger or older students.”

“It is important to note that structural equation modeling offers several advantages previously discussed, but such models cannot definitively pin down causation or thoroughly represent the complex working memory and word learning processes occurring in the real world.”

“An earlier study (Gray et al., 2019) found that children’s working memory profiles were not synonymous with learning disability diagnoses. […] The same was true of children with developmental language disorder, developmental language disorder and dyslexia, and TD [typical development].”

Personal Takeaway: 

This work highlights the importance of working memory for learning, particularly literacy, but also the importance of looking at a student as a whole when it comes to teaching. Working memory is undoubtedly a crucial executive function and is a skill that should be explicitly taught and targeted, especially for students who may need more support in this area. However, it may be equally as important to tailor interventions and teaching to a student’s strengths and challenges. By leveraging strengths educators can find opportunities to personalize instruction to best suit the needs of each student, ultimately enhancing the learning taking place for them.—Ayla Reau

Gray, S. I., Levy, R., Alt, M., Hogan, T. P., & Cowan, N. (2022). Working Memory Predicts New Word Learning Over and Above Existing Vocabulary and Nonverbal IQ. Journal of speech, language, and hearing research : JSLHR, 65(3), 1044–1069.

The number of students with registered disabilities enrolling in colleges and universities across the United States is continuing to increase, speaking to the myriad of improvements and advancements in technology, legislation, and treatment over the past few decades. Such advances have resulted in the creation of more inclusive learning environments for individuals with disabilities and have improved overall access to higher education. However, students with disabilities continue to face barriers when it comes to integrating in postsecondary institutions. Campus counseling centers have been suggested as a positive way to provide support for students with disabilities who are experiencing academic and/or psychological distress, yet little is known about the use or effectiveness of these services. O’Shea et al.’s (2021) study serves to close this research gap by determining the effectiveness of campus-based individual counseling for students with disabilities.

To disclose disabilities, or not?

While there is an overall hesitation for students to disclose their disability to their college/university, the impact of social and structural stigmatization on students’ reluctance to disclose may be more pronounced for students with certain types of disabilities. On U.S. campuses, psychiatric disabilities (commonly including disorders such as depression, bipolar, anxiety, or schizophrenia) continue to be the largest and fastest growing sub-category of disability amongst college students (Americans With Disabilities Act, 2018), and yet are also often surrounded by the most stigma. 

Research indicates that “students with disabilities are at a higher risk in comparison to their peers of experiencing mental health issues on campus, including increased rates of anxiety, academic distress, suicidality, and self-injury (Coduti et al., 2016).” Such statistics further emphasize the need for accessible and high-quality support services on campus.

The effect of therapy on students with disabilities

This academic study was conducted over the span of three years (2016 – 2019) using data gathered from the Center for Collegiate Mental Health (CCMH) — a practice-research network involving multiple stakeholders across more than 600 college and university counseling centers (UCCs) in the United States. Participants were grouped into one of three categories based on a Standardized Data Set (SDS) — students with only psychiatric disabilities, students with disabilities other than only psychiatric disorders, and students with no disability, with the average age being 21.88 years old at the time of their first counseling session. Participants completed a multidimensional self-report questionnaire known as the Counseling Center Assessment of Psychological Symptoms (CCAPS-62) over the course of their treatment to assess any changes in symptoms.

The authors of the article hypothesized that “clients with disabilities would demonstrate significantly lower levels of improvement over the course of therapy than clients without disabilities.” Based on the results of the study, such a hypothesis was correct in that “while students across groups saw a reduction in psychological and academic distress over the course of treatment, students with disabilities experienced less reduction in psychological and academic distress than their non-disabled peers.”

Different levels of academic distress in the student body

According to the gathered data, students with and without disabilities present to counselors with similar levels of psychological distress during their time at college. With that said, levels of academic distress are much higher amongst students with disabilities in comparison to those without. Although reasons for higher levels of academic distress cannot be certain and are largely based on the individual, research has pointed to factors such as negative past experiences with academic tasks and/or instructors serving to reduce self-efficacy (Brockelman, 2009; Gorges et al., 2018; Hartley, 2010) and holding negative beliefs about personal agency in learning thus impeding engagement and motivation (Eccles & Wigfield, 2002). In the discussion, it was noted that students with psychiatric disabilities present higher levels of distress than students with other disabilities and those without disabilities. This information emphasizes the importance of understanding the source of distress for students in order to provide appropriate support and ultimately work towards improving mental health and postsecondary outcomes for these individuals. 

Ways forward

O’Shea et al’s. research helps to inform best practices when it comes to counseling practitioners who work with students with disabilities. Therapists should do their best to research and be aware of the various issues and complex challenges that students with disabilities may face, including the social, academic, and personal factors that are involved in the transition to college and adulthood. As students experiment with their newfound independence and begin to navigate their sense of identity, “counselors should include in their approach a consideration of the challenge students with disabilities may be facing in terms of navigating complex issues surrounding disability disclosure, the negotiation of intersectional identities, and use of services. As the number of students with disabilities on college campuses continues to grow, postsecondary institutions may also consider providing additional training to counselors to “improve familiarity and effectiveness in working with students with disabilities.” In particular, additional training for supporting students with psychiatric disabilities is recommended given the higher risk for self-injurious and suicidal behavior (Coduti et al., 2016). 

Additional research is needed to further explore and understand the various lived experiences, concerns, and barriers to postsecondary education for students with disabilities in order to appropriately inform targeted interventions and approaches to treatment. It is also important to note that the current study categorized participants’ disability type and status based on whether or not their disability was registered with the university office of disability services. Therefore, the academic study is limited in that it does not capture students who do not disclose or register their disability with their university, and may underrepresent or miscategorize those students with disabilities as a result.

Notable quotes:

1. According to research, “less than one-quarter of students with disabilities in college choose to disclose their disability and make use of disability support services” (Newman et al., 2009), and “fewer than 10% of students with psychiatric disabilities choose to disclose their disability to the university and register with the ODS (Megivern et al., 2003) as the stigma surrounding psychiatric disabilities continues to be pervasive within and outside of academia (Collins, 2000; Stuart et al., 2020).”                        

2. “Prior research has suggested that students with disabilities are more likely to experience increased pressure in college as students navigate issues surrounding disability, identity, and disclosure in the context of new challenges in the academic and social domains (Cawthon & Cole, 2010).” 

3. “Additional research is needed that further explores therapist perceptions of clients’ disabilities among those with visible and non-visible disabilities. Understanding therapists’ perceptions of students with disabilities and various types of disabilities (i.e., visible vs. non-visible) will help to inform training and treatment approaches. There is some evidence to suggest that counselors may be less comfortable or have less confidence working with clients with whom they perceive as having a disability (i.e., the disability is more obvious or visible; Parritt, & O’Callaghan, 2000). Therapists’ perceptions of clients’ disability status may impact treatment goals and expectations, in-session decision-making, and therapist self-efficacy and confidence (Barrett et al., 2013).”

Personal Takeaway

Providing increased access to counselling and treatment services on college and university campuses is a step in the right direction in terms of delivering appropriate support and creating an inclusive learning environment for students with disabilities. However, it is also important to recognize that students must be willing to take the first step to access such services. Part of helping our students become self-directed learners is supporting their self-advocacy and help-seeking skills. Providing opportunities for students to advocate for themselves and their needs throughout their elementary, middle and secondary school years, serves as a positive way to reinforce the value and importance of asking for help when you need it—an essential skill when making the transition into college life, newfound independence, and adulthood. Thus, as a special education teacher, I will continue to seek out ways in which I can empower students to take ownership of their learning and model help-seeking behaviors as a way to support the transition to postsecondary education.


Taryn McBrayne

Summarized Article:

O’Shea, A., Kilcullen, J. R., Hayes, J., & Scofield, B. (2021). Examining the effectiveness of campus counselling for college students with disabilities. Rehabilitation Psychology, 66(3), 300–310.

The purpose of the study was to examine the current literature on the use of digital Game-Based Learning (GBL) for students with intellectual disabilities. The authors’ intent was to come to conclusions on how digital GBL affects the acquisition of specific skills and make recommendations on future research.

Definitions around Game-Based Learning

1. “Learning based on digital games can help students with intellectual disabilities to learn new data, learn and develop new skills, acquire life skills, develop social skills and form a way of thinking (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013). A game acts on a student through a biological, social, cultural, emotional (affective), cognitive and physical aspect and as such has a direct influence on behavior, way of thinking and perception of the world in which an individual lives and acts (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013).”

2. The authors differentiate between “educational games” (EG) and “serious games” (SG). Educational games refer to those that utilize software with game technologies and storytelling to create educational content. According to the authors, they are primarily used for the acquisition of factual information. Serious games, on the other hand, are those that reapply resources from the video game field for educational purposes. They are typically high in entertainment factor, and embed instructional content within gaming elements such as badges, levels and time-restricted challenges.  

3. The DSM-V now defines intellectual disability as deficits in “reasoning, problem solving, planning, abstract thinking, judgment, academic learning, and learning from experience”. Compared to the DSM-IV, the new edition favors comprehensive assessment based on adaptive functioning over standardized IQ scores.

Adaptive function over intellectual function

The authors of the study established the following research questions for their literature review:

1. Which specific technologies and games are used for digital GBL for students with intellectual disabilities? 

2. For which skills, abilities and subjects are the games being developed?

3. What are the characteristics of the participants in the studies, and which evaluation methods are being used to evaluate the effects of the games?

4. Do the digital GBL systems being developed have a positive impact on students with disabilities?

Only studies involving participants who have intellectual disability as a primary disability (as opposed to those who have intellectual disability as a result of other primary difficulties) were considered. 21 papers met the inclusion and exclusion criteria. According to the classifications set forth by the authors, the most common type of digital tool being used were SGs, and the most commonly used technology was the PC, along with additional equipment such as a webcam. The analyzed studies were more focused on the development of adaptive functions rather than on the development of intellectual functions. Math was the most commonly taught subject area. 15 of the 21 studies showed how the digital GBL was evaluated (the remaining 6 did not, partly because some of the game solutions were in the development or evaluation phases). These studies concluded that digital GBL contributed positively to the participants’ ability to adopt new skills.

Future inclusion of social-emotional skills

Future research could be directed towards developing a framework for the evaluation of digital educational games for students with intellectual disabilities, using a systematic and flexible methodology called Design-Based Research. 

Social-emotional skills were not covered in any of the research studies that were examined. The authors also suggest that a possible area for further development would be digital GBL for students with intellectual disabilities that focuses on recognizing and understanding emotions in others, empathizing, learning how to express feelings appropriately and establish relationships with other people.

Notable Quotes: 

1. “Learning based on digital games can help students with intellectual disabilities to learn new data, learn and develop new skills, acquire life skills, develop social skills and form a way of thinking (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013). A game acts on a student through a biological, social, cultural, emotional (affective), cognitive and physical aspect and as such has a direct influence on behavior, way of thinking and perception of the world in which an individual lives and acts (Sigh & Agarwal, 2013).”

2. “One of the possible further directions of research in this area is to create a frame- work for the evaluation of educational game solutions designed for students with intellectual disabilities using Design-based Research (DBR). DBR can be specified as a systematic but flexible research methodology which strives to improve the educational practice through iterative analysis, design, development and implementation (Wang & Hannafin, 2005). It is based on collaboration between researchers and professionals which leads to contextually sensitive principles of design and theories. DBR is an iterative process which allows the correction and improvement of solutions as many times as needed in order to satisfy all needs of the student.”

3. “The most common teaching subject is mathematics, which is in some studies combined with physical education and reading. Mathematics is followed by the field of science and reading…Most common skills are logical skills (8 studies) followed by the holistic approach of competence development, which includes motor skills, perception, cognition and visual processing, and food (4 studies). Only one or two studies dealt with the areas of professional skills, socio-emotional skills and academic skills.”

Personal Takeaway

“Gamification” of learning is an area of teaching practice that fascinates me, and it is helpful to read Stančin et al.’s meta-analysis of the existing research on the effectiveness of digital learning tools for students with intellectual disability


Akane Yoshida

Summarized Article:

Stančin, K., Hoić-Božić, N., & Skočić Mihić, S. (2020). Using digital game-based learning for students with intellectual disabilities – A systematic literature review. Informatics in Education, 19(2), 323-341.

Researchers conducted an updated review of the literature on interventions to promote overall self-determination and skills associated with self-determined action in students with disabilities in the school context. Associated skills included choice-making, decision-making, problem-solving, goal setting and attainment, planning, self-management, self-advocacy, self-awareness, and self-knowledge.

The Value of Self-Determination

Self-determination is integral to student achievement of both academic goals and positive post-school employment, community integration, and quality of life outcomes. Emerging definitional frameworks for understanding self-determination highlight the value of developing skills associated with self-determined action (i.e., choice-making, decision-making, problem solving, goal setting and attainment, planning, self-management, self-advocacy, self-awareness, and self-knowledge) in students with disabilities. Given the value of self-determination in the lives of students with disabilities and expansion in theory, research, and practice, an updated review of the literature on interventions to promote self-determination and skills associated with self-determined actions was needed.

Positive Findings in Article Search

Researchers identified 34 articles published between 2000 and 2015 that met the search criteria. Search criteria required that articles: a) be published in an English language, peer-reviewed journal, b) include participants with disabilities between the ages of 3 to 21, c) occur in the school context, and d) report outcomes of an intervention intended to promote overall self-determination or skills associated with self-determined action. Researchers analyzed types of interventions, populations of students with whom they were implemented, outcomes, and rigor of research. “Findings include (a) an increase in the number of participants in self-determination studies, (b) positive outcomes for students with diverse personal characteristics (e.g. disability status, gender), and (c) a need for improved rigor in reporting quality of research.” Results indicated positive outcomes of interventions to promote self-determination across grade levels (primarily middle and high school), disability groups, and setting using a variety of instructional methods.

Increased Focus Needed on Promoting Self-Determination

These findings highlight the need for increased focus on “promoting self-determination within inclusive, general education settings with students with disabilities and of diverse backgrounds.” Incorporating evidence-based self-determination instruction enhances transition planning and access to and participation in the general education curriculum. The most commonly implemented intervention was the Self-Determined Learning Model of Instruction (SDLMI; Wehmeyer, Palmer, Argan, Mithaug, & Martin), a multi-component intervention targeting multiple skills associated with self-determined action. Given the strong research base supporting SDLMI as well as the availability of materials to support its implementation, teachers should consider this comprehensive intervention for integrating self-determination skills into the instruction. While interventions promoting self-determination proved effective across age ranges, the majority (i.e., 76%) of the studies reviewed included transition-age students. Given the positive outcomes and viable means reported, practitioners can “help students set and achieve education and transition related goals, benefiting students in school and in the real world.”

Notable Quotes: 

“Given the value of self-determination in the lives of students with disabilities, it is essential that skills associated with self-determination are integrated into instruction in the school context.” 

“It is often assumed that students learn skills associated with self-determined action, such as goal setting, problem solving, and decision-making incidentally; however, more explicit instruction needs to be dedicated to these skills, which are included in almost all state or local education agency content objectives.” 

“By continuing to focus on and improve instruction to promote self-determination, it is possible to further enhance the focus on enabling young people with disabilities to set and achieve goals as causal agents in their own lives.”

Personal Takeaway

Self-determination positively predicts in- and post- school outcomes as well as transition planning for students with disabilities. Improved understanding of the development and skills associated with self-determination guides current assessment and intervention. Consequently, evidence-based interventions allow practitioners to feasibly and effectively integrate self-determination and skills associated with self-determined action into instruction within the school context for students with and without disabilities.


Ashley Parnell

Summarized Article:

Burke, K. M., Raley, S. K., Shogren, K. A., Hagiwara, M., Mumbardó-Adam, C., Uyanik, H., & Behrens, S. (2020). A meta-analysis of interventions to promote self-determination for students with disabilities. Remedial and Special Education, 41(3), 176-188.

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Identifying the interrelationships between self-regulation, emotion, grit and student performance by using the Cyclical Self-Regulated learning model, which is associated with a K-12 math tutoring program.

What happens when students fail in their academic tasks?

When students repeatedly fail at a task, their self-confidence in the subject goes down, and their anxiety and frustration goes up. They build a resentment towards the subject and start to believe that their time in class is not useful.

The concept and long-term nature of grit helps students maintain consistent and focused interest for important and challenging goals.

Improving the level of grit in students  

Two groups of middle schoolers who were participating in a weekly Mathspring Intervention program were chosen, one based in the US, and the other in Argentina. The levels of grit and expectation of success were measured in these groups. The research team argues for the need to work on improving the level of grit in students, by validating hard work ethic, strengthening student setbacks, and encouraging diligence. It was also found that grit in the early phase of learning predicts success in later stages of learning.

More research needs to be done on student experience  

This study is just the tip of the iceberg on representing types of student learning. More research needs to be done on the experiences of students with diverse learning patterns, and patterns found for students with disabilities, gifted students, easily-frustrated students and so on.

Notable Quotes: 

“In education settings, students who exhibit self-regulation in learning behaviours are able to direct their efforts toward achieving academic goals.”

“There are certain traits and dimensions of character other than intelligence that are strong determinants of a person’s unique path towards success despite setbacks.”

“The long-term nature of grit is what differentiates it from similar constructs such as self-control and conscientiousness.”

Personal Takeaway

Reading this research has opened my mind to the importance of building grit in students, especially those in Learning Support, as this skill will strongly contribute to their future success in life and allow them to persevere through the challenges of life with more ease.


Shekufeh Monadjem

Summarized Article:

Kooken, J. W., Zaini, R., & Arroyo, I. (2021). Simulating the dynamics of self-regulation, emotion, grit, and student performance in cyber-learning environments. Metacognition and Learning, 16(2), 367-405.