Smith, K. L., & Rayfield, J. (2019). STEM Knowledge, Learning Disabilities and Experiential Learning: Influences of Sequencing Instruction. Journal of Agricultural Education, 60(2), 222-236. doi: 10.5032/jae.2019.02222

Career and technical education (CTE) courses, including agricultural education courses, are home to a disproportionately large number of students with learning disabilities. Agricultural education has been sought as a potential solution to teaching abstract STEM concepts through experiential learning methods. Abstract concepts are noted in the literature as particularly difficult for students with learning disabilities to grasp. This study was designed to describe the changes in pretest and posttest scores on STEM content tests for students when accounting for their preference for grasping information through experiential learning theory and their learning disability classification. When instruction was sequenced to match student learning preference, change scores for students with learning disabilities were increased. When instruction was opposite student preference, students with learning disabilities had lower change scores than those without a learning disability classification. Results highlight the importance of sequencing instruction for both students with and without learning disabilities. Examining students through experiential learning theory may provide a platform for mitigating the effects of learning disabilities on student achievement.

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