Though enrollment of learning-disability (LD) students is on the rise in higher education, instructors are often underprepared to effectively support them. The composition pedagogy community needs more discussion of strategies to help LD students in the writing classroom. Scholarship on writing tutoring suggests that one such strategy is to exhibit active and intentional empathy. Tutoring pedagogy has long advocated approaching students with compassion through strategies such as empathic listening and interrogative, coparticipatory dialogue. To best serve all of our students, particularly those with learning disabilities or attention deficit disorders or who are on the autism spectrum, composition instructors should look to tutoring pedagogy’s model of a nonhierarchical, interrogatory, listening-based approach to working with students. These strategies begin with empathy for our students.
The Role of Empathy in Teaching and Tutoring Students with Learning Disabilities
Dashielle Horn is director of the Learning Center and assistant director of college writing at Purchase College, State University of New York, where she teaches first-year writing and composition pedagogy. She is also a doctoral candidate in the Department of English at Lehigh University. She is completing a dissertation project titled “ ‘Preferring the Single State’: Representations of Spinsterhood in Eighteenth-Century British Novels.” Her work has appeared in the Jane Austen Journal: Persuasions.
Dashielle Horn; The Role of Empathy in Teaching and Tutoring Students with Learning Disabilities. Pedagogy 1 January 2019; 19 (1): 168–176. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/15314200-7173839
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