In search of correlates of learning underlying “learning disability” using a bio-ecological assessment system

  • Eleanor Armour-Thomas
  • Sharon-ann Gopaul-McNicol


A valid and consistent diagnosis of learning disability is constrained by many conceptual and methodological challenges. Chief among them is the lack of diagnostic efficiency of standardized tests to shed much light on the nature and quality of the “potential disability” underlying children's very poor academic achievement. In this paper, we make the point that any assessment measure of learning difficulty should do more than merely identify or confirm the presence of a problem. Rather, assessment in the service of learning should identify learning needs at a sufficient level of detail so as to inform adaptive pedagogical planning and intervention. Toward this end, a discussion of theoretical and empirical research on the correlates of learning from a sociocultural perspective is examined that provides the conceptual basis for a proposed bio-ecological assessment system. The components of the system are delineated and its feasibility explored in order to provide a richer source of information beyond what is possible with current standardized tests.

Key Words

learning disability learning difficulty bio-ecological assessment 


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Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eleanor Armour-Thomas
    • 1
  • Sharon-ann Gopaul-McNicol
    • 2
  1. 1.School of EducationQueens College-CUNYFlushing
  2. 2.School Psychology DepartmentHoward UniversityWashington, D.C.

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