How to Write a Case Study of a Student With Dysgraphia

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Dysgraphia is a learning disability that causes individuals to have difficulty expressing themselves effectively in writing. Since dysgraphia is a processing disorder with a neurological basis that occurs in children who are simultaneously trying to master the motor skills needed to write, while learning the thinking skills necessary to express themselves in writing, it can have a compounding effect. Writing a case study of a student who has or is suspected of having dysgraphia can provide educators and parents with valuable information that can lead to the implementation of strategies and interventions that help the student maximize his ability to communicate in writing, as well as develop alternative means of effectively expressing himself.

Conducting the Case Study

  • Document observations of signs and symptoms of dysgraphia. According to the National Center for Learning Disabilities, some warning signs of dysgraphia include: a tight, awkward pencil grip; avoiding writing tasks; trouble forming letter shapes; inconsistent spacing between letters or words; illegible handwriting; mixing cursive and print writing; trouble thinking of words to write; omitting or not finishing words in sentences; trouble organizing thoughts on paper; and difficulty with syntax structure and grammar. Ask the student's other teachers to document their observations about his writing behavior as well.

  • Collect samples of the student's work that are indicative of the presence of dysgraphia. Look for examples of the student's work that are illegible and/or contain: letter inconsistencies; random and inappropriate mixtures of upper and lower case letters or print and cursive writing; irregular letter sizes and shapes; and unfinished letters. Ask the student's other teachers to collect writing samples as well.

  • Arrange to have the student tested for dysgraphia. If possible, arrange for formal testing to determine whether the student can be diagnosed with dysgraphia and the extent to which his academic functioning is impacted by the disorder.

  • Review the student's records. Analyze all pertinent school and medical records that are available to you. Specifically, keep an eye out for signs, symptoms, diagnoses and interventions indicative of dysgraphia.

  • Interview pertinent parties. Speak with the student, his parents, his present and former teachers, and all other providers of educational services to the student. If the student has had outside medical or educational testing, arrange to speak with those providers as well.

Writing the Case Study Report

  • After you've compiled, organized and analyzed your data, you'll need to compile your findings in a written report. Use a referral question to focus your writing. A good example of a referral question is: What types of strategies, modifications, accommodations and differentiated instruction can I implement to best meet this student's needs?

  • Include a rationale for choosing the student as the subject of your case study. Simply put, you will need to write a brief summary of the issues, concerns and observations that led you to decide to conduct a case study on the selected student. Explain what you hope to achieve as a result of the case study.

  • Describe the student's background. Include relevant information about the student's academic history, including grades, test scores, retentions, remedial instruction and special education. Be sure to include any pertinent medical and/or developmental history. Also include a description of the student's learning environment(s) and conditions, as well as information about instructional strategies, accommodations, modifications and interventions that have been tried with the student.

  • Briefly summarize and discuss each of the interviews conducted as part of the case study process.

  • Discuss the student's presentation of dysgraphia. Include narrative that specifically describes his impaired processes. Evidence and examples compiled from the student's work samples should be discussed in this section.

  • Draw a conclusion. This section should summarize findings and develop implications for instruction. Reference any additional research you did, such as a review of literature, to develop your implications.

  • Create a reference section. This will be a bibliography of all sources used to complete your case study report. Compile appendices. Include work samples, interview transcripts and other supplemental information in this section.

References

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