It is typical of pupils with severe specific learning disabilities (later on SLD) to have distinct difficulties when it comes to basic learning skills (reading, writing, spelling, calculating), which affect different areas of learning. Teaching contents in physics are present in the school curriculum from the first grade on. Physics related contents are incorporated into various researches in the field of science literacy, being the knowledge of the four basic content areas: biology, chemistry, science of Earth and physics. The physics classes are among pupils with severe SLD referred to as the most challenging during their primary education, as they demand the knowledge of physics and physics related skills, as well as good declarative memory, prior conceptual and problem-solving knowledge of mathematics, as well as reading comprehension skills, which enable the pupils to understand more challenging and content specific texts.
The cognitive strategy instructions of solving problems, which is usually used when solving mathematical textual exercises, and the approach of solving exercises in physics, will be presented in the theoretical part of the thesis, the reason for this being the need to present the usefulness of the previously mentioned cognitive strategy instructions of solving problems. The cognitive strategy enables pupils with severe SLD a gradual solving of exercises in physics and in turn a better understanding and a higher chance of success. The empirical part consists of a self-designed training of the cognitive strategy instructions of solving problems in physics (explicit teaching of the 7 steps of the strategy, such as reading the exercises, paraphrasing and searching for key information, illustrating the exercise, planning the solving procedure, result assessment, calculating and the formation of a suitable answer) in connection to a co-teaching of this particular subject.
The master thesis consists of a presentation of concrete ideas on how to help pupils in physics classes, with the emphasis on the importance of the use of explicit co-teaching, when dealing with pupils with severe SLD. The research was based on the work undertaken with three eight graders with learning disabilities.
The results have shown, that at the end of their training the pupils were more successful when solving physics exercises than prior to it. However, a longer lasting training would be necessary for a more automised use of the cognitive strategy when solving physics exercises. The results have also shown a positive influence of the co-teaching and the use of training of cognitive strategies on the successfulness of pupils with learning disabilities, as reported by the physics teacher. The pupils, integrated in the class, in which a co-teaching of physics has taken place, have noticed a difference in teaching styles in comparison to a classic style of teaching physics. However, the pupils were less keen on this new inclusion-based method as were the physics teacher and the special education and rehabilitation teacher.