Empowering middle school students with specific learning disabilities to complete homework successfully to enhance academic achievement : a qualitative multiple case study.


Homework is deeply entrenched in the education system, and many students receive homework as part of the daily process. However, for students with a specific learning disability (SLD) in urban communities, homework assignments can be daunting. When students do not complete homework tasks, their academic achievement can be negatively impacted. Seventy-six percent of students with SLD spend more than 80% of the school day in the general education classrooms, and most of these students do not complete homework tasks (Irwin et al., 2021). Yet, there is a lack of research regarding homework completion and middle school students with SLD.

This qualitative multiple case study focuses on three middle school students with SLD in a specific middle school in a borough of New York City. Students in grades six, seven, and eight, their parents, and one of their teachers were interviewed to explore the factors that prevented these students from completing homework successfully, and to explore how to empower these students to enhance their academic achievement. To gain a deeper understanding why these students failed to complete homework, semi-structured interviews were conducted via Zoom, report cards were collected, and informal observations were utilized for cases two and three. Students’ Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) were also examined. The empowerment theory was utilized as the lens to explore enabling students to take responsibility for their own learning.

Three important findings emerged from this study. First, the study revealed that students with SLD struggled to understand homework assignments. Second, parents need assistance when helping their child(ren) with SLD complete homework. Finally, students and their parents need to know how to set and track goals to empower students to complete homework successfully. Additionally, this study provides insight to parents, teachers, and school administrators of what students with SLD need to successfully complete homework tasks.