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learning disability

any difficulty in learning that involves understanding or using spoken or written language; difficulty can appear in listening, thinking, reading, writing, and spelling. to be classified as a learning disability, the problem may not come from visual, hearing, or motor disabilities; mental retardation, or any economic or cultural disadvantage


a category of learning disabilities involving a severe impairment in the ability to read and spell


a learning disability that involves difficulty in handwriting


also known as developmental arithmetic disorder; a disability that involves difficulty in math computation

attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

a disability in which children consistently show one or more of the following characteristics: inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity

emotional and behavioral disorders

serious, persistent problems that involve relationships, aggression, depression, fears associated with personal or school matters, as well as other inappropriate socioemotional characteristics

autism spectrum disorders (ASD)

also called pervasive developmental disorders, they range from the severe disorder labeled autistic disorder to the milder disorder called Asperger syndrome. Children with these problems are characterized by problems in social interaction, verbal and nonverbal communication, and repetitive behaviors

autistic disorder

a severe autism spectrum disorder that has its onset in the first three years of life and includes deficiencies in social relationships, abnormalities in communication, restricted, repetitive, and stereotyped patterns of behavior

Asperger Syndrome

a relatively mild autism spectrum disorder in which the child has relatively good verbal language, milder nonverbal language problems, and a restricted range of interests and relationships

individualized education plan

a written statement that spells out a program specifically tailored to a child with a disability

least restrictive environment

a setting that is as similar as possible to the one in which children that do not have disabilities are educated


educating a child with special education needs full-time in the regular classroom


the concrete operation that involves ordering stimuli along a quantitative dimension


the ability to logically combine relations to understand certain conclusions


developmentalists who argue that Piaget got some things right but that his theory needs considerable revision. they have elaborated on Piaget's theory, giving more emphasis to information processing, strategies, and precise cognitive steps

long-term memory

a relatively permanent type of memory that holds huge amounts of information for a long period of time

fuzzy trace theory

states that memory is best understood by considering two types of memory representations: 1. verbatim memory trace and 2. gist. in this theory, older children's better memory is attributed to the fuzzy traces created by extracting the gist of information

critical thinking

thinking reflectively and productively, as well as evaluating the evidence


being alert, mentally present, and cognitively flexible while going through life's everyday activities and tasks

creative thinking

the ability to think in novel and unusual ways and to come up with unique solutions to problems

convergent thinking

thinking that produces one correct answer and is characteristic of the kind of thinking tested by standardized tests

divergent thinking

thinking that produces many answers to the same question and is a characteristic of creativity


cognition about cognition, or knowing about knowing


a technique in which an individual is encouraged to come up with creative ideas in group and play off other's ideas


problem-solving skills and the ability to learn from and adapt to the experiences of everyday life

individual differences

the stable consistent ways in which people are different from one another

mental age (MA)

Binet's measure of an individual's level of mental development, compared with that of others

intelligence quotient (IQ)

a person's mental age divided by chronological age and multiplied by 100

normal distribution

a symmetrical distribution with most scores falling in the middle of the possible range of scores and few scores appearing toward each extreme

triarchic theory of intelligence

Sternberg's theory that intelligence consists of analytical intelligence, creative intelligence, and practical intelligence

culture fair tests

tests of intelligence that are designed to be free of cultural bias

mental retardation

a condition of limited mental ability in which an individual has a low IQ, usually below 70 on a traditional test of intelligence and has difficulty adapting to life

organic retardation

mental retardation that is caused by a genetic disorder or brain damage

cultural-familial retardation

retardation that is characterized by no evidence of organic brain damage but the individual has an IQ between 50 and 70


having above average intelligence (IQ of 130 or higher) and/or superior talent for something

metalinguistic awareness

refers to knowledge about language, such as knowing what a preposition is or the ability to discuss the sounds of a language

whole-language learning

an approach to reading instruction based on the idea that instruction should parallel children's natural language learning. reading materials should be whole and meaningful

phonics approach

the idea that reading instruction should teach basic rules for translating written symbols into sounds

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