Knight, V.F., Spooner, F., Browder, D.M., Smith, B.R., Wood, C.L. (2013). Using Systematic Instruction and Graphic Organizer to Teach Science Concepts to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disability. Focus On Autism And Other Developmental Disabilities, 28(2)115-126.

The article firstly discussed on the challenges students with autism spectrum disorder and intellectual disability face in learning science content which is the extensive amount of vocabulary taught in the lesson. Student with autism and learning difficulty have problem with communication, language, social skill and cognitive skill shows severe reading comprehension and oral reading. Students with these disorder were found to learn better from the use of visual aids, imitation and sensory inputs for them to organize key concepts and vocabularies from readings.

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However, the authors found that there are no research that includes the use of graphics organizers in their studies. The authors suggest that graphic organizers is an effective method to improve vocabulary and comprehension in science among the targeted students. Paired with explicit, teacher-directed instruction, the participants who were three middle school students, Melanie, 14, Brandon, 13 and Chucky, 14 were taught the concept of convection systematically which includes constant time delay in the early phase and the usage of graphic organizer in guided practice and independently later on.
The research found a functional relation between the intervention ( graphic organizers) and the number of correct steps completed on task analysis where the student were expected to understand the definition, meaning, process and concept of convection. All three students show an increment of correct responses after incorporating systematic instruction and graphic organizer during the learning process.
The authors of this journal aimed to study effectiveness of implementing systematic instruction and graphic organizer in teaching science concept to students with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and intellectual disability. The study is executed on targeted middle school students with ASD and intellectual disability by special education teachers that meet the inclusionary criteria. As result, these students reached the criteria for mastery on their task analysis and are able to maintain their correct responses during their maintenance probes.
Autism spectrum disorder is defined by significant impairments in social interaction and communication, and by the presence of unusual behaviors and interests while student with intellectual disabilities are identified by exhibiting sub-average intellectual ability (IQ 70 or lower), has problems in adaptive functioning that manifested before the age of 18. The challenges in teaching science concept to this group is that they have very limited reading and study skill (Bryant, Ugel, Thompson, & Hamff, 1999; Bryant et al., 2000). The authors applies the usage of systematic instruction with the purpose of using graphic organizer to enhance their understanding on science concept.

Substituting textbook that are above grade-level reading ability and lack organizational clearness with a clear cut graphic organizers help students to preview new material, make connections, recognize patterns, identify main ideas, understand relationships between key concepts, organize information, take notes, and review material much easier.

Other than that, systematic instruction boost student’s understanding on the vocabularies, definitions and processes related to the concept taught where teacher explicitly instructs and demonstrate the action. This process is very crucial for student to grasp on the relevant factor of the stimulus and eliminate unnecessary factor which usually very tricky for ASD and intellectual disabled student to comprehend.

In a recent review of the literature on reading instruction for students with ASD, Whalon, Otaiba, and Delano (2009) found only 5 studies focus on intervention increase on vocab and comprehension where 3 studies include instructional delivery and none used graphic organizer. Thus, by pairing systematic instruction with GO, it help student to do better since consistent tutoring with clear learning goal is compatible to their repetitive behavior.

Utilizing graphic organizer in teaching science concept is proven to be helpful in improving student’s understanding in a way they can organize knowledge according to their personal learning style. Gallavan and Kottler (2007) suggested that graphic organizers aid in students’ motivation, short term recall, and long term achievement by allowing students to summarize, manipulate, and manage the complex social studies curriculum.

This strategy is look forward to be implemented in the curriculum specification as it includes certain scientific skill in its component such as observing, classifying, inferring and communicating. Not to exclude enhance student critical and creative thinking skill where they compare and contrast, identify feature and element of concept, predicting and visualizing (Ministry of Education Malaysia, 2006).
As a conclusion, this study has greatly clarified the importance of incorporating systematic instruction and graphing organizer in learning module when teaching science concept to ASD and intellectual disabled students. This method has demonstrate to facilitate understanding and retention of new material by making abstract concepts more concrete and by connecting new information with prior knowledge

Gallavan, N. P., ; Kottler, E. (2007). Eight Types of Graphic Organizers for Empowering Social
Integrated Curriculum For Secondary Schools (2006) Putrajaya: Ministry Of Education Malaysia.

Knight, V.F., Spooner, F., Browder, D.M., Smith, B.R., Wood, C.L. (2013). Using Systematic Instruction and Graphic Organizer to Teach Science Concepts to Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders and Intellectual Disability. Focus On Autism And Other Developmental Disabilities, 28(2)115-126.

Mann, M.L., (2014). The Effectiveness of Graphic Organizers on the Comprehension of Social Studies Content by Students with Disabilities. Theses, Dissertations and Capstones (pp890). Marshall University.Studies Students and Teachers. Social Studies, 98(3), 117-128.
Whalon, K. J., Otaiba, K. A., ; Delano, M. E. (2009). Evidence based reading instruction for individuals with autism spectrum disorders. Focus on Autism and Other Developmental Disabilities, 24, 3–16.


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