Picture of two students looking at a computer screen. Picture of a professor with a computer teaching a small group of students. Picture of a student working at a laptop.

Learning Disability Module


Success in College and Learning Challenges

Conley (2007) proposed that successful academic achievement in college included knowledge of academic content (usually obtained through reading), writing skills, study skills, cognitive strategies such as critical thinking, and contextual skills including knowledge of college policies and expectations. Additionally, researchers also have found empirical evidence suggesting that variables such as motivation, expectations, social support, and self-efficacy are associated with academic achievement in college (Milsom & Dietz, 2009). Learning disabilities may negatively impact each of these characteristics and attributes. Hence, students with LD often have difficulties with tasks considered essential for college level performance. College instruction requires students to read for information, manipulate and express information they have learned, as well as self-monitor these activities (Gregg, Coleman, Davis, Lindstrom, & Hartwig, 2006; Skinner, 2004; Taymans & West, 2001). Research on the cognitive and linguistic abilities of adults with LD has found that students with dyslexia scored significantly lower than their nondyslexic peers on standardized tests that measure word knowledge as well as phonological, orthographic, morphological, and grammatical awareness as predictor variables for outcomes in reading decoding and spelling (Gregg et al., 2005). As a result, students with LD may struggle with reading complex content material, taking notes, preparing written and/or oral presentations, conducting research, and monitoring their own learning. To address the impact of these deficits on performance, appropriate accommodations and supports can be essential for students with LD to achieve success in postsecondary courses (Lindstrom, 2007).



Conley, D. (2007). Toward a more comprehensive conception of college readiness. Eugene, OR: Educational Policy Improvement Center. Retrieved from http://www.s4s.org/upload/Gates-college%20Readiness.pdf

Gregg, N., Hoy, C., Flaherty, D. A., Norris, P., Coleman, C., Davis, M., & Jordan, M. (2005). Documenting decoding and spelling accommodations for postsecondary students with dyslexia—It’s more than processing speed. Learning Disabilities: A Contemporary Journal, 3(2), 1-17.

Gregg, N., Coleman, C., Davis, M., Lindstrom, W., & Hartwig, J. (2006). Critical issues for the diagnosis of learning disabilities in the adult population. Psychology in the Schools, 43(8), 889-898.

Lindstrom, J. (2007). Determining appropriate accommodations for postsecondary students with reading and writing expression disorders. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 22(4), 229-236.

Milsom, A., & Dietz, L. (2009). Defining college readiness for students with learning disabilities: A Delphi study. Professional School Counseling, 1(4), 315-323.

Skinner, M. (2004). College students with learning disabilities speak out: What it takes to be successful in postsecondary education. Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability, 17(2), 91-104.

Taymans, J., & West, L. (2001). Selecting a college for students with learning disabilities or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Retrieved from http://www.hoagiesgifted.org/eric/e620.html


Permission is granted to copy this document for educational purposes; however, please acknowledge your source using the following citation:

UDI Online Project. (2011). Learning Disabilities (LD) Module. Center on Postsecondary Education and Disability, University of Connecticut, Storrs. http://udi.uconn.edu/index.php?q=content/learning-disability-module.