THE ACTUARIAL TURN IN THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING DISABILITIES

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THE ACTUARIAL TURN IN THE SCIENCE OF LEARNING DISABILITIES is a well researched actuarial science topic, it can be used as a guide or framework for your Academic Research.

Abstract.

In the mid-1970s, Donald Hammill and his col-leagues authored three scathing critiques of the two most trusted
scientific traditions of learning disability treatment – movement
education and psycholinguistic training (Hammill, 1972;
Hammill & Larsen, 1974; Hammill, Goodman, & Wiederholt,
1974), These critical reviews of research rejected the older model
of clinical science that had served as the foundation of the field of
learning disabilities and celebrated an actuarial form of research.
Was Hammill actually proclaiming a change in the orientation
toward scientific research, a paradigm shift involving philosophical commitments and methodological practices? This article
explores the history of both the foundational clinical science and
the new actuarial science that rose to prominence in the field of
learning disabilities in the 1970s.

Introduction

Between 1972 and 1974, three articles authored by
Donald Hammill and his colleagues turned the young
field of learning disabilities in the United States upside
down (Hammill, 1972; Hammill & Larsen, 1974;
Hammill, Goodman, & Wiederholt, 1974). These criti-
cal reviews of the empirical literature at the time
depicted the most prominent and trusted research and
treatment programs in the field as something akin to
traveling medicine shows. Not only did Hammill
upbraid the two most trusted of the scientific learning
disability treatment traditions – movement education
and psycholinguistic training – he cast doubt on the
very science itself, the entire tradition of neurological
and psychological research that had developed the
learning disability construct over many decades. At the
historical moment when the field of learning disabilities
was enjoying rising popular and political support – the
construct would formally enter federal special educa-
tion law in 1975 – Hammill and his colleagues made the
stunning claim that the scientific foundations of the
field were deeply flawed (Hammill, 1993; Hammill &
Larsen, 1978; Kavale, 1981, 1984; Larsen, Parker &
Hammill, 1982; Lund, Foster, & McCall-Perez, 1978;
Minskoff, 1975; Sowell, Parker, Poplin, & Larsen, 1979).
The scientiflc work that Hammill’s group degraded
was built over many years. Beginning with the research
of Alfred Strauss and Heinz Werner (Strauss & Werner,
1938, 1939; Werner & Strauss, 1939) before World War
II, the field of brain injury science (renamed learning
disabilities in the 1960s) was a congenial alliance of
somewhat parochial research units operating in a small
number of American universities, institutions, and psy-
choeducational clinics. Charles Bazerman (1983, p. 171)
coined the term “invisible college” to describe this kind
of budding field of study, a small and loosely knit net-
work of similar researchers whose informal communi-
cations greatly defined a field of intellectual practice.
By the late 1960s, this network consisted of two gen-
eral avenues of scientific work, a movement education
tradition that attempted to develop the child’s neuro logically based skills of perception and a psycholinguis-
tic research line that emphasized a child’s psychological
capacity to process language. Researchers working
within the two strands greatly respected and collabo-
rated with one another. They typically viewed the two
approaches as offering different yet mutually beneflcial
ways of understanding and addressing a shared set of
childhood learning issues.

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Additional information

Type

Project Topic and Material

Category

Actuarial Science

No of Chapters

5

Reference

5

Format

PDF

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