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Counseling Services

Q & A About Learning Problems

Do I have a learning problem?

Man with booksIf you are disappointed with your academic functioning, or having difficulty with a particular academic tasks, like reading, you may be questioning if you have a learning problem. If you read more slowly than others, have to re-read often to understand, or spend a lot more time studying than other students, you might have a significant learning problem.

We all learn differently and there are many stages in the learning process where things might go wrong. Many factors may affect success in an academic environment in addition to specific study skills. Some of the factors that may affect learning outcomes include: motivation, study skills, concentration, and emotional factors like test anxiety. The severity of learning problems can vary greatly. One student may need to become better organized in order to succeed, another might learn to study differently for different kinds of tests and another might have a learning disability that requires specific coping strategies or accommodations.

 

What if I did well in the past?

Boy with bookMany learning problems are identified in grade school or secondary school, but a learning problem can surface at any stage in a student’s academic career. Just because you performed well in the past, you should not think that you cannot have a learning problem or a learning disability. The college environment requires a variety of personal and academic skills that, if you had not had the opportunity to develop them in the past, can make the college experience seem daunting. And ways that you did learn to cope/succeed may be challenged and may not be sufficient or effective in this new environment. And life circumstances in your connections with family, friends, and other relationships can also
impact your ability to learn. Fortunately, there are resources here at K-State to help.

 

 

What can I do if I think I have a learning problem?

Take action. Read the Help Yourself brochures available at the Counseling Services on time management, studying for tests, coping with procrastination and improving your concentration that relate to your evaluation of your problem. If these tips do not help, talk with a counselor and develop a plan for improving your academic functioning.

Talking with a counselor can help you look at all of the different factors that might be contributing to difficulties in your performance. Looking closely at your background information including medical, academic and personal/social histories is a good place to start. Many potential problems need to be considered before it can be determined if you have a significant learning problem. Do you want to be in college? Are you organized? Do you know how to study and take tests? Can you control the inevitable anxiety that develops when you take a test or give a presentation? Discussion of your attitudes toward college, your study habits, and how you manage the stress of being in college may reveal areas you need to address. Many problems can be resolved with intervention in these areas. There are many resources here at Counseling Services and across the K-State campus that can be of assistance and we can help you identify and connect with those resources.

A particularly useful self-assessment that can help you explore this is the College Learning Effectiveness Inventory (CLEI). This tool helps you identify both positive and negative influences that impact your learning effectiveness. The free CLEI self-assessment and the accomanying CLEI Program of Change workbook are both available to K-State Students through our University Life Cafe Website at https://www.universitylifecafe.k-state.edu/self-assessment/

If working through the CLEI on your own is not sufficient or if you would like support through the process, K-State students are welcome to come to the Counseling Services to talk with a counselor who can help you look at all of the areas that may be affecting your academic success.

 

How can I find out if I have a learning disability?

Book for brainA systematic plan for evaluating a more complex learning problem might include an assessment for a potential learning disability, especially if you are working very hard, doing everything right, and getting poor results. An assessment for learning disabilities usually includes extensive individual diagnostic testing. These evaluation tasks measure your performance across a wide variety of activities. One goal is to compare your learning potential with your academic achievement in different areas to determine if you are experiencing a specific learning disability. Learning disabilities are usually identified in the areas of reading, math, and written expression.

Though Counseling Services at K-State does not provide the level of formal assessment necessary to determine a Learning Disability or Attention Deficit diagnoses, we can help you identify resources in the community that do such assessments. Even if the evaluation process does not reveal a specific learning disability the evaluation process can provide you with valuable information about the way you learn and help you develop strategies that will improve your learning capability. You might learn that you have difficulty grasping information that is presented verbally, or you might discover that you need to find ways to package information effectively for long-term storage. Once the issue is identified, then resources here at Counseling Services, the campus, and the community can be rallied to help you address them and be more successful in school and in life.

If a learning assessment confirms that you have a specific learning disability, you might choose the support services available through the Disabled Student Services Office. Their staff are dedicated to providing equal opportunity and access for every student by providing a broad range of supportive services.

A Brief Screening Checklist

If you answer “yes” to several of the following questions, it might be helpful to talk with a counselor about your concerns.  

  • I think in pictures.  
  • Others find my handwriting hard to read.  
  • I have trouble keeping b, d, and p straight when I write.  
  • I am a lousy speller.  
  • I am disorganized, or, hyper organized.  
  • I make careless mistakes.   Girl concenrating
  • Others are surprised at my low grades because they know I study a lot.  
  • I am a slow reader.  
  • I mix up numbers or make transpositions.  
  • I have test anxiety.  
  • I feel rushed and can’t finish tests; I’m always the last person to finish.  
  • I know I am smarter than my grades reflect.  
  • There are some things that I do really well.  
  • I study two to ten times longer than others.  
  • I have trouble concentrating.  
  • I teach the information to others. They get A’s and B’s; I get C’s, D’s, or   F’s.  
  • I have difficulty remembering some things.  
  • Sometimes my thoughts seem to form a “logjam” when I try to speak them.  
  • I can't do math!  
  • What I write isn't the same as what I'm thinking.  
  • My words can't keep up with my thoughts.  
  • Sometimes I don't get jokes.  
  • I know I'm smart, but sometimes I feel stupid.

 

Resources

Agencies

Counseling Services  232 English/Counseling Services Building  785-532-6927 http://www.ksu.edu/counseling/

Disabilty Support Services  202 Holton Hall http://www.ksu.edu/dss/

Written Resources

Help yourself pamphlets available at the Counseling Services office and on our Website:

Academic Success Through Time Management “I know the material, but when I take the test I go blank!” Procrastination: Problem or Plus? Stressed Out Over Studying? Tests? Improving Your Concentration

Books to improve study skills that are available at the Counseling Services client library:

Ellis, D. B., (1986). Becoming a master student (5th edition). Rapid City, SD: College Survival.

Kiewra, K. A. & Dubois, N. F. (1998). Learning to learn: making the transition from student to lifelong learner. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

 

Help yourself pamphlets available at the Counseling Services office and on our Website:

Academic Success Through Time Management

“I know the material, but when I take the test I go blank!”

Procrastination: Problem or Plus?

Stressed Out Over Studying? Tests?

Improving Your Concentration

Books to improve study skills that are available at the Counseling Services client library:

Ellis, D. B., (1986). Becoming a master student (5th edition). Rapid City, SD: College Survival.

Kiewra, K. A. & Dubois, N. F. (1998). Learning to learn: making the transition from student to lifelong learner. Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon.