Prescriptive & Diagnostic Teaching

Diagnostic and prescriptive teaching creates a specialized plan for a student.
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Diagnostic and prescriptive teaching strategies are intended for students who have difficulty learning in a traditional classroom without support. Diagnostic assessment and the development of a prescriptive teaching method are individualized procedures for students who may have learning or behavior problems. Students may remain in a traditional classroom with modifications or be placed in a classroom that can better attend to their needs.

1 Diagnostic Methods

A teacher and school administrators may recommend students who have trouble achieving in the classroom for outside testing. The Diagnostic Teaching Clinic at North Carolina State University recommends two or three site visits at the clinic for testing a student. This includes testing using achievement and psychological tests, assessing home environment and assessing the classroom environment. Other programs, such as the Center for Learning Unlimited, utilize experts in the fields of occupational therapy, speech and language, psychology and psychiatry to assess a student.

2 Prescriptive Methods

Once a diagnosis is achieved, a plan for teaching is created. Strategies to support the students may take place both inside and outside the traditional classroom. The layout of the classroom may be changed, students may be asked to interact with their teachers more frequently or students may be assigned to see professional psychologists or educators outside of the classroom. Individualized teaching, or tutoring, may be recommended for a student, and behavioral modification programs might also be urged.

3 Continuous Diagnosis

The diagnostic-prescriptive teaching method relies heavily on continuous assessment of the student's progress to be shared with the student's support team, including parents. Results of academic assessments and observations of student behavior and interactions make up the student's continuous diagnosis. Teacher observations may be both formal and informal. Once a prescriptive teaching method is put in place, teacher observations should also include observations of the student's reaction to the teaching strategy to allow for necessary adjustments.

4 The Role of the Teacher

The teacher's initial role is to recommend students for testing. This may be done within a school but may also fall upon outside specialists. Teachers may be asked to open their classroom for observation of the student and may be asked to attend meetings with the student's assessment team. Once a prescriptive learning plan is put in place, the teacher will be required to enact the teaching strategy and record the student's progress.

Based in Los Angeles, Jana Sosnowski holds Master of Science in educational psychology and instructional technology, She has spent the past 11 years in education, primarily in the secondary classroom teaching English and journalism. Sosnowski has also worked as a curriculum writer for a math remediation program. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in print journalism from the University of Southern California.