Skip to main content

Computer science benefits students with learning disabilities

Posted Date: 08/25/2022

Computer science benefits students with learning disabilities

When computer science courses are delivered through career and technical education in high school, the courses can help students with learning disabilities feel better about their ability to succeed in STEM. The classes also help the students see the usefulness of computer science.

This is what we found in a recent study with our co-authors – education scholars Michael GottfriedJennifer Freeman.

We used national survey data from more than 20,000 students across the country to dig into this connection between computer science and science, technology, engineering or mathematics, a group of subjects generally known as STEM.


In our work, we found that – compared with other students with learning disabilities – those who took computer science courses in a career and technical education program were more likely to believe they could succeed in STEM. They were also more likely to believe STEM was useful for future employment or college options.

We also found that – within career and technical education programs – students with learning disabilities were just as likely to take computer science courses as students without learning disabilities. All our findings were still evident even after we took into account key student characteristics, such as family income, first language, gender and racial or ethnic identity.

Students with learning disabilities in our study are those who have a disability that affects their learning to write, read, spell or perform mathematical calculations.