Doctor of Philosophy in Special Education (PhD)
Do, help, talk: Training teachers to implement a peer-mediated social skills intervention for elementary-school students with autism spectrum disorder
Theses completed in 2010 or later are listed below. Please note that there is a 6-12 month delay to add the latest theses.
Self-regulated learning (SRL) is a practice being used in general education classrooms to help students, including struggling students to acquire the skills to become life-long learners and to take control of their learning situations. SRL has three decades of research supporting its efficacy (Perry, VandeKamp, Mercer, & Nordby, 2002), and a direct connection with self-determination (Grolnick & Raftery-Helmer, 2015), an important area of the expanded core curriculum for students with visual impairments. However, it has never been directly researched with students with visual impairments or employed as a framework to include them in general education, despite its relevance to their needs. To address this gap, this study’s goal was to investigate the extent to which general classroom teachers were implementing practices to promote the inclusion of students with visual impairments in line with SRL theory. The context of a secondary school in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) that includes learners with visual impairments was employed. Four general classroom teachers and four students with visual impairments (n = 8) participated in this study. Data was collected using observations as a direct measure of inclusion and SRL strategies used and the use of teacher and student self-report questionnaires as an indirect measure to obtain triangulation of data and fully understand the research problem. The researcher coded the observations based on SRL promoting practices. Descriptive statistics were performed to analyze the data generated from the self-report questionnaires. The results of the study highlighted both opportunities and missing pieces in classroom interactions that affected the inclusion and the learning experience of the students with visual impairments who participated in this study. Overall, the teachers provided limited opportunities with practices that are believed to promote inclusion in SRL research or that support the students' development of SRL. They were found to offered choices in classroom activities and projects but did not provide a context for the students to receive support or to engage in a process that required strategic actions. Lack of self-assessment practices was both observed in the general classrooms and reported by the students with visual impairments for all four teachers.
The use of language interpreters is one method for providing information to parents who are culturally and linguistically diverse (CLD) during meetings in schools. However, straight translation is often not enough. Diversity advisors are unique positions created to take on the role of becoming cultural brokers between the school and family as well as providing interpreting services. The purpose of this research was to explore the role of the diversity advisor within the context of an educational team that supports a student with a visual impairment who is also CLD. A focus group method was used to gather data from three groups on the learning team who had experience working with students with a visual impairment who are CLD: diversity advisors, classroom teachers and teachers of students with visual impairments (TVIs). Similar questions were asked of each group around perceptions of their role, interactions with other learning team members, and interactions with CLD families who have a child with a visual impairment. The transcribed data was analyzed using the thematic analysis approach to discover emerging themes, as well as areas for growth. Among the findings, common themes between the groups included a need for better role clarification, a desire for cultural understanding around visual impairment, continued communication and relationship building among team members, and the need to address concepts and terms that lose their original meaning when translated from one language to another. Potential solutions to improve interactions with other learning team members and professional development opportunities for diversity advisors in their work with families who are CLD with a child who has a visual impairment are discussed.
With the increasing use of technology by young children in home and school environments, it is crucial that children with visual impairments have equal access to new developments in technology and that teachers of students with visual impairments have the necessary tools and training to support their students. This research sought to develop a rating scale for use by teachers of students with visual impairments for use in rating iPad apps for children on criteria of accessibility and usability while using the VoiceOver screen reader included in iOS accessibility features. The researcher also sought to examine the current state of VoiceOver accessibility of mainstream iPad apps designed for children. Six teachers of students with visual impairments used the draft scale to rate apps on accessibility and usability criteria, and their ratings were compared with the experiences of four adult iPad users who used VoiceOver. The scale had higher reliability among teachers’ ratings for accessibility criteria than for usability criteria, but teachers and VoiceOver users agreed well about overall app accessibility. Accessibility issues encountered in apps are discussed as well as changes to consider in a revised app rating scale for teachers.