04 SES 14 D, Promoting Inclusion by Improving Accessibility: Resources and tools
This article is based on a project conducted in a mainstream class comprising pupils with various neurobiological disorders such as ADHD. The main aim of the project was to test aids usually allocated to individual pupils with difficulties, in a mainstream class. The impact of different classroom innovations on the pupils’ psychosocial environment is examined. The article is based on a small number of the total number of analyses with a focus on the research question: ‘How does a digital structure affect the provision of a calm learning environment for pupils in a mainstream class?’
The impact of structured teaching has been specifically examined in relation to children with disabilities. Structured teaching is described as teaching where the adult ‘determined what material the child would use, how long the child would work, and how the child would work.’ (Mesibov, 1997:26). Schopler (1966) found that autistic children comprehended visual information more readily than auditory information. Structured teaching proved to have good effect for autistic children (Schopler et al. 1971). The structure positively affected the pupils’ participation and relations as well as having a good impact on pupils’ general behaviour.
Principles linked to time structure still apply in the field of special education. Individual pupils have day planner boards that show what they are going to do, when and for how long. Digital solutions have gradually replaced earlier paper-based solutions. A user-centred innovation project targeting children with ADHD and autism has been carried out in Norway (Gjære, 2017). Welfare technology has been tested to improve pupils’ everyday lives. One of the conclusions of the project is that children benefit from aids that structure their time and their activities. At the same time, technology must target the children’s needs as opposed to adapting the child to the technology. Integrating digital solutions into everyday technology such as telephones and tablet computers gave the best effect. Awareness of a need for structure has also been fostered in ordinary pedagogy. For example, theories of classroom management stress the importance of routines (e.g. Lester, Allanson and Notar, 2017).
This study is part of an innovative project. Innovation is understood in this context as the introduction of a change with the intention of changing practice (Skogen, 2004). The first year of the project comprised a mapping phase. An intervention was introduced on this basis and this is now being evaluated. The intervention aimed to test digital aids in a mainstream class: a digital day planner board and a Time timer wristwatch with a countdown function. These aids are usually allocated to individual pupils, but we wished to use them for all pupils in the class. The innovation phase lasted from August 2016 until May 2017. We conducted a strategic selection of participants for the study. The inclusion criterion was a mainstream class where one or more pupils had neurobiological disorders. A diagnosis in the neurobiological spectrum was chosen because from experience pupils with neurobiological disorders both affect and are affected by the psychosocial environment in the class. The Norwegian Centre for Research Data has been notified of the study, and all the teachers involved and the parents of pupils with neurobiological disorders have given their informed consent. The mapping phases showed two classes with a lot of unrest among the pupils. Several of them wandered around, talking to fellow pupils. There were frequent questions about how much time there was left, either as regards the time set for an activity or the time remaining before the break. As a result, the teachers decided to introduce an innovation that would give the pupils predictability in terms of time. Data were collected in different ways throughout the year of the intervention. We observed the use of tools during school visits in September, November, January and May. Following the observations, we conducted dialogue meetings with the teachers at which we discussed the observations and reflected on them, and the teachers decided how to adjust the use of the tools. In November, the teachers had conversations with groups of pupils to elicit the pupils’ experiences with the digital aids. We recorded and transcribed these conversations. A focus group interview (Krueger & Casey, 2015) was carried out with the teachers in question in January and this was recorded and transcribed. In May, the teachers presented their observations to their colleagues. The presentation, which was filmed, also forms a basis for the data material.
The data have been analysed in order to answer the question of how a digital structure affects the provision of a calm learning environment for the pupils. This issue has been normative for the extracts selected from the conversations. In this connection, the data material is organised under different sub-topics. We expect to say something about perceived usefulness, the analogue versus the digital system, supplementary use and how the innovation effect the learning environment. Based on the presented material, we expect to discuss what time structure gives the pupils and how it might be a way to include pupils with disability in a mainstream class. Teachers’ feedback shows that the digital board helps them to visualise the day’s structure, and they note that pupils with special needs use it to orientate themselves during the day. The countdown function has created greater calm during activities. Pupils report that they like knowing how long the activity will last – this provides a sense of calm.
GJÆRE, L. (2017). Barn med ADHD har god nytte av «hjelp i lomma» [Children with ADHD benefit from "help in their pocket"]. Available: www.sintef.no/siste-nytt/barn-med-adhd-har-god-nytte-av-hjelp-i-lomma/ [Date Accessed: 6th January 2018]. KRUEGER, R.A. & CASEY, M.A. (2015). Focus groups. 5th edition. Thousand Oaks: Sage. LESTER, R.R., ALLANSON, P.B., NOTAR, C.E. (2017). Routines Are the Foundation of Classroom Management. Education, 137(4), pp.398-412. MESIBOV, G. (1997). Formal and informal measures on the effectiveness of the TEACCH programme. Autism, 1(1), pp.25-35. SCHOPLER, E. (1966). Birth Order and Preference between Visual and Tactual Receptors. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 22(1), pp.74. SKOGEN, K. (2004). Innovasjon i skolen. [Innovation in school]. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
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