04 SES 12 A, Engaging Students In Inclusive Non-Standard Educational Activities
Research has shown the development of social skills is a key aspect for the academic and personal success of students with disabilities or special needs. Indeed, advancing towards an inclusive quality education for all (SDG 4) requires creating learning environments where students with disabilities have opportunities to learn and engage in positive social interactions (Gresham et al. 2001; Szumski et al. 2016) and interpersonal relationships (More 2008). Despite the efforts of the Spanish educational system to provide optimal cognitive and social support for students with disabilities in mainstream classrooms, in secondary education mostly are grouped into special education classrooms. However, even if located in special settings, research can contribute to identify the most conducive environments for students to engage in high quality interactions for its cognitive and social development (Duque et al., 2020). This paper explores the impact of one of this interactive learning environments, named Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLGs), on students with disabilities’ prosocial behaviour. This is part of a larger study, funded by the Spanish Ministry of Science, INTERACT Interactive Learning Environments for the Inclusion of students with and without disabilities (García-Carrión, 2018-2021), which had the objective to assess the impact of interactive learning environments (such as DLGs) on learning, development and relationships of students with disabilities and to examine the conditions that may increase this impact.
Students with disabilities may face difficulties characterised by a poor regulation of emotions, a lack of understanding other people’s behaviours, feelings and intentions or communication limitations among others (Parish-Morris et al. 2007). For this reason, environments in which chidren is important when acquiring social skills (Smogorzewska and Szumski 2017). School is therefore an ideal environment to implement interventions that promote positive relationships and interactions, with a view to offering all students tools for their favourable social, academic and emotional development (Villardón-Gallego et al. 2018). Thus, interventions that promote quality relationships and, specifically prosocial behavior, among students with disabilities are required, since the enhancement of children's prosocial behavior has been found to be related to both academic and social positive development (Wentzel 2015).
Grounded on the sociocultural theory of cognitive development (Vygotsky, 1978) and drawing on a dialogic learning approach (Flecha, 2000), empirical research has shown the benefits for learning and development of Dialogic Literary Gatherings (DLG). DLGs are an interactive dialogic-based learning environment where participants share and discuss greatest literary texts, in a dialogic space that fosters freedom, respect towards diversity, and overcoming inequalities (Flecha, 2000). The efficacy of DLGs has been studied in various contexts and with diverse populations, showing positive results in different domains. Positive impacts have been observed in reading (de Botton et al., 2014) and language skills development (Lopez de Aguileta, 2019), vocabulary acquisition (Hargreaves & García-Carrión, 2016) and prosocial behavior (Villardón-Gallego et al., 2018), all of them necessary abilities for appropriate academic and social development. Whereas most of the research has been conducted with students without disabilities, this paper focuses on studying the impact of the DLGs in students with disabilities, including those located in special settings (García-Carrión, Molina Roca, 2018). This paper contributes to advance knowledge about the impact of DLGs on prosocial and antisocial behavior among students with disabilities. For that purpose the School Social Behavior Scale-2 (Merrell, 2002) was applied before and after the intervention. Results show a significant decrease in students’ antisocial behaviour and a moderate increase in prosocial behaviour after doing the DLGs.
A case study (Stake, 1995) was conducted in a special setting classroom in a public school located in Bilbao (Spain). The school had not implemented DLGs before this research. The classroom was composed of 5 students between the ages of 13 and 21 with different disabilities such as intellectual disability and autism. This case study aimed to analyze the effect on students' prosocial behaviour after participating in DLGs. The gatherings sessions were implemented weekly for approximately 6 months and an adapted version of Don Quixote was read. Three months after beginning, they were interrupted for a month due to the COVID-19 pandemic and were restarted virtually, by the initiative of the teachers and students, for the remaining 2 months. Prior to the DLGs, immersion sessions were held to familiarize the students with the dynamics and the presence of the researchers. Prosocial behaviour was assessed by School Social Behavior Scale-2 (SBSS-2) (Merrell, 2002) before and after intervention (DLG). This instrument is an updated version of the original (Merrell, (1993). It is composed of two scales (Prosocial and Antisocial) both of which are made up of three subscales. The Prosocial scale describes adaptive and positive behaviors, whereas Antisocial one includes common social-related behavioral problems of children (Merrell, 2002). SBSS-2 is a hetero-applied questionnaire and was answered by teachers from the classroom. The validity of the instrument has been assessed in previous research, showing discriminant validity with other behavior ratings. It was also demonstrated high internal consistency, with Cronbach alphas higher than .90 in the total scales (Merrel, 1993; Raimundo et al., 2012). Data analysis was conducted using SPSS statistical software version 23). Due to the sample size (n=5), non-parametric Wilcoxon (Glantz, 1981) was conducted in order to know if pretest and posttest differences were statistically significant.
Results obtained in this study shed light on the impact of DLGs on participants’ social behavior. All students except one presented improvements in the three Prosocial subscales (Peer relationships, Self-control and Academic competence). Regarding Antisocial scale, all students show a decrease in their punctuation in almost all subscales (Hostility, Antisocial and Defiant). Wilcoxon test identified statistically significant differences (at a 95% confidence level) in global Antisocial scale and in Antisocial subscale. Previous research demonstrated that these interactive learning environments enhance students’ prosocial behavior (Villardón-Gallego et al., 2018), since egalitarian dialogue allows students to increase social behaviors towards other classmates (García-Carrión et al., 2018). Moreover, an increase in respect, tolerance and solidarity not only among participants in schools, but also in their social environment outside school, has been proven (García-Yeste et al., 2017). In spite of these encouraging preliminary results, some limitations must be taken into account, such as the small size of the sample and the lack of a similar group as control. Hence, future studies could be conducted with a bigger sample, or following a quasi- experimental design. Having considered these limitations, the reported decrease in antisocial behavior is a promising finding that can encourage special educational needs teachers to introduce dialogic learning environments when serving students with disabilities either in mainstream or special settings. The potential wider impact of the dialogic intervention should be studied in a more detailed and deeper way.
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