The Impact of Peer Learning on the Acquisition and Retention of Key Word Signing Skills for Children with a Learning Disability: An Extended Research Proposal
(2017) The Impact of Peer Learning on the Acquisition and Retention of Key Word Signing Skills for Children with a Learning Disability: An Extended Research Proposal, no. 59.
Background Up to 90% of individuals with a learning disability (LD) have a communication impairment, which can result in social and educational exclusion (Baker et al. 2010). Therefore, speech and language therapists aim to support these individuals' through augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Key word signing (KWS) is a form of AAC that supports language and communication development. KWS teaching needs to be effective for service users to be motivated to continue with training. Peer learning (PL) is a teaching strategy that typically involves pairing higher and lower ability children for a collaborative learning experience. It has been seen to have a variety of benefits, thus it is hypothesised that teaching KWS through this strategy will allow for efficacious training and promoted inclusion of children with a LD. Aims The study aims to investigate the effectiveness of teaching KWS through PL for children with a LD and typically developing peers. The study hypothesises that all participants will have increased KWS knowledge from pre to post test, and will exhibit greater gains in KWS knowledge when working in pairs, compared to working independently. Methodology 48 eight to nine year old children will be selected, 24 with mild LD, and 24 typically developing children. These participants will participate in KWS training sessions. For the duration of four sessions they will be placed in a cross-ability pairing and follow PL techniques. For the remaining four sessions they will work independently. Conclusions This study concluded that teaching KWS through PL techniques has the potential to promote inclusive learning experiences in schools and positive attitudes towards individuals with additional support needs by increasing awareness and understanding. In addition it has the potential to enhance joint working between education and healthcare staff as they aim to provide inclusive education and meet children's communication needs.