An investigation of strategies to teach word processing skills to young adults with intellectual disabilities

Lloyd, Janette Mary (2006). An investigation of strategies to teach word processing skills to young adults with intellectual disabilities MPhil Thesis, School of Education, University of Queensland.

       
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Author Lloyd, Janette Mary
Thesis Title An investigation of strategies to teach word processing skills to young adults with intellectual disabilities
School, Centre or Institute School of Education
Institution University of Queensland
Publication date 2006
Thesis type MPhil Thesis
Supervisor Dr Karen Moni
Subjects 330108 Special Education
Abstract/Summary This research project had two aims. The first aim was to develop guidelines to assist in the selection and evaluation of computer software packages for use in a literacy program for young adults with intellectual disabilities. The second aim was to develop, implement, and evaluate strategies to enable learners with intellectual disabilities to work independently with a word processing program. Three studies were undertaken to achieve these aims. The first was the preliminary study, the second was the main study, and the third study was an extension of the main study to a larger classroom context. The preliminary study was conducted to develop guidelines that could be used to gather information about three commercial educational software programs that were available at the time and were being promoted as effective tools in the teaching of literacy. A range of characteristics and qualities of effective programs was identified from a review of the literature and these findings were used to develop checklists to assess available software. Findings from the preliminary study revealed a need to further explore the learners’ needs and skills when using software packages such as Microsoft Word 98 in classroom settings. These findings formed the basis for the main study. The aim of the main study was to develop, implement, and evaluate teaching strategies to enable students with intellectual disabilities to work independently with word processing using Microsoft Word 98. Action research was adopted as the research design for the main study. The participants in the main study were 11 young adults with intellectual disabilities ranging in age from 18 to 25 years. In the Initial Reconnaissance Phase, a combination of formal standardised assessments, informal researcher developed instruments, and informal assessments were used to collect data about the participants’ computer skills, comprehension skills, vocabulary, interests, attitudes and behaviours. Using the findings from these assessments, a General Plan was developed to teach a specific computer skill - saving and retrieving documents from a specific folder. A pre-test was administered prior to the commencement of the teaching sessions and then readministered as a post-test at the conclusion of the sessions. The participants were then observed in their regular classroom to determine if the skill had been retained after a 10-week period. The findings from the post assessments showed positive results for all participants in the study. The study was then extended to a larger group of learners in a classroom setting. The classroom study included all learners in the group (n=10). The General Plan was revised but as it proved to be successful in its original format, few changes were made. In the classroom study, the post-tests revealed that seven participants were able to save and retrieve documents independently from a specific folder, and three participants were not able to save independently. The study indicated a range of strategies that could be used to help the remainder of the learners build towards gaining the targeted computer skills. The results from this investigation add to the current body of knowledge about software evaluation and teaching strategies that can be used to enhance the computer skills of young adults with intellectual disabilities. These findings have important implications for the design of literacy programs and how technology can be used as a teaching tool to create a richer teaching environment.

 
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Created: Fri, 21 Nov 2008, 15:23:08 EST