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My aim in this introduction is to simply outline the main points that I hope to make in this body of work, show my aim for the entire assignment and to explain why I chose this subject.
This report will cover the small scale enquiry that I conducted into the way in which teachers thought their roles and their perspectives impacted on children with dyslexia in the classroom.
I took a qualitative approach to the way in which I conducted my research through semi-structured interviews, the questions of which will be found in the appendix. They covered a range of areas surrounding the subject of dyslexia and the way it is approached inside of the classroom and how the participants felt their roles impacted on this particular learning disability. After looking at the answers to the questions I decided that it would be best to subcategorize them, these categories are: teaching styles; special educational needs; the teachers training; and lastly inclusion.
My main objective to this study was to find out how dyslexia might affect teachers and the way in which they have to personally change as well as having to change the ways in which they teach. I will look to draw upon policies concerning the Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act 2001 (SENDA), look into various writings that surround the area of dyslexia and guidelines to teaching in this area. In the end what I would like to come of this is to learn how a primary teacher must change to stay within a schools inclusion policy and how this may affect other areas of the classroom, be it deliberately or otherwise. As well as this this study will aim to find out whether or not teachers feel that it is best to continue to teach children with dyslexia in the same mainstream classroom as everyone else or if they feel that outside support would be far more beneficial to the children to help them to succeed.
Dyslexia is a learning difficulty that affects a person's ability to understand words, and to read and write. Dyslexia is a language-based learning disability and refers to a group of symptoms that cause a person to have difficulties with certain language skills. Anyone can be affected by dyslexia and this can therefore make the diagnosis of dyslexia a very difficult one particularly if the person is in a classroom with many other students. Teachers have had to drastically change their responsibilities with regards to teaching children with special educational needs ever since the establishment of the 2001 Special Educational Needs and Disabilities Act.
The introduction of SENDA has meant that teachers have had to radically change the ways in which they teach and also they have had to add many different approaches to their teaching in the classroom. In the past a child with special educational needs would have been taken out of the classroom to be given private help with some of the work that they may be struggling with but they are now encouraged to stay integrated within the classroom which may not be beneficial to the other pupils. Children with dyslexia learn in a different ways and also at different speeds, this in turn could take up more of the teachers time which could affect the rest of the classroom. According to a study conducted in 2007 it was estimated that "Approximately 10% of the population is thought to be dyslexic, with 4% being severely affected. It is estimated that there are about 375,000 pupils in the UK with dyslexia and a total of some two million people who are severely affected." (http://dyslexiaaction.org.uk/reports)
According to a report published in 2011 by The Department for Education named the 'Class Size and education in England evidence report' studies show that since 2004 the numbers of births in the UK have risen significantly each year apart from a lull between 2009 and 2011 this will inevitably increase the number of pupils per classroom in years to come. The number is already 30 pupils per classroom and in smaller schools there could be a struggle to keep to this if there is an influx of students. (https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/RSG/AllRsgPublications/Page13/DFE-RR169)
The use of teaching assistants are seen universally as being of great help to pupils with dyslexia because in a busy classroom with everything changing and people learning at different paces the teacher may not be able to get around to each individual student and see how they are doing or to reiterate the points they previously made to the whole class. This however is not always the case as is described in the report "The Costs of Inclusion" which is a look into the policy in primary, secondary and special schools in the UK and the way in which this is practiced to aid inclusion. The report goes on to say that with the inclusion of pupils with dyslexia into the mainstream classrooms some schools will be able to provide them with a teaching assistant to aid the students as well as easing the teachers workload. This is only helpful to those schools with the money and the resources to allow each class to have an assistant and raises the question of how some schools will be able to survive if they don't have these funds. (http://www.teachers.org.uk)
The purpose of this chapter is to explain to you the methodology that I went through to conduct this study as well as the reasoning behind why I chose to conduct my study in the way that I did. I will also go into how I came to the decision to present the data that was collected in the way that I did. I will also go into how dealt with some of the practical considerations that come with such a study, these include; the ethical considerations, the validity of the answers given, and the reliability of the participants and their views.
Due to this being a small scale study with time constraints I felt that it was necessary to prioritise and use a method that would provide valid and reliable data. Bartlett and Burton said that "In deciding which methods to use the researcher will acknowledge the relative data collection time and associated expense of each different method." (2012, Pg. 47) The main question of the study asks teachers their opinion on teaching children with dyslexia and how their teaching style affects the child with dyslexia. Therefore both qualitative and quantitative methods were considered. A qualitative method of research involves gathering data through social research whilst seeking perspectives on a certain topic of interest, in this case teaching children with dyslexia.
Kvale (1996, Pg. 30) states that the main characteristics of qualitative research are: "To engage, understand and interpret the key feature of the life worlds of the participants, focus on specific idea and themes, use neutral language to gather and understand qualitative knowledge and that interviews should be a positive and enriching experience for all participants." This view has been seconded by other researchers the saying that qualitative research adds to studies because it is concerned with personal beliefs and values. (Woods, 2006, Pg.3)
In comparison quantitative methods are used in a scientific and mathematical context where the researcher may collect, evaluate and interpret data. Bartlett & Burton (2012, Pg. 40) asserts that:
"Quantitative research is favoured as it enables others to see how the data has been interpreted and allows for more accurate comparisons. It also attempts to minimise the effect of the particular researcher". From the investigation undertaken to discover which of the research methods available would best fit this study some researchers have identified that using qualitative research is more advantageous in a small scale study as opposed to the use of quantitative research.
Using the investigation undertaken I have decided to implement the qualitative method to gain information for this study. The "main features of qualitative research are a focus on neutral settings, an interest in meanings, perspectives and understandings, an emphasis on the process and inductive analysis and grounded theory." (Woods, 2006, Pg. 3). Arguably these features mean that the qualitative method of research is the most appropriate for this study.