Structured interview in assessment of school learning disorders

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The title of the article I have chosen to evaluate is: 'A structured family interview in the assessment of school learning disorders', by Robert Friedman (1969). The reason I chose to evaluate this article is because it has drawbacks that must be avoided in researches and advantages that can be an example of a good article. First, I will write a brief summary of the article, and then, I will describe the type of the research. This report will evaluate the ethics of data collection; the concepts and the theories that the author uses to understand the subject of the article; the adequateness of the literature review; the quality and suitability of the methods of data collection and data analysis of the research report; and the suitability of the conclusion according to the findings from the research.

The aim of the investigation is reformed to focus on the results of the communication dynamics in the family and the relationship structures that are exposed in interview behaviour. The article refers to the reasons and the maintenance of the school learning disorders as a result of family relationship dynamics. The values of socialization and education for a child are primarily gained from the family and the parents are the first teachers. The author used structured interviews as research method for the appraisal of children with learning disorders in school. The prime principle of the interviews is to conclude the nature level and etiological importance of the relation between the school educating disorder and the family. The characteristics of the family that have yielded appropriate and significant data include:

class of communication

the responsibilities of the parents as forms for identification with the educating achievement

differences in family relationships and

family approaches toward learning achievement.

The main purpose of the research is to create particular associations between family performance and the school problem. The structure of the interview is to focus straight on the school educating problem; and if the discussion turns away from the main focus, the interviewer directs the family backside on to the theme. The interview starts with particular series of queries but not all of them are asked in all participants; this depends on the subjects being investigated at each occasion. Fifty-three families participated in the research from different social class. The results of the research showed that the reasons that students underachieve may be a visual problem, a mild heart condition, minimal brain dysfunction, inability of child to achieve in absence of parent, or poor listening habits. Moreover it may be because parents demonstrate the possibility for puzzling or discouraging their child. Family interaction may also be a guide of infantilizing the student and has as results the low irritation acceptance, reduced listing practices, constant avoidance of the pressure for learning, and weak task reading. Furthermore, child's underachievement was an outcome of antipathy toward parents and teacher. Unsuccessful or absent of structure in homework, different achievement prospects, and not consistent rewards or penalties forebear to school achievement or failure were created by unsolved differences between parents. There was a predisposition for the student to mistrust or to be puzzled by the information. Parental dissatisfaction and students' fear of failure were related to the learning disorders. Strong and continuous demands form parents for high success accompanied by corrective or refusing positions toward the student and a gap of communication about school involving parents and children (Friedman, 1969).

It is an inductively action research; the researcher made an observation, collected the data and then he explained the observation. The author used the case study as a method for data collection and data analysis. It is an intrinsic case study; the case is of primary interest. In the research there is rational, the author explains the reasons he is conducting this research theme. It is fact that this article has some advantages and some disadvantages.

The primary thing I can observe is that there is no introduction. The author does not introduce us what the article is about and what is going to investigate. There is neither summary of the article nor the goals of the research; he does not explain the focus and the aims of the research at the beginning of the article. The introduction is an important matter at the beginning of an article. It is significant for a researcher to give a rational for the research at the beginning of the article. The author should introduce the theme to let the reader know about the study and what is going to follow.

It begins with some theories form different authors. The author reports their beliefs about the importance of family in learning disorders and then he states his opinions. Most of the concepts that are expressed are what the author believes. The theories that he states are defenceless and they are neither reliable nor demonstrated. The literature he uses is limited. The only literature he applies is at the first lines in few sentences. He uses only ten journal articles and one book for literature review. The theories he applies are not adequate to investigate the possible reasons of learning disorders. He does not employ information and data from other researches in order to base his thoughts and his beliefs.

Furthermore, Friedman (1969) describes only four of his structured interviews. He provides the names of the families, the names of the children and their age. The age of the children vary. Nowhere in the article is mentioned that he took the permission from parents to publish their names and their children's names. This is unethical for a published article. Researchers are expected to protect the identity of their research participants (Haggerty 2004, p.407). In the first interview, he provides some of the questions he asked and the responses he took. He also provides some activities that he asked from the parents and the children to take part in order to observe and find out the reasons for learning disorders. In the second interview, he states exactly the questions he made, the responses he took and the body language that the participants used in some questions. While he describes concisely the discussion he had with the third family and how the child seemed to be according to his feelings at the beginning of the interview. A family secret was shown up, that the father was alcoholic and that violence matters appear to family. The last interview is described briefly.

Another drawback is that there is no ethical statement in the article. The author does not explain whether he had attempted to get the permission of the participants to his research and the steps he had taken to reach this. The author also does not provide the persons who will have access to the data he collected and how these data will be stored. Moreover, he does not state the probable consequences of the participation and of the research. He does not provide how the findings are likely to be published and if respondents are able to see and modify transcriptions; or if they are able to comment on the conditional data analysis.

Moreover, the author explains descriptively the analysis of the interview content. He separates the interviews into nine categories according to the family structure, relationship factors, and communication aspects and he states the number of the interviews that are related to each category. It is mentioned that all children who participate in the research had learning difficulties. The age of the children who participate is not mentioned in the article. He explains generally the cases that appear at each category, he provides only the situations that appeared the most in each category. But he does not provide all the cases that appear at the interviews. He does not give to the reader all the data and the information that he collected. All the reasons why children have schools learning disorders are not shown up in this research. The data analysis involves a subjective evaluation; the data are not provided as objective investigation, the data can not be used for statistical treatment. The findings from the research are not used to conclude in something. There are no recommendations to avoid the problem that exist. There are no solutions at each particular cause of learning disorders.

At the end of the article Friedman (1969) discusses that the findings from the research were different from the primary purpose. He mentions the basic conclusions from the research that cause learning disorders and the use of the techniques he applied in the interview. In the conclusion there are no recommendations and ways to solve the problem as it was expected in such research.

One of the advantages of the article is that the author mentions the goals of the research he have made and the type of the research; that it is a structured interview. He had a list of formal questions and he chose what questions he would ask at every participants. Then he explains concisely what the data include and with what the questions are concerned. Moreover he states the techniques of the interview he makes to the families. He explains analytically the techniques of the interview. He provides that when the discussion was beside the point the interviewer directed the family to the main point in order to take the data he wanted. He states the first questions that he started the interviews. He used open questions in order to let the participants to answer in any way they wish. These questions are very sensitive because they concern family matters. Interviews with parents and their child may harm the relationship between the families. The author describes how he behaved in different situations, how he coped with difficult questions and how he encouraged the participants to talk. Moreover, he explains the reasons why he chose to discuss with the student with one parent individually or with both parents or individually or with siblings or the whole family together.

Another advantage is that the author provides the organizations that were conducted with the interviews and the period that the research took place. He also states the group of people who were interviewed and the area where they lived. Furthermore, he assumes the number of the interviews. The sample he used is adequate for a reliable research, but not all of the data he collected are presented in the article. The research was conducted with families, the child and his/her parents and siblings. The author had the permission from the parents to interview their child that was ethical proper, as the research is both with children and parents. Children are characterized as minors in research matter; consequently researchers are not able to conduct with them without getting parental permission (Haggerty 2004, p.410).

The author mentions the aims and the goals of the research but not at the beginning of the article, as it is expected. He describes accurately the data collection, the way he acted in different situations and the data analysis. But, in my opinion, the article is in the rough. There is no introduction to bring in the reader what the article is about. The literature he uses is insufficient to bring up theories and different concepts about learning disorders. Most of the concepts he uses are his beliefs. Another thing I mention is that he uses the names and ages that he does not mention whether he had the permission to do so; there is no ethical statement in the article that reports all ethical issues. Moreover, there are no statistical procedures in order to give the exact findings. Data and information from the research are missing from the article. There are no recommendations and solutions for learning disorders at school. I think the article could be improved if the author have used more literature; have provided an introduction and a paragraph with the ethic risks he took; have stated all the findings and use statistical analysis; and have assumed recommendations and solutions for the problem he mentioned. Friedman could choose children form the same age in order to get more reliable data.

FRIEDMAN, R., 1969. A structured family interview in the assessment of school learning disorders. Psychology in the Schools, 6, 162-171

HAGGERTY, K.D., 2004. Ethics Creep: Government Social Science Research in the Name of Ethics. Qualitative Sociology, 27(4), 391-414.

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