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The paper describes the research report on " What happened in a sequential order in a classroom that created the most learning Academic Standard required during teaching". The teacher combined Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication - Handicapped Children' (TEACCH) methods in the classroom. These were a combination of techniques in action researches involving the participants. The teacher was filmed taking a class of 8 students using work stations, visual cues/timetables and reward sheets with the students that are autistic, having high and low functioning, ADHD, behaviour problems and communication difficulties. Two supply teacher were introduced to follow the lesson plan and the same resources were used to teach the same students. The resources noted above worked and the students were rewarded for their hard work and efforts. . The students worked and remained focussed as much as they did in the real teacher's lessons. The purpose of the research was to find out if the teachers that used these resources at different times to teach were actually the ones that made a positive difference to behaviour and learning. In addition, the possibility of adopting this model for use by various subject teachers throughout the school is being considered and the model described in the report is being suggested. In arriving at this, the paper gave some details into the theoretical and conceptual frameworks about action research and TEACCH. Some related literatures were reviewed in line with the action plan, research methods and procedures, implementation and follow-up plans, assessment and Evaluation techniques etc. Justifications and inherent benefits of the research work and the new model being proposed for use throughout the school were also highlighted in the report.
To date, many attempts have been made to support those with educational challenges within a classroom setting. One approach which has been widely and successfully used within both mainstream and special education classrooms is that of Treatment and Education of Autistic and related Communication-Handicapped Children (TEACCH) (Mesibov & Howley, 2003). TEACCH is a complete program of service, training, and research programs for individuals of all ages and skills levels with autism spectrum disorders. It makes use of several techniques, of several methods in various combination depending upon the individual person's needs and emerging capabilities.
Over the last 30 years it has become increasingly well recognised that many children with autism have a strong preference for visual instruction over verbal (McClimon, 2007). Hodgdon (1998) describes individuals with autism as being 90% visual learners and 10% auditory learners. Structured teaching utilises a combination of physical structure, schedules, work systems, routines and visual structure to support the person with autism to engage and learn as effectively as possible. TEACCH started in 1966 as part of the Department of Psychiatry of the School of Medicine at the University of North Carolina in the USA. TEACCH is starting to be well known all over the world for the excellent services provided to autistic people and is often used as a model as a result.
However several misconceptions have been spread and it seems to be good to give some basic information that will hopefuly give a faithful description of the TEACCH Program. TEACCH is a complete program of service, training, and research programs for individuals of all ages and skills levels with autism spectrum disorders. It makes use of several techniques, of several methods in various combination depending upon the individual person's needs and emerging capabilities. According to the central deficit theory, children with autism (AU) require increased structure and task-analyzed goals in order to learn (Erba, 2000). Providing structure and organization in the learning environment on a student's level of understanding can help to alleviate or moderate challenges students with AU otherwise encounter. The primary aim of the TEACCH programme is to help prepare people with Autism to live or work more effectively at home, at school and in the community. Education programmes are designed for all individuals on the basis of regular assessments of abilities.
It has been found that children with autism benefit more from structured educational environment than from free approaches. The strategies put forward by TEACCH do not work on the behaviour directly, rather on underlying conditions that will foster learning experiences since it is a structured teaching approach designed for individuals with AU and communication disabilities and their families. The approach calls on a wide range of techniques and services to meet the individual needs of children and families.
The ultimate goal is to foster independence and understanding while providing individuals with AU the tools they need to successfully interact in the environment. This includes helping them understand the world that surround them, acquiring communication skills that will enable them to relate to other people and giving them as much as possible the necessary competence to be able to make choices concerning their own lives.
TEACCH cannot be reduced to a technique, not even to a set of techniques, not even to a method. It is a complete program of services for autistic people which makes use of several techniques, of several methods in various combination depending upon the individual person's needs and emerging capabilities. The principle of modifying the environment to accommodate the needs of students with AU is the foundation for structured teaching (Schopler, Mesibov, & Hearsey, 1995).
Four main components are connected to this process:
1 .Physical organization . Physical organization refers to the physical layout of the classroom or the area for teaching. Physical organi-zation helps or hinders a student's independent functioning and his recognition of and compliance with rules and limits. It is designed to provide students with visual information to direct their activities in a predictable manner
2. Scheduling . Since students with AU have problems with se-quential memory and organization of time, they need schedules.Visual schedules let the students know what activities will take place and in what sequence (Shopler et al., 1995) and assist them in predicting events, lessening their anxiety.
3 .Work systems .Work systems tell the students what activities must be completed in independent work areas by visually specifying what and how much work must be done and indicating when each task and the work session are complete (Schopler et al., 1995).
4. Task organization . Similar to work systems, task organization determines what work students do independently, what needs to be done within a task, how many items must be completed, and final outcomes (Schopler et al., 1995).
Structured teaching uses materials frequently found in educational, home, vocational, and residential settings for individuals with AU, and it may be administered by anybody who works with this population. Nevertheless, structured teaching training is highly recommended; it is available through Division TEACCH
However, TEACCH is one of the component parts of action research in educational fields. . Carr and Kemmis (1986) describe action research as being about:
the improvement of practice;
the improvement of the understanding of practice;
the improvement of the situation in which the practice takes place.
According to McNiff, Lomax & Whitehead (1996) the linking of the terms action and research highlights the essential feature of the method: trying out ideas in practice as a means of improvement and as a means of increasing knowledge.
Action research shares the following characteristics with other research because it:
* leads to knowledge
* provides evidence to support this knowledge
* makes explicit the process of enquiry through which knowledge emerges
* links new knowledge with existing knowledge:
Action research is different from other research because it:
* requires action as an integral part of the research process itself
* is focused by the researcher's professional values rather than methodological considerations
* is necessarily insider research in the sense of practitioners researching their own professional actions
In support of the above, Carr and Kemmis (1986) state that:
Teaching can only be understood by reference to the framework of thought in terms of which its practitioners make sense of what they are doing. Teachers could not even begin to 'practise' without some knowledge of the situation in which they are operating and some idea of what it is that needs to be done.
Action research is useful in "real" concrete situations. It is useful where change and understanding is sought in a situation in which it is usually too difficult to control variables because the situation is "concrete", complex, and on-going. Action provides change and research provides understanding. Atwen, Kemmis & Weeks (1998) refer to action research methodology as a cycle progression from fuzzy questions through fuzzy methods to fuzzy answers to less fuzzy questions, methods and answers. Action research is used extensively on pre-and in-service programs of professionals particularly teacher education.
Why the choice of TEACCH over other approaches for the study?
I am eager to change my practice because of my concern that things are not going as i wish with the teaching and learning and also, the need to implement a new innovation to teaching in my school. It should be borne in mind that practice is always influenced by context. In the light of the above, I chose TEACCH as the main intervention because I have a class of eight students with high and low functioning, autistic in nature, ADHD, complex/ moderate learning difficulties and other behaviour issues.
The TEACCH approach is very adaptable and can be used along side other interventions. By altering the students environment one can compensate the pupils autism, making it autism friendly.
TEACCH also provides:
A schedule or structure to the day that is predictable and easily communicable to each student.
Clear expectations of what is expected to complete their individual work assignments.
An adapted environment to remove sensory distractions.
An understanding that unstructured 'free time/ choosing time', and the organised chaos of some group activities is hard work for autistic students and more help may be needed at these times.
Theoretical and Conceptual frameworks
The theoretical and conceptual frameworks for this study are based on the common theories associated with action research and the underlying principles of which TEACCH is a component
Learners face various forms of educational challenges ranging from autism, high and low functioning, ADHD, behaviour problems , communication difficulties etc in a classroom setting. The situations of these nature pose enormous challenges to the teachers in finding the most appropriate method or a combination of methods to impart knowledge to the students. Teaching and learning activities involving the participation of the students and the use of work stations, visual cues/timetables and reward sheets etc take more of the attention of the students and also give them maximum attention during learning in the classroom.
In this context, a student;s brain can use the visual information derived from the person's (teacher) face and lip movements to help with the interpretion of what is heard in a classroom setting. Kurt Lewin, often cited as the originator of action research (McKernan, 1991), used the methodology in his work with people affected by post-war social problems. Action research approaches to educational research were adopted in the late 60s and early 70s by the 'teacher- researcher' movement in the secondary education sector. This sought to bring the practising classroom teacher into the research process as the most effective person to identify problems and to find solutions. Action research methodology offers a systematic approach to introducing innovations in teaching and learning. It seeks to do this by putting the teacher in the dual role of producer of educational theory, and user of that theory.
Action research tends to be...
cyclic -- similar steps tend to recur, in a similar sequence;
participative -- the clients and informants are involved as partners, or at least active participants, in the research process;
qualitative -- it deals more often with language than with numbers; and
reflective -- critical reflection upon the process and outcomes are important parts of each cycle (Dick, 2000).
MODELS TO ADAPTED FOR THE RESEARCH WORK
Figure 1: Systems Model of Action-Research Process
Kolb (1984) extended this model to offer a conception of the action research cycle as a learning process, whereby people learn and create knowledge by critically reflecting upon their own actions and experiences, forming abstract concepts, and testing the implications of these concepts in new situations. Practitioners can create their own knowledge and understanding of a situation and act upon it, thereby improving practice and advancing knowledge in the field.
In the views of McKernan, (1991), and in line with Lewin's description of the process of change, the two models above are summarized into three steps;
:Unfreezing/cycle 1 Faced with a dilemma or disconfirmation, the individual or group becomes aware of a need to change.
Changing/cycle 2: The situation is diagnosed and new models of behavior are explored and tested.
Refreezingcycle 3: Application of new behavior is evaluated, and if reinforcing summarizes the steps and processes involved in planned change through action research. Action research is depicted as a cyclical process of change.
The cycle begins with a series of planning actions initiated by the client and the change agent working together and in this case the teacher and the supply teachers that will use same lesson plan and resources to teach specific subject in all levels of the school.. The principal elements of this stage include a preliminary diagnosis, data gathering, feedback of results, and joint action planning. As a teacher in the system I am aware of the teaching and learning problems of the various groups of students that we teach
The second stage of action research is the action, or transformation, phase. This stage includes actions relating to learning processes (perhaps in the form of role analysis) and to planning and executing behavioral changes in the client organization- i.e the school as a whole. As shown in Figure 1, feedback at this stage would move via Feedback Loop A and would have the effect of altering previous planning to bring the learning activities of the client system into better alignment with change objectives. Included in this stage is action-planning activity carried out jointly by the subject teacher and members of the client system.- the supply teachers. Following the workshop or learning sessions, these action steps are carried out on the job as part of the transformation stage.
The third stage of action research is the output, or results, phase. This stage includes actual changes in behavior (if any) resulting from corrective action steps taken following the second stage. Data are again gathered from the client system so that progress can be determined and necessary adjustments in learning activities can be made. Minor adjustments of this nature can be made in learning activities via Feedback Loop B. Major adjustments and reevaluations would return the OD project to the first, or planning, stage for basic changes in the program..
Action plans, research methods and procedures
Although there are many processes of action research, there can be seen to be certain common elements within them. These common elements can be thought of as constituting a 'bottom line' in any definition of action research because it :
is about teachers striving to understand and to improve their practice.
proceeds through a process of planning, action and reflection upon action. This can be thought of as an action-reflection 'cycle'.
involves the gathering of evidence about practice.
involves teachers trying to see the effects of planned change in their practice.
strives to be systematic and rigorous.
Analysis and knowledge formation in action research belong to the practitioner.
As the teacher and the researcher, I will carry out the followings which are adapted from Barrett and Whitehead (1985)
Recognise and appreciate my real concern - which in this case (a) to find out if the teachers that used these resources at different times to teach were actually the ones that made a positive difference to behaviour and learning. and , (b) for the adoption of this model for use by various subject teachers in the school.
Articulate and clarify why I am concerned- as a school teacher, I am concerned about what I teach in terms of the contents, how I teach, and the level of understanding and comprehension by the students.
A five day TEACCH training course will be required for all TA's. This will require a lot of extra work and time needed and above all, a good budgetary allocation for resources required during the training sessions. At the end of the training workshop on TEACCH, the teachers will not only be well trained in modern teaching strategies, they will be instrumental in helping to make visual learning resources and also to have a better understanding of the autistic students and their individual needs. In addition, they will have;