Date of Award

1993

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr Mary Rohl

Second Advisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore

Third Advisor

Dr A. Zubrick

Abstract

Some children in schools in Western Australia may be at risk of developing learning or behavioural difficulties because they have a difficulty in language learning which is uncomplicated by any other obvious cause. Local research by Zubrick (1984) has revealed that, even at the Pre-primary and Year 1 level, such children are perceived to be less academically able than their peers. In an effort to improve identification rates for these children, Zubrick (1984) interviewed parents of children referred for speech therapy, and parents of children not referred for speech therapy, to determine the extent to which they felt that some behaviours were either related, or not related, to difficulty in language learning. The present study examined the extent to which 79 Pre-primary and Year 1 teachers from 2 school districts of the Ministry of Education of Western Australia agreed or disagreed with some of Zubrick's findings. Generally, teachers in this study and parents in Zubrick's study were seen to be in agreement on the behavioural correlates of difficulty in language learning selected for inclusion in this study, particularly on those behaviours directly related to language performance, such as Speech is difficult to understand, and Cannot make self clearly understood. The conclusion was drawn that any differences observed between the teachers in this study and the parents in Zubrick's study may have occurred because of the differences in setting between the home and the school, and the differing opportunities available to parents and teachers to observe the effect of some behaviours on the language performance of individual children. This study also sought to determine the degree to which participating teachers felt that they had the necessary knowledge, skills and training to confidently identify children having difficulty in language learning within their classrooms, and whether or not they felt that making that identification was part of their role. The majority of teachers in this study indicated that identifying children having difficulty in language learning was part of their role. While the teachers were generally confident that they had the necessary knowledge and skills and training to make that identification, they indicated a need for more training in this area. Comments revealed that the teachers in the study felt that there was a lack of resources, such as access to guidance officers, speech pathologists and other professionals, to assist them in the identification, diagnosis and re-mediation of children having difficulty in language learning which is uncomplicated by any other obvious handicap.

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