Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Education Honours

School

School of Education

Faculty

Faculty of Education

First Advisor

Dr Amanda Blackmore

Abstract

The ability to produce facial expressions accurately is essential for effective communication of thoughts and feelings. Children need to select the facial expression to produce in a given situation, while considering the social context, and produce it accurately. This is especially important for children with intellectual disabilities who often experience difficulties in verbal communication. The purpose of this study was to investigate ways of teaching children with mild to moderate intellectual disabilities to select and produce facial expressions appropriate to various situations. The theoretical framework of this study suggests that providing facial modelling and mirror feedback to children will increase the accuracy with which children with intellectual disabilities select and product facial expressions of emotion. Forty children were presented with six vignettes, and were asked to respond by selecting and producing an appropriate facial expression. A 2 (modelling: present or absent) x 2 (mirror: present or absent) x 3 (facial expression: happiness, disgust and surprise) design was used, in which mirror and modelling were between-subjects variables, and facial expression was a within-subjects variable. Effects of the modelling, but not the mirror, produced significant increases in children's selection and production of facial expressions. Happiness was found to be the easiest expression to produce. Disgust was found to be more difficult than happiness, while surprise was more difficult than disgust to produce. Both surprise and disgust were improved significantly by the modelling, and it was concluded that modelling is an effective and inexpensive technique for teaching social skills in the classroom.

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