To use the information below to create the following:-
A flow chart of what will be actually done in practice to:
-Identify the sample (of children and TAs)
-The method(s) you will use to gather the data (and the instruments/techniques you will use and their rationale)
-Your piloting activities
-The schedule for observations
-And what types of data you anticipate you will be analysing (and how you will analyse them)
Research summary to be used to create the flow chart is below.
The role of teaching assistants when working with children on the Autistic Spectrum in promoting social development skills focusing on pupil’s approach, maintenance and departure behaviour.
The use of teaching assistants (TAs) to develop the academic and social skills of pupils in schools has in the past few years attracted a lot of
researchers attention as they seek to examine the mechanisms through which the TAs improve the learning outcomes of the pupils. However
there has been less research conducted on the the role of teaching assistants in promoting the social skills of pupils on the autistic spectrum. In
embarking on this study I aim to make a contribution to this field. Research outcomes suggest that a sensitive TA support system develops the
social skills of students by engaging them in learning and social activities, facilitating interactions between the learners with their peers and
teachers thereby enabling pupils to undertake self-directed milestones (Alborz et al., 2009, p. 1; Joyner, 2016).
It has also been ascertained that due to the close relationship the teaching assistants have with pupils, they are often better positioned to
identify the unique learning needs of learners as well as the social and interactive needs, thereby providing a differentiated pedagogical
approach to their learning and development (Literary Trust, 2016; Balshaw, 2013; Blatchford, 2012). In essence, most empirical studies focus
on the existence of teaching assistants as intermediaries between the teachers and the learners which positions them strategically in identifying
the unique learning needs and communicating this to the teachers.
Moreover, empirical studies also suggest that the learning environment between the teaching assistants and the learner is much freer making it
easier for the learner to provide feedback (Lachman et al., 2013; Open University, 2016). According to Lee (2003), teaching assistants improve the social skills of pupils through the provision of group task milestones that requires learners to work together in solving problems thereby
improving their role play skills, negotiation and communication skills.
The use of teaching assistants to support pupils with special educational needs is particularly important in developing the social skills of pupils,
by supplementing the teachers’ efforts in improving the coping and socializing potential of such students as well as enhancing the compatibility
of learning pedagogy (Yook & Albert, 1999, p. 2).
Research aims and questions
To critically evaluate government literature and proposals on the training of TAs. The outcomes of the reviewed literature of this paper will provide crucial insights into the hypotheses of a prospective qualitative study investigating the relationship between 10 pupils on the autistic spectrum and 4 teaching assistant in a small mainstream school for children aged between 0 and 18 years. To allow teaching assistants and pupils the opportunity to inform us about their experiences in their setting on a day-to-day basis. Their experiences, views, and opinions will be recorded through case studies. To explore the teacher/pupil relationship between teaching assistant and their pupils to analyse the effect of styles, attitudes, non-verbal and verbal communication on the confidence, self-esteem and educational aspiration of the cohort of pupils. To create a framework of best practices from the qualities found in teaching assistants who are able to motivate and empower pupils. What unique skills do they possess to be effective? What are the participants views on how well they fulfil their roles and responsibilities in relation to government proposals? How do teaching assistants engage and mentor children to develop their social development. How important is the teacher/pupil relationship, in helping pupils have a positive school experience and to develop socially. For those pupils who develop self-esteem and are able to interact positively with their peer group with the support of their teaching assistant, I am interested to find out from them what approach and skills and approach that they possess and if such attributes can be packaged and marketed. Carraher, Nemirovsky, DiMattia, Lara-Meloy, and Earnest (1999) suggest the video and electronic media “have the potential to bridge the gap between classroom research and practice”.
To gain a in depth understanding about how the skills, approach, and teaching style of teaching assistants have on SEN pupils it is important to
look at what the pupils were like before the intervention. Knowledge of their special needs is important. The 10 children selected are all on the
austistuc spectrum. Bluer coined the phrase autism in 1911. It was a term that they used for children who they saw to be self absorbed and
withdrawn. Later in 1944 the term ASD was used by the secretary of Leo Kanner, John Hopkins. Kanner based his research on 20 “essential
common characteristics” shared by the 11 children. Statistically, it’s highly unlikely that 11 children could show 20 common characteristics without
having the same syndrome.The main characteristics of ASD is impaired social interaction. As early as infancy, a baby with ASD may be
unresponsive to people or focus intently on one item to the exclusion of others for long periods of time. A child with ASD may appear to develop
normally and then withdraw and become indifferent to social engagement.
Research by ‘Ambitious About Autism’ a registered charity and company in the UK which campaigns on behalf of autistic children and young
people, found that four in 10 autistic children have been subject to informal – and therefore illegal – exclusions This ranges from parents being
repeatedly asked to collect their children early, to being asked not to bring their children into school and pupils have also been asked to stay at
home, miss school trips and even attend lessons part-time. With one in 100 children in the UK affected by autism, the findings are alarming and
points to a need for schools to have in place a therapeutic environment for pupils with autism to ensure that they are taught and managed
properlyas nd that they have an inclusive education which is their right. Several traits that can be seen in a child with Autism which is irrational
behaviour, underachieving, immature, phobic and obsessive, anxious, withdrawn and depressed, hostile and unpredictable. These behavioural
traits may cause children to have specific learning difficulties. Myes & Cohen supports this view by arguing that a Autism is explained through
psychoanalytic concepts such as a dysfunctional emergence of the self, internalisation, identification, and introjection (Mayes & Cohen, 1994).
Autistic pupils transfer past experiences and their emotional relationships of significant persons into the learning environment. They “test out” to
see if other adults will respond to them in the same way. This is ego defence which would be projected onto his teachers and peers. Such pupils
have feelings of frustration and anger. Autism can be conceptualised through object relations theory as the prolonging of a stage in normal
development where object relations feature prominently in perception (Hobson, 1990). Psychoanalytic explanations focus less on the cognitive
symptoms and more on the social deficits observed (Hobson, 1990). Pupils therefore enter schools with “inner working models and habitual
defensive responses to the experiences they have built up already. Those who have not resolved the unconscious conflict are meshed in the
emotional difficulties this has caused and continues to cause”.(Ayers, H. Clarke, D. And Murray). Autistic pupils require a ” secure and
unemotionally threatening learning environment .. To allow the ego to perform its ‘troubled’ ego” which is considered to be specialist therapeutic
intervention.(Ayers, H. Clarke, D. And Murray).
Children on the autistic spectrum requires an approach which provides clear boundaries for a child with autism, which gives pastoral care. ”
which recognises the needs of the whole child not just the academic, especially the need of raising and maintaining self esteem.”(Ayers, H. Clarke,
D. and Murray). Whilst I will be mindful throughout the study that pupils needs will be varied and changeable as special needs is not static, autism
cannot be cured and will therefore be present in all pupil participants throughout the study. The study aims to explore the intervention of TAs when
working with pupils and to analyse the effects of the intervention. The relationship between the TA and the pupil will also be analysed.
Research Design and methodology
It is important to note at this point of the report that most empirical studies in this discipline employ the use of qualitative research because
qualitative research enables researchers to measure objectively, human attributes that are in most instances very abstract and subjective
constructs (Taylor et al, 2015; Lewis, 2015; Merriam & Tisdell, 2015).
Moreover, qualitative research design when used in a cause-effect study (like assessing the role of TAs in building social skills for pupils) is
likely to facilitate flexibility in the research process to take into account factors that were not hypothesised therefore yielding a robust outcome
Researchers are faced with challenges when investigating the impact of teaching assistants on learning outcomes of pupils with special
educational needs (cognitive or otherwise) such as the difficulty in ascertaining the improvement, because such learning outcomes cannot be
There are challenges when building on previous research investigating the TA-student outcome nexus since researchers “are caught up in a
historic period in which the growth and accessibility of new information is forcing reappraisal of traditional ways of taking stock of accumulated
knowledge” (Pollard, 2006, p. 11)
This section of the study is to set the guidelines on the study design and the methods that will be used in data gathering. It is divided into
?The study is set to use a cohort, case study design targeting a sample population of 10 autistic pupils and 4 Teacher Assistants in the sampled
target. Such design will not only allow me to use a direct, logical structure, but also help me to gather as enough information as possible.
Moreover, it will also help me to be in control of what data to record. These are special needs pupils that require critical and qualitative approach
skills (Merriam et al, 1998).
Population and sampling.
?A target population of 10 autistic pupils and 4 Teacher Assistants will be sampled. The targeted pupil population must fall between the age
bracket of 9 to 18years. The mainstream schools with cases of autism will then be sampled on a purposive basis.
?Inclusion criteria: My study only targets pupils on the autistic spectrum. It will therefore include only pupils with autism and the teacher
assistants that are in charge of the pupil’s social development.
?Exclusion criteria: Even though it is ideal to crosscheck child behavior between those pupils with autism and those without, my study will not
include pupils that do not have autism cases. The exclusion criteria will also include the teaching assistants who are not working with pupils in
the autistic spectrum. The objective of the study is to investigate the role of the assistants in the social development of pupils.
?Studies that require the analysis of human behavior scientifically proves critical and may not be fully measured objectively. However, with
qualitative designs, we can be able to evaluate the traits that are expressed objectively. Such design will help in measuring these abstract and
subjective traits intended for study. It is also flexible and can allow changes in the events of encountering unhypothesised factors, this is not
only an advantage in trait analysis, but also a plus in robust outcome realisation. The following techniques will be used to collect data:
?This will aid in analysing the physical traits observable in autism victims such as anxiety, withdrawal, unpredictability, irrational behaviors,
underachievement, immaturity, phobic characters, and obsessiveness. The technique will also help to link the teacher assistants’ role in
handling these traits to develop the desired social behaviors (Devers, et al,2000, 263).Under this technique the following approaches will be
a). Questionnaires: Structured questions will be asked in the course of the study.
b). Video Recording: The interaction of teacher- pupils in the classroom set ups will be video recorded, these will help in analysis later. It will
also be used to capture the respondents’ reactions. Video logs, event logs, narrative summaries, vignettes, visual diagrams and maps (e.g. of
participant turn taking – Barron, 2009) can be used to help see patterns of interaction and to condense and maintain the complexity and meaning of video data.
c).Tape Recording: This will be used to capture the voice responses in the study.
2. Transcribing: While interacting with the target population, information will be recorded based on relevance.
3. Material data survey: The survey of recorded pupils’ social interaction will be monitored to gather the information needed.
Flewitt (2006) discussed methodological and ethical dilemmas in the collection, logging and transcription, or representation, of video data. These are listed below and will be used in this study:-
• Need to link video based data to social theories and themes
• Understand the effect of video recording on data collection
• Make sure the data is understood in context
• Decide on the scale you will look at and how much data you need to address your question
• Decide on analysis strategies for managing video data to avoid being data overload
• What status will you give your data in your data set – primary, secondary?
• Video can support an exploratory research design and extended data- discovery
• It can be ‘re-opened’ for later analysis and capture things not noticed at the time of being present
• Participants can use the camera to extend the researcher access to their life worlds
• Video is sharable – participants can be invited to reflect and discuss it
• It can be used effectively to support empirical comparison of strategies, style, and interaction across a data set
• Video enables researchers to re-visit a moment ‘not as past but formerly present’
• It can re-awaken the memories and
experiences of a researcher or participant.
• Video data is limited and shaped by decisions in the field
• Video data is partial: it includes and excludes elements
• Video is primarily focused on the material external expression
• It can be edited to represent the order events in new ways
• It usually provides one perspective on an event
• It generally records interaction over short periods of time
• Video takes time to watch and review and can be difficult to meaningfully summarized
The data collected will be analysted using critical and detailed sound evaluation. Videos recorded will be looked into critically and in details. The
findings may then be analysed using computer applications and tools of analysis.
All ethical consideration will be adhered to, once these have been met, the 4 TAs will be video recorded within their classroom whilst they are
interacting with their assigned pupils to ascertain the advantages and disadvantages of TA support and to identify key areas where TAs influence
pupil’s social development. To detect which attributes TA’s possess to maximise pupil’s potential to enable them to communicate and develop
socially and to identify them to develop an understanding of what makes an effective TA. The research will look at patterns of behaviour through
vignettes/ scenarios. To be able to observe TA’s and watch how they encourage pupils peer behaviour. TAs and pupils working together will be
recorded. Once the recording if each TA has been completed they will be interviewed individually to find out the reasons behind their practice.
The TAs together will watch each video to look at each other’s practices. A collaborative interpretation if the videos is an essential part of the
research and it also aids professional development, to enable TAs to detect the good and the bad practices and to develop a strategy of good
practices. To gain an understanding of what each TA will gain from watching each other’s practices, their discussions will be tape recorded. To
look at the different skills and techniques used by TAs in developing good social interaction and behaviour from pupils with autism. Viewers can
very quickly form lasting impressions based on very thin slices of video, sometimes as little as 30 seconds’ worth (Ambady & Rosenthal, 1993;
Miller & Zhou, 2007).
The TAs will be video recorded for a second time to observe them implementing some of the strategies that they have created to see if good
practices are being implemented, to see if their is a change in how they encourage pupils to socially interact once they have adopted some of the
best strategies. A second video would act as a follow up to see if good practices has been implemented. The study will also explore how TA’s
encourage pupils initiate contact with peers effectively. Effective TAs often do not know that they are doing this and their skills can be honed and
packaged as best practice within the school. TAs can watch themselves and their conversation will be tape recorded to understand the
collaborative interpretation of the videos.Negative impacts will be seen and this will enable TAs to see bad practice which should not be repeated.
In 1995, Pailliotet called the use of communal talk, pictures, and writing centered on videotapes of classroom situations deep viewing (Pailliotet,
1995). Based on the capacity for capturing so much of what is happening in the videotape and the availability for repeated viewing,
A protocol of questions for TAs will be devised which they could add to. Their response will be tape recorded to ensure clarity about what was
said and done focusing on the practice of initiating social communication, looking at the strategy of each TA and using and try them. The effects of
the research can be used to develop goof practice and implications and how to use the findings helps to identify useful and not so useful practices.
A collaborative approach provides better professional practice and a better ethical approach.
In preparation for the pilot each TA was given information verbally about the research design and their opinion was sort and has been recorded below:-
TA1 is supportive of the research and argued that video evidence of TAs interacting with pupils in the classroom is a good idea because it would
enable you to see other practices and techniques and a bigger range of skills which could be adopted by other TAs.
No disadvantages were seen. The TA believed that because the needs of each pupil is so unique and TAs worked independently with their own
pupils that it would be useful to see how other TAs encourage social interaction, especially within the classroom.
TA 2 saw the research plans to be useful to see how you can adapt to supporting each pupil. It would help other TAs to develop ideas about how
to help pupils to interact with their peer groups and to engage them. lT would also give ideas for behavioural and classroom management. The
disadvantages was that ervousness would influence the TAs and possible pupil’s behaviour due to them being video recorded. Pupil may react and
‘play up’. Pupils will get involved if they are encouraged and it would be good to learn more ideas about how to motivate and engage them.
TA 3 Stated that it would be positive to see how other TA interact with pupils and to see different approaches. Replaying the videos would allow
TAs the time to study pupils and TAs behaviour in depth. However having someone watching her own practice would make her very nervous but
we can learn how to encourage pupils to develop socially from the practices of other TAs and it would make us more socially aware. We would be
able to identify inappropriate behaviour. It can only improve practices.
TA 4 was excited to participate and to be videotaped with the pupils although she would feel nervous. The TA wanted to be observed doing
creative activities. There was concern from the TA that her behaviour would not normal because of the video recording.
The advantage is that we would be learning from other people and can see what works and what does not.
The study will explore how TAs communicate the strategies they used. How the emphasis is shift from negative to positive intervention focusing on
pupils approach, maintenance and departure behaviour. There is often discreet social behaviour and TAs may not have a clue so training may be
required. The data will be kept raw and authentic. Themes and patterns will be logged and related to current literature on autism
Video logs, event logs, narrative summaries and vignettes ( Barron, 2009) will be used to help see patterns of interaction to structure and organise
the data. Reviewing the videos andbrake recording the responses of TAs will encourage collaboration between team members and provide an
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