What Is The Experience Of Deaf Students In Secondary Mainstream Classrooms?

Bartlett, Robin Frederick (2015). What Is The Experience Of Deaf Students In Secondary Mainstream Classrooms? EdD thesis The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.000114fb

Abstract

This investigation is concerned with the classroom experience of ten students of secondary age who are deaf and who are currently being educated in mainstream secondary schools in England. The study aims to elicit young peoples' views of their classroom experience and to show how their insights may be used to shape and improve the experiences of deaf children in mainstream schools. The authentic voice of the students is identified, separate from the influence of their teachers and their parents.

Qualitative methodology is used to focus on the experiences of the students. Following a small pilot study, an approach to interviews was designed to encourage students to speak freely about their experiences. Students were recruited from schools across England and were interviewed in their own homes by the researcher. The recordings of these in-depth interviews were transcribed and a Grounded Theory (Strauss & Corbin, 1998) approach was employed to identify themes in the data.

In the interviews, the students reflected on their interactions with their teachers, their friendships and their difficulties with communication in class. The findings show that the students do not identify themselves as being ‘deaf people’ but rather wish to be regarded as ‘normal’ people who happen to be deaf. The students provide evidence of the barriers to achieving this ‘normality’ in their classrooms. They discuss the support they are offered, the relationships with their peers and the ways in which they respond to the challenges they face.

The study considers what implications their views have for the students themselves, for the adults who support their learning and for policymakers. It is suggested that both the medical ( Evans and Benefield, 2001) and social models(Shakespeare and Watson, 2010) of disability may need to be reappraised in terms of the framework they provide for guiding schools in educating their students. An alternative model, 'the risk and resilience model’, (Wong, 2003; Reiff, 2004) is examined as a model that has much to offer study in this area. It is suggested that the risk and resilience model offers a better fit in terms of describing the experiences of the students and their responses to the support provided. This model also recognises the importance of the active contribution which the students make in sustaining the teacher-student relationship and the value of seeking their views on issues that might affect them.

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