Title: [Research] Secondary Education Assessment for Autistic Students in Essex
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(Date Posted:31/08/2011 2:31 AM)
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Hello again Ouch,
As promised in the first thread, I got the confirmation to go ahead with the above title to complete for the AS level Extended Projects Qualification - been working my backside off for the summer to get the majority of it done and dusted before I would begin my full investigations.

Title page for EPQ
A bit of a large image, but it will suffice - you can see who I am in the picture above (Alex Rider - no pics yet, unless you try finding me on Facebook *Cough*).

This study will be revolving around the interpretivist (or 'Meanings Behind Issues') view which is to investigate whether the current education system within the Essex region is sufficiently providing for the needs of Autistic Students in achieving two main themes:

- Is the system working for autistic students in the academical sphere? (e.g. Grades, In-Education Achievements)
- Is the system working for autistic students in the social sphere (e.g. Social Skills, Employment Preparation, etc.)

In general, I thought I would give a lowdown of what's been done so far and allow you to chime in with advice if you so wish - if you live in the Essex region and have been in the Secondary-Age education within the dates listed [1994-2011] with a child (or yourselves) with an ASD, then by all means do contact me if you wish to contribute. :)

Here's a Too long, didn't read version:

- Started off by listing my background into ASD and how in general, there is very little reports done in regards to ASD-specifically. Whilst numerous disablements means it's impossible to be 'fair', even my experiences have never shown any look into disabled student successes both academically and socially.

- Went into the theoretical perspective I would take. For a study such as this, quantifiable data is useful, but the meanings behind that data is more important, especially as for some people, there are areas of success. It's also partly due to the fact ASD is a spectrum, which means it's impossible to make generalisations altogether.
Also claimed to take the perspective from a social model - the people who are the experts in any disablement are not the teachers or SENCOs, but the people affected directly themselves.

- Listed into what ASD is, what the main triad of impairments are, and how these can affect someone in the educational context. Doesn't directly go into the topic question, but it informs the person of what potential problems could arise.

- Listed the methods I could potentially use to collect the necessary primary [collected by myself] and secondary data [collected by others], explaining the advantages/disadvantages. The EPQ is mainly explaining your actions and management, so I felt this would be useful to follow up.

- Identified who was going to be useful to speak to - in this case ideally: (Ex-)Students, Parents and members of staff (SENCOs, Teachers, LSAs/PAs). Some experts may be possible, but that's an aspiration.

- Identified locations. I've decided to go for a 4/4 split in terms of 4 Mainstream Education Institutions and 4 Special Schools to create balance. Obviously each one in turn is going to be different and I can't replicate precise numbers of students/staff, but it's the best I can do with the limited timeframe I have access to.

- Selected the methods I'd use to triangulate. Questionnaires would give me a snapshot of the academic and social perspectives, and then where possible, semi-structured interviews (asking critical questions, but always have room to manouver if needed) and observations to see the system in practice.

- Prepared letters to send to participants explaining my project and what I would like of them if they wished to participate, as well as what ethical procedures I would be following throughout.

I'm admittedly a bit stuck from here, but that's more to do with the approval stages and being unable to do any research until next week (back for the final year), but hopefully things will move on from there.

As always, I will be available to be contacted via the topic here, a private message, or through some Facebook lurking for anyone who can use it. Do feel free to post anything you like here, but please try and keep things on-topic if possible. It's difficult enough for myself trying to sort through the wheat and the chaff, I'm sure you have enough understanding of myself. :p
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Re:[Research] Secondary Education Assessment for Autistic Students in Essex
(Date Posted:06/09/2011 4:31 PM)

 Are you looking at a certain part (high or low functioning) of the spectrum?
usertype:6 tt= 0
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Re:[Research] Secondary Education Assessment for Autistic Students in Essex
(Date Posted:07/09/2011 12:57 AM)

Hello Sofie,

Reply to sofie2 (06/09/2011 11:31 PM)
 Are you looking at a certain part (high or low functioning) of the spectrum?

It's a bit of a difficult question to fully answer as you could probably appreciate, as afterall, the fact is is a spectrum means I can easily be not providing any answers for the families with children on one extreme end of the spectrum. There's also the case of whether we should be classifying individuals as being 'high/low' functioning, as someone who is high functioning academically may still not be getting the appropriate support for social objectives.
Tis a very difficult question to answer in truth and honesty. 

The closest I could get is on the fact I've  made a balance between 4 Mainstreams and 4 Special Schools (obviously I'd like to do more, but that would be more appropriate for 1-Plus Year studies), so I would suspect there may [but not necessarily] be more favour towards the high-functioning end. But that would be subject to who participates once I get confirmation. 

The main point though, is that I wish to see whether the system is working for themselves both academically to the best of their ability, and from the social perspective. If there is a general consensus towards either end, then I can make sure the right things are reported in the conclusion. It should not matter what end of the spectrum a specific individual is based on, so long as the students / families themselves are getting the appropriate provisions to enable them to maximize their academic and social potential that they are capable of.

Thanks for the question Sofie. :)
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