Master Liv Inger Engevik
Title of dissertation:
Inclusion, educational dialogues, and cognitive stimulation in the education of pupils with Down syndrome - A multi-method approach to teaching and learning.
The view of the learning potential of children with intellectual disabilities is continuously changing, and the objective of this dissertation is to expand our knowledge about teaching and learning among the largest identifiable group with intellectual disabilities; pupils with Down syndrome. Influential factors at multiple levels are investigated and discussed in three scientific papers based on organizational and didactic issues prominent in the literature and field of practice. A multi-method approach was applied to illuminate the complexity of the pedagogical work involving pupils with Down syndrome.
The first paper concerns classroom inclusion and data is mainly collected via a survey to the teachers of a national age cohort of primary school pupils with Down syndrome (N=39). In the second paper the focus is on teacher-pupil interactions and factors influencing child engagement in educational dialogues, such as teacher directiveness and the emotional climate of the interaction. Seven teacher-child dyads were videotaped while copying a Duplo model and a comparison group consisting of seven preschool children without Down syndrome and their pedagogues was used to assess levels of teacher directiveness and child engagement comparatively. In the third paper book-sharing interactions involving seven teachers and their pupils with Down syndrome are investigated in terms of cognitively stimulating dialogue exchanges.
In total, the results from the different studies illustrate how multiple, interrelated factors affect teaching and learning, such as characteristics of the individual pupil (e.g. expressive language skills), as well as relational and environmental factors (e.g. the emotional climate in educational dialogues and teacher expectations). A number of implications for practice may be inferred, but most prominently the results reveal how learning through social interaction characterised by dynamic other-regulation from the teacher, may form a beneficial basis for child development.