Supporting teachers to meet their obligation to consult students with disability through collaborative design of educational adjustments

Year: 2018

Author: Tancredi, Haley, Graham, Linda

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

The Disability Standards for Education 2005 (Australian Government, 2006) require that teachers make reasonable adjustments for students with disability, including those with Developmental Language Disorder (DLD), to access the curriculum and to demonstrate their learning. Under the Standards, students must be consulted about the adjustments that are made to support their learning; however, this is not common practice. There is also a gap in the literature about what students with language difficulties say helps them to learn, and comparatively little literature that describes what happens when speech pathologists and teachers collaborate to design and implement education adjustments based on students’ insights. As a consequence of these research gaps, teachers do not have access to practical guidance to help them meet their obligations under the Standards. In this presentation, we will describe a Master of Philosophy (Education) project that used a sequential phase mixed-method design incorporating pre- and post- measures to determine (i) whether students feel they have better access to the curriculum and demonstrate better learning outcomes if teachers and speech-pathologists collaborate in designing and implementing adjustments based on student consultation, and (ii) whether teachers report increased confidence in their ability to design and implement adjustments for students with language difficulties following collaboration with a speech pathologist.  Across a range of measures, this research indicates that when teachers and speech pathologists collaborate to design and implement adjustments, there is a positive impact on students and their teachers alike. Student participants reported that pedagogical adjustments reduced the barriers to learning that they had previously experienced. Also, they were more engaged in their school work and felt “calmer” in class. Teacher participants reported increased confidence to make adjustments and these data were supported by observed changes in all teacher’s pedagogical practices. We will discuss the implications that this research has for teachers in inclusive Australian classrooms, as well as future research directions.