Addressing teacher concerns in communication programming and instruction for students with severe intellectual disability: A report of work in progress

Year: 1992

Author: Arthur, Michael, Butterfield, Nancy

Type of paper: Abstract refereed

Although the extant literature on augmentative and alternative communication interventions is replete with examples of best practice, a number of writers have recently been concerned to encourage the translation of such breakthroughs into general practice in the many and varied contexts in which people with severe intellectual disabilities are educated (Arthur, Linfoot & Butterfield, 1992; Calculator & Jorgensen, 1991). Why is it that changes in knowledge and practice are disparate? Are academic journals, for example, a useful medium for encouraging instructional reform, a question posed recently by Connell (1992). How can we ensure that our pedagogy is dynamic and responsive to the empirical base? One continuing theme in the study of human change processes has been the importance of clearly identifying people's concerns and needs when innovations are proposed (Hord, Rutherford, Huling-Austin & Hall, 1987). This allows for the adoption of such change by the participant such that a non-threatening sense of ownership is achieved, in what some have phrased a 'bottom-up' style. This paper links the findings of a statewide survey of teachers in the area of communication programming and instruction, reported elsewhere (Arthur, Butterfield & Linfoot, 1991: Butterfield, Arthur & Linfoot, 1992), to the development of a responsive professional development manual (Butterfield, Arthur, Linfoot & Philips, 1992). The key components of a statewide inservicing program, designed to support use of this resource, will be discussed, along with the introduction of an evaluation instrument designed to measure how effectively this project has addressed the needs of teachers in the workplace.