Voices heard in educational therapy for the remediation of learning disabilities in Christian schools: An analytic description of questions asked and answered

Susan Kathryn Hutchison, University of Pennsylvania

Abstract

There are numerous educational approaches to teaching children with learning disabilities. Over 300 Christian schools in the United States and 37 other countries have chosen to educate students with learning disabilities through a specific program of educational therapy offered by the National Institute for Learning Disabilities (NILD), headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia. Educational therapy has been designed to provide deficit stimulation in perception and cognition through an individualized pull-out program of two 80-minute weekly sessions. ^ This study is the first to examine the process of educational therapy by analyzing the discourse of students and therapists. From 25 NILD techniques, three core techniques—Buzzer, Dictation and Copy and Math Block—were chosen for analysis based on the use of interactive language and the multiple activities imbedded in each technique. Four experienced therapists and their students were taped three times throughout one school year. Thirty-six segments of these sessions, twelve for each of the three core techniques, were transcribed and then analyzed with discourse analysis. The study looks specifically at the forms and functions of discourse structures and strategies in therapy talk. ^ Two typical dialogue structures—the ME (Initiation - Response - Evaluation and a five-step dialogue frame; and four discourse strategies—the use of questions, intonation, repetitions, and pauses—were observed and analyzed in therapy talk. The study suggests that the discourse strategies of intonation, repetitions and pauses provide a foundation for effective questioning. In turn, the questions support the discourse structures as therapists pose directive and interrogative inquiries to their students. The study proposes a five-step dialogue therapy frame that employs the principles of mediated learning and scaffolded instruction. The study also offers an application of discourse analysis for use by educational therapists or other practitioners who work in individualized educational settings and seek to improve their own practice through an analysis of their discourse. ^

Subject Area

Education, Language and Literature|Speech Communication|Education, Special

Recommended Citation

Susan Kathryn Hutchison, "Voices heard in educational therapy for the remediation of learning disabilities in Christian schools: An analytic description of questions asked and answered" (January 1, 1999). Dissertations available from ProQuest. Paper AAI9934161.
http://repository.upenn.edu/dissertations/AAI9934161

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