HESP Seminar Series: Dr. Naama Tsach, Tel-Aviv University
Title: "The Inclusion of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Students in Mainstream Education: Classroom Participation and its Relationship to Communication, Academic, and Social Performance"
Abstract: Various studies indicate the challenges faced by mainstreamed Deaf and hard of hearing (DHH) students in terms of academic achievements and social-emotional functioning. However, few studies have addressed and described the students' functioning during class. The purpose of the present study was to examine the classroom participation of mainstreamed DHH students, and to assess their feelings in class as well as their communication, social and academic performance in comparison to those of their normal hearing (NH) classmates. The relation between the classroom participation of DHH students and their communicational, social and academic performance were assessed as well. Method: 35 mainstreamed students with moderate to profound hearing loss (HL) and 35 of their classmates with NH participated in this study. The students' classroom participation was assessed using an observation tool which enabled quantitative assessment of students' behaviors in typical class situations including: teacher asking questions or giving instructions, classmates speaking, and the observed student's participating without the teacher's prompt. In addition, we assessed the students' feelings during class, social performance, academic achievements (mathematics and language), speech perception in noise, speech intelligibility, and language performance (semantics, morphology and grammar). Results: Classroom observation indicated that DHH students made more eye contact with the students participating in the class, and needed more help from both the teacher and their classmates in order to follow the teacher's instructions. DHH students had less positive affects during class and more negative feelings. Differences were found to the detriment of DHH students in their self-control as well as in their interpersonal relationships. Differences between the groups were also found in speech perception in noise. However, no differences were found in academic achievements, speech intelligibility, and language performance. DHH students made less eye contact with their classmates as their hearing loss got more severe. In addition, their ability to follow the teacher's instructions correlated with their semantic performance and social behavior. Discussion: The results reflect the classroom participation challenges faced by DHH students and highlight the fact that even DHH students who demonstrate relatively good oral communication skills and academic achievements, still experience significant difficulties in mainstream educational settings. These findings demonstrate the importance of class participation assessment as a major component in the inclusion evaluation of DHH students. A comprehensive evaluation including classroom participation will contribute to the understanding of these students' daily challenges and will create a platform for more efficient rehabilitation programs leading to a more successful inclusion.