Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting
Sean J. Sweeney Framingham State College: Systemic Change- Curriculum, Instructional Technology and Professional Development Fall 2007
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 2 TABLE OF CONTENTS List of Figures………………………………………………………………………………...3 Acknowledgements…………………………………………………………………………..4 Abstract ............................................................................................................................... 5 CHAPTERS I. II. III. IV. V. Introduction, Research Questions, Definitions, Limitations, and Hypothesis ........ 6 Review of the Literature ...................................................................................... 8 Method…………………………………………………………………………….19 Results……………………………………………………………………………..23 Discussion…………………………………………………………………………36
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 3 List of Figures Figure 1 Figure 2 Reported Percentage of Direct Time Utilizing Technology………………..24 Reported Percentage of Consultation/Preparation Time Utilizing Technology …………………………………………………………………………………25 Figure 3 Figure 4 Figure 5 Figure 6 Figure 7 Figure 8 Reported Resources Used for Direct Therapy……………………………...26 Reported Resources Used for Preparation/Consultation………………......27 Respondent Access to Technology………………...…………………………29 Types of Professional Development Reported……………………….……...30 Specific Technology Tools of Interest to Respondents…………...…………32 Professional Development Activities Suggested by Staff……………..…….34
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 4 Acknowledgements I would like to thank my instructor, Professor Romeo Marquis, for his guidance and feedback throughout the research process. Thank you to my department chair, Meta Millen, who viewed my data collection efforts as valuable to the entire department. Thank you also to the wonderful Speech and Language Pathologists in my department without whose participation this project could not have been completed.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 5
Abstract The integration of instructional technology among Speech-Language Pathologists working in public schools has been hampered by issues surrounding equipment availability, the role of technology in direct instruction, and appropriate venues for professional development, areas that this study sought to clarify. The study consisted of a review of existing literature on these topics as well as a survey of a speech and language department in a suburban school district in the Northeast region of the United States. It was hypothesized that the sampled population of SLPs would closely resemble previously surveyed populations of professionals in terms of low percentage of time utilizing technology. It was further hypothesized that this population would benefit from increased use of communications technologies and Web 2.0 tools such as a wiki to provide instruction and exemplars of instructional technology specifically related to speech and language. Results indicated that this department was more advanced than hypothesized in terms of frequency and varied uses of technology. However, it was found that the sampled SLPs were hindered by inadequate access to technology and other work setting-related issues such as limited utilization of available professional development opportunities and the need for selfadvocacy when working across multiple buildings. Respondents were generally positive and open to the idea of systemic technology integration, and suggested professional development models and topics that, given their hectic, multi-site work schedule, could be addressed through existing models as well as use of use of a collaborative website to provide instruction and exemplars of technology integration relevant to their clinical needs.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 6
I. Introduction Practitioners in the field of Speech-Language Pathology who work in school settings are tasked with the challenging goal of improving students’ general language skills while helping them to access curriculum content and meet both Individualized Education Plan (IEP) objectives and state standards. Though technology tools can provide greater access to information and activities and ultimately reduce preparation time needed to help Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) accomplish this task, research has suggested that technology tools are underutilized by these professionals. This study is designed to research the status of technology integration among SLPs working in schools, collect data on technology use, professional development, attitudes and suggestions regarding technology among a sample of SLPs, and suggest possible solutions to facilitate increased technology integration in the sampled group of professionals.
Research Questions and Hypothesis Research Question 1: To what degree is technology integrated in the direct therapy and consultative activities of a sample of school-based SLPs, and how does this sample compare to previously surveyed populations?
Research Question 2: What are the barriers to increased technology integration in terms of availability of equipment and technology tools, professional development experience, and practitioner attitudes toward technology integration?
Research Question 3: What interventions or programming would facilitate systemic change and
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 7 technology integration across this population of SLPs for furthering of student achievement of IEP goals and curriculum standards?
Hypothesis: The sampled population of SLPs will closely resemble previously surveyed populations of professionals in terms of low percentage of time utilizing technology. This population would benefit from increased use of communications technologies and Web 2.0 tools such as blogs or wikis to provide instruction and exemplars of instructional technology specifically related to speech and language.
Definitions, Limitations & Delimitations Technology, for the purpose of this study, is defined as use of computers, applications, and peripherals to further teaching and learning. This is distinct from the term technology as used in science and technology benchmarks, which refers to the study of scientific developments and the manufacture of useful devices that affect human quality of life. Technology integration refers to the teaching of technology skills in the context of projects, activities and instruction related to curriculum topics, usually within the general classroom setting. Systemic integration is integrated across all professionals, grade levels and settings within a district. Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) are professionals specializing in the assessment and treatment of speech and language disorders and disabilities. SLPs work in many settings including hospitals, clinics, and schools; in the school setting, SLPs work primarily with students diagnosed with communication disabilities impacting their academic performance who require specialized instruction as outlined by an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 8 Direct therapy or direct service refer to the time periods and activities prescribed by the IEP in which the SLP works directly with students in individual, small group or classroom based sessions to address their IEP goals and objectives, which align in developmentally appropriate ways with state educational standards for achievement. Consultative, Indirect, or Preparatory Service refer to the time periods spent gathering and creating materials for use in direct therapy, creating visual supports, educational materials, or activities for use by teachers or paraprofessionals within the classroom setting or parents within the home setting, or communicating with teachers, parents and other support staff. Limitations of this study include time frames, which will not allow for full implementation and evaluation of proposed solutions to facilitate increased technology integration. Delimitations of this study indicate that the study will analyze survey results from a cluster sample of approximately 20 SLPs in one suburban school district in the Northeast region of the United States who were available to this examiner.
II. Review of the Literature There are a variety of issues surrounding integration of technology into the daily practice of Speech-Language Pathologists working in school settings. Among these are an evolving awareness of peers and their level of technology use in these settings; a number of studies regarding frequency and nature of this technology use will be discussed. Additionally, it is helpful to explore the theoretical foundation of school-based interventions and the role that technology can play in development of speech and language skills. The literature on this topic also offers specific references to technology tools relevant to SLPs, and these will be discussed in this section.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 9
How are SLPs using technology in their practice? As a research-based profession, Speech-Language Pathology, like general education, is concerned with trends and best practices that are documented in professional literature. A number of surveys have documented the frequency and nature of computer use by SLPs in public school settings and noted a general trend of increasing use. Surveys completed by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) addressing a number of issues, including technology, found that the number of SLPs reporting use of computers at least occasionally rose from 57.3% in 1988 to 69.1 in 1991. Looking at this data in a different way and incorporating their own results, McRay & Fitch (1996) reported “a significant number of public school personnel who are not using computers,” (McRay & Fitch, 1996, p. 44) with over one-third of their sample reporting that they never use a computer. One factor affecting SLPs use of technology in the school setting is the training they undergo both in graduate school and in continuing professional development. McRay & Fitch (1996) found a link between computer use and length of time since the respondent’s last degree, with SLPs who had attended graduate school recently being more likely to use technology. Additionally, the area of technology-related professional development was found to be weak across the nation, with 71% of the respondents expressing the need for moderate to extensive training in the use of technology. McRay & Fitch concluded that graduate training programs have not specifically included instruction on using technology, and posed the question of “who should be responsible for ensuring that public school speech-language pathologists are trained to use existing technology?” (McRay & Fitch, 1996, p.44) Lack of training is only one factor affecting the use of technology by public school SLPs.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 10 Cochran & Masterson, in their article “NOT Using a Computer in Language Intervention: In Defense of the Reluctant Clinician,” sited the following significant factors: limited access to computer resources, lack of training, concern that students will be intimidated by the computer, worry over the amount of time necessary to teach students to use the computer, and doubts regarding the efficacy of computer activities (Cochran & Masterson, 1995). Though a number of these issues can be addressed by effective professional development with instruction in how to engage students in effective technology use, the availability of equipment is often noted to be a singular and significant problem. In a survey by ASHA in 2006, 26% of respondents identified limited access to technology as their greatest professional challenge; that number decreased to 16% in 2004 (American Speech-Language Hearing Association, 2006). Other studies have noted that up to 37% of school-based SLPs have no computers available for them to use (McRay & Fitch, 1996). Given the expense of such equipment, the availability of computers remains a significant factor in technology integration: “The conclusion drawn…is that most public school speech-language pathologists do not have budgets that will support the acquisition of the hardware and software necessary to integrate into a clinical program” (McRay & Fitch, 1997, p. 135). When SLPs do have technology available to them, there are wildly varying approaches to using it. McRay & Fitch (1997) found that SLPs did not view their computers as versatile tools with many functions, but rather used them in a “one-dimensional” way to accomplish a single clinical task. Many of the respondents used computers only to play games for reinforcement, score standardized tests, write reports and forms, make communication boards, generate Individualized Education Plans, or make awards. It should be noted that none of these functions are truly in the spirit of technology integration, which involves putting the technology in the
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 11 hands of the student as a learning tool.
What is the theoretical foundation for technology use in the practice of Speech-Language Pathology? Speech-Language Pathologists are naturally concerned about treatment efficacy, which begins with treatment practices having a solid foundation in evolving theory regarding language development and education. One issue in using technology in speech and language interventions involves recent changes in treatment models and corresponding theory about how learning takes place. The movement toward inclusion of all students has influenced SLPs’ use of technology to facilitate design of learning situations so that all students can access the curriculum. Additionally, it has been suggested that the dawning of the “digital age” has actually changed the manner in which all students learn, and that teaching methodologies should evolve accordingly. SLPs have in some cases been resistant to using computers in their treatment because they see the computer as replacing them in their role of shaping and reinforcing the students’ speech and language (Cochran & Masterson, 1995). This fear could be based in a somewhat limited view of how speech and language therapy should be conducted, as well as a restricted understanding of how computers can be used in therapy. As it originally was conceived, the practice of speech and language pathology was based in behavioral models such as those outlined by B.F. Skinner. Under such models, the clinician would engineer a learning situation with carefully controlled variables in order to elicit a specific desired response, for example, an accurately produced /s/ sound or a complex sentence, and then reinforce the target response in a process of conditioning (Hewitt, 2000). This process can, in fact, take place with many computer programs; with some drill-and-practice software and websites, students can practice
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 12 targets and earn virtual tokens or other reinforcements for desired responses. However, SLPs are reasonable in questioning whether they should be using such programs regularly in direct therapy. Drill-and-practice software seems more designed for training the student to use the program independently or with minimal support, and then scheduling continued use with the teacher’s or paraprofessional’s supervision. Though the behavioral model of therapy, often associated with medical settings, still has a place in school settings, its use has faded with an increasing emphasis on integrated service delivery. Coufal (2002) describes this “paradigm shift” as encompassing four themes: meaningful intervention goals closely tied to the curriculum, avoiding isolated and incremental skill development within behaviorist models in favor of more holistic treatment, using evidence-based and theoretically grounded methods, and ensuring that intervention strategies align with functional goals. This movement is based in a social interactionist rather than a behaviorist model, a model which focuses not on learning through stimulus and response but through meaningful use of language with mature communication partners, such as the SLP, teacher, or parent. Coufal notes that this model fits well with the increasing emphasis on discourse, as understanding and formulating language above the level of the sentence is noted to be a key to success in school. The theoretical grounding that shapes professional practice, including the importance of discursive processes that were widely researched in the 1980 [aligns with] the increasing emphasis on oracy and literacy. The burgeoning literature on social interaction at home and in school as an appropriate context for language learning and learning through language have propelled the practicing
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 13 speech-language pathologist to move out of the isolated treatment setting of traditional service delivery models into the contexts of home and classroom. (Coufal, 2002, p.2). The social interactionist model is distinct from the processes emphasized by Skinner and more akin to the concepts around teacher/therapist “mediation” and “scaffolding” described in the work of Vygotsky. Westby (2002) describes how computer activities can present a context in which, according to Vygotskian principles, “the individuals who are more knowledgeable about the topic to be learned carefully scaffold the mediated instruction so that it is within the range in which children can perform the task with assistance, but not independently” (Westby, 2002, p.77). As such, computers can do more than provide drill-and-practice activities in which the clinician is largely irrelevant. They can provide a vital context, as can a storybook or other language-based activity, for the SLP to scaffold the students’ comprehension of and completion of the activity, as well as their ability to express the ideas behind the activity at the discourse level. Another strong rationale for using technology in speech and language interventions is technology’s solid link to the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL). As described by Rose & Meyer (2002), UDL grew from architectural principles in which buildings began to be designed for all users from their inception, rather than being retrofitted in a reactive manner: Legislation mandating universal access led to extensive retrofitting with ramps, elevators, talking signs, and other access devices. But retrofitting is expensive, often aesthetically disastrous, and usually inadequate in many ways. Universal design provided a new and better approach. Architects realized that by considering the needs of their buildings' potential users at the outset, they could subtly integrate universal accessibility into the fabric of the building's design.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 14 Universal design challenges architects to innovate, often improving aesthetics and functionality (Rose & Meyer, chap. 4). Because technology provides often-easy access to more multisensory, multimodal, and interactive learning activities, it has been viewed as a key element of UDL. Since the population serviced by SLPs can be limited in all functions of language-listening, speaking, reading, writing, instruction often needs to include stimuli other than text. Researchers have sited the importance of presenting to our students a “universal curriculum.” The learning material or curriculum is not limited to text but, rather, is significantly more inclusive. A universal curriculum combines rigorous content and supplemental educational experiences, such as authentic learning, with online resources, software programs, digital content, and video resources (Abell, Bauder, & Simmons, 2005, p.83). According to the principles of UDL, SLPs therefore can find in technology an important means of modifying curriculum concepts so they can be accessed by students with learning disabilities. Another factor underlying the use of technology in speech and language intervention is the growing sense that the way our students learn students has changed because of their constant exposure to multimedia and digital technologies. Prensky (2001) writes about our students as digital “natives” who have been immersed in technology since their birth; we, on the other hand, as their teachers, are “immigrants” who often have trouble understanding their language, culture, and beliefs, in addition to their apparent difficulty in paying attention to traditional classroom teaching.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 15 It is now clear that as a result of this ubiquitous environment and the sheer volume of their interaction with it, today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors. These differences go far further and deeper than most educators suspect or realize. “Different kinds of experiences lead to different brain structures, “ says Dr. Bruce D. Berry of Baylor College of Medicine…it is very likely that our students’ brains have physically changed – and are different from ours – as a result of how they grew up. But whether or not this is literally true, we can say with certainty that their thinking patterns have changed (Prensky, 2001). As a result of this purported change in students’ learning style, we are likely to find that our interventions are likely to be more successful if they integrate our students’ native “language”: the language of technology. What specific applications of technology should SLPs be using? As indicated above, SLPs can be wary of using technology in their direct therapy, perhaps because they have only been exposed to drill-and-practice computer activities in which the computer plays the role of the SLP. In such activities, the computer may control the level of difficulty of stimulus items, provide cues to the student, and reinforce in various ways. It is true that overseeing such activities is likely not the best use of time for a master’s level clinician. However, because these computer-based activities could still be of great benefit to students with language disabilities, it may be helpful to use them to supplement rather than replace direct therapy time. Schery & O’Connor, in a response to an earlier study, elaborated on this idea of using technology as a consultative tool.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 16 The question is certainly not whether computers can replace clinicians in delivering communication training to children with severe disabilities; there is virtually no danger of that….If computer technology can be used to provide carefully paced and pre-selected vocabulary and language targets with demonstrated efficacy, the possibility of having paraprofessionals deliver this more routine aspect of language training becomes the next issue. If computer training can be provided effectively by paraprofessionals, the clinician, as the professional communication specialist, can spend more time in the challenging task of diagnostic teaching to determine appropriate goals and training approaches for each child (Schery & O’Connor, 1993, p.180). Technology can also be used for consultation and session preparation by SLPs to create customized and curriculum-based materials. Though a wealth of language materials are available commercially, they often teach skills in isolation and are not linked to the context of the curriculum. Cochran & Masterson (1995) note that with basic procedures and technology, clinicians can create customized worksheets, utilize clip art, and generate visual supports including but not limited to communication boards. There is additional support for creating materials that use personal, functional, and real-life images accessed via the Internet or with the use of digital photography as “an effective and efficient means to create natural contexts for communication” (Coufal, 2002, p. 40). Regarding direct therapy, we have seen references to technology being used as a context for naturalistic, functional communication between the SLP and student, or between students in a cooperative group. For SLPs, this often must involve thinking outside the box, using a greater range of contexts or materials than have previously been considered to be related to speech and
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 17 language. Lieberth & Martin (1995) advocate that clinicians use software that was not designed specifically for clinical use; this flexibility in materials selection can also be applied to use of Internet sites not designed specifically for speech and language therapy. Rather than a specific clinical purpose underlying its design, SLPs should look for a software program or website with potential for creating a context for communication and the scaffolding and cueing that facilitate achievement of IEP goals. Activities often include a software program or game that functions as the topic, or focus, of conversation between the client and clinician. For example, the clinician and child might create a picture from existing graphics libraries, write or narrate a story, make a sign or greeting card, or solve a puzzle. In this way, the computer provides an important part of the shared context the clinician and child experience during treatment, whereas traditional functions such as recording responses and providing linguistic models are still carried out by the clinician (Cochran & Masterson, 1995, p.5). Activities that establish a context could include use of websites or software that provide access to interactive and/or animated stories to target development of higher-level discourse language and literacy skills (Westby, 2002). In addition to targeting comprehension of narrative, computer programs such as KidPix can be used to provide visual scaffolding necessary to help students construct their own stories and write text (Coufal, 2002, Lieberth & Martin, 1995). Additional visual supports to build discourse skills can be found in concept mapping software such as Inspiration or Kidspiration. These programs help students, with the support of the SLP or teacher, create interactive graphic organizers representing the flow of ideas within a topic. Though not created specifically for clinical use by SLPs, these concept-mapping programs
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 18 target core skills outlined in curriculum standards and often selected as goals on Individualized Education Plans: categorizing, sequencing, storytelling, stating cause and effect or main idea, and so on. The visual nature of the programs promotes access and language use at a greater range of developmental levels: “Even the preliterate child can benefit from the graphic representations of language made possible by use of software such as Inspiration” (Coufal, 2002, p. 3). For students who are able to read, accessing text-based or hyperlinked websites can provide an alternative to using traditional text as a context for therapy. Coufal (2002) notes that Internet use to access text or other resources fosters students’ ability to “comprehend, question, investigate, create meaning, express and defend their ideas” (Coufal, 2002, p. 41). Internet use to access text can also be a “hook” that increases students’ motivation to interact around curriculum materials and concepts; there are numerous studies showing that students make comparable gains, are more engaged, and prefer conditions in which computers are used over traditional picture-based or text-based therapy (Cochran & Masterson, 1995). Resources that foster interactivity between the student and computer, student and SLP, or between students in a cooperative group also align with social-interactionist theories of language development. Simulation games such as SimCity or similar websites can be used as a context for developing higher-level discourse and language organization skills (Westby, 2002). Interactive Resources that SLPs were previously urged to develop themselves using early hypertext programs such as Hypercard (Lieberth & Martin, 1995) are now readily and freely available on the Internet, with more visual support and graphics than SLPs could possibly have incorporated into a Hypercard “stack.” Interactive websites such as BBC Schools allow students to access abstract curriculum concepts and demonstrate achievement of standards through visual supports
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 19 and virtual experiences. Technology-based applications give students access to worlds and environments that are inaccessible, too expensive, or too dangerous in a classroom setting; enable students with disabilities to experience laboratories and field trips at their own pace; and allow them to repeat the experience as many times as necessary. Further, they present content matter in a variety of modalities, thereby addressing the diverse learning styles of students (Smedley & Higgins, 2005, p 41). In addition to interacting with the computer and SLP, students can be prompted to interact with each other to complete curriculum-based projects, and thereby target both academic language and social skills. WebQuests are one model of such project-based learning; created by teachers, these web-based units are available free on the Internet. They often pose an openended and real-life problem related to curriculum concepts, and require students to work together in groups, usually with assigned roles, to pose solutions based on the research they obtain from resources embedded in or linked to the WebQuest (Westby, 2002).
III. Method This section will describe the surveyed group, detail survey questions, and describe data collection and analysis methods and procedures.
Sample Selection The participants in this study were 19 Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) from a suburban school district. The SLPs are organized in a department under a chairperson within the district and service all elementary and secondary schools. Though many of the therapists work
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 20 only at one school, a number are required to divide their time to service the needs of students across several schools.
Measures Measuring SLPs current use of technology Data were collected regarding SLPs' self-reported use of technology. The survey asked SLPs to report their current access to computers, software and other technology equipment. The therapists were also asked to report the percentage of time using technology during direct therapy time, defined as time spent working directly with individual students or groups of students in or out of the classroom setting. Additionally, SLPs reported the percentage of time using technology during preparation and consultation time, defined as time spent gathering and creating materials for use in direct therapy, creating visual supports, educational materials, or activities for use by teachers or paraprofessionals within the classroom setting or parents within the home setting, or communicating with teachers, parents and other support staff. In addition to the amount of time spent using technology, SLPs were also asked to report frequently used websites and software used for direct therapy and preparation/consult time.
Measuring Professional Development Participation, Attitudes and Interests Regarding Professional Development and Technology. Respondents were asked to report professional development activities in the past four years that related to technology integration. In order to characterize respondents’ attitudes toward the value of technology integration, they were asked to make a statement regarding the relationship between technology integration and student achievement of IEP goals. Additionally,
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 21 to guide recommendations for improving systemic professional development, respondents were surveyed to gauge levels of interest in specific technology tools, as well as suggestions to facilitate department-wide technology integration specifically related to speech and language.
Design and Procedures Design The sample in this study consisted of 19 respondents of the SLP department within this district. Procedure The data collection procedure was conducted following the steps below: Step 1. A survey was created based on frameworks established by Framingham State College regarding professional development and systemic change, including the concepts of technology integration, student achievement and implementation of professional development to affect change across all schools, levels, and departments. Step 2. The survey was distributed to all members of the speech and language department during a department meeting, with a request to return responses within two weeks via email or interdepartmental mail. Step 3. Responses were collected and data were organized for quantitative and qualitative measures. Quantitative measures included number of therapists reporting time spent in direct/consultative use of technology at each percentage point (0-90%) as well as range, mean, and mode. Frequently used technology tools were also categorized and the number of respondents using tools in each category was calculated. Reported technology integration-related professional development activities were also categorized and the number of respondents
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 22 participating in each category was calculated. Respondents were asked to describe their access to technology, which was characterized as adequate, adequate with use of personal equipment, or inadequate. Qualitative information gathered included respondents’ statements regarding technology tools of interest for further professional development and suggestions for models of technology-related professional development. Statements regarding participants’ view of the relationship between technology use and student achievement of IEP goals were also elicited and coded as positive, negative or neutral.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 23 IV. Results In this study, a survey regarding technology use, professional development, and attitudes and suggestions to facilitate technology integration was administered to the Speech and Language department of a suburban school district in the Northeast region of the United States. Nineteen responses were received and analyzed for quantitative and qualitative data.
Research Question 1: To what degree is technology integrated in the direct therapy and consultative activities of a sample of school-based SLPs, and how does this sample compare to previously surveyed populations?
Determining Participating SLPs Current Use of Technology Survey participants were asked to estimate the percentage of time they use technology while engaged in direct therapy and consultation/preparation activities. Reponses were tabulated and charted to display data, and mean, mode and range were determined. Responses indicating technology use less than 10 percent of the time were grouped into a “<10” category; the number 5% was used as an estimate when calculating means. Responses regarding use of technology in direct therapy ranged from 0-70% of the time, with a mean response of 26.8% of the time; the modal response was 20% of the time. Responses regarding use of technology in consultation/preparation activities ranged from 0-100% of the time, with a mean response of 48.2% of the time; the modal response was 90% of the time.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 24 Figure 1 Reported Percentage of Direct Time Utilizing Technology
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 25 Figure 2 Reported Percentage of Consultation/Preparation Time Utilizing Technology
Respondents were also asked to indicate the specific technology tools they use most for direct therapy and consultation/preparation activities. These responses were grouped into categories and the number of therapists referencing each category was tabulated and charted. Results are displayed below.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 26 Figure 3 Reported Resources Used for Direct Therapy
Results indicate that the surveyed group of SLPs is most frequently using technology with students to access images and drill-based games online, as well as animated storybooks. The use of images and drill games is most closely aligned with Skinnerian viewpoints of therapy described earlier in this report, as these resources are generally used to work on smaller elements of language such as speech sound practice, vocabulary, or other elements of less-contextual language that are specifically reinforced. The use of animated storybooks and PowerPoint suggests use of technology to develop discourse, as associated with Vygotskian principles in which these resources are used to help students comprehend and develop more lengthy and complex language with scaffolding by the clinician. Other tools with the potential to develop
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 27 discourse such as multimedia software, interactive websites and concept mapping software are reported to be used less frequently.
Figure 4 Reported Resources Used for Preparation/Consultation
Regarding the use of technology in preparation and consultation, results indicate that many in the surveyed group were not specific about how they use technology in this manner, with almost 50% of the sample reporting no favorite resources. Of the reported resources used, the most frequent category included websites or software used for printing materials and worksheets, with sources of images for printing being another reported category. A number of respondents also mentioned the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA)
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 28 website, which can be used to locate information for parents and teachers and conduct research on specific disorders, issues specific to school settings, and evidence-based practice. Viewing these responses as a whole, across the service delivery models of direct and consultative service, this sample of SLPs tended to use technology for multiple purposes. This can be seen in their reference to using several different categories of technology tools in their responses. For example, some respondents referred to using multiple and varied tools such as sources of images, PowerPoint, and interactive websites. Viewing their responses, 16/19 respondents (85%) used the computer for varied purposes within direct and consultative service delivery models.
Research Question 2: What are the barriers to increased technology integration in terms of availability of equipment and technology tools, professional development experience, and practitioner attitudes toward technology integration?
Identifying Barriers to Increased Technology Integration Participants were asked to describe their current access to technology, their professional development experience related to technology over the past 4 years, and their feelings about the relationship between technology integration and student achievement. Regarding the availability of technology, responses were categorized in the following manner: adequate, adequate with use of personal equipment, or inadequate. The personal equipment category included responses of participants that referenced use of their own laptops at school. Equipment availability was characterized as “inadequate” if the respondent indicated it was “old” or that they had “limited access.” Two respondents referred to laptop carts in their building that they did not know if they
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 29 could access. A summary chart of responses regarding technology access is displayed below. Figure 5 Respondent Access to Technology
Participants were asked to list the professional development activities related to technology that they had engaged in over the past four years. Responses were categorized and the number of responses in each category was tabulated. Results are displayed below.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 30 Figure 6 Types of Professional Development Reported
Most frequently referenced categories of professional development included two inservice trainings run by members of the department on using the software program Boardmaker to access images and create communication boards, as well as a training on expository text resources on the Internet. A number of respondents also mentioned attending trainings within their individual schools on various software programs such as iPhoto or FirstClass. Four department members had attended iCamp or Windows Camp, one element of the district’s efforts at fostering systemic technology integration across all levels. These activities consisted of weeklong summer institutes with lessons on integrating various technology tools through handson practice. An equal amount of respondents reported engaging in no professional development
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 31 related to technology at all in the past four years. Respondents were additionally asked for a statement of their opinion of the relationship between technology integration and student achievement of academic standards and Individualized Education Plan goals. These responses were coded and characterized as positive, neutral, or negative. Two participants did not respond to the question; none of the respondents mentioned only negative opinions of technology integration. Of the total responses, 11, or 58%, were coded as positive and indicated that technology plays a strong role in student achievement. Examples of positive statements include the following: “IT IS COMPLETELY ESSENTIAL. It provides yet another modality for the student to integrate information, many of my students are so motivated by the computer. It is a tangible way that they can be successful with a finished product. It is also an easy way to connect reallife and meaningful experiences to the curriculum.” “It’s an area to be explored…I think that it is important to integrate the technology in order to allow my students to improve their overall communication skills.” “If I had more access to technology and better software, I’d integrate it into my sessions. I think technology would greatly enhance student achievement.” “I think it helps immensely- the students I work with are highly interested in using the computer and other technology. My students are visual learners and could benefit from all different types of technology.” Reponses were coded as neutral if they mentioned both positive and negative aspects of technology integration, expressed uncertainty, or referenced using technology more indirectly with students. Of the total responses, 5, or 26%, were coded as neutral. Examples of neutral statements included the following:
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 32 “Can’t say. I don’t use it that much.” “Many students who are comfortable using the computer for academic/research work accomplish their goals in a shorter time period. However, many students are reluctant to use the computer for this purpose and wish to use it just for games.” “I am not confident that with [students not using technology for assistive communication purposes] there is a direct connection between use of technology and achieving goals, however it does motivate and enhance the therapy program.”
Research Question 3: What interventions or programming would facilitate systemic change and technology integration across this population of SLPs for furthering of student achievement of IEP goals and curriculum standards?
Identifying Professional Development Activities to Facilitate Department-Wide Technology Integration Participants were asked to identify technology tools that they are already aware of and would like to know more about. Responses were very varied and reflected wide knowledge of tools that are available. Responses are displayed below. Figure 7 Specific Technology Tools of Interest to Respondents PowerPoint Don’t know Reading comprehension programs or sites “Interested in learning or being exposed to all areas of technology. Generally do not have
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 33 time to use software in groups” “Digital Camera-iPhoto” “I would love to use the net more” “Making spreadsheets, digital photography, PowerPoint presentations” “Not sure what is out there, so maybe an in-service on what’s available and how to implement the tools in direct therapy.” “Websites that show how to articulate sounds, or sites like mind reader that students could use on their own.” “Always looking for new websites and software to do the job more efficiently and take less home to prep.” “Quia and other sites that have on-line activities for kids to use, especially pertaining to expressive language” “Anything that is user-friendly and practical. Writing software such as Clicker5. Want to grow skills with Classroom Suite, Intellitools. Use of software that is on the computer already. “Any and all! Studyguides.” “Any that would be helpful” “Intellitools, any websites with already-made teaching tools.”
Participants were also asked how they felt professional development would best be delivered, i.e. what activities would help to facilitate department-wide technology integration. Results were categorized and the number of respondents referencing each category of professional development activities was tabulated. Results are displayed below.
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 34
Figure 8 Professional Development Activities Suggested by Staff
The most frequently referenced category was that of department-based workshops or inservice trainings, reflecting positive experiences in past department-based meetings. This response also highlights the need for professional development that is customized to the needs and daily activities of the SLP, rather than general educators. The group of respondents also felt strongly that access to technology equipment was key to more frequent department-wide use of technology. Responses also reflected an awareness of resources of technology knowledge within the department, access to which could be facilitated by activities such as increased modeling and communication among staff, development of a technological means for sharing activities such as
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 35 an “activity exchange” website, and mentoring. Department members additionally sought clear and practical instruction through use of hands-on practice and specific links to student goals and objectives. VI. Discussion
This study was designed to examine a sample of Speech-Language Pathologists’ current use of technology, relationship with technology integration and technology-related professional development, and suggestions to foster increased integration. The first research hypothesis stated that this sample of SLPs would look similar to previously surveyed populations in terms of frequency of technology use and applications of technology to their practice. As compared to McRay & Fitch’s 1996 finding that over one-third of their sample never used computers at all, this study finds very significant progress in increased technology use, with respondents reporting use of technology in direct work with students about one-third of the time, and in consultation and preparation about half of the time. This study differed from previous studies in that it did not take into account computer use for administrative functions, such as writing Individualized Education Plans, because in the sample populations’ setting, technology use for that purpose is mandated. This study also had more interest in characterizing SLPs’ use of technology for different purposes, the data for which would perhaps direct future professional development. With regard to viewing technology as a multidimensional tool, this sample also is significantly more advanced than in previous surveys. Where this study found that 85% of respondents used technology applications in multiple categories, McRay and Fitch (1996) found a significant trend towards technology being used for a single purpose. This study showed a tendency within the sampled population to use technology more for Skinnerian/behaviorally-modeled activities, such as drill-and practice activities. Using
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 36 technology in this manner, with the skilled therapist leading or supervising an activity that is mostly driven by the computer, often leads to confusion over the SLP’s role and the value of his/her presence within that type of activity, as indicated in the literature. Should SLPs expand their viewpoint of how technology can be used in direct therapy, they would be able to relegate drill-and-practice activities to paraprofessionals, parents or the students themselves, as “assigned” by the SLP in a consultative role. The SLPs surveyed would benefit from training in use of technology in the wider range of applications suggested by the literature and in a Vygotskian model, with the technology and SLP establishing a context for an activity within the student’s Zone of Proximal Development, and the SLP providing scaffolding to assist the student to complete the activity. With regard to barriers to increased technology use among this population, availability of equipment remains a significant issue in terms of facilitating department-wide integration. Approximately 50% of the sample did not have adequate access to technology to use with students or to further their own professional development. A number of therapists referenced the presence of carts of laptops in their schools, but did not know if this technology was truly available to them. In addition, department meetings have highlighted the unresolved question of who is responsible for providing technology to the SLPs: the district-wide special education department or the individual schools in which the SLPs work. It is recommended that both avenues of funding be pursued, however, SLPs would do well to self-advocate for allocations within the larger building-based technology budgets. Because SLPs are providing services toward the academic progress of students within individual schools, and classroom teachers are often allocated laptops, so too should individual schools play a role in providing adequate technology tools. SLPs can facilitate this support by being visible technology users, being more
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 37 aware of resources within the school, accessing their building-based technology specialist for group or individual professional development, and attending technology planning committee meetings. This sample of SLPs expressed largely positive attitudes toward the concept of technology integration, with 58% of responses indicating a positive relationship between technology integration and student achievement, with an additional 26% with neutral responses, indicating a willingness to learn more. It does appear, however, that many of the sampled SLPs have not taken advantage of district-wide efforts to foster systemic technology integration, with only approximately 20% having attended summer technology institutes, and 25% attending buildingbased professional development in technology. Though the group seems most enthusiastic about department-based trainings specific to speech and language, they might consider accessing other opportunities that would increase their knowledge and comfort with technology, and also serve to alleviate equipment access problems. In addition to increased technology access and department-based in-services, this sample of SLPs referenced activities to foster systemic integration that emphasized practical application and modeling, such as hands-on practice, increased communication among staff, use of “activity exchanges,” mentoring, and clear examples of how technology activities can relate to the curriculum. Given the configuration of this and many other SLP departments, with therapists individually servicing schools across the city and generally meeting only monthly, it is difficult to accomplish this type of professional development with traditional, synchronous face-to-face meetings. One initiative could be to use this department’s “affinity group” format and convene a group to focus on technology integration for a period of one or two years. In addition, the use of Web 2.0 tools, in which users can easily publish and archive communications on the Internet, is
Facilitating Technology Integration Among Speech-Language Pathologists in the Public School Setting 38 becoming very popular to facilitate professional development among teachers with busy schedules. In particular, the use of a wiki, an easily writable web page to which all can contribute ideas collaboratively, would be one solution that could facilitate department-wide integration. The wiki could be structured as a venue for sharing of specific technology applications, with links to resources, software downloads, and specific interactive websites. Reference to academic standards and/or IEP goals addressed by each activity will help SLPs to view activities as valuable use of direct therapy time. For more difficult applications, the tool of “Screencasting” can be used to narrate and visually show how to use the technology skills to complete the activity. For example, a screencast can be created and linked to the wiki in which the software program Kidspiration is demonstrated. With the advent of digital video, it would even be possible to videotape individual lessons and post them to the wiki in QuickTime Movie format. The use of a wiki will also foster a sense of community among its users, in which all are able to contribute ideas toward the common goal of systemic technology integration. This research project illuminates areas that could be researched in further depth, most notably whether these results are consistent with the technology use of SLPs in other schools or districts. One further area for research could characterize the impact on the department of the creation of a wiki. Department members could be issued post-use surveys in which they critique the quality and relevance of the wiki content, as well as how often they have accessed and utilized the ideas.
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