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    Can a teacher improve speech clarity in children presenting with speech sound disorders using targeted interventions?

    Heffernan, Sarah Louise (2022) Can a teacher improve speech clarity in children presenting with speech sound disorders using targeted interventions? Masters thesis, National University of Ireland Maynooth.

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    This action research was influenced by a past pupil who presented with a range of complex needs, including unclear speech which hampered his ability to communicate effectively. Although I tried to address this need, my lack of knowledge inhibited the effectiveness of strategies put in place, and I felt as though my practice was insufficient to meet the needs of all the children in my class. This study, which was carried out with four 2nd class children in a suburban DEIS 1 Junior School in Dublin, examines whether I as a primary school teacher can effectively implement a programme which improves speech clarity for children who present with speech difficulties. Using a mixed methods approach, and following the ethical standards laid down by Maynooth College, formal and informal pre- and post- interviews and discussions took place with the four children and their parents. Nineteen questionnaires were distributed to school staff, and two speech practitioners were also interviewed. A reflective journal was maintained. I designed and implemented an 11-week intervention focussed on improving a specific target sound (TS). The intervention took place in a learning support classroom three times weekly for each group, withdrawing them from their mainstream classroom. Evidence-based methodologies were put in place to address speech perception, phonological awareness, sound production and minimal pairs. For this study, the TS for group 1 was /r/ while /sh/ was the TS for Group 2. Although the improvement of the children’s speech clarity was not strikingly noticeable, unexpected positive developments were evident in regard to speech perception, phonological awareness and spelling. All children were more conscious of correct pronunciation of their TS and established self-awareness of their own sound production; however this did not transfer to their social engagement with their peers. School staff expressed concern about the rising number of children presenting with speech difficulties, and the impact of this in the classroom. This was echoed by the speech practitioners. The collected data contrasted the importance of informed intervention in addressing speech needs and potential difficulty in accessing these services. The lack of improvement in the children’s speech clarity and information gathered from interviews highlights the need for professional intervention for children presenting with SSD. While phonological awareness strategies can be implemented to improve children’s self-awareness of sound production, this research has found that this is a difficulty for teachers who are not sufficiently trained to assess, diagnose or treat. This study detailed the benefits of collaboration between various professionals in order to provide the highest standard of services. This research also exposed the challenges in accessing speech services which emphasises the need for improvements in how the system operates, with recommendations for improved on-site services for speech and language.

    Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
    Additional Information: M.Ed. Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Keywords: teacher; improve speech clarity; children; speech sound disorders; targeted interventions;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Froebel Department of Primary and Early Childhood Education
    Item ID: 17292
    Depositing User: IR eTheses
    Date Deposited: 08 Jun 2023 09:48
      Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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