An exploration of the Sandtray Play Approach for narrative skills development in first language Afrikaans-speaking Grade 3 learners with specific learning disability

Saaiman, Louise (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Children with specific learning disability (SLD) struggle with reading, spelling and/or writing, and tend to have poor narrative skills (Fey, Catts, Proctor-Williams, Tomblin & Zhang, 2004; Scanlon, 2013). Although learners with SLD mostly use grammatical sentences after discharge from conventional speech-language therapy, they often still struggle with creating narratives and find comprehension tasks challenging. For this study, I chose an action research design (McNiff & Whitehead, 2013). I used a lesser known therapy approach with some of these learners, in an attempt to ascertain whether kinetic methods of teaching language can improve their narrative skills. The research question posed was: What changes in narrative skills (if any), measured in terms of micro and macro structure, are brought about by the Sandtray Play Approach (STPA) in first language (L1) Afrikaans-speaking Grade 3 learners with SLDs? I used the STPA with four L1 Afrikaans-speaking Grade 3 boys with SLD over a course of six weeks (on average two therapy sessions per week). During each session, they each choose a variety of miniature objects with which they individually built a so-called “Sandworld” in their own sandtray. After each Sandworld was built, the boys took turns telling their story and listening to those of the other group member. After each narration, each listener made one positive comment and asked one question about the story. During the intervention period, I regularly presented mini-sessions teaching the participants how to create, improve and expand their narratives. The Language in Multilingual Society: Multilingual Assessment of Narratives (LITMUS: MAIN-Afrikaans) (Gagarina, Klop, Kunnari, Tantele, Valimaa, Baluciuniene, Bohnacker, & Walters, 2012) was used to analyse pre- and post-intervention narratives in terms of story structure components; (in)completeness of episodes; mean length of utterance (in words); and use of subordinating and co-ordinating conjunctions, conjunctive adverbs and internal state terms. The pre- and post-intervention results of the four boys in the experimental group were compared to those of four boys who did not receive any STPA intervention and who formed the control group. All eight participants had been clinically diagnosed as presenting with an SLD. Comparisons of the LITMUS: MAIN-Afrikaans scores indicated inter-group differences: Post-intervention, the experimental group used a higher number of story structure components, internal state terms, words, and utterances (those linguistic aspects introduced and practised during STPA intervention) than the control group. The experimental group’s Sandtray narratives also increased in multiple areas of structural complexity – e.g., in the use of conjunctive adverbs; subordinating and co-ordinating conjunctions; and embedding. These results have implications for speech-language therapy practice, showing that the STPA is potentially a valuable resource for teaching narrative skills to learners with SLD, and that positive changes can be observed in as little as six weeks. The STPA has been used in Europe with learners with hearing or learning impairment and with mainstream learners. In the South African context, it appears only to have been used to teach oral language use to deaf learners; and no South African studies on the use of the STPA for narrative skill development could be traced. This study was the first of its kind and indicated that using the STPA can assist Speech-Language Therapists in developing narrative skills of children with atypical language development.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Kinders met spesifieke leergestremdheid (SLG) sukkel met lees, spelling en/of skryf, en neig om swak narratiefvaardighede te hê (Fey, Catts, Proctor-Williams, Tomblin & Zhang, 2004; Scanlon, 2013). Alhoewel leerders met SLG meestal grammatikale sinne gebruik ná ontslag uit konvensionele spraak-taalterapie, sukkel hulle steeds gereeld met narratiefproduksie en begripstake. Vir hierdie studie het ek gekies om ‘n aksienavorsingsmetode (McNiff & Whitehead, 2013) te gebruik. Ek het ‘n minder bekende terapiebenadering met sommige van hierdie leerders gevolg, in 'n poging om vas te stel of kinetiese metodes van taalonderrig hulle narratiefvaardighede kan verbeter. Die navorsingsvraag was: Watter veranderinge in narratiefvaardighede (indien enige), gemeet in terme van makro- en mikrostruktuur, word teweeg gebring deur die Sandbak-Speelbenadering (SBSB) in eerstetaal- (T1) Afrikaanssprekende Graad 3-leerders met SLG? Ek het die SBSB met vier T1 Afrikaanssprekende Graad 3-seuns met SLG oor ses weke gebruik (gemiddeld twee terapiesessies per week). Tydens hierdie sessies het elkeen ‘n verskeidenheid miniatuur voorwerpe gekies waarmee elkeen individueel ‘n sogenaamde “Sandwêreld” in hulle eie sandbakkie gebou het. Nadat elke Sandwêreld gebou is, het die seuns beurte geneem om hulle storie te vertel en na die stories van die ander groeplede te luister. Nadat elke storie vertel is, het elke luisteraar een positiewe punt van kommentaar oor die storie gelewer en een vraag oor die storie gevra. Gedurende die intervensietydperk het ek gereeld mini-sessies aangebied om die deelnemers te leer hoe om narratiewe te skep, te verbeter en uit te brei. Die Language in Multilingual Society: Multilingual Assessment of Narratives (LITMUS: MAIN-Afrikaans) (Gagarina, Klop, Kunnari, Tantele, Valimaa, Baluciuniene, Bohnacker, & Walters, 2012) is gebruik om voor- en ná-intervensie-narratiewe te ontleed in terme van storiestruktuurkomponente; (on)volledigheid van episodes; gemiddelde lengte van uiting (in woorde); en die gebruik van onderskikkende en neweskikkende voegwoorde, verbindingsbywoorde en interne toestand-terme. Ek het hierdie tellings vergelyk met dié behaal deur 'n kontrolegroep (vier manlike klasmaats van die eksperimentele groep). Ek het ook 'n seleksie van drie verteenwoordigende sandbaknarratiewe per eksperimentele groepdeelnemer in terme van hierdie metings geassesseer Al ag deelnemers is klinies gediagnoseer met SLG. Vergelykings van die LITMUS: MAIN-Afrikaans-tellings het inter-groepsverskille aangetoon: Die eksperimentele groep het ná intervensie ‘n groter aantal storiestruktuurkomponente, interne toestand-terme, woorde en uitinge (d.i. daardie linguistieke aspekte wat bekendgestel en geoefen is tydens SBSB-intervensie) gebruik as die kontrolegroep. Die eksperimentele groep se sandbaknarratiewe het ook toegeneem in terme van veelvuldige areas van strukturele kompleksiteit – byvoorbeeld in die gebruik van verbindingsbywoorde, onderskikkende en neweskikkende voegwoorde, en inbedding. Hierdie resultate het implikasies vir spraak-taalterapiepraktyk: Dit toon aan dat die SBSB potensieel ‘n waardevolle hulpbron is vir die leer van narratiefvaardighede aan leerders met SLG, en dat positiewe veranderinge in so min as ses weke waarneembaar is. Die SBSB word in Europa met leerders met gehoor- of leergestremdheid gebruik asook met hoofstroomleerders. In die Suid-Afrikaanse konteks is dit skynbaar nog slegs gebruik om gehoorgestremdes te leer praat; geen Suid-Afrikaanse studies oor die gebruik van die SBSB vir narratiefvaardigheidsontwikkeling kon gevind word nie. Hierdie studie was die eerste van sy soort en toon aan dat die gebruik van die SBSB Spraak-Taalterapeute kan help om narratiefvaardighede te ontwikkel in kinders met atipiese taalontwikkeling.

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