Date of Award
Doctor of Education (EdD)
Department of Special Education
Christina M. Borders
The field of deafblind (DB) education has a long and rich history which includes a lack of qualified personnel to meet the needs of the population of learners. In addition, the literature base is small, lacking evidence for effective practices or methods of assessing and tracking growth with these learners. The ability to adequately track student growth is key when IEP teams are making educational decisions. Therefore, it is important to investigate the longitudinal growth of learners who are DB and the possible effects of service provision (number, type, and intensity) on communication growth. This research began the process of providing an accurate picture of these students’ longitudinal communication growth using a tool called the Communication Matrix. The Matrix was designed to detect the minutest gains in communication of children who are DB. By answering questions from the Matrix, an individual profile of communication skills is created. Examining the profiles over time is one way to track communication growth. The purpose of this study was to explore the differences in the number, type, and intensity of educational service provision and to track the longitudinal communication growth of students who are DB using the CM.
Many students who are DB are moved from one classroom or school to another, resulting in variations in the type and intensity of educational services. It was hypothesized that these changes deter students’ educational growth. Using the Matrix profiles from with information obtained from learners’ education files this study sought to conduct longitudinal growth curve modeling (GCM) to answer the research questions because GCM provides flexibility that other methodologies lack (allows for heterogeneity, variable numbers of data points, and the ability to capture the complex growth processes both intra- and inter-individually). Given the challenges of assessment of learners who are DB, GCM was chosen as the statistical method to be used in conjunction with assessment data to investigate the growth trajectory of learners who are DB. Using the data provided by the Matrix in addition to other variables obtained from a child’s IEP (i.e., the effect change of the services received on rate of growth and the amount of time a child receives services on rate of growth), GCM seems to be a sensible choice of methodology for this study. However, due to the limited number of participants and longitudinal data collected, GCM was not able to be used. Instead, this study used descriptive statistics to show the communication growth of two participants, examine two groups of learners (6-year-olds and 15-to-18-year-olds), and investigate the number, type, and intensity of these learners. Great variability of service provision was observed in all areas investigated both inter and intraindividually. Furthermore, though not a research goal, the issue of primary and secondary disability labels for education emerged and is discussed in the findings.
Probst, Kristi M., "Measuring the Longitudinal Communication Growth of Learners Who Are Deafblind" (2017). Theses and Dissertations. 793.