Presentation on theme: "‘Using Graphic Symbols’"— Presentation transcript:
1 ‘Using Graphic Symbols’ A presentation by Louise Greenstock, PhD Student - Speech and Language Therapy Division
2 Objectives Introduce the research Introduce the research context Consider qualitative research standardsProvide a vision of the outcomes of the researchTalk about some interesting early findings
3 The Research What is this research about? Why is it needed? Has it been investigated before?What are the research questions?How did I collect data and address these questions?What will the outcomes be?Literature and ContextPhilosophy and Methodology
4 Multi-disciplinaryExploratory research often draws upon more than one research area or discipline in order to bring a number of ideas together in a unique wayConsidering a new research area requires careful selection of a number of contributing schools of thought and existing disciplinary areas
5 What is the research about? Graphic symbols –“A graphical representation of a referent (real or abstract) usually presented individually or alongside other graphic symbols, traditionally used to support face to face communication but with other emerging purposes” (Greenstock, 2007, p.13)Used by speech and language therapists and educational professionalsAs usage increases more children have access to symbolsLack of information and training available to practitionersDo practitioners work together when they use symbols?COLLABORATION
7 Ask the practitioners who use symbols Missing linkSymbolsCollaborationThis is what the Government wantsBut does it work when practitioners use symbols?Ask the practitioners who use symbols
8 Literature Symbols Collaboration Types of symbols Augmentative & Alternative Communication (AAC)Symbol usersUse(s) of symbolsSymbol selection and implementationVisual aids and autismSymbolic developmentCollaborationWhat is collaboration?Multi-agency partnerships, multi-disciplinary workingJoined-up servicesDefining conditions for & barriers againstInter-professional working & educationWays of working, values and beliefs
9 Literature Research Questions What are the experiences and attitudes of practitioners working in Foundation Stage school settings around the use of graphic symbols?What do practitioners think about the way graphic symbols are being used currently?How consistent is graphic symbol use across the Foundation Stage, what implications does this have?What is guiding/governing current graphic symbols use?What experiences have practitioners had of working together when using graphic symbols?
10 A word about inclusion …. ‘The drive for inclusion’ is a current socio-political theme (or debate) that cannot be ignored in this researchThis research touches upon practitioners’ experiences of the drive for ‘educational inclusion’The wider context of social inclusion is also relevant
11 Research Context Political agenda Matrix of contextual themes Educational inclusionSocial inclusionDemands on the Children’s WorkforceEducation and Health – integrated servicesInter-professional learning / working
12 Philosophy & Strategy Exploratory (a new or under-researched area) Experiences, meanings, making sense of the worldPhenomenological & interpretiveNeed for reflexivityExperiences of practitioners neglectedResearch literature inaccessible to those it is relevant toGiving a voice to those who use symbolsAn interpretation of the participants’ lived experiences
13 Qualitative Research Assumptions Glogowska and Campbell; “Marshall and Rossman (1995) describe the ‘unique strengths’ of the qualitative paradigm ‘for the research that is exploratory and descriptive ….. that searches for a deeper understanding of the participant's lived experiences of the phenomena.” (2000, p.392)Schratz (1993); “the original voices from the field become the ‘disembodied’ voices in the discourse of quantitative research” (1993, p. 1)
14 Qualitative Research Requirements Yardley (2000);sensitivity to context (social and cultural)commitment and rigour (thorough and systematic)transparency and coherence (be explicit and concise)impact and importance (disseminate findings)Researcher must be reflexive and generate an honest and accurate ‘audit trail’
15 Methodology – Sampling & Ethics Sampling (purposive & homogenous)Practitioners working in FS school settingsExperience of using graphic symbolsAll schools within research region approachedSampling until ‘saturation’Ratios in the populationEthics NHSTeachers15Early Years Practitioners (EYPs)22Speech and Language Therapists (SLTs)16One year & lots of hard work!
16 Methodology – Data Collection Semi-structured interviews (standardised interview framework used)In-depth, relatively small sample (n = 53)Pring (2005); “interviews … objectives are normally to understand the experiences of those interviewed rather than collect data that is strictly representative of the population” (2005, p.183)“Complete coverage is not possible, or advantageous” (Wild, 2005)Time consuming, complete attention of researcherBUTInformation-richMeanings can be negotiatedIssues can be explored
17 Analytical Philosophy Qualitative Data AnalysisPhenomenology: “a profoundly reflective inquiry into human meaning” (Van Manen, M., 2002)Looking for meaning in the transcriptsListening to the participants ‘lived experiences’Thematic analysisBracketing (phenomenological reduction)
18 Managing the AnalysisComputer Assisted Qualitative Data Analysis (CAQDAS)QSR NVivo2 – qualitative data management toolMastery of the software part of research processResearcher guides the analysis, don’t let the software lead you‘Journal’ the process
19 Analytical MethodEngaging with each transcript individually (coding down)↕Identifying and testing categories (coding up)↓Seeking evidence for emergent themesTesting and considering alternativesConceptual linking and building theoryTHEORETICAL FRAMEWORKCoding
20 Early Findings – Categories Emerging ‘Experiences of using symbols for range of purposes (specific and general)’‘Using symbols with children with specific needs (applicable to more/all children?)’‘Children’s understanding of symbols (assessment & developmental progression)’‘Importance of consistency when using symbols’‘Training in the use of symbols’‘Practitioners’ experiences of working collaboratively when they use symbols’
21 ‘Experiences of using symbols for range of purposes (specific and general)’ Visual timetables (helping children understand what’s happening)Developing choice-makingLabelling resources and the environmentPECS (picture exchange communication system)Symbols for rules and expectations (e.g. ‘good listening’)
22 ‘Using symbols with children with specific needs (applicable to more/all children?)’ Symbols used to support:Children with autismChildren with English as an additional languageChildren with learning difficultiesChildren with physical difficultiesChildren with specific communication difficulties‘New children’A number of participants said they believe symbols areuseful for ‘all children’
23 ‘Children’s understanding of symbols (assessment & developmental progression)’ Children’s understanding of representational relationships variesA proposed hierarchy of representational itemswidely accepted and acknowledged (objects –photos – symbols – signs/speech/written word)Use of symbols should come at appropriate stage of developmentSLTs believe development should be assessed
24 ‘Importance of consistency when using symbols’ Practitioners generally share the belief thatsymbol use should be consistent within schoolsPractitioners should use the same symbol setsSymbols should be presented in the same waysPractitioners should know what other professionals in the school are using (but are sometimes unaware)
25 ‘Training in the use of symbols’ Most graduate practitioners had not experienced trainingabout symbols in degree coursesMany educational practitioners had not had anytraining in the use of symbolsMany educational practitioners would like trainingSome SLTs deliver symbols training in schoolsKnowledge of using of symbols was something that was ‘picked up’ or learnt from observing others
26 ‘Practitioners’ experiences of working collaboratively when they use symbols’ Some SLTs feel that they are seen as ‘symbol experts’Some SLTs do not feel their knowledge about symbols is maximised in schoolsEducational practitioners referred to very positive working relationships with SLTsSLTs expressed difficulties in ensuring symbols are implemented in schoolsWorking relationships are important, building trustBeing based in the school supports collaborationMost SLTs are not in schools all the time
27 Quotes “… but you can’t just think, ‘I’m going to put symbols in and then that’s going to be effective’, you have to think about<um> the reasons why … that child may be wanting to usethe symbols, you have to think about the level that they’reat, as in, ‘are symbols going to be effective?’ <Um> Arethe people that are using the symbols … trained up to usethem with that child?”SLT 1.4 (Paragraph 69)
28 “… if you say to a teacher you need to be employing these strategies or giving them advice, they can quite rightly turnround to you and say, ‘you’ve never done this with thirtychildren, it’s different’”SLT1.5 (Paragraph 26)“You can’t be a specialist in everything”T8 (Paragraph 94)
29 Theoretical OutcomesEnd result: A set of themes which are conceptually linked to form a theoretical framework encompassing the researcher’s unique interpretation of the dataWhat would be most useful to research population and target audience?Academic research community, practitioners working with young childrenGiving practitioners:A ‘voice’Access to research about their professionStimulate positive change & further inquiry
30 IMPROVING SERVICES FOR CHILDREN Every Child Matters ....
31 ReferencesDallal, G. (1998) The Little Handbook of Statistical Practice. url: (accessed 10/10/2007)Glogowska, M., and Campbell, R. (2000) Investigating parental views of involvement in pre-school speech and language therapy, International Journal of Language and Communication Disorders, 35 (3),Greenstock, L. (2007) MPhil – PhD Transfer Report. De Montfort UniversityPring, T (2005) Research Methods in Communication Disorders, London: Whurr Publishers Ltd.Schratz, M. (ed.) Qualitative voices in educational research, London: The Falmer PressVan Manen, M. (2002) Phenomenology Online. url: (accessed 2702/2008)Wild, L. (2005) Qualitative Research Social Methods (PowerPoint presentation). Accessed 25/02/2008Yardley, L. (2000) Dilemmas in qualitative health psychology, Psychology and Health, 15,
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