Diagnostician, therapist and counselor in the field of learning disabilities.
Academic counselor for learning-disabled students at the Pre-Academic Unit, University of Haifa; Job includes taking care of guiding and supervising tutors, as well as supervising and counseling teachers at the Pre-Academic unit.;
Learning-Disabled Students' Awareness of Facilitating and Hindering Factors Affecting Their Coping Style and Quality of Life –Developing a Theoretical Model Integrated in Evaluation and Intervention Processes
Research concerning learning disabilities has significantly developed over the last years. Throughout years of research into the phenomenon of learning disability, the majority of studies have focused on the disability itself and the difficulties resulting from it. However, only few studies have dealt with the significance of hindering and facilitating factors (e.g., meta-cognitive abilities, cognitive-emotional factors, and environmental factors) with regard to the overall functioning of the learning-disabled in various areas (family and relationships, work, leisure time and company), as well as their quality of life.
Recent years have seen the development and application of intervention programs for students coping with learning disabilities. Most of these programs focus on examining their effect on academic achievements. To the best of one's knowledge, though, the consequences of intervention on other areas of life, such as functioning in the family or in relationships, work, leisure time, and company have not been examined. Observing and analyzing one's functioning in different areas of life may serve as a basis for evaluation, diagnosis and therapeutic intervention. Therefore, it is highly important to understand the interplay among three characteristics: person, occupation and environment. Such an understanding may lead to the application of an optimal intervention process.
Understanding the importance of the effect of person, environmental and occupational characteristics on functioning in different areas, and awareness of these factors, may contribute to success among students coping with learning disabilities, thus improving their lives.
- Comparing learning-disabled students with non-disabled ones across a set of hindering and facilitating factors affecting their coping styles and quality of life, in order to formulate a theoretical model.
- Evaluating intervention program aimed at improving learning-disabled students' awareness of the entire hindering and facilitating factors, and of recruiting resources for the improvement of their quality of life, by comparing an intervention group to an equivalent non-intervention group.
- The two groups will differ in organization of daily tasks in time (TOPS), such that students coping with learning disabilities will display lower ability in organizing daily tasks in time compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
- The two groups will differ in their quality of life, such that students coping with learning disabilities will show lower quality of life compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
- The two groups will differ in their metacognitive abilities (self awareness and executive functions), such that students coping with learning disabilities will show lower metacognitive abilities compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
- The two groups will differ in their self determination, such that students coping with learning disabilities will manifest lower self determination compared to their non-disabled counterparts.
- There will be an improvement in metacognitive abilities (self awareness and executive functions) among learning-disabled students who will take part in the intervention program, compared to learning-disabled students who will not take part in it.
- There will be an improvement in the level of self determination among learning-disabled students who will take part in the intervention program, compared to learning-disabled students who will not take part in it.
- There will be an improvement in the quality of life among learning-disabled students who will take part in the intervention program, compared to learning-disabled students who will not take part in it.
- An improvement in self awareness, executive functions and self determination will lead to higher quality of life.
The initial data collection will combine qualitative and quantitative methodologies. Adopting the phenomenological approach, the qualitative part will provide information about the participants' weaknesses and strengths in terms of problem solving abilities, goal setting and operational steps planning for their achievement, proactive behavior, significant others' support, functioning in different settings, as well as information regarding disability acceptance among the learning-disabled students. The quantitative part will provide information on both groups with regard to time organization of everyday tasks and quality of life. Moreover, the quantitative part will consist of measuring the variables of self awareness, executive functions and self determination. All the data gathered will constitute a foundation for the construction of an intervention program. The same variables will be measured following the operation of the program in order to examine its effect.
During the second part of the study, while operating the intervention program, the qualitative part will be composed of two movements. The first one will consist of analyzing contents raised in a group workshop. Another movement will involve analyzing the participants' feedbacks which are to be written during the workshop.
The research population will consist of 100 students of the University of Haifa and the Yezreel Valley College, attending either pre-academic units or any of the years of their first degree, whose mother tongue is Hebrew. The first part of the study, aimed at the examination of the differences between the two groups, will involve 50 non-disabled students who will constitute the control group, and 50 learning-disabled students constituting the experimental group. The latter will possess an up-to-date diagnostic report, written no earlier than 5 years ago.
The second part of the study, aimed at the evaluation of the intervention program's effect and effectiveness on learning-disabled students' awareness of hindering and facilitating factors affecting their coping style and quality of life, will involve 40 learning-disabled students who will not take part in the intervention program (the control group), and 40 learning-disabled students who will (the experimental group).
Apparatus used in the quantitative methodology
- Elaborated personal detail questionnaire.
- Self-report questionnaire for the detection of difficulties in time everyday task organization (Time Organisation and Participation Scale-TOPS, Rosenblum, 2012).
- A questionnaire for the measurement of meta-cognitive awareness (Metacognitive Awareness Inventory-MAI, Schraw & Dennison, 1994).
- A questionnaire for the evaluation of executive functions – adult version (Behavior Rating Inventory of Executive Function-Adult Version- BRIEF-A, Roth et al., 2005).
- A questionnaire for the measurement of self determination (Self-Determination Student Scale- SDSS, Hoffman, Field, & Sawilowsky, 1996, 2004).
- A quality-of-life questionnaire (Quality of Life Questionnaire – QOL, Schalock & Keith, 1993).
Apparatus used in the quantitative methodology
- Items on the elaborated personal detail questionnaire aimed at gathering information about hindering and facilitating factors affecting everyday functioning (family and relationship, company, leisure, occupations), such as time everyday task organization; functioning in society, family, leisure time; goal setting and planning stages aimed at their attainment; disability acceptance, proactive behavior, problem solving skills and significant people's support.
- Analysis of contents brought up during the intervention program sessions (group workshop).
- Analysis of contents brought up in feedbacks written by workshop participants concerning the workshop sessions, and in electronic mail correspondence.
Research procedure: The first part of the study will consist of collecting data regarding hindering and facilitating factors affecting learning-disabled students' coping styles, everyday functioning and quality of life. In addition, it will include the measurement and evaluation of metacognitive characteristics (self awareness, executive functions), cognitive-emotional characteristics (self determination), and quality of life. The second part of the study will involve the operation of an intervention program aimed at the development and improvement of learning-disabled students' awareness of hindering and facilitating factors affecting their coping styles, everyday functioning and quality of life. Furthermore, a second measurement and evaluation of meta-cognitive characteristics, cognitive-emotional characteristics and quality of life will be conducted. About 3 to 4 months following the intervention program, the meta-cognitive characteristics, cognitive-emotional characteristics and quality of life will be evaluated for the third time in order to examine the program's effectiveness overtime. Finally, a theoretical model will be constructed.
Data processing: The research hypotheses examining inter-group differences will be evaluated using multivariate analyses of variance (MANOVAs). The hypotheses examining inter-group differences over time will be evaluated using repeated measures analyses of variance. The hypothesis examining the contribution of variables underlying the intervention program to quality of life will be evaluated using regression. In addition, descriptive statistics and correlations between the variables will be displayed. Moreover, a series of regressions will be conducted to examine the effect of the predictive variables on the dependent ones.