“Hearing” the signs : influence of sign language in an inclusive classroom
1University of Oulu, Faculty of Education, Educational Sciences
|Online Access:||PDF Full Text (PDF, )|
|Persistent link:|| http://urn.fi/URN:NBN:fi:oulu-201709062814
|Publish Date:|| 2017-09-11
|Thesis type:||Master's thesis
Finding new methods to achieve the goals of Education For All is a constant worry for primary school teachers. Multisensory methods have been proved to be efficient in the past decades. Sign Language, being a visual and kinesthetic language, could become a future educational tool to fulfill the needs of a growing diversity of learners. This ethnographic study describes how Sign Language exposure in inclusive classroom affects hearing children. The comprehensive literature review discusses well-known educational theories such as The theory of Multiple Intelligence by Howard Gardner. The theoretical background presents major studies related to the use of Sign Language with hearing children while identifying how existing literature is lacking in terms of studies made on hearing students exposed to Sign Language in inclusive setting. The empirical research focuses on an inclusive classroom in Canada which features hearing and deaf students as well as American Sign Language interpreters. The five weeks observations of the classroom interactions and the interviews of twelve hearing students brings an overall understanding of this unusual learning environment. This research uses data driven content analysis and inductive category development to extract clear concepts resulting from the exposure to Sign Language. The findings suggest that many of the hearing students have developed a certain level of interest towards Sign Language and are positively affected by the exposure to Sign Language. Apart from some minor distraction and the development of misconceptions about the Deaf world, hearing students show culturally sensitiveness, advance communication skills and great sense of responsibility. They also seem to take Sign Language at their advantage and get support for their learning. Learning becomes greater when we include everyone in the same environment. The uniqueness of each classroom makes those findings closely linked to the specific setting of this research. Nevertheless educators working in a learning environment featuring Sign Language should reflect on the benefits it can create for hearing children. Teachers in mainstream classrooms who are interested in developing their methods can find in this research scientific foundations to justify the use of Sign Language with their pupils and motivation to try something new.
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