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SEN dissertation help!

Discussion in 'Primary' started by hannah_marie, Feb 28, 2012.

  1. I am a finaly year primary teaching student about to start my dissertation (6000 words). Im a little lost on what title to settle on though. I know that I want to focus upon SEN and I had thought about a
    comparison of inclusion in mainstream and special schools. Although I was worried about whether or not this would be too general my tutor has assured me that this wouldn't be a problem as I would focus it through key questions. I had also thought about perhaps focussing specifically upon inclusive teaching strategies for a particular disability such as ASD, Down syndrome or hearing impairments. This would possibly just be within a special school as I don't currently have any links with mainstream primary schools that I know of which have a child with any of those particular disabilities and I'm not sure how I would go about approaching schools regarding this. I was thinking that I could perhaps use observation and questionnaires as my methods for the research but I am unsure as to whether or not these are the most appropriate methods. As you can tell I'm a little lost!
    If anyone could offer any help upon narrowing the title or appropriate strategies for the research... or any guidance really.... I would be very grateful!! Thank you!!
  2. Hi, I graduated a few years ago and I did my dissertation was based on SEN. The title is the easy part if I'm honest. It's the particular area to focus on which can be problematic.
    I nearly did a comparison of inclusion between a mainstream school and specialist setting for SEN, but I was over the word limit after just looking at mainstream. As your tutor says, it's the key questions which narrow down the research, but you would gain a huge amount of findings to write about!
    I chose a need and a subject and observed this throughout an age range, which was very insightful, although research can be hard to come by depending on the need you choose.
    The needs you have chosen aren't very common in mainstream, so if you went down this route I would suggest choosing something like dyslexia as good practice for those children is good practice for all.
    If you were to focus on ASD, Down syndrome or hearing impairments, what information would you hope to gain from this? Ultimately, I think you need to consider what you could research that will help you once you qualify.
    As for where your research could take place, you are normally given some sort of letter format to send out to schools with consent forms to carry out your research. The difficulty with research in a special school is the ethical side of things.
    Observation is a key method, especially when focusing on SEN. I did a sort of semi-structured observation,so I wrote my three key questions out and focused my observations around them which worked well.
    Questionnaires, I'm not so sure about as you would need to send out a great deal to have enough data to analyse. We were told to focus on qualitative data rather than quantitative data for this reason. I think interviews would be more benefical in that sense as you could record the teacher you are interviewing and take the key points from each interview when you analyse it. Much more useful for findings!!
    I know I've written a lot, but I hope it's helpful!
    Come back to me with any questions.
  3. Thanks for your speedy reply ruby_gal06. I like how you narrowed yours down by focussing on a need subject and age. Although I don't have a subject specialism so I was thinking of looking more generally, strategies that are used across the board. My tutor had said if i went for more general comparison wouldn't have to be like for like- I coud just compare inclusive strategies for any children with SEN. For example, in my last placement there were many children with IEPs for elements of writing or reading but didnt have any specific disability. She was saying it would be fine to compare inclusive strategies in this setting with those in special school but I can't help think that these are vastly different to try to compare.Would you agree with my tutor?
    I would ideally like to focus upon any of those particular needs I mentioned as I am loking to have a career as a teacher in a special school hopefully! So I thought it might be valuable for me to get clued up. I already have links with two special schools, one which I volunteered at as a millnium volunteer before my uni course once every week. Also my partners younger brother has autism and attends a special school. I was thinking about perhaps how inclusive teaching strategies are used to accomodate children with autism in a special school?
    Your advice on the methods was particularly helpful, and I had been wondering how to go about recording and focussing on what I'm actually researching in an observation. Having those key questions written out to maintain focus sounds like a good plan! My tutor actually mainly teaches science on my course so she leans more towards quanitative data and suggested using both types to make data more reliable. Having said that I the idea of interview would provide much more in depth answers that I think I might be left wondering about if I opted for questionnaires.

    Thanks again for you detailed reply!
    Anymore guidance would be fab.
  4. You're welcome. I see why you want to look generally, but I still think it might be a bit broad... See how you feel when you get down to thinking of your key questions.
    I think it would be good to compare between two type of setting - mainstream/special, but you would be looking at probably double your word count! If you did decide to you would look at what they do in each type and then look at the similarities - definitely hearing impairment and particularly ASD, there will be some overlap, for example with social stories and PECS. You would then look at the differences and as a teacher thinking of going into SEN teaching (perfect for the rationale), what can you learn from this and how does this help you in your practice?
    I think your question is along the right lines but I'm not sure about writing about inclusion/inclusive strategies in relation to a special school which is designed to be inclusive.
    Something along the lines of 'which teaching strategies support children with Autistic Spectrum Disorder in a special school' I think be good.
    Check out this link. It has sections about the different types of intervention/strategies used which might help narrow your focus. https://www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/RR77.pdf
    Hope this helps. Message me if you need any more help.
  5. Hi. I did my dissertation on SEN a few years ago. I collected data by questionnaires, interviews and obs.
    My dissertation was on the effect on self esteem when chn are removed from class for intervention programmes, so quite a tight area for research and analysis. My data was qualitative and this I transferred into quantative data - sorry can't remember the technical term for doing that. It allowed therefore for all the data to be used on an equal basis if you like and allowed me to reach some conclusions - although I felt at the end of it that the results would only be reliable had it been a larger research project with greater sampling. And I was disappointed not to be able to do that as it was an area I have/had great passion for - and that really helped me with the dissertation - having that drive for the area I was researching.
    My tutor said that it was more about the methods and research processes used rather than the outcome of the research that would count for marking purposes.
    Having a specific area to research would be my advice. Be really clear with your question and make it as precise as possible.
    Have fun!

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