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The relationship between auditory figure-ground perception and academic achievement in open area and.. 1975

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THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AUDITORY FIGURE-GROUND PERCEPTION AND ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENT IN OPEN AREA AND SELF-CONTAINED CLASSROOMS by CHERYL ANN BROWN B.A., S i r George Williams U n i v e r s i t y , 1966 Dip. C h i l d Study, University of Toronto, 1967 A thesis submitted i n p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts i n the Faculty of Education We accept t h i s thesis as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA MARCH, 1975 In presenting t h i s t h e s i s in p a r t i a l f u l f i l m e n t o f the requirements f o r an advanced degree at the U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, I agree that the L i b r a r y s h a l l make i t f r e e l y a v a i l a b l e f o r reference and study. I f u r t h e r agree that permission for extensive copying of t h i s t h e s i s f o r s c h o l a r l y purposes may be granted by the Head of my Department or by h i s rep r e s e n t a t i v e s . It i s understood that copying or p u b l i c a t i o n of t h i s t h e s i s f o r f i n a n c i a l gain s h a l l not be allowed without my w r i t t e n permission. Department of /Zt^t^^^-^^ The U n i v e r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia Vancouver 8, Canada Date i i ABSTRACT This study was designed to i n v e s t i g a t e the e f f e c t s of two d i f f e r e n t l e a r n i n g environments on the achievement of c h i l d r e n who were suspected of having auditory figure-ground perception problems. Comparison of the noise l e v e l s i n the three open area and three s e l f - c o n t a i n e d c l a s s - rooms used i n the study revealed that the open areas were c o n s i s t e n t l y louder than the s e l f - c o n t a i n e d classes but the d i f f e r e n c e s were only s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n the mornings. Because of these expected differences i n noise l e v e l , i t was hypothesized that the more d i f f i c u l t y grade one c h i l d r e n i n open areas had with auditory figure-ground perception as measured by the noise subtest of the Goldman-Fristoe- Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination, the lower t h e i r achievement scores would be on the Cooperative Primary Tests. This r e l a t i o n s h i p was not expected to be found i n grade one c h i l d r e n who received t h e i r f i r s t year of formal i n s t r u c t i o n i n self-contained classrooms. A stepwise m u l t i p l e regression analysis was used to t e s t t h i s hypothesis with Wide Range Achievement Test scores (administered i n the F a l l ) as covariates and three subtests of the Cooperative Primary Test scores (administered i n the Spring) as dependent v a r i a b l e s . Although a trend i n the expected d i r e c t i o n was found, the r e s u l t s were not s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t (oC = .05). Therefore, i t could not be concluded that c h i l d r e n with auditory figure-ground perception problems were more appropriately placed i n s e l f - c o n t a i n e d classrooms. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS page Abstract 11 Table of Contents i i i L i s t of Tables i v L i s t of Figures- v Acknowledgements • v i Chapter 1 The Problem and Related Research . . 1 2 Hypothesis and Operational D e f i n i t i o n s 16 3 Method • 19 4 Results 28 5 Discussion and Conclusions 46 Bibliography 52 i v LIST OF TABLES Table T i t l e Page 1 Comparisons between the GFWT Norming Sample and the Sample used i n this study (Chi-Square Goodness of F i t ) • 29 2 Summary of Sound Level Readings 30 3 Means, Standard Deviations, and In t e r c o r r e l a t i o n s between the WRAT and GFWT Scores f o r the Open Area Group • 32 4 Means, Standard Deviations, and In t e r c o r r e l a t i o n s between the WRAT and GFWT Scores f o r the S e l f - Contained Group 33 5 Means, Standard Deviations, and In t e r c o r r e l a t i o n s between the varialiles Used i n tbe Study 34 6 Results of the Regression Analyses f or the Quiet Subtest Data 37 7 Results M the Regression Analyses f or the Noise Subtest Data 38 8 Mean CPT Scores f o r the Type by Noise Interaction . . 41 9 Mean CPT Adjusted Scores f o r the Combined Groups Of The Type By Noise Interaction ^3 V i LIST OF FIGURES Figure T i t l e Page 1 Experimental Design . . . . . . . . . 20 2 Histogram of the Observed Frequencies of the Noise Subtest Raw Scores . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4° 3 Type By Sex By Noise Interaction on the Reading Regression Analysis 44 4 Type by Sex by Noise Interaction f o r the C r i t i c a l and N o n - c r i t i c a l Groups on the Reading ANOVA . . . . 45 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS The assistance and patience of the members of my thesis committee, Drs. D. Thomas, J . Conry, and R. Conry are g r a t e f u l l y acknowledged. The cooperation of Mr. L i n c o l n Chew and Dr. H. E. McLean of the Vancouver Metropolitan Health Department was s i n c e r e l y appreciated for gathering the data to compare the noise l e v e l s i n the classrooms involved i n my study while conducting t h e i r own i n v e s t i g a t i o n i n t o sound l e v e l s i n various classroom s i t u a t i o n s . I would also l i k e to recognize the i n t e r e s t and support of Dr. E. N. E l l i s and Mr. A. Moody of the Vancouver School Board's Department of Planning and Evaluation for making i t possible for me to conduct my research i n the Vancouver schools. F i n a l l y , I would l i k e to express my gratitude to the p r i n c i p a l s , teachers, parents and ch i l d r e n without whose cooperation t h i s study would not have been pos s i b l e . 1 CHAPTER 1 THE PROBLEM AND RELATED RESEARCH Overview of the Problem Children are bombarded constantly by competing auditory s t i m u l i but i n order to function e f f e c t i v e l y i n the school s i t u a t i o n , they must be able to attend and respond s p e c i f i c a l l y to relevant s t i m u l i . Academic success and behaviour may be s e r i o u s l y affected by impaired a b i l i t y to separate foreground auditory s t i m u l i from i r r e l e v a n t back- ground s t i m u l i (Siegenthaler and Barr, 1967; Marsh, 1973). When i t i s suspected that a c h i l d has a d i f f i c u l t y with auditory figure-ground perception, i t i s usually recommended that he be taught i n a "calm" atmosphere (Magdol, 1973). C r i t i c i s m based on teachers' opinions i s frequently d i r e c t e d towards open area classes because of excessive noise conditions ( A l l e n , 1972; P r i t c h a r d and Moodie, 1971; Metropolitan Toronto School Board, 1971 and 1973). Therefore, i t i s u n l i k e l y that t h i s type of classroom would be appropriate f o r a c h i l d who has d i f f i c u l t y d i s t i n g u i s h i n g between relevant and i r r e l e v a n t auditory s t i m u l i . The following case study i s an i l l u s t r a t i o n of a c h i l d who was suspected of having an auditory figure-ground perception problem. Several years ago, a seven year old boy was r e f e r r e d to an observation class because of h i s d i s r u p t i v e behaviour and underachieve- ment. His o r i g i n a l placement had been i n an open area s i t u a t i o n which consisted of four classes i n a large room. Individual 2 psychological t e s t i n g indicated that he had high average i n t e l l i g e n c e (Wechsler I n t e l l i g e n c e Scale f o r Children: Verbal IQ - 116; Performance IQ - 115; F u l l Scale IQ - 117) with no apparent learning d i s a b i l i t i e s except great d i f f i c u l t y i n l i s t e n i n g s i t u a t i o n s with competing auditory stimuliaas measured by the Goldman-Fristoe-Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination (GFWT). Consultation with h i s teacher and parents e l i c i t e d many examples of h i s lack of attention i n s i t u a t i o n s where there was background noise and speech. His parents noted that he frequently did not respond when spoken to i f the t e l e v i s i o n set was turned on or h i s father was playing the guitar. His teacher observed that he functioned i n many ways l i k e a deaf c h i l d because of h i s f a i l u r e to attend to her d i r e c t i o n s or conversation when there was quite a b i t of auditory a c t i v i t y i n the classroom. His medical h i s t o r y included two mastoid operations during h i s preschool years and the hearing impairment p r i o r to the operations could have impeded the development of h i s auditory processes even though h i s hearing was apparently normal at the time of r e f e r r a l . Because of h i s d i f f i c u l t y functioning i n s i t u a t i o n s with competing auditory s t i m u l i , i t was suspected that he may have an auditory figure-ground perception problem. I t was recommended that he not be returned to the open area because of this suspected problem, and subsequent placement i n a quiet s e l f contained classroom may have been p a r t i a l l y responsible for eventual improvement i n h i s behaviour and achievement. 3 The Problem I t i s possible that other c h i l d r e n who have d i f f i c u l t y focussing on relevant aspects of the auditory f i e l d and "tuning out" i r r e l e v a n t background s t i m u l i are inappropriately placed i n open area classrooms which are believed to have more auditory d i s t r a c t i o n s than s e l f - contained classrooms. There does not appear to be any empirical evidence to support t h i s statement, although a review of the l i t e r a t u r e lends credence to i t s v a l i d i t y . The areas of research to be explored include s p e c i f i c studies r e l a t e d to auditory f i g u r e ground perception as w e l l as the controversy over whether or not open areas are n o i s i e r than s e l f contained classes. I f some learning environments are n o i s i e r than others, there i s a need to i n v e s t i g a t e whether t h i s noise has a detrimental effectcon a l l or some children such as the case described previously. S p e c i f i c learning d i f f i c u l t i e s may r e s u l t from poor auditory figure-ground perception; and, therefore, a review of studies r e l a t e d to the diagnosis and remediation of t h i s type of problem i s also presented. Studies Related to Auditory Figure Ground Perception As e a r l y as 1947, Strauss and Lehtinen expressed concern about children who had d i f f i c u l t y focussing on relevant aspects of the auditory f i e l d and 'tuning out' i r r e l e v a n t background s t i m u l i . Some studies of s e l e c t i v e attention i n children suggest that auditory figure-ground perception develops with age. In Junker's (1972) observations of i n f a n t s , he noticed that the average twelve week o l d infant becomes s i l e n t i n the presence of speech or music. By fourteen 4 weeks, a c h i l d w i l l turn h i s head and v i s u a l l y search for the source of sound s t i m u l i . Junker devised an attention test f o r in f a n t s and found that children who had d i f f i c u l t y with auditory s e l e c t i v e a ttention i n infancy had a strong tendency to develop defective speech and/or communication s k i l l s as indic a t e d from follow-up assessments two years l a t e r . Maccoby and Konrad (1966) studied age trends i n s e l e c t i v e a t t e n t i o n i n respect to the s e l e c t i o n of one auditory stimulus when two were presented simultaneously. Their subjects included thirty-two chi l d r e n i n each of three grades: Kindergarten, second and fourth. Each subject l i s t e n e d twice to twenty-three p a i r s of words spoken simultaneously by two speakers, a man and a woman. On one occasion, the words were presented b i n a u r a l l y with both words i n both ears at the same time, and on the second occasion, the words were presented d i c h o t i c a l l y with two d i f f e r e n t words i n each ear at the same time. The subject was ins t r u c t e d to repeat the words said by the woman or man depending on the condition. Maccoby and Konrad found that the number of correct responses increased with age and the number of i n t r u s i v e errors ( i . e . reports of words spoken by the other voice) decreased with age. Doyle (1973) investigated the e f f e c t s of d i s t r a c t i o n on auditory s e l e c t i v e attention with 108 children aged eight, eleven, and fourteen. She presented subjects with l i s t s of target words which they had to repeat word by word and remember. While two-third of the subjects at each age l e v e l l i s t e n e d and repeated the target words, they were di s t r a c t e d by another voice speaking simultaneously. The res t of the 5 subjects were not d i s t r a c t e d while they l i s t e n e d and repeated the target l i s t . Retention of the target words was tested by presenting each subject with a four a l t e r n a t i v e , forced choice recognition task. A s i m i l a r task was used to test f or retention of d i s t r a c t i n g words. It was found that the retention of the target words was more s e r i o u s l y affected among younger ch i l d r e n , and that i n t r u s i v e errors decreased with age. Doyle suggested that these r e s u l t s demonstrated an a b i l i t y of older c h i l d r e n to i n h i b i t the i n t r u s i o n of d i s t r a c t i o n s during s e l e c t i v e attention rather than an a b i l i t y to f i l t e r out d i s t r a c t i n g material i n the i n i t i a l stages of processing. Neither Doyle nor Maccoby and Konrad made any reference to the p o s s i b i l i t y of a sex d i f f e r e n c e i n s e l e c t i v e a ttention which was found to be a s i g n i f i c a n t factor i n a study by Siegenthaler and Barr (1967). They studied auditory figure-ground perception i n f i v e groups of c h i l d r e n , aged four, f i v e , seven, nine, and eleven. Each of these groups was composed of ten c h i l d r e n of each sex. Using the P i c t u r e I d e n t i f i c a t i o n Test on which a c h i l d i s i n s t r u c t e d to point to s p e c i f i c p i c t u r e s , they determined each c h i l d ' s speech reception threshold under quiet and noise conditions. A tape recording of a man reading a story was re-recorded seven times to produce a babbling of voices e f f e c t and then played backward as the noise condition. A s i g n i f i c a n t amount of v a r i a t i o n was not found i n g i r l s between the ages of four and nine although there was a s i g n i f i c a n t improvement i n auditory figure perception i n eleven year o l d g i r l s . Boys tended to improve s t e a d i l y from age s i x to eleven. At ages four and f i v e , the auditory f i g u r e - ground perception of both sexes was equal but as age increased, boys 6 tended to perform better than g i r l s . These findings c o n f l i c t with tha r e s u l t s of a recent study by Marsh (1973) who explored developmental trends i n auditory f i g u r e - ground perception with 210 c h i l d r e n from Kindergarten to grade three. Auditory figure-ground perception was tested by having the subject repeat spondee words presented i n varying l e v e l s of white noise a f t e r each word had been s u c c e s s f u l l y repeated under quiet conditions. Marsh found that errors decreased as age increased (P<= .01) but sex was not a s i g n i f i c a n t factor. She also discovered a s i g n i f i c a n t (P<= .01) r e l a t i o n s h i p between the r e s u l t s of t h i s test of auditory figure-ground perception and scores on the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT). Both tests were administered within two weeks of each other. With age held constant, c h i l d r e n who made more errors on the auditory perception t e s t had lower scores on the reading, s p e l l i n g and arithmetic subtests of the WRAT. These studies may have important educational i m p l i c a t i o n s . I t i s possible that some ch i l d r e n , e s p e c i a l l y i n the primary grades, have d i f f i c u l t y learning i n c e r t a i n environments such as open area classrooms because of some type of problem focussing on verbal i n s t r u c t i o n s and d i r e c t i o n s while tuning out i r r e l e v a n t background s t i m u l i such as noise and speech (Palmieri, 1973). Studies Related to Noise Levels i n Classrooms Kingsbury (1973), who i s an a r c h i t e c t u r a l engineer, stressed that i t i s very d i f f i c u l t to adequately design open area schools i n order to reduce ambient noise and increase speech i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y . Recent studies of open area classes i n B r i t i s h Columbia schools i n d i c a t e d that one of the most common c r i t i c i s m s of open areas by teachers and p r i n c i p a l s was the presence of noise and d i s t r a c t i o n ( A l l e n , 1972; Pri t c h a r d and Moodie, 1971). The Metropolitan Toronto School Board (1971) compared twelve open plan schools with twelve t r a d i t i o n a l plan schools and found that twenty-five percent of the open plan teachers reported noise as a problem whereas a s i m i l a r complaint was made by only four percent of t r a d i t i o n a l plan teachers. In a booklet on open plan schools published by t h i s school board, the advice given to new open plan teachers by experienced open plan teachers was "to be aware of the high noise l e v e l and to learn to ignore i t , or withstand i t , - "Take earplugs and plenty of t r a n q u i l i z e r s " was one pointed suggestion (Metropolitan Toronto School Board, 1973, page 11)." Unfortunately, the booklet does not contain any advice f o r the ch i l d r e n who have d i f f i c u l t y coping with the noise l e v e l . Ambient noise and d i s t r a c t i o n may have been p a r t i a l l y responsible f o r the r e s u l t s of a study by B e l l and Switzer (1973). They found that at the end of the f i r s t grade, c h i l d r e n i n t r a d i t i o n a l classrooms performed s i g n i f i c a n t l y b e t t e r on a battery of reading tests than ch i l d r e n i n open areas, even though the two groups did not d i f f e r s i g n i f i c a n t l y i n terms of i n t e l l i g e n c e or perceptual s k i l l s at the beginning of the school year. In the discussion of t h e i r r e s u l t s , i t was stated: A teacher must hold the attention of the class against considerable d i s t r a c t i o n , thus expending considerable energy unprofitably. Movements of classes through the area, and r i v a l programmes, often with sound e f f e c t s , make concentration d i f f i c u l t f o r the ch i l d r e n , many of whom have a short attention span at the best of times. 8 In addition, the teacher is- placed i n a tension-provoking s i t u a t i o n which i s probably not conducive to a state of harmony among s t a f f members who must compete f or a hearing, or between the teachers and the class (page 25-26). Studies by S l a t e r (1967), Carter and Diaz (1971) , and Kassinove (1972) suggest that background noise does not a f f e c t children's learning and that schools should not waste t h e i r time and e f f o r t s attempting to eliminate such noise. S l a t e r tested seventh grade children on the Reading subtest of the Sequential Test of Educational Progress, under quiet (45-55 d e c i b e l s ) , average (55-70 d e c i b e l s ) , and noisy (75-90 decibels) conditions. Carter and Diaz tested s i x t h grade boys on the Reading Comprehension subtest of the Stanford Achievement Test under conditions of low background d i s t r a c t i o n ( s i l e n c e ) , medium background d i s t r a c t i o n (45-55 d e c i b e l s ) , and high background d i s t r a c t i o n (55-65 de c i b e l s ) . Kassinove tested t h i r d and s i x t h grade ch i l d r e n on written arithmetic tasks under conditions of no auditory stimulation, background s t o r i e s , background music, music and s t o r i e s presented simultaneously but d i f f i c u l t to discriminate, and music and s t o r i e s presented simultaneously but easier to discriminate. In a l l of these studies," i t was found that background noise did not a f f e c t childrens' performance. Sl a t e r , who used seventh grade children i n her study, and Kassinove, who used t h i r d and s i x t h grade c h i l d r e n , both generalized t h e i r r e s u l t s to a l l grade l e v e l s without regard f o r developmental differencesidin attention. Carter and Diaz used s i x t h grade ch i l d r e n but cautioned against generalizing t h e i r r e s u l t s to children i n primary grades. In these three studies, reading or arithmetic tasks were used as dependent v a r i a b l e s . This suggests that the a b i l i t y to make use of previously learned s k i l l s , i n the presence of varying degrees of back- 9 ground noise was being measured. I f the subjects had been required to learn some type of new- s k i l l under the various t e s t i n g conditions, the background noise may have had a more detrimental e f f e c t on t h e i r performances. On the basis of the r e s u l t s of t h e i r studies, these researchers have implied that background noise does not i n t e r f e r e with children's learning even though they have made no attempt to measure the e f f e c t s of t h i s background noise on the speech i n t e l l i g i b i l i t y of teachers giving verbal i n s t r u c t i o n s to students. In order to determine what e f f e c t background noise does have on speech communication i n the classroom s i t u a t i o n , i t would be necessary to inve s t i g a t e the ' s i g n a l - to noise r a t i o ' which i s "the r e l a t i o n s h i p between the i n t e n s i t y of the speech and the i n t e n s i t y of the noise" (Newby, 1972, page 275). S p e c i f i c Learning D i f f i c u l t i e s Related to Auditory Figure-Ground Perception In Kassinove's (1972) study, each c h i l d was observed through a one way mirror while he or she was being tested. These behavioural observations suggested that the e f f e c t s of background noise seemed to be re l a t e d to i n d i v i d u a l differences i n chil d r e n . Dykman, Ackerman, Clements, and Peterss(1971) suggest that many learning d i s a b i l i t i e s are a t t e n t i o n a l d e f i c i t s which r e s u l t from defective i n h i b i t i o n i n the cortex of the n e u r o l o g i c a l l y immature c h i l d . Kinsbourne (1973) said that some chi l d r e n are "stuck" being responsive to a l l s t i m u l i because of a maturational l a g i n t h e i r a b i l i t y to focus. Rabinovitch (1972) suggested that problems with auditory figure-ground perception may r e s u l t from lack of sensory stimulation i n early childhood. 10 Whether these a t t e n t i o n a l problems are p h y s i o l o g i c a l l y and/or environmentally induced, there are c h i l d r e n who appear to need remedial assistance because of t h e i r apparent i n a b i l i t y to cope with excessive auditory and v i s u a l stimulation. In order to i d e n t i f y these c h i l d r e n , diagnostic measures are necessary. Diagnosis of Auditory Figure-Ground Perception Problems S p e c i f i c behaviours which may be observed i n c h i l d r e n who are suspected of having an auditory figure-ground perception problem are l i s t e d by Mann and Suiter (1974): 1. The student may e x h i b i t forced attention to sound causing him to attend to extraneous noises i n h i s environment. 2. He may f i n d i t d i f f i c u l t to attend to speech. 3. By comparison to other students, he may not be able to s i t for long periods of time. He may appear to be d i s t r a c t a b l e and hyperactive. 4. The teacher may f i n d that the student obeys the commands of the teacher next door. 5. He may not be able to focus h i s attention on h i s own work and may tend to i n t e r f e r e when the teacher i s working with another student, (page 70). Nober (1973) administered the Wepman Auditory Discrimination Test to t h i r t e e n normal, t h i r t e e n speech defective, and t h i r t e e n reading retarded children (ages 5.1 - 7.11) under quiet and noise conditions. She found a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t difference for the normal and reading retarded groups, (>.01 l e v e l ) between the number of errors made i n a quiet t e s t room as compared to the number of errors made i n the same test room with taped classroom noise playing i n the background. When the scores for each t e s t i n g condition were compared using the adjusted Wepman p a s s - f a i l scores which take age into consideration, 11 there was a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e f o r the reading retarded group. On the basis of these r e s u l t s , Nober questioned whether the Wepman t e s t , which was standardized under quiet t e s t i n g conditions, was a v a l i d measure of a c h i l d ' s auditory discrimination a b i l i t y under normal classroom conditions where formal learning i s to take place. Although she makes no mention of auditory figure-ground perception, i t would appear that t h i s i s the s p e c i f i c auditory perceptual s k i l l which she believes should be measured. One standardized test which can be used to assess an auditory figure-ground perception problem i s the Goldman-Fristoe-Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination (GFWT). This test was designed to "provide a measure of auditory discrimination under i d e a l l i s t e n i n g conditions plus a comparative measure of auditory d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i n the presence of c o n t r o l l e d background noise (Goldman et a l . , 1970, page 4)." Chalfant and Flathouse (1971; page 265) suggest that the following questions should be considered i n an i n v e s t i g a t i o n of figure-ground perception: 1. Is hearing or v i s u a l acuity a factor? 2. Does the c h i l d understand what he i s to do? 3. Has the fig u r e stimulus been c l e a r l y i d e n t i f i e d ? 4. Is the figure stimulus meaningful? 5. Are the background s t i m u l i meaningful? 6. What i s the strength ( i n t e n s i t y ) of the background stimuli? Of the figure stimuli? 7. How many s t i m u l i are involved (complexity)? 8. How many times has a s i m i l a r figure-ground condition been presented? Were the c h i l d ' s responses consistent? 9. Is fatigue a factor? 10. Are fig u r e and/or background s t i m u l i presented simultaneously or successively? 11. What happens i f the c h i l d responds appropriately? Inappropriately? 12 In order to j u s t i f y tlie use of the GFWT as a measure of auditory figure-ground perception, Chalfant and Flathouse's questions can be answered i n the following manner. 1. Hearing and v i s u a l acuity should be within normal l i m i t s i n order to make appropriate use of this t e s t . 2. Directions are c l e a r l y presented on audio tape. 3. The figure s t i m u l i are common English words. 4. A l l words used as figu r e s t i m u l i are reviewed and/or taught to the c h i l d before formal t e s t i n g begins. 5. The background s t i m u l i are recorded environmental sounds from a school c a f e t e r i a . 6. The background s t i m u l i are nine decibels le s s intense than the figure s t i m u l i ; the strength of the figu r e stimulus i s 60 to 70 decibels. 7. One figu r e stimulus i s presented at a time. 8. The figu r e ground condition i s presented t h i r t y times; Consistency of responses depends on the c h i l d . 9. The te s t i n g procedure only takes seven and one-half minutes so i t i s u n l i k e l y that fatigue would be a fac t o r with most chil d r e n . 10. Figure s t i m u l i are presented simultaneously with the background s t i m u l i . 11. The c h i l d does not receive feedback as to the appropriateness of his responses. The only a v a i l a b l e data regarding r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y f o r the GFWT i s reported i n the test manual. Test-retest r e l i a b i l i t i e s of .87 for the quiet subtest and .81 for the noise subtest and s p l i t - h a l f r e l i a b i l i t i e s of .87 for the quiet subtest and .68 f o r the noise 13 subtest are reported. To determine the v a l i d i t y of the t e s t , GFWT scores were correlated with the judgments of expert c l i n i c i a n s f o r a group of eighteen subjects r e c e i v i n g speech therapy. The r e s u l t i n g c o e f f i c i e n t s of .68 f o r the quiet subtest and .72 for the noise subtest were used as evidence of v a l i d i t y by the tes t authors. The GFWT was standardized on 745 subjects ranging i n age from three to eighty-four. The developmental trend i n auditory figure-ground perception noted i n the studies of Marsh (1973), Doyle (1973), and Maccoby and Konrad (1966) was also observed i n t h i s standardization sample. The test authors also report sex differences but claim that they are "of small magnitude and thus, i t i s appropriate to use a single set of norms for both male and female subjects (page 16)." On the GFWT, stimulus words on the quiet and noise subtests are presented on audio tape and the subject has to choose one of four pi c t u r e s which corresponds to the word he hears. Each word has a new s e l e c t i o n of four pictures presented on a separate p l a t e . I f a subject's performance i s above the twentieth to t h i r t i e t h p e r c e n t i l e on both subtests, according to the norms, i t i s concluded that h i s auditory discrimination s k i l l s are adequate. I f he scores above t h i s c u t - o f f point on the quiet subtest, but below i t on the noise subtest, then i t i s i n t e r p r e t e d that he functions poorly on auditory d i s c r i m i n a t i o n i n a d i f f i c u l t l i s t e n i n g s i t u a t i o n . Given the condition that there i s no hearing l o s s , i f he performs below the twentieth to t h i r t i e t h p e r c e n t i l e on both subtests, then the test authors suggest that he has an auditory d i s c r i m i n a t i o n problem and may also have d i f f i c u l t y i n a l i s t e n i n g s i t u a t i o n with competing auditory s i g n a l s . 14 Remediation of Auditory Figure-Ground Perception Problems Once d i f f i c u l t i e s w i t h auditory figure-ground perception have been i d e n t i f i e d , attempts can be made to remediate them. Mann and Suiter (1974) make the following general recommendations f o r c h i l d r e n suspected of having an auditory figure-ground perception problem: 1. The teacher should provide a place that i s reasonably quiet where the student can get o f f by himself f o r parts of the day. 2. He should not seat the student by the window, door, or n o i s y a i r conditioner. 3. He can help him s e l e c t relevant from i r r e l e v a n t sounds i n his- environment with h i s eyes closed, then with his eyes open. 4. He can use tapes or records to help the student b u i l d i n sound s e l e c t i v i t y (ear phones can be used to screen out d i s t r a c t i o n ) . 5. Drugs under s t r i c t supervision may help. 6. The teacher should regulate the rate of input accordingly. Going slower makes a difference. 7. He can condition the student by introducing sound i n t o the environment on a s e l e c t i v e b a s i s . (Page 70-71). In addition, there are many other sources of s p e c i f i c suggestions to a s s i s t teachers i n developing remedial programmes for these children (Chalfant and Flathouse, 1971). Developmental Learning Materials of Chicago has a commercially produced Auditory Perception Training K i t which includes audio tapes to remediate auditory f i g u r e - ground perception problems. To i n v e s t i g a t e the effectiveness of remedial t r a i n i n g of auditory figure-ground perception s k i l l s , Marascuilo and P e n f i e l d (1972) conducted an experiment using t h e i r own taped t r a i n i n g materials. They believed that c h i l d r e n who did not know how to f i l t e r out background noise were at a tremendous educational disadvantage because, "without 15 doubt, the degree of success that a student has i n learning new- materials i s d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to h i s a b i l i t y to receive and transmit messages by o r a l communication s k i l l s (page 5)." In t h i s study, second, f i f t h , eighth and eleventh grade students were exposed to audio tape recorded remedial material designed to improve t h e i r l i s t e n i n g s k i l l s i n the presence of background noise. They found that t h i s remedial t r a i n i n g was e f f e c t i v e with the second grade children but not with the other groups. Summary A l l of this information raises many questions regarding the educational implications of auditory figure-ground perception. Before schools d i r e c t a great deal of e f f o r t towards the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n and remediation of these suspected problems, a d d i t i o n a l research i s e s s e n t i a l . Attempts must be made to determine what e f f e c t s auditory figure-ground perception problems have on academic achievement and whether s p e c i f i c learning environments impede the learning process i n children with t h i s type of d i f f i c u l t y . The present study has been designed as an attempt to inves t i g a t e these areas. 16 CHAPTER .2 HYPOTHESIS AND OPERATIONAL DEFINITIONS In Chapter 1, a review of studies r e l a t e d to auditory f i g u r e - ground perception indicated that children do d i f f e r i n t h e i r a b i l i t y to discriminate between fig u r e and background auditory s t i m u l i . The p o s s i b i l i t y of differences i n the amount of background noise i n various classroom environments was also discussed. I t was suggested the c h i l d r e n with auditory figure-ground perception problems have d i f f i c u l t y functioning i n learning s i t u a t i o n s which have an excessive amount of background auditory stimulation. Hypothesis Based on these studies, i t i s hypothesized that the more d i f f i c u l t y c h i l d r e n have with auditory figure-ground perception, the l e s s l i k e l y they are to achieve academic success i n open area classrooms; whereas, i n s e l f contained classrooms, problems with auditory figure-ground perception w i l l have less e f f e c t on academic success. Assumptions In order for t h i s hypothesis to be tested, i t i s necessary to investigate the following assumptions: 1. The subjects (Ss) used i n this study came from a population s i m i l a r to the normative population of the GFWT, and 2. The grade one open, area classrooms used i n t h i s study have a 17 higher noise l e v e l than the s e l f contained classrooms. Operational Definitions. Auditory figure-ground perception ref e r s to the a b i l i t y to focus on relevant aspects of the auditory f i e l d and "tune out" i r r e l e v a n t background s t i m u l i . The test used to measure this a b i l i t y i s the Goldman-Fristoe-Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination which has two subtests - one under noise conditions and one under quiet conditions. Academic success i s measured by three subtests of the Cooperative Primary Test - reading, l i s t e n i n g and mathematics. Se l f contained classroom r e f e r s to a conventional l e a r n i n g environment with approximately twenty—five students andoone teacher i n a standard si z e d room. Open area classroom ref e r s to a large learning environment containing two, three, or four classes, each with approximately twenty- f i v e students and a teacher. Noise Level. The noise l e v e l data were c o l l e c t e d by observing the readings on a d e c i b e l meter f o r approximately f i f t e e n seconds i n each of ten d i f f e r e n t areas of each classroom. During each f i f t e e n second observation, the upper extreme noise l e v e l , the lower extreme noise l e v e l , and the mean noise l e v e l were recorded. The decibel readings were taken once i n the morning and once i n the afternoon on two consecutive days f o r each class (Chew and McLean, 1974). 18 Delimitation of the Study This study was r e s t r i c t e d to E n g l i s h speaking grade one ch i l d r e n i n e i t h e r open area or s e l f contained classes located within the Vancouver school d i s t r i c t . J u s t i f i c a t i o n of the Study I f the hypothesis i s supported by the r e s u l t s of t h i s study, possibly the GFWT might be useful as a screening instrument to determine whether grade one children who have d i f f i c u l t y with auditory f i g u r e - ground perception are more appropriately assigned to s e l f contained or open area classrooms. Thereby, i t may be possible to prevent the learning and/or behaviour problems which can r e s u l t from exposing a c h i l d to a learning environment with which he has d i f f i c u l t y coping. 19 CHAPTER 3 METHOD Design In order to obtain data bearing on the hypothesis, a non-equivalent c o n t r o l group design was used (Campbell and Stanley, Design 10, 1963). (See Figure 1). An experimental group of grade one subjects (Ss) was randomly selected from open area classes and a cont r o l group from s e l f contained classes. To provide s t a t i s t i c a l c o n t r o l f o r possible beginning grade one achievement l e v e l i n reading, arithmetic, and s p e l l i n g , the Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT) was administered i n d i v i d u a l l y to each S_ i n September or October. In January or February, the Goldman-Fristoe- Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination (GFWT) was administered to provide a measure of each S/ s a b i l i t y to discriminate sounds i n the presence of c o n t r o l l e d background noise. In A p r i l , the Cooperative Primary Test (CPT) was administered to provide a measure of each S_'s academic progress i n arithmetic, reading and l i s t e n i n g s k i l l s . Sampling Procedure O r i g i n a l l y , 12 S_s from each of four open areaaand four s e l f contained grade one classes were randomly selected from a pool of S_s whose parents gave t h e i r w r itten permission f o r t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the study. A table of random numbers was used to make the random s e l e c t i o n (Marascuilo, 1971). Shortly a f t e r this s e l e c t i o n was made, *°1 °3 °5 Open Area | ^/\ ^ / \ /̂V_ Self-contained °2 °4 °6 I V A September January A p r i l or or 1974 October February 1973 1974 *P10^: WRAT 0-0.: GFWT 3 4 0CO,: CPT 5 6 Figure 1 Experimental Design 21 i t was discovered that one of the open area classes was using the I n i t i a l Teaching Alphabet approach to reading which would have affected these S_* s performance on the standardized reading t e s t s . This class and i t s c o n t r o l class were eliminated from the study and the number of Ss i n each of the remaining classes was increased from twelve to sixteen per c l a s s . From January to A p r i l , ten Ss had to be eliminated from the study because they had e i t h e r moved to another school or had a lengthy i l l n e s s during one of the follow-up test periods. E i g h t y - s i x Ss remained i n the study. Subjects S_s were selected from open area and s e l f contained f i r s t grade classes i n Vancouver schools. In consultation with the Vancouver School Board's research department, three schools with primary open areas were nominated and control schools were chosen because of t h e i r p h y s i c a l proximity to the experimental schools. Included were schools which are located on both the east and west sides of the c i t y and they represent a f a i r l y wide range of socio-economic l e v e l s . The parents of a l l S_s gave t h e i r written consent f o r t h e i r p a r t i c i p a t i o n i n the study. According to teacher judgement and school medical cards which included whisper test r e s u l t s f o r a l l c h i l d r e n and audiometer te s t r e s u l t s f o r some child r e n , a l l Ss were able to speak English f l u e n t l y and had no obvious hearing problems. Ages i n September ranged from f i v e years four months to s i x years ten months. The median age was s i x years two months. Materials Wide Range Achievement Test. The WRAT was administered to provide a general measure of achievement i n reading, s p e l l i n g , and arithmetic. A test covering a l l grade l e v e l s was chosen because i t was expected that beginning grade one chil d r e n would be functioning at many d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s depending upon factors such as the f l e x i b i l i t y of t h e i r Kinder- garten programme and parental tutoring. The reading subtest includes a measure of alphabet naming which has been found to be one of the best single predictors of reading readiness i n many studies (Lowell, 1971). Available r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y data support the use of the WRAT as a general measure of achievement. A United States n a t i o n a l health survey correlated the WRAT reading and arithmetic scores f o r 2,500 children at a l l grade l e v e l s with the Stanford and Metropolitan Achievement Tests and concluded that the WRAT was a " s a t i s f a c t o r y b r i e f estimate of school achievement (Nat. Cent, for Health Stat., 1967)." Reger (1962) reported a c o r r e l a t i o n of .76 between the WRAT reading and arithmetic scores and the Metropolitan Achievement Test. A c o r r e l a t i o n c o e f f i c i e n t of .92 between the WRAT reading subtest and the Gray Oral Reading Test was reported by Lawson and A v i l a (19 72). Hopkins, Dobson and Oldridge (1962) correlated WRAT scores with teacher ratings and reported concurrent v a l i d i t y c o e f f i c i e n t s fronF=.74 to .86 for 502 children i n grades one to f i v e . They also reported c o r r e l a t i o n c o e f f i c i e n t s of .86 and .71 between the WRAT and the C a l i f o r n i a Reading Vocabulary and Comprehension test s . S p l i t - h a l f r e l i a b i l i t y c o e f f i c i e n t s for the reading, s p e l l i n g , and arithmetic subtests were .98 to .99, .96 to .98, and .94 to .97 re s p e c t i v e l y , according to Jastak and Jastak (1965) and .98, .99, and .98 r e s p e c t i v e l y i n a study by Sundeau and Salopek (1971). Jastak and Jastak report alternate form r e l i a b i l i t i e s of .88 to .93, .88 to .93, and .79 to . 89 for the reading, s p e l l i n g and arithmetic subtests r e s p e c t i v e l y . GoIdman-Fristoe-Woodcock Test of Auditory Discrimination. The GFWT was administered to measure auditory figure-ground perception. The j u s t i f i c a t i o n for the use of t h i s test and the r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y data was presented with the r e l a t e d research on pages 13 to 15. Cooperative Primary Tests. The reading, mathematics, and l i s t e n i n g subtests of the CPT were administered to provide a follow-up measure of academic achievement. These tests were designed to "survey understanding and s k i l l s considered basic to future development" i n reading, mathematics and l i s t e n i n g (CPT Handbook, 1967, page 6). According to the test authors, one of the objectives i n designing t h i s t e s t was to provide academic measures which would be r e l a t i v e l y independent of d i f f e r e n t teaching techniques. This makes the CPT appropriate for the present study because of the number of d i f f e r e n t schools, classes, and teachers involved. The CP.T HanHbook includes item analysis data f o r each subtest and the content v a l i d i t y has been described as "outstanding" by Hanna (1972) i n h i s review of the test i n the Seventh Mental Measurements Yearbook. The median i n t e r n a l consistency c o e f f i c i e n t s were .90 for reading, .83 fo r mathematics, and .81 for l i s t e n i n g . The alternate form r e l i a b i l i t y c o e f f i c i e n t s were .85 f o r reading, .82 f o r mathematics and .76 f o r l i s t e n i n g . 24 Apparatus A Sony TC106 tape recorder with, two sets of high f i d e l i t y Hosiden earphones were used for the GFWT. A Bruel and Kjaer Sound Level Meter, Type 2205 f i t t e d with a p i e z o e l e c t r i c microphone, Type 4117 was used to measure the noise l e v e l s i n each classroom. Procedure In September and October, the WRAT was administered i n d i v i d u a l l y to each S_ according to the d i r e c t i o n s i n the tes t manual. The Ss were a l l tested by the same examiner i n quiet rooms i n t h e i r own schools. In January and February, the GFWT was administered i n d i v i d u a l l y to each ̂  according to the d i r e c t i o n s i n the test manual, using the tape recorder and earphones. A l l S_s were tested by the same examiner i n the rooms used for the WRAT te s t i n g . In A p r i l , the CPT was administered as a group t e s t according to the d i r e c t i o n s i n the test manual. The te s t i n g was c a r r i e d out i n three separate sessions, with each group being tested i n t h e i r own school by the same examiner. In May and June, the ambient noise l e v e l i n each class was compared using a sound l e v e l meter on a time sampling b a s i s . The following procedural d e s c r i p t i o n has been extracted from the report^of Chew and McLean (1974) who were responsible for c o l l e c t i n g these data: Measurements were made during the school day at random times throughout the morning and the afternoon. Each classroom was surveyed four times, twice a day (once i n the morning and once i n the afternoon) for two consecutive days. ...Each room was v i s u a l l y divided into a g r i d , c u t t i n g up 25 the f l o o r surface area into ten squares of approximately equal area. The actual l o c a t i o n p o s i t i o n i n g of the instrument v a r i e d from room to room and from v i s i t to v i s i t i n a given room, due to movement of students and po s i t i o n i n g of fu r n i t u r e . ...One set of readings was taken i n the centre of each of the ten grids. Each set consisted of 30 readings of the noise l e v e l i n dBA using the SLOW meter response. This was done by observing the sound l e v e l meter needle f o r no less than 15 seconds and v i s u a l l y estimating the mean value, together with both the capper and lower extremes and repeating the whole process 10 times for each g r i d . Since there were 10 such grids per room a t o t a l of 30 readings were taken. (Chew and McLean, 1974, page 6-8). S t a t i s t i c a l Analyses Assumption 1; A chi-square test was used to determine whether a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t difference existed between the d i s t r i b u t i o n of scores on the subtests of the GFWT for the sample used i n t h i s study and the normative population. Since most of the ninety-one Ss who were given the GFWT were between 6-0 and 6-11 at the time of te s t i n g , only these S_s were used f o r comparison purposes. F o r t y - f i v e _Ss were compared to the t e s t norms for ch i l d r e n ranging i n age from 6-0 to 6-5 and t h i r t y - e i g h t Ss were compared to the test norms for chi l d r e n ranging i n age from 6-6 to 6-11. Assumption 2: In order to t e s t the assumption that open area classrooms have a higher noise l e v e l than the self-contained classrooms, t - t e s t s were performed on the data from the decibel readings using the S t a t i s t i c a l Package for the S o c i a l Sciences ( K i t a and Morley, 1973b). Separate analyses were performed f o r the mean, upper extreme, and lower extreme decibel readings i n the afternoons. Hypothesis: In order to t e s t the hypothesis that the more d i f f i c u l t y children i n open area classrooms had with auditory figure-grouhd 26 perception as measured by the GFWT, the lower t h e i r achievement scores would be on the CPT, a stepwise multiple regression analysis procedure was used. The advantages of using t h i s data analysis technique have been discussed extensively by authors such as Cohen, 1968; O v e r a l l and Spiegel, 1970; and Walberg, 1971. This approach was p a r t i c u l a r l y appropriate f o r t h i s study because i t allows f o r the t e s t i n g of the ef f e c t s of continuous v a r i a b l e s without the necessity of making a r b i t r a r y groups which i s necessary i n analysis of variance. The stepwise analysis involves an _a p r i o r i ordering of the independent v a r i a b l e s . Estimates of each independent v a r i a b l e are adjusted for the e f f e c t s preceding terms i n the ordering but not f o r the terms which follow i t . Separate stepwise analyses were performed for each of the three dependent v a r i a b l e s , using the data from the GFWT noise subtest as oneooftlfche independent v a r i a b l e s and the WRAT scores as a covariate. In order to determine whether there was any r e l a t i o n s h i p between performance on the GFWT quiet subtest and the dependent v a r i a b l e s , separate analyses were c a r r i e d out, i d e n t i c a l to the analyses described above except that the scores on the quiet subtest were substituted for the scores on the noise subtest. The regression analyses were performed using the stepwise regression programme (Halm, 1972). The p r o b a b i l i t y l e v e l s (p) for si g n i f i c a n c e were calculated using the following formula: 2 •p = ~ R /df source (dfs, dfe) SS error/df error (Overall and Spiegel, 1970). 27 Post Hoc Analyses: Some post hoc analysis of the data was c a r r i e d out to further investigate s i g n i f i c a n t i n t e r a c t i o n s r e s u l t i n g from the multiple regression analyses. The UBC FREQ computer programme (Kita and Morley, 1973a) was used to p l o t histograms of observed frequencies of raw scores on the noise subtest of the GFWT. This f a c i l i t a t e d the d i v i s i o n of the data into meaningful groups f o r comparison purposes. Four groups f or each class type were generated i n t h i s manner. The fourth l e v e l groups ( c r i t i c a l ) represented Ss who were functioning i n the c r i t i c a l region of auditory f i g u r e ground perception according to the test norms. The CPT r e s u l t s f o r the f i r s t three groups of each classroom type ( n o n - c r i t i c a l ) were collapsed to allow f o r an analysis of covariance between the c r i t i c a l and n o n - c r i t i c a l groups, using Tthe WRAT scores as a covariate. The General Linear Hypothesis programme (Bjerring, Greig, and Halm, 1973) was used f o r t h i s a n a l ysis. 28 CHAPTER 4 RESULTS I n i t i a l l y , the r e s u l t s r e l a t e d to the assumptions are presented, followed by a s t a t i s t i c a l d e s c r i p t i o n of the sample used i n th i s study. The r e s u l t s of the multiple regression analyses used to t e s t the hypothesis are presented next. Included i n t h i s section are the re s u l t s of the quiet subtest data as w e l l as the noise subtest data. F i n a l l y , the r e s u l t s of the post hoc analyses axe presented. Assumption 1: The r e s u l t s of the chi-square test used to compare the d i s t r i b u t i o n of scores on the GFWT for the sample useditn t h i s study with the sample used i n the development of the tes t norms are presented i n Table 1. There was no s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e between the groups at ei t h e r age l e v e l on the quiet or thennoise subtests. Therefore, i t can be concluded that they represent s i m i l a r populations. Assumption 2; The r e s u l t s of the t - t e s t s performed on the decibe l reading data are presented i n Table 2. The c o l l e c t i o n of the noise l e v e l data consisted of observing the readings on the decibel meter f o r approximately f i f t e e n seconds i n each of ten d i f f e r e n t areas of each classroom. During each f i f t e e n second observation, the upper extreme noise l e v e l , the lower extreme noise l e v e l and the mean noise l e v e l were recorded. The mean upper extreme reported i n the table r e f e r s to the mean of a l l the recorded upper extreme noise l e v e l s i n the ten areas i n two mornings or afternoons of observation. The mean lower extreme was calculated i n a s i m i l a r manner. The meantinoise l e v e l as w e l l as Table 1 Comparisons between the GFWT Norming Sample amddtfre Sample used i n t h i s study (Chi-Square Goodness of F i t ) Subtest. df Age 6-0 to 6-5 Age 6-6 to 6-11 Quiet Noise 5 12 8.50 7.12 2.90* 18.35** * C r i t i c a l value f o r chi-square (df=5) i s 11.070. * * C r i t i c a l value f o r chi-square (df=12) i s 21.026. Table 2 Summary of Sound Level Readings Type Mean dbA tT Value S i g n i f i c a n c e * Mean AM Open Area 62.50 2.:.2^ vgs Self-contained 55.20 Mean PM Open Area 58.40 Self-contained 56.67 0.95 No Lower Limit Mean AM Open Area 58. 83 Self-contained 51.60 2.28 Yes Lower Limit Mean PM Open Area 54.80 Self-contained 51.50 1.55 No Upper Limit Mean AM Open Area 66.00 Self-contained 58.80 2.30 Yes Upper L i m i t Mean PM Open Area 62. 40 Self-contained 58.83 1.47- No * C r i t i c a l value f o r tCdf=9) f o r a one t a i l test i s 1.833. 31 the mean upper and mean lower extremes, of noise, ware co n s i s t e n t l y higher i n the open area classrooms than the s e l f contained classrooms. However, i n terms of s t a t i s t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e , only the noise l e v e l s i n the mornings^ were s i g n i f i c a n t l y greater i n the open areas than the s e l f contained classrooms. Description of the Sample: The means, standard deviations, and i n t e r - c o r r e l a t i o n s f o r the open area group are presented i n Table 3 and for the s e l f contained group i n Table 4. T-test comparisons were made between the open area and s e l f contained groups f o r each of the subtests of the WRAT and GFWT. The only s i g n i f i c a n t i n i t i a l d ifference between the two groups was found on the arithmetic subtest of the WRAT. The s e l f contained group scored s i g n i f i c a n t l y higher on t h i s subtest than the open area group. The means, standard deviations, and i n t e r c o r r e l a t i o n s between a l l of the v a r i a b les used i n t h i s study are presented i n Table 5. I t i s in t e r e s t i n g to note that the cor r e l a t i o n s between WRAT reading and CPT reading, and WRAT arithmetic and CPT mathematics are not very high. This r a i s e s questions regarding the concurrent or d i f f e r e n t i a l content v a l i d i t y of these tes t s . They don't appear to measure the same facets of t h e i r respective domains. Hypothesis: Stepwise multiple regression analysis was the s t a t i s t i c a l procedure used to analyze the data f o r t h i s hypothesis. Two p a r a l l e l sets of analyses were performed, one on the noise subtest data and one on the quiet subtest data. The purpose of the quiet subtest analyses was to ensure that an auditory d i s c r i m i n a t i o n problem was not responsible for the expected underachievement of the open area Ss who had d i f f i c u l t y with auditory figure-ground perception. Table 3 Means, Standard Deviations, and Intercorrelations between the WRAT and GFWT Scores for the Open Area Group (N=43)** — — ——— Variable s 1 2 3 4 5 1. WRAT Reading 24.95 13.34 — 2. WRAT. Spe l l i n g 20.79 6.75 77* — 3. WRAT Arithmetic 16.84 2.94 75* 57* — 4. GFWT Quiet 1.35 1.27 -49* -31* -51* — 5. GFWT Noise 10.00 2.96 -12 -03 -31* 23 * Any c o r r e l a t i o n greater than .30 i s s i g n i f i c a n t where o C =.05. ** Correlation e n t r i e s are rounded to two' figures and decimals are omitted. This sample does not include Ss who were eliminated from the study due to i l l n e s s or changing schools p r i o r to f i n a l CPT t e s t i n g . Table 4 Means, Standard Deviations, and Int e r c o r r e l a t i o n s between the WRAT and GFWT Scores for the Self-Contained Group (N=43)** Variables 1. WRAT Reading 2. WRAT Spe l l i n g 3. WRAT Arithmetic 26. 35 20.54 18.16 5.34 2.07 1.77 62* 34* 44* 4. GFWT Quiet 5. GFWT Noise 1.54 10.44 1.20 2.80 -10 02 -15 -12 -42* -10 33* * Any c o r r e l a t i o n greater than .30 i s s i g n i f i c a n t where o<=.05. ** Correlation entries are rounded to two figures and decimals are omitted. This sample does not include J s who were eliminated from the study due to i l l n e s s or changing schools p r i o r to f i n a l CPT t e s t i n g . T.aMe 5 Means, Standard Deviations, and Int e r c o r r e l a t i o n s between the Variables Used i n the Study;(N=86) ** Variable X s 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 1. Class 0.50 .50 — 2. Sex 1.51 .50 -.05 3. WRAT 25.65 10.13 -07 14 «ea,. Reading 4. WRATling 20.66 4.97 02 02 74* Sp e l l i n g 5. WRAT 17.50 2.50 -27* 23* 66* 50* Arithmetic 6. QFWT 1.44 1.23 -08 -26* -35* -25* -43* Quiet 7. GFWT 10.22 2.87 -08 10 -07 -05 -20 29* Noise 8. CPT 19.41 10.53 -23* 08 55* 52* 52* -18 -07 Reading 9. CPT 30.04 6.42 -10 -0(D1 56* 37* 52* -40* -41* -48* Li s t e n i n g 10. CPT 30.72 8.48 -23* 16 47* 35* 64* -30* -15 54* 64* Math * Any entry greater than .21 i s s i g n i f i c a n t where o< =.05. ** I n t e r c o r r e l a t i o n entries are rounded to two figures and decimals are omitted. -c- 35 A r a t i o n a l ranking procedure was used f o r the ordering of the independent v a r i a b l e s i n the stepwise analysis. The f i r s t category of v ariables to be entered i n t o the equation was the covariate. The combined reading, s p e l l i n g and arithmetic scores of the WRAT were used as a covariate which ef f e c t e d the equivalent of an analysis of covariance. The second terms to be entered into the equation were organismic variable s of l i t t l e i n t e r e s t . The only v a r i a b l e which f e l l i nto t h i s category was sex. The t h i r d category of var i a b l e s to be entered was the scores on the noise subtest of the GFWT. The fourth category to be entered i n t o the regression equation was the type of classroom - open area of s e l f contained. The f i f t h term to be entered was the p o t e n t i a l i n t e r a c t i o n between sex and noise subtest scores. The s i x t h term to be entered was the p o t e n t i a l i n t e r a c t i o n between sex and type of cla s s . The po t e n t i a l i n t e r a c t i o n which corresponds to the hypothesis was the seventh term to be entered. This was the expected i n t e r a c t i o n between type of class and scores on the noise subtest. The eighth category to be entered was a p o t e n t i a l i n t e r a c t i o n between type of c l a s s , sex and scores on the noise subtest. The regression model f o r each of the three dependent v a r i a b l e s was as f.follows: Y = B 0X 0 + + B 2X 2 + BgXg + E, where Y i s the dependent v a r i a b l e , i s the combined e f f e c t of the covariates - WRAT Reading, Arithmetic and S p e l l i n g , i s Sex, i s scores on the Noise subtest of the GFWT, 36 i s the Type of c l a s s , X,. i s the combined e f f e c t of Sex and Noise scores, Xg i s the combined e f f e c t of Sex and Type of c l a s s , i s the combined e f f e c t of Type of class and Noise scores, X„ i s the combined e f f e c t of Type of cl a s s , Sex and Noise o " ' scores, and E i s experimental error. This conceptual model f o r each regression analysis was b u i l t on s i x v a r i a b l e s which were grouped into eight categories. Four of these s i x v a r i a b l e s were considered to be i n t e r v a l scales, but sex and type of class were ca t e g o r i c a l v a r i a b l e s which were represented i n the analysis as dummy va r i a b l e s . Separate stepwise regression analyses were performed on the noise and quiet data, for each of the three dependent v a r i a b l e s . The r e s u l t s of the quiet subtest analyses are presented i n Table 6. The only s i g n i f i c a n t source of variance (except f o r the covariates) i n the three analyses of the quiet subtest data was the main e f f e c t of the quiet subtest on the l i s t e n i n g measure. This corresponds to a s i g n i f i c a n t source of variance found i n the analysis of the noise subtest data (see Table 3) which was the e f f e c t of the noise factor on the scores of the l i s t e n i n g measure. This suggests that the more d i f f i c u l t y c h i l d r e n have with auditory d i s c r i m i n a t i o n under quiet as wel l as noise conditions on the GFWT, the poorer t h e i r l i s t e n i n g s k i l l s w i l l be on the CPT. There d i d not appear to be any r e l a t i o n s h i p between poor auditory discrimination as measured by the quiet subtest and reading or mathematics achievement on the CPT regardless of classroom 37 Table 6 Results of the Regression Analyses for the Quiet Subtest Data Reading Li s t e n i n g Mathematics Source of Va r i a t i o n df A R 2 obs A R 2 F , obs F . obs Covariates 3 .3713 15.87* .3551 15.58* .4081 17.66* Sex 1 .3716 .04 .3746 2.55 .4085 .05 Quiet 1 .3757 .53 .53 4.91* .4092 .09 Type 1 .3964 2.65 .4129 .15 .4162 .91 Sex • Quiet 1 .3978 .18 .4243 1.50 .4195 .43 Type • Sex 1 .3985 .09 .4271 .36 .4196 .01 Type • Quiet 1 .4111 1.62 .4291 .26 .4209 .17 Type • Sex • 1 .4135 .31 .4304 .18 . 4209 .00 Quiet Note - Error terms f o r Reading = ,0078; Li s t e n i n g = .0076; and Mathematics = .0077. *p < .05. 38 Table 7 Results of the Regression Analyses for the Noise Subtest Data 1 Reading Li s t e n i n g Mathematics Source of Va r i a t i o n df . „2 A R obs obs A R 2 F , obs Covariates 3 .3713 18.21* .3551 17.41* .4081 18.13* Sex 1 .3716 .04 .3746 2.85 .4085 .05 Noise 1 .3717 .02 . .4740 14.62* .4094 .12 Type 1 .3956 3.53 .4758 .28 . 4162 .10 Sex • Noise 1 .4092 1.99 .4852 1.37 .4205 .59 Type • Sex 1 .4096 .06 .4853 .02 .4206 .01 Type • Noise 1 . 4163 .99 .4865 .18 .4210 .04 Type • Sex • Noise 1 .4914 11.04* .4865 .02 .4379 2.27 Note - Error terms for Reading = .0068; Lis t e n i n g = .0068; and Mathematics = .0075. *p < .05. 39 type. This study was s p e c i f i c a l l y designed to test the hypothesis that the more d i f f i c u l t y f i r s t grade ch i l d r e n i n open area classrooms had with auditory figure-ground perception as measured by the noise subtest of the GFWT, the lower t h e i r scores would be on the CPT achievement test. A s i m i l a r r e l a t i o n s h i p was not expected to be found i n self-contained classrooms. The expected i n t e r a c t i o n between type of class and scores on the noise subtest was not found to be s i g n i f i c a n t and therefore, the hypothesis had to be rejected. A trend i n the expected d i r e c t i o n was noted and this was explored further i n post hoc analyses of the data. Post Hoc Analyses: In order to v i s u a l i z e the r e l a t i o n s h i p s between int e r a c t i o n s containing the noise v a r i a b l e and the dependent v a r i a b l e s , i t was necessary to group the raw scores on the noise subtest. Using the histogram presented i n Figure 2, the following four groups were established: group 1, co n s i s t i n g of S_s with scores ranging from 0 to66; group 2, co n s i s t i n g of Ss with scores ranging from 7 to 9; group 3, con s i s t i n g of S_s with scores ranging from 10 to 12; and group 4, con s i s t i n g of S_s with scores greater than 12. Using these four groups to represent the l e v e l s of performance on the noise subtest, the type by noise i n t e r a c t i o n and the mean raw scores for each group of the three*dependent variables are presented i n Table <S. Even though these i n t e r a c t i o n s were not found to be s i g n i f i c a n t , i t was noted that the s e l f contained Ss i n group 4 tended to score higher on a l l three dependent v a r i a b l e s than the open area S_s i n group 4. Since the fourth l e v e l group represented Ss who are suspected of functioning i n the c r i t i c a l range of auditory figure-ground perception 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Raw Score 5 . 6 10 , 11 . 12 . 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 18 Group Figure 2 Histogram of the Observed Frequencies of the Noise Subtest Raw Scores 41 Table 8 Mean CPT Scores- f o r the Type by Noise Interaction Open Area 14.84 15.80 23.19 9.43 Reading Self-contained 23.75 23.92 21.12 21.73 Open Area 34.75 27.40 32.13 21.63 Mathematics Self-contained 32.00 33.13 33.43 31.27 Open Area 35.00 30.27 30.50 22.63 Li s t e n i n g Self-contained 38.00 31.20 30.50 28.27 42 according to the GFWT norms f o r s i x year o l d child r e n , the f i r s t three groups f o r each type of classroom were combined and compared with the fourth l e v e l groups by means of analysis of covariance. Table 9 presents the type by noise adjusted means for the reading, l i s t e n i n g , and mathematics measures. None of these r e l a t i o n s h i p s were s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t which suggests that the academic achievement of children i n group 4 who had extremely high scores on the noise subtest was not adversely af f e c t e d by differences i n t h e i r learning environments. An unexpected s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p between type of classroom, sex and noise subtest scores was found f o r the reading v a r i a b l e s . This i n t e r a c t i o n (see Figure 3) suggests that the more d i f f i c u l t y boys have with auditory d i s c r i m i n a t i o n under noise conditions, the poorer t h e i r reading achievement w i l l be i n open area classes but not i n s e l f contained classes. A d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p was found among g i r l s , i n that the more d i f f i c u l t y they had on the noise subtest, the poorer t h e i r reading achievement was i n self-contained clas s e s , but t h i s was not true i n open area classes. Analysis of covariance was used to determine whether there was a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t difference between the Ss i n the c r i t i c a l and n o n - c r i t i c a l groups i n t h i s i n t e r a c t i o n . Graphical representation of the r e s u l t s of th i s a n alysis i s presented i n Figure 4. The r e s u l t i n g F r a t i o of 5.9142 was s i g n i f i c a n t at the .05 l e v e l . This may be interpreted as meaning that boys with auditory figure-ground . perception problems have more success l e a r n i n g to read i n s e l f contained classrooms than open areas but g i r l s with a s i m i l a r problem appear to have more reading success i n open areas than s e l f contained classrooms. Table 9 Mean CPT Adjusted Scores f o r the Combined Groups Of The Type By Noise Interaction Reading Reading 1-3 4 Open Area 18.16 16.02 Self-contained 21.56 19.51 Open Area 30.36 29.03 Mathematics Self-contained 31.56 30.68 Li s t e n i n g Open Area Self-contained 30.78 30.84 26.90 27.62 44 30 28 26 24 CD 2 22 o o oc 20 C •H Td S" 18 rt IX 16 14 12 10 8 ff r# Open Area: Male • # Open Area: Female A . A Self-contained: Male A • • ASelf-contained: Female 2 3 Noise Group Figure 3 Type by Sex by Noise Interaction on the Reading Regression Analysis 45 cfl •rl 03 rt 60 •H 13 cfl CU rt 30 28 26 24 22 20 18 16 14 ' • Open Area: Male . . . . Open Area: Female _W Self-contained: Male - • -A Self-contained: Female 2 - ^ Group Figure 4 Type by Sex by Noise Interaction f o r the C r i t i c a l and N o n - C r i t i c a l Groups on the Reading ANOVA 46 CHAPTER 4 DISCUSSION AND CONCLUSIONS Discussion The purpose of t h i s study was to inves t i g a t e the r e l a t i o n s h i p between auditory figure-ground perception as measured by the GFWT and academic achievement as measured by the CPT, i n open area and s e l f contained classrooms. The noise l e v e l i n open area grade one classrooms was expected to be higher than the noise l e v e l i n s e l f contained c l a s s - rooms. This led to the hypothesis that the more d i f f i c u l t y c h i l d r e n i n open area classes had perceiving sounds i n d i f f i c u l t l i s t e n i n g s i t u a t i o n s as measured by the GFWT noise subtest, the lower t h e i r achievement scores would be. A s i m i l a r r e l a t i o n s h i p was not expected to be found amongst chi l d r e n i n s e l f contained classes. Although the open area classrooms used i n th i s study were generally found to be n o i s i e r than the s e l f contained classrooms, the expected r e l a t i o n s h i p between the GFWT noise subtest and performance on the CPT was not found to s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t . However, examination of the raw data indicated a trend i n the expected d i r e c t i o n . The Ss were grouped according to t h e i r noise subtest scores, and the S_s i n the c r i t i c a l group were compared using the CPT grade norms. I t was found that the average open area S_ i n the c r i t i c a l group was functioning at the beginning grade 1.0 reading l e v e l i n A p r i l whereas the average s e l f contained S_ i n the c r i t i c a l group was reading at the grade 1.8 l e v e l . There was also a tendency for the s e l f contained c r i t i c a l group 47 to perform s l i g h t l y b e t t e r than the open area c r i t i c a l group on the mathematics and l i s t e n i n g subtests. Unfortunately, the covariates and variance due to other unknown factors masked possible s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t differences between these groups when they were compared by analysis of covariance. The difference between the two groups on the mathematics subtest of the CPT could be a t t r i b u t e d to the s i g n i f i c a n t l y better performance of the s e l f contained group on the i n i t i a l WRATaarithmetic t e s t i n g i n the f a l l . There was no s i g n i f i c a n t d i f f e r e n c e between the two groups i n reading on the i n i t i a l WRAT te s t i n g but there was a tendency for the majority of the open area subjects to function at a lower reading l e v e l on the CPT.than the s e l f contained group. This d i f f e r e n c e approached s i g n i f i c a n c e ato<=.05 and may be one of the reasons why the difference between the c r i t i c a l groups did not turn out to be s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t . In the multiple regression analyses based on the noise subtest data, there were only two s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t sources of variance. Regarding the reading a n a l y s i s , the i n t e r a c t i o n between type of c l a s s , sex, and noise subtest scores was h i g h l y s i g n i f i c a n t , t o t a l l y unexpected, and extremely d i f f i c u l t to explain. This i n t e r a c t i o n suggests that boys who have d i f f i c u l t y with auditory figure-ground perception learn to read more e f f i c i e n t l y i n s e l f contained classes rather than open areas, whereas g i r l s with a s i m i l a r problem learn to read more e f f i c i e n t l y i n open areas rather than s e l f contained classes. This r e l a t i o n s h i p appears to be i n e x p l i c a b l e within the framework of the present research and may be due to sampling error or some other procedural a r t i f a c t . The second s i g n i f i c a n t source of variance on the noise analysis 48 was the e f f e c t of noise scores on the l i s t e n i n g subtest. A s i m i l a r e f f e c t was found on the quiet analysis i n which the quiet subtest scores of the GFWT were a s t a t i s t i c a l l y s i g n i f i c a n t source of variance on the scores of the l i s t e n i n g subtest. These findings i n d i c a t e that the more d i f f i c u l t y c hildren have perceiving sounds on the quiet and noise subtests of the GFWT, the poorer t h e i r scores w i l l be on the l i s t e n i n g subtest of the CPT. This information suggests that the GFWT could be used to i d e n t i f y children i n need of remediation to improve t h e i r l i s t e n i n g s k i l l s , i f the development of l i s t e n i n g s k i l l s i s one of the objectives of a s p e c i f i c i n s t r u c t i o n a l programme. The r e s u l t s of t h i s study do not in d i c a t e a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n - ship between the GFWT scores and the reading and mathematics scores of the CPT amongst e i t h e r the open area or s e l f contained subjects. C o n f l i c t i n g r e s u l t s were found i n Marsh's study i n which a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p was found between her measure of auditory figure-ground perception and the reading, s p e l l i n g and arithmetic scores of the Wide Range Achievement Test. This raises questions as to whether both tests aremmeasuring the same auditory perception t r a i t and whether the s k i l l s measured by the GFWT are e s s e n t i a l f o r learning reading and arithmetic s k i l l s . I t i s possible that many of the chil d r e n i n th i s study who had d i f f i c u l t y on the GFWT were able to compensate for t h e i r auditory perceptual d e f i c i e n c i e s by strengths i n other perceptual areas. Marascuilo and P e n f i e l d (1972) implied that children have to learn how to f i l t e r out background noise i n order to s u c c e s s f u l l y learn new material i n the classroom s i t u a t i o n . Although the r e s u l t s of t h e i r study suggest that t h i s type of s k i l l can be trained at the grade two l e v e l , they o f f e r no evidence to l i n k the usefulness of t h i s s k i l l with the learning of b a s i c academic s k i l l s such as reading, and arithmetic. There i s an obvious need for further research to c l a r i f y what e f f e c t auditory figure-ground perception has on children's learning and behaviour. Conclusion The r e s u l t s of t h i s study have not provided s t a t i s t i c a l support fo r the suggestion that children with auditory figure-ground perception problems are more s u i t a b l y placed i n s e l f contained classrooms rather than open area classrooms. However, many i n t e r e s t i n g questions have been raised regarding the educational implications of t h i s a b i l i t y to focus on relevant aspects of the auditory f i e l d and "tune out" i r r e l e v a n t background s t i m u l i . The answers to these questions await future research i n order to ensure that children who are suspected of having an auditory figure-ground perception problem receive the best possible education. Recommendations and Implications for Future Research 1. I t could be argued that causative factors i n the f a i l u r e of the r e s u l t s of t h i s study to support the hypothesis were lack of c o n t r o l f o r v a r i a b l e s such as the v a r i e t y of rooms used f o r t e s t administration, lack of sound proofing i n the test rooms, and use of a group achieve- ment t e s t i n g s i t u a t i o n . I f the study were to be repeated by a researcher who has access to a sound proof, mobile laboratory and 50 unlimited time i n which to i n d i v i d u a l l y assess each c h i l d , i t i s possible but not probable that the hypothesis would be supported. A more r e a l i s t i c recommendation f or future research would be to experiment with d i f f e r e n t measures of auditory figure-ground perception and/or achievement. 2. Examination of the r e s u l t s of the present and past studies i n d i c a t e s a need f o r an i n v e s t i g a t i o n of the construct v a l i d i t y of auditory figure-ground perception. For example, an attempt could be made to determine whether the noise subtest of the GFWT i s measuring the same t r a i t that i s being measured by experimental measures of auditory figure-ground perception used i n other studies. 3. Before a great deal of time and e f f o r t are spent attempting to remediate auditory figure-ground perception problems, studies are needed to further invesigate the e f f e c t s of e x i s t i n g t r a i n i n g procedures on the a c q u i s i t i o n of s k i l l s such as reading and arithmetic. Possibly Marsh's t e s t of auditory figure-ground perception could be used to i d e n t i f y grade two chil d r e n with d i f f i c u l t i e s i n l i s t e n i n g under noisy conditions. One group of these c h i l d r e n could be given remediation with MariascuiHro and Penfield's t r a i n i n g programme and another group could be given remediation i n some unrelated area. At the end of the t r a i n i n g period, the two groups could be compared on the WRAT to determine whether they was any dif f e r e n c e i n t h e i r reading, s p e l l i n g , and arithmetic scores. I f Marascuilo and Penfield's t r a i n i n g programme i s re l a t e d to academic success, then the group r e c e i v i n g the tr a i n i n g should score higher on the WRAT than the placebo group. 4. One o t h e r p p o s s i b i l i t y f o r future research would be to repeat the present study using Marsh's t e s t as a measure of auditory f i g u r e - ground perception instead of the GFWT. Possibly Marsh's test would prove to be the p r e d i c t i v e instrument which the present study unsuccessfully sought to help i d e n t i f y children who may be inappropriately placed i n open area classrooms. 52 BIBLIOGRAPHY A l l e n , D.I. Open areas In B r i t i s h Columbia. Vancouver, B.C.: Simon Fraser "University, 1972. B e l l , A.E., and Switzer, F. 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