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UBC Theses and Dissertations

An in-service model for training the teacher in facilitating the play of the emotionally disturbed child Aderem, Michele


Research demonstrates how the poor play skills of emotionally disturbed children hamper their social, emotional and cognitive growth. It also points to adult intervention as being highly effective in fostering the play of the non-playing child. There is however, little documentation on studies undertaken to training teachers in this field. The rationale for this paper is the need to find ways to maintain children with emotional and behavioural difficulties in mainstream programs given that preschools and daycares are not able to absorb them and limited special needs placements are available. The development of a play training model for teachers can be useful not only to those working with children with high emotional needs, but to all teachers, as well as to parents, who seek more active ways to join with their children's play. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether teachers, through participation in a series of five in-service workshops, could increase specific skills thought to foster the symbolic play of emotionally disturbed children and could decrease the frequency of other skills, considered in the literature to limit the child's play. This study examined the effect of a five-week in-service training on the habitually used play skills of four teachers in a preschool setting. Two instruments were used to measure the effectiveness of the training: a Q-Sort for self-evaluation and independent observation. In the Q-Analysis, subjects were asked to describe their behaviours during "free play" time by rank ordering, (according to a quasi-normal distribution) a comprehensive list of items, each describing one behaviour. The items were gathered from theory and research, as well as informal observations of behaviours used prior to training by the subjects. The item scores for each subject were correlated and factor analyzed. Two independent observers rated the subjects' behaviours pre and post training, according to a checklist of 51 of the Q-Sort items. The post-scores were graphed and compared to the pre-scores for each subject. The mean pre-post scores of each item were assessed for significance using a dependent T-Test at the p< .05 level. The Q-Sort results differed from that of the independent observation. The Q-Sort measured an overall significant increase (1 Z-Score or more) in 28.3% of Desirable behaviours and an overall significant decrease in 39.9% of Less Desirable behaviours. The Independent observation measured significant increases (based on the T-Test at the p<.05 level) in 93.1% of Desirable behaviours and significant decreases in 79% of Less Desirable behaviours. It was concluded that, while this study shows promise in training teachers to be facilitators of play, the instrument of measurement needs to be refined and the study extended to larger numbers.

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