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An investigation of speech misarticulations of grade six children in two Canadian school systems Clemons, Margaret Elaine

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to assess the relative effectiveness of a program of speech therapy in the elementary schools by determining the difference between two urban school populations, one having provided a program of speech therapy for ten years previously, and the other lacking such a program, in terms of: 1. pupil performance on a speech test 2. ability of teachers to identify misarticulations, and 3. Pupils’ opinions of their speaking ability and their confidence in speaking situations. Administrators in the field of special education should, be provided with information on the effectiveness of speech therapy in the public school program. Review of the literature was made in terms of studies on speech problems, incidence of speech problems, reports on programmes of speech therapy in public schools, and studies undertaken in Canada. A pilot study was undertaken and the judgments of the investigator, who is a qualified speech therapist, and of one other qualified speech therapist were compared. Two hundred and seventy-six Grade Six pupils in each of two Canadian school systems were screened by the investigator by means of an articulation test, and the results reported quantitatively. Teachers were asked to identify all children with speech misarticulations, and to judge the effect such misarticulations had on the children socially and academically. Teachers’ and therapist's identification of speech misarticulations were compared. Pupils were asked to answer a questionnaire containing questions about their speaking ability and confidence in speaking situations. The investigator gave an arbitrary value to the responses to these questions, and surmised that the higher the total score, the more the pupil’s concern about speaking ability. Results of the questionnaire and speech test were collated, summarized and correlated with IBM data-processing equipment. The results showed a statistically significant difference in the mean scores on the speech assessment of the two groups. The children in the school system providing speech therapy made higher scores. More teachers identified children with articulation difficulties in the school system providing speech therapy. Their judgments compared favourably with the judgments of the investigator. In the total group tested, it was found that children with one or more misarticulations scored, significantly higher on the Pupil Questionnaire than did those children with no misarticulations. This same relationship existed between the mean score on the Pupil Questionnaire for the pupils having one or more misarticulations on the speech assessment, in the school system with therapy. This relationship, however, was not found to be present under the same criteria in the school system that did not provide therapy. The investigator suggests that the differences in the two groups tested may be accounted for on the basis of a speech therapy programme or the basis of other factors which are as yet unidentified. It was recommended further that the same type of study be repeated in two school systems providing speech therapy, and in two school systems which do not provide speech therapy.

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