Facilitating children's learning of augmentative and alternative communication systems
Children who have complex communication needs (CCN) require development of communicative competence because they are unable to meet their communication needs through natural speech. Attaining communicative competence requires proficiency in four main domains: linguistic, operational, strategic and social. Programs to develop communicative competence in children with CCN using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) have focused on instruction of target skills or strategies in linguistic, strategic and social competence. Limited research on effective instruction in operational competence exists. The efficacy of various instructional methods or procedures in teaching the operation and use of AAC systems is unknown.
The purpose of this study was to compare the impact of two instructional methods (CF – Corrective Feedback; DSG – Dual Screen Guidance) on the ability of children to accurately and efficiently operate and use a dynamic display AAC system. In the CF instruction method, the current method of instruction most typically used in AAC practice and instruction, feedback and prompts were provided to the child if no response or an error occurs. In DSG instruction errorless learning strategies were employed. Children were guided to the appropriate selection on the shared display screen of a second monitor. Twenty-one children, 10 6-year-olds and 11 7-year-olds, were randomly assigned to an instructional method. Each child participated in five sessions: three learning and testing sessions (Session 1 – 3), one generalization session (Session 4), and one maintenance session (Session 5).
Results showed children given DSG instruction were able to engage in 100% errorless learning during guided practice. Results also showed statistically significant differences in accuracy and efficiency of 6- and 7-year-olds. Seven-year-olds were more accurate and took less time to complete the task than 6-year-olds. Instruction method did not have a statistically differential effect on learning in 7-year-olds. For 6-year-olds, however, those given DSG instruction exhibited different learning curves than those given CF instruction. All children were able to generalize and maintain their learning.
0710: Educational software