Listening to Students with Mild and Moderate Hearing Loss: Learning and Social-Emotional Needs in Educational Contexts
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Educational research on students with mild and moderate hearing loss (MMHL), who represent up to 15% of the student population in regular classrooms, provides neither consistent nor meaningful attention to their learning and social-emotional experiences in school contexts. The purpose of this research is to investigate the perspectives of students with MMHL to gain insight into how they, as learners, conceptualize and manage their hearing loss at school and to develop recommendations for researchers and educators. Reviewed literature includes both quantitative and qualitative research which relies heavily on teachers’ and parents’ perspectives and achievement scores over student perspectives. Literature also indicates that there are discrepancies in student reporting depending on methods of data collection. Three students with MMHL were asked directly during in-depth interviews to describe their experiences in educational contexts. Self Determination Theory (SDT) (Deci & Ryan, 1985) provides an analytical and organizing framework for social-emotional elements of these learners’ experiences based on three psychological needs: relatedness, competence, and autonomy. In addition to SDT, a discussion of disability identity development research (e.g., Gill, 1997) provides a supplementary conceptual tool to expand the latent meanings of these experiences and socially constructed elements that students with hearing loss negotiate. Findings provide descriptive accounts of participants’ lived experiences with MMHL in educational contexts. Emergent patterns and themes identify broadly defined yet coherent messages highlighting the importance that educators (a) understand the lived experience of students with MMHL, (b) recognize the inherent contradictions that can accompany this disability, and (c) attend to needs, to communication, learning, and social-emotional needs. Each case indicates that student needs are met inconsistently resulting in adverse consequences for self-determined learning and social-emotional well-being. It is recommended that classroom teachers proactively facilitate potential learning outcomes for students with MMHL by attending to not only academic and communication needs, but to social-emotional needs as well. Researchers in education must further investigate the population of students with MMHL to assess their strengths and to ascertain the type of supports and interventions from which they could benefit.