A Multiple Perspective Study of Specific Language Impairment and Verbal Communication: Exploring Perceptions of Collaborative Learning
Specific language impairment , Collaborative learning , Phenomenology , Education
In Canada, a general education classroom teacher will encounter students with speech or language difficulties at some point in their teaching career. As children with disabilities and learning exceptionalities spend more time in inclusive classrooms, it is necessary for general education teachers to expand and modify their instructional and assessment practices as well as differentiate the learning environment to meet a broad range of abilities and needs. The goals of this study were to gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and barriers that students with specific language impairment (SLI) encounter during peer collaboration activities, as well as the supports and resources that enable students with SLI to successfully engage and participate in collaborative groupwork. This study utilized a phenomenological approach to explore the perspectives of teachers and speech-language pathologists. The first research question asked: what challenges and barriers do students with SLI encounter during peer collaborative activities in elementary classrooms? The analysis revealed three themes: skill development, impact of social dynamics, and reflections on COVID-19. The second research question posed in this study was: what supports and resources do students with SLI receive from teachers and speech-language pathologists to support verbal communication during collaborative learning? Four main themes were identified: Classroom practices, school and community support, classroom environment, and teacher reflection. Three key suggestions for practice are to develop strong relationships with stakeholders involved in the child’s learning, to provide opportunities for students to build communication skills in a supportive classroom environment, and to use best practices, such as UDL and DI to ensure students’ learning and communication needs are met.