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Taking into consideration the rapid development of technology in the modern society, people have managed to increase the range of opportunities that can be used in order to help people with disabilities to learn something new and fulfill everyday tasks in an effective manner. One of the most important technologies that are aimed at facilitating the information exchange with people who are visually impaired is the use of systems of tangible symbols. The effectiveness of the discussed system in education has been studied by numerous researchers using both qualitative and quantitative methods. The given paper is aimed at evaluating the study conducted by Trief, Cascella, and Bruce (2013) that touches upon the use of tangible symbols at schools.
In reference to the purpose of the study, it needs to be noted that the researchers have conducted an experiment in order to find out whether tangible systems interventions implemented at schools have a positive influence on the learning abilities of children with disturbance of vision or a combination of disabilities. As is clear from the literature review section included in the article, the researchers have found out that there is a lack of articles studying and confirming the effectiveness of educational interventions including the use of tangible symbol systems. Taking into account the great role of special interventions for disabled children allowing to facilitate their access to education and improve their academic results, it is obvious that the knowledge gap needs to be filled as soon as possible.
As for the research question identified by the authors, it touches upon the degree to which children who have vision disorders in combination with other disabilities are capable of recognizing and using intangible symbols that are implemented into learning materials used at their schools. Continuing on the topic of research questions used by the authors, the latter also pays focused attention to testing various skills demonstrated by the participants. Testing and evaluating the skills related to cognition, “language, play, and symbolism,” the researchers have found out whether they present the factors that help to increase the share of tangible symbols recognized and used by the participants (Trief et al., 2013, p. 180).
Conducting their research, the authors were using dependent and independent variables. The overall number of trials served as an independent variable whereas the number of the percentage of correct responses as a dependent variable. During the second part of the research, the authors were trying to establish the link between correct answers given by students and various factors. Thus, the correct responses acted as an independent variable, and a range of dependent variables such as “vision, mobility, language, and play” were identified (Trief et al., 2013, p. 188).
As is clear from the section describing the process of analysis and the results retrieved by the authors, there were two statistical tests utilized during the research. First, the researchers were using the method of multiple regression analysis to process the collected data. I believe that the chosen method is appropriate for the situation because the authors aimed at studying possible connections between one of the chosen factors and the number of correct answers given by the participants during interventions.
At the same time, multiple regression analysis is one of the appropriate methods helping to find the link between one variable and the set of other variables. Apart from that, another advantage of the method is that it allows researchers to study the individual influence that multiple variables have on the primary variable. The latter was especially important for the discussed research as one of the objectives of the study was to retrieve the factors influencing children’s ability to give correct answers and recognize tangible symbols. The second test chosen by the authors is ANOVA or the analysis of variance. The discussed method helps to find and analyze the significance of differences associated with the mean values for studied groups.
The analysis of variance can be called an appropriate choice because, as indicated by the authors, they were studying a combination of factors in a few groups. Considering that the data for numerous groups of participants needed to be compared, the discussed method is more appropriate than the t-test helping to compare only two sets of data.
In terms of the main findings, the results of the multiple regression analysis indicated that mobility could be regarded as a predictor influencing the percentage of correct answers given by the participants. The analysis of variance demonstrated the statistical significance of differences between groups of children associated with the degree of mobility.
In the end, the study possesses numerous strengths as the choice of methods of analysis is proper and the organization of the article is excellent. Apart from that, the findings reported by the authors can be used by therapists and teachers to make their work with disabled children more effective. Despite that, a few weaknesses are associated with the research; thus, the research methods chosen by the authors were insensible to daily variations related to the way that instructors use educational materials. At the same time, an important weakness is related to the inability of the researchers to consider the cases of “prior exposure to intangible symbols” among the participants during data analysis (Trief et al., 2013, p. 190).
Trief, E., Cascella, P. W., & Bruce, S. M. (2013). A field study of a standardized tangible symbol system for learners who are visually impaired and have multiple disabilities. Journal of Visual Impairment & Blindness (Online), 107(3), 180-191.